Buying

Watch lawsuits and squabbles

I’ll leave it for others to decide what position to take on these different watch-related lawsuits. I’ll note that most are dismissed, but not necessarily because there wasn’t found to be an issue with a watch.

The takeaway? It’s on the buyer to do their homework, especially given the role opinion and subjectivity play in assessing vintage watch condition. Oh, and check the comps, too.

Collector v Dealer

Dealer v Auction House

Dealer v Dealer

  • Stuart Kaplan, MD, Plaintiff, v. Erik Grovhowiak, et al., Defendants. Plaintiff “alleges that he entered into an agreement with Grochowiak to repair and sell a watch that Kaplan owned, or, if not sold by a certain date, return the watch to Kaplan. Kaplan revoked the authority he gave to Grochowiak, and Grochowiak failed to sell the watch by the set date but refused to return the watch to Kaplan, instead purportedly selling the watch to Wong for an unknown sum. Grochowiak also failed to return other watches and accessories that Kaplan had entrusted to him.” Grochowiak’s company is LCCG Enterprises, LLC dba It’s Only Time. Alessandro Ciani is also a defendant. (BC635468)
  • H.Q. Milton, Inc., Plaintiff, v. Jessy Webster, et al., Defendants. H.Q. Milton brought a successful suit against Jessy Webster and Hidekazu Matsuba, for “a temporary restraining order to prevent defendants Jessy Webster and Kazu Matsuba from using allegedly misappropriated trade secrets.” This after the defendants collected information on H.Q. clients and steered some purchases to Webster’s own vintage watch site, Oyster Palace. (Case No. 17-cv-06598-PJH, 11-22-2017)

Collector v Auction House
We do not see as many lawsuits between collectors and auction houses as we do between collectors and dealers, due to the legal terms of the sale that provides auction houses with a greater level of protection, and the sheer cost. We best public example of a lawsuit involving a disgruntled collector is:

Auction House: Internal Politics
But beyond issues with a specific watch, we also see auction house financial questions. Again, specific to Antiquorum:

  • Antiquorum ousts chairman and chief executive, along with board
  • . In what seemed a long time coming, the interim chief (2007) removed Osvaldo Patrizzi and this team, instituting a new board and more rigorous accounting rules (and a new accounting team, which Patrizzi had opposed the replacement of Antiquorum’s accountants). Perhaps tellingly, ArtistHouse Holding, the company that owned 50% of Antiquorum at the time, had to write off the value of several high-priced pieces that were unable to found during an inventory check.

Collector v Collector
For fun, as I know we all like to read forums, you can read one about lawsuits regarding defamation on a board. No kidding!

Collector v Private Sellers/Smaller Dealers
This category includes experiences that collectors have with less well-known dealers.

For example, some sellers seem to have more negative feedback than others:

Stolen watch registry

The Alpha Hands stolen watch registry is the largest free registry in the world, and is used and contributed to by:
– Collectors and enthusiasts
– Insurance agencies
– Retailers/dealers
– Auction houses
– Manufacturers
– Police departments
– Watch associations/foundations
Please use the Alpha Hands stolen watch registry submission form if you would like to have any watch(es) added.
If you find any watches in the following table, please let me know. I retain contact information for all registered timepieces.

The registry doesn’t just include stolen Rolex – this database includes a wide variety of manufacturers, including Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Breguet, TAG Heuer, Vacheron Constantin and others. But in addition to searching the Alpha Hands registry, always perform a broader search (aka Google) for the serial number of the watch you are purchasing (or even a fraction of the serial number).

Alpha Hands does not take a position as to the proprietary rights of the watches recorded in the registry. Prospective buyers should do their own due diligence to determine if the seller can provide proof of ownership.

As with the rest of this Website, the following table, and data contained therein, is subject to Alpha Hands LLC Terms and Conditions.