If you happen to have been keeping an eye on the conversation that sprouted from this earlier post regarding the spare parts policies of several brands that sell their products in the United States, you may already be aware that the case for making parts available to watchmakers is being revisted in US courts this month. Although I am not American citizen and I do not operate as a watchmaker in the United States, the outcome of this case will undoubtedly have an impact on a more global scale. Especially for those of us who place orders with American watch part suppliers.
The last time this case went to court, the brands won out and those brands who have chosen to have been very successful in restricting parts from being supplied to third parties to repair and service their timepieces. The unfortunate result of this previous settlement has been the degradation in quality of service for brands that have chosen to restrict their parts, which in turn has yielded a souring effect on the unfortunate owners of their timepieces. Simple tasks, such as ensuring the water resistance of a particular timepiece can easily be executed by any capably equipped watchmaker as long as brand X is willing to supply the appropriate crown and gaskets. In cases where the brand chooses not to supply such parts, it can be impossible, at times, to achieve proper water resistance. When this happens, if the owner of the watch wishes to have the water resistance of their timepiece restored, they are forced to ship the watch to said brand. The client pays for shipping to and from the brand. The brand then charges an oftentimes exorbitant amount of money to reseal the watch and the client is more than likely stuck without their watch for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. All of this, when the parts could have been ordered, installed, and tested, on site – possibly for less than it would have cost the client to ship their watch, insured, to the company. This is just one the of many scenarios that we, as watchmakers, deal with every day and it needs to change. It’s bad business and our clients deserve better service.
The case is being re-opened in the courts on June 23rd. Myself and numerous other watchmakers have written letters expressing our concerns and hopes for the outcome of this case to the Honourable Judge Chen, who will be overseeing this case. Form letters have been made available by some watchmakers on their websites to aid others in writing letters. A sample letter for consumers can be found here and one for watchmakers is available as well. Andre Fleury, who has been diligently fighting for the cause, has also posted an emailable version on his website, which you can fill out in a matter of seconds if you are pressed for time.
If you have time to write, I encourage you to. Nothing says I mean it like good old-fashioned pen to paper. To aid you in writing effective letters, I also highly recommend trying to get your hands on a copy of The Oxford Guide to Effective Writing and Speaking, which has helped me considerably.
All letters should be addressed to:
US District Court Clerk
450 Golden Gate Avenue, 16th floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
Be sure, as well, to quote case number CV 05 04525 EMC in your letter.