WHERE IT ALL BEGUN, A HAPPY YEAR TILL DECEMBER
Looking for that next luxury watch
1 August 2016 UPDATE: Last week I was contacted by Officine Panerai and we have come to a satisfactory solution. I do hope my case is seen as a positive contribution and as an eye-opener. There is apparently not enough monitoring done till date by Officine Panerai to make sure all authorized dealers give you at least the brand's basic standard customer experience. The good news is that Officine Panerai has appointed a new Country Manager in India, this will hopefully improve the brand image and customer experience for both sales and service. The luxury watch market has only opened recently to a broader audience. Customers who know Panerai from other regions understand the brand value and have patience when things go wrong, the new customers don't, you can only lose a customer once.
Panerai PAM00329, a great watch, a pathetic customer experienceThis is my personal experience of owning a Panerai Luminor 1950 PAM0329 dealing with Officine Panerai in India. It has been more than two years of negative experiences instead of enjoyment. I had to speak out and share this. It is a long story, because there were a lot of incidents worth mentioning.
February 2014, looking for a new luxury watch, PaneraiI finally saved enough money for my next luxury watch and after a lot of research and many watch shop visits I finally shortlisted the brand of my liking, Panerai.
Panerai watches are not very popular within the luxury watch segment in India and probably looks too simple and lacks brand visibility. For me it was the right watch I was looking for, it has a very interesting history, it is still compared to other luxury watch brands a niche product, all the more reasons for me to dive deeper into the collection of the Panerai brand.
It had to be a steel watch, with GMT and date, plus a steel bracelet. Little did I still knew about the brand as it turned out a few months later. With my shortlist I came to a reference PAM00297, had all the bells and whistles till I discovered it has the same movement as my Omega Seamaster Pro300 Chrono, a Valjoux 7750 and didn't see this as an upgrade, time to look for a watch with an in-house movement.
Ordering my Panerai watch at Johnson Watch Co. at Emporio Mall, New DelhiSo starting all over again and finally came to the watch I wanted, a Panerai Luminor 1950 model PAM00347. This model as introduced in 2008 and available from 2009 onwards, it has a Luminor 1950 case, in-house P.9002 automatic movement, GMT function, date, power-reserve indicator on the dial and a steel bracelet. I ordered it first week in February 2014 at Johnson Watch Co. in Emporio Mall in New Delhi and after 6 weeks the dealer still couldn't get that model despite his promise.
As I already made a down-payment for the watch, the Johnson Watch Co.offered me I could pick out any other model and balance the difference, a next choice offered by the dealer, a Panerai PAM00329, this model has the same specifications, except it has the power-reserve indicator on the backside.
March 2014, picked up my PAM00329 that turned out to be a PAM0320Johnson Watch Co. offered me a PAM00329, this model has the same specifications, except it has the power-reserve indicator on the backside. I accepted his offer and got my PAM00329 in the third week of March 2014, a happy man! So I thought.
I received the watch in a Panerai box without the strap-changing tool and screwdriver, the dealer told me that it doesn't come with this model but would still give me the two tool pieces.
Warranty Card & COSC CertificateNext I received a warranty card plus a COSC certificate, as this was my very first Panerai watch I bought, I had no doubts something could be wrong here. The tools are very much part of the watch and this watch having an in-house movement it comes with a warranty booklet that also has the timing test results printed inside the booklet.
PAM00320 with a steel bracelet instead of a PAM00329To make a long story short, Johnson Watch Co. sold me a PAM00320 and added a steel bracelet himself plus gave me a wrong warranty document. This was a big mistake as later turned out that the watch case of the PAM00320 I got was not compatible with the steel bracelet and didn't fit the watch as confirmed by Officine Panerai via email. After I discovered this, the only option for me was a replacement watch. Being cheated in a luxury watch shop that is an authorized Panerai dealer in India was something I was not prepared for or would have ever expected.
April 2014, the real PAM00329 is handed over to meSix weeks later thanks to the communication and support of Officine Panerai UAE, Johnson Watch Co. had to exchange the watch with a brand-new PAM00329, the real deal this time. I was a happy man! Next to getting a new PAM00329, Officine Panerai was making sure a PAM00048 that was also a pending request would be send to the dealer plus they offered me a complimentary strap for the inconveniences caused. The strap arrived in November 2014 packed in a seal-bag, not in plastic pouch packed in a Panerai envelope box you normally get when you buy a strap at an authorized Panerai dealer. Johnson Watch Co. did not bother to hand it over to me in a professional way, they specifically mentioned that this was the way they received it and acted more like a wholesaler than a dealer to me. Of course Officine Panerai should make sure that their authorized dealers understand how to present a Panerai watch or accessory to a customer, in the right customer packaging and not in a seal-bag that was only used for transporting the strap to the dealer.
