Amazon.co.uk has become a portal into a marketplace of international watch vendors without official accreditation from the brands on sale, thanks to an open door policy towards grey market sellers.
In the course of an investigation into Amazon’s watch operation in the UK, WatchPro was repeatedly presented with luxury watches offered by third party sellers operating via the Amazon Marketplace.
The watches from these retailers are presented within the same lists as watches sold legitimately by Amazon.co.uk directly, or from authorised retailers of major brands.
Grey market selling by online retailers, many of them acquiring stock from Asia where luxury watch sales have cooled dramatically, have the potential to undercut authorised retailers in this country who have to clear considerable financial, technical, business and suitability hurdles to secure prized brands.
The most popular luxury brand in the world, Rolex, is fiercely protective of its authorised retailers. But Amazon’s policy towards non-authorised retailers means it does not prevent traders such as MS-TR JAPAN EU, an online retailer that says it is based in Japan, offering a Rolex Submariner on Amazon.co.uk.
Even Watches of Switzerland, the UK’s biggest retailer of Rolex timepieces, is not permitted to sell the brand via its website.
Amazon does not block overseas retailers from selling via its online marketplace.
On its website, its page on intellectual property protection states: Amazon respects a manufacturer’s right to enter into exclusive distribution agreements for its products. However, violations of such agreements do not constitute intellectual property rights infringement. As the enforcement of these agreements is a matter between the manufacturer and the retailers, it would not be appropriate for Amazon to assist in enforcement activities.
Full details of Amazon’s policies on intellectual property protection can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/reports/infringement.