Finding the perfect watch takes forever.
Add in the fact that a lot of high-end brands can be found for steep discounts, and you’ve got yourself a mountain of research to pour over.
Before you buy from either of these brands, read my full guide on their pros and cons so you can decide which retailer to buy from.
|Returns||Free returns under $4,000||Shipping fee is non-refundable|
|Warranty||Varies by brand||Varies by brand|
|Visit Jomashop||Visit Ashford|
Jomashop vs Ashford: A Tale of Two Discount Luxury Watch Dealers
Jomashop is the king of the discount grey market online watch stores. Between the two, Jomashop is the largest, both in terms of stock and total sales.
While the retailer got their start specifically in watches, they also sell other luxury brands in sunglasses, fragrances, footwear, jackets, and jewelry.
Is Jomashop legit?
Yes, Jomashop is legit. They make large orders with brands and buy up overstock from independent retailers and take very little profit for themselves to give massive discounts on luxury brands.
So how does Jomashop get such low prices?
While Jomashop isn’t an authorized dealer, that doesn’t mean they’re sketchy or selling fake watches. They’re entirely legitimate, and they get their stock by buying up out-of-date stock that authorized retailers may have overpurchased.
As smaller retailers feel pressure from tying up too much cash in their inventory, Jomashop is able to come in and buy their excess at near-cost. That allows them to sell at close to wholesale prices.
The downside is that the warranty system is super confusing, and if you have any issues with your watch, you might as well assume there’s no warranty coverage.
Again, like Jomashop, the warranty policy is so confusing that you might as well assume that you’re not able to get your watch fixed if it breaks down.
Ashford does offer a 30-day return window and will sometimes offer to repair a watch if there’s a serious issue with the movement.
Is Ashford legit?
Yes, Ashford is legit. They’re able to get such low prices because they buy excess stock from authorized dealers and sell with a minor markup, which is much lower than the authorized dealers would sell for.
Ashford’s selection doesn’t get quite as pricey as Jomashop. While Ashford carries some serious luxury brands like Dewitt, Zenith, and Rado, their high end isn’t at the level of Jomashop.
Ashford vs Jomashop Face to Face
Ashford’s selection is solid on the low end—so if you’re interested in a sub-$1000 watch like an Invicta, Timex, or even Hamilton, the site is worth browsing to see what kind of deal you can get.
I like Ashford for the person who’s looking for a stylish watch at an affordable price and isn’t deep into the watch-world where brand name and details on the movement aren’t as important.
Jomashop is more directed to the watch-geek. While you can definitely find Invicta and other “mall brands” at Jomashop, they also carry heavy hitters like IWC, Rolex, Omega, and even Audemars and Patek Philippe.
At the time of writing, Joma is carrying a Patek Phillipe that costs nearly $9M. I was considering it, but with a case size of 47mm, I figured it was a bit bulky—I think 44mm is the largest case size I want. So it’s still available if you want it. Free shipping, too.
But in all seriousness, Jomashop has an excellent selection of those “grail” type watches that are much more “affordable” for everyday folks. While $10k isn’t exactly “affordable,” a Rolex is a reasonable stretch for many people looking for a luxury timepiece and Jomashop has an awesome selection.
If looking for a watch between $50-$200, check out Ashford.
If looking for a watch between $200-$2500, check out Jomashop.
Real talk: if you’re thinking about a Rolex or Omega specifically, I would buy used from Bob’s Watches. I think if you’re spending over $3,000, I’d look to Bob’s for their more personalized customer service.
But Bob’s only sells used Rolex, Omega, and a few Patek Phillipes, so you’re not getting the same range as Jomashop.
Don’t expect quick shipping from either Ashford or Jomashop. The reviews for each company are littered with people who are waiting three or four days for their watches to ship. Since both companies run their own warehouses and logistics, it seems