My first introduction to watch straps and the crazy fun Paneristi communityDuring the time I had to wait for my final watch to arrive at my Panerai dealer in New Delhi, I started connecting with a few Paneristi groups on Facebook, read more on the internet about the brand history and subscribed to the official Paneristi Forum, www.paneristi.com Paneristi are Panerai watch enthusiasts who collect everything around the brand, a big part of that is watch straps.
I discovered the world of straps, people being extremely friendly to you with all your questions and always available for advice.
One of the most popular straps you can buy from many strapmakers around the world are the so-called ammo straps and vintage straps.
The ammo straps are leather straps made from ammunition pouches and belts used during the different wars, most of the leather has a gunpowder smell, most prefer the softer ammo straps that are thick and often made according the design of the straps Panerai used during the last 1930's, 1940's & 1950's, fit to deep-sea dive with, Panerai watches are by birth so called tool-watches used for the Italian Marines for their combat divers and only came available for the public from 1993 onwards.
The other ammo straps are made out of Swiss ammunition pouches that have stamps of the maker and year the pouch was made, an extra vintage detail, however very nice as well, these are a lot stiffer and tend to break after time.
The vintage straps are made of new leather, most of them very soft, also according to the design of 1930's, 1940 & 1950's
On another page on this website I will later introduce you more to the straps I have been collecting till date. This page is further all about the PAM0329 and frustration and patience it has asked me to absorb as a customer who thought to expect a luxury watch brand experience to find in India. Just check my website on a regular basis for more content.
August 2014, after 4 months the watch started running too fastI noticed that my PAM00329 was starting to run faster than it did before an mentioned it to the dealer, the dealer told me that I could give it for service at any time, it will be checked and resolved. As the watch was not running that fast I let it as it was.
December 2014, my PAM00329 proofed to be not waterproof at allOn one of my media trip in Mauritius as golf travel editor for an Indian Golf Magazine called "GolfPlus Monthly", I decided on my last day to take a swim in the Indian Ocean, although the PAM00329 is a diving watch that takes up to 300 meters, I am not fond of big fish with big teeth and stay nice and safe close to the beach, the watch went into the Indian Ocean for a good 1 meter deep! Arriving at the airport later that night standing in the queue to board the plane back to New Delhi I noticed that the crystal of my watch was milky, looking closer I got the shock of my life, the watch got water inside, that was moist on the crystal! I immediately sent an email to Officine Panerai who replied immediately and advised me to give the watch as soon as possible to my Panerai dealer in Delhi, the watch needed an urgent service job.
The next day I brought the watch to my dealer, Johnson Watch Co. took their time and kept the watch for more than a week before they sent it to a brand-new appointed service center in Mumbai, a good 2-hours flight distance from New Delhi. Still I had some faith, I thought I was just not a lucky guy and had a watch the slipped through the quality check at the factory, that can always happen, but as long as the service of the brand is well organized, no need to panic.
January 2015, my watch back in a flimsy pouchThe watch came back six weeks later and a second shock, the watch was wrapped in tissue paper put in a very thin soft pouch with the watch dealers name printed on it. They confirmed that this is how the watch was transported to Mumbai and was sent back to New Delhi by the Mumbai Service Center the same way it came. The watch was hand-carried to Mumbai and back to Delhi after the service was done, no quality standard at all what so ever. Again Johnson Watch Co. did not bother to pack the watch in a Panerai service case and present me the watch in a professional way. I never got an update what kind of damage was found in the watch, this is remarkable as the watch had salt-water inside before the service. I requested for more information, till date this has not been shared with me. Johnson Watch Co. did not bother to assist me in getting the information I was requesting for, instead they kept on insisting me to get the information myself from Officine Panerai.
January 2015, one week later, the watch running faster than everAfter wearing it a few days I discovered the watch was running faster than ever and completely beyond the specifications of Officine Panerai. I brought the watch back to the watch dealer and got a reply that the service center of Panerai in Dubai should have a look at it and that I was the one that has to take care of the shipment of the watch to Dubai myself. They didn't even offer to check the accuracy of the watch in their service center, after all you don't need to open the watch to measure a watch movement and make a strong case towards the manufacturer. A behavior they used at other customers before, a friend of mine owning a PAM00289, a golden Panerai worth around 30,000 Euro who dropped his watch on a marble floor and had to change his crystal, Johnson bluntly told him he should take care of it himself and go to the Panerai Service Center in Dubai to get the crystal replaced. It is obvious that Johnson Watch Co. is only interested in selling watches, not in customers.
