Clear Answers to Showcase Questions


July 1998

For Your Staff:Selling Timepieces

Clear Answers to Showcase Questions

Common questions deserve uncommonly clear replies that pique interest and clarify the benefits of any timepiece

By Paul White, Director, Watch Division Reis-Nichols Jewelers, Indianapolis

After selling fine watches for a number of years, most of us get pretty confident about what we know. Some of us get downright scholarly and can't wait to share the information with customers – whether or not they care.

We certainly want to appear better informed and more thorough than our competitors, and some customers do want the information. But rather than spout a "laundry list" of all the neat things a watch can do, we should be careful to explain how these features actually benefit the customer.

For example: I recently met with a customer who was literally ripping her fingers and nails up trying to set the time and date on her very expensive Swiss watch. The problem? She didn't understand the marvelous benefit of the screw-down crown. It's possible we didn't explain it well enough when we sold her the watch.

Embarrassing for both parties.

Let me share with you some of the most-asked questions we've heard at the watch showcase and the replies we give.

"Is this watch waterproof?"
In the U.S. we refer to a watch as being water-resistant. This particular watch is water-resistant to 30 meters or about 100 feet. You can wear it in the water, get it wet in the rain or at the sink and know it won't be damaged. Of course, it's always a good idea to make sure the winding stem (called the crown) is snug against the case. If you're really serious about water sports (such as diving, skiing or jetboating), you might want the benefit of a watch with a screw-down crown.

"What's a screw-down crown?"
The crown is specially designed to thread in, not just push in, against the case. You'll likely get even more protection against moisture and dust than with a conventional crown. Again, if you're going to be in water, we suggest you always check the crown to be sure it's securely threaded on the case.

"What can I do about scratches on the watch face?"
Try a watch with a synthetic sapphire crystal. Many watches feature these today, and many at surprisingly modest prices. Your watch has an acrylic crystal – good hardness but prone to scratching. Synthetically produced sapphire has the hardness of the genuine gem, rated second behind diamond.

"Can a synthetic crystal be polished if I do scratch it?"
Yes and no. You have to work hard to scratch it, but it will happen if you drag it against a rough or sharp surface. Once scratched, it's hard to polish. It also can break if you drop it from waist height or higher on a hard surface like concrete.

"I like a leather strap, but they seem to wear out real fast."
Finer watch manufacturers use a high-quality leather strap with better assembly and more fade-resistant color. But leather is a natural material and will darken with perspiration or other moisture. In most cases you should get a year or more of good looks from a high-quality leather strap. If you're very active, whether golfing or water skiing, you can get a specially treated water-resistant or sharkskin strap.

Next month: Answers to More Showcase Questions

Each month Paul White fills this column with sales tips for retailers who want to sell more watches. If you have suggestions for topics, questions or specific examples from your store, send them to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102; e-mail

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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