After I shared this information with the regional office of Officine Panerai in Dubai, they assured me that I could leave the watch with the dealer, there was no need to have to watch go all the way to Dubai, it will be taken care off again by the Mumbai Service Center. In the meantime Officine Panerai appointed a Country Manager India. I met the gentleman, he confirmed to me that the Mumbai Service Center did not service a P.9001 movement before and got full support from the Officine Panerai in Neuchâtel, Switzerland and assured me that I will receive my watch back in mint condition.
February 2015, my watch came again in a flimsy pouch back from serviceAs I earlier complained about the way the watch was presented to me in a soft pouch of the Panerai dealer, I expected that this time the watch was going to be given to me in a Panerai service case, this is the standard in other countries and this was indeed confirmed to me.
You can imagine the way I reacted when for the second time my watch was presented to me by the dealer in again the same flimsy pouch, again Johnson Watch Co. did not bother how to present the watch to me they should. It was almost like the dealer wanted to proof to me that this was not making them any money, it's a free under warranty service I just have to shut up and accept it. Apparently the watch was again hand-carried by someone to Mumbai and back to Delhi after the service was done, keeping in mind that the Country Manager India promised me that this would not be done anymore! Probably Johnson Watch Co. has never ordered customer packing material and or kept on delaying ordering customer packing material to save money.After the watch came back it performed better, but the way it was handed over to me in that flimsy pouch again, punched a big dent in the brand standards I was hoping to find in a luxury watch brand like Panerai.
August 2015, running faster again!The watch started to run faster again, mentioned it to the dealer, but didn't have the time to bring it again for service. When in October I went to Singapore to attend PDay, a global annual meeting of Paneristi, the Panerai Boutique in Singapore checked the watch if it was magnetized, it was not and they strongly recommended me to give the watch again for service as it's still under warranty.
October 2015, watch too fast and all of the sudden stopped ticking!Back in New Delhi a few days later I discovered that while the watch had full power-reserve it stopped ticking! I was again surprised and shocked, informed the dealer and brought my watch again for a regulation/tuning job in the last week of October 2015.
Third time for service, lemon-law of no lemon-law case?This was the third time and therefore involved the Officine Panerai regional office in Dubai, they guaranteed me to fix the watch once and for all. Again Johnson Watch Co. was not bothered to make a strong case for me, their customer, to come to a fast and satisfactory solution, instead I had again to communicate directly with Officine Panerai UAE Regional Head Office.
After they assured me it can be done in Mumbai, I had no doubt and agreed to let the Mumbai Service Center do it.
I was in regular contact with Officine Panerai regional office in Dubai, Johnson Watch Co acted like they knew nothing and if at all I need information they advised me to contact Officine Panerai directly. The tuning/regulating of the watch took al lot of time, as later came out that parts were needed for the service to complete.
February 2016, the watch is ready from serviceI finally received my watch back on 18 February 2016, this time handed over to me in a Panerai service case, more than 3 ½ months later and that just for a fine-tuning job.
March 2016, the watch turned out to run faster than ever before!I wore the watch for about a week and to my shocking surprise the watch ran faster than ever before, I immediately reported it to Officine Panerai and to Johnson Watch Co, they were surprised as well, that was on March 1 2016. They asked me to be patient, they had to discuss it internally and see what the best solution would be. Again no movement from Johnson Watch Co. they again let me on my own to start debating with Officine Panerai.
I was so fed up and tired of the endless story I was going through with my Monday-morning produced watch that I strongly advised them to just get it over with and change the watch for a new one, to my surprise Officine Panerai had another opinion, if I felt the watch was not running to my liking I was free to have it send to the service center again. Another thing I noticed was that winding the watch gave me another experience than before, the crown slippled for at least half a turn, I asked if this is normal, Officine Panerai confirmed that this was completely normal, eventhough before it never slipped.
March 2016, a new Country Manager India appointedAt the same time they informed me that a new Country Manager India was appointed, this should make things easier having a local representative right on the job.
End March 2016, Officine Panerai requested me to give the watch for serviceOn 23 March I got a message from Officine Panerai that I have to give the watch to the dealer in the Panerai Service case, 3 days later I brought the watch to my Panerai dealer.
April 2016, the first meeting with the new Country Manager IndiaOn 20 April 2016 I had a meeting with the new Officine Panerai India Country Manager. He assured me I was a very special and important customer and they were going to make sure my watch will be serviced this time, again, once & for all and make the watch run accurate. He was going to manage and monitor my case personally.
I challenged him and requested strongly for either a new PAM00329, exchange for another new Panerai model or full money refund.
A few days after the meeting they came wth the big word, my watch would get checked this time at the Richemont Service Center in Dubai, all in all it took them 6 weeks to figure this out. When I asked where my watch was now, the Country Manager didn't know and had to check, remember he told me he was managing and monitoring my case personally.
May 2016, Richemont Service Center advises a full service on the watchOn 24 May I got the confirmation from Officine Panerai that they checked my movement and there was nothing wrong with it, still the Richemont Service Center advised a full service job on the watch "to ensure an impeccable performance" If the watch was running so well, why didn't they send the watch back to India including a report that would confirm this? Instead they offered me a full service job free of charge, my watch went to Dubai when it was still covered under warranty in the first place.
July 2016, the watch is ready again, presented as a complete joke in a plywood boxOn 13 July 2016 I returned back in India and had no clue where my watch could be, as I didn't receive a status update after the one where they mentioned that the watch is ready and will be send back to India. Instead me. the customer had to follow it up again and got the confirmation that the watch was received by Johnson Watch Co.
The dealer confirmed they received a box from Officine Panerai containing my watch and made sure the watch reached the outlet I normally visit, Johnson Watch Co. in Emporio Mall in New Delhi.
The next day I went to my Panerai dealer and was under the impression that it will be a 15 minutes experience, just collect the watch, check the papers and move on.
Not really, the dealer presented me the plywood box just the way they received it. Johnson Watch Co. highlighted that they hand-over me the watch just like they received it from Officine Panerai India.
Shocked by the presentation of my watchI was absolutely shocked to see that (yes the watch was wrapped in and around bubble plastic so package was safe but nowhere near a state presentable to a customer), the watch was packed in a plastic seal-bag supported with bubble plastic, my rubber strap with buckle was missing, the papers and service report of the Richemont Service Center plus the warranty booklet were included in plywood box.
Luxury watch brand experience completely evaporatedIn one blow not only a luxury watch customer experience was completely gone, Johnson Watch Co. didn't bother to check the box beforehand to see if the package inside would be presentable to their customer, if they would have done that, they would have realised that the strap was missing on the watch and could have posponed the hand-over of my watch, remember I was still considered a very important special customer for Officine Panerai! My watch runs at least for the last few days pretty accurate, remarkably the slipping of the crown when winding is completely gone, the crown grabs the winding mecahnism direct again, just like it did in the beginning!
Although they give my watch a full polish, the shine on this watch is completely gone...
Global brand values and standards, also in India?I later understood that they way the watch was handed-over to me is an absolute no-go for Officine Panerai, the watch should have been taken out of the box, wound-up, time and date set, put in a service case presented to me on a Panerai branded platter. A customer should never been given the watch the way Johnson Watch Co managed to do. What is more disturbing, the dealer acted as surprised and shocked like I was when they opened the box in front of me. As this was the first time they ever presented a watch to a customer that comes back from a service/repair.
The rubber strap still at Officine Panerai India.The strap and buckle was still in his office in New Delhi, they took it off as a a standard procedure before sending it to Dubai.
I did insist when noticing my rubber strap and buckle were missing to get immediately another strap and buckle, how else could I take the watch home with me. This took the dealer more than an hour, as apparently Johnson Watch Co. at Emporio Mall in New Delhi doesn't keep stock of straps and buckles.
The original strap and buckle was sent by courier to my home address that I received a week later. I receive any product that I buy online in India that is in stock within one day, apparently they used the wrong courier service…
A Luxury watch brand stands or falls with customer experiencesIn India Officine Panerai has a lot of work to do to get the brand acknowledged, if the brand continues to disappoint customers through dealers like Johnson Watch Co. in India, I foresee a very short lasting future. Every brand has its chance to grow in a market, every brand has its chance to proof it deserves to be in a certain segment in a market, one thing is sure, as long as the customer is not the central point of attention, nothing will happen. The only benefit you will get is the brand will lose value, only discounts will make the brand sell the numbers, but will never get the recognition it is looking for. With the shrinking market in South-East Asia, all the more reason to wake up and improve customer experience and brand standards.
It should be a wake-up call, customers should no longer accept the nonsense sold to them, the brand and especially their Authorized dealers must understand the value of customers, regardless if you are a one-time buyer, a collector or a special and important customer, every customer should get the same benchmark treatment you must be able to expect from a luxury watch brand, not only before and during the moment you buy a watch, especially the customer service and after-sales should be organized top-notch, that is also possible in India, other luxury watch brands have proven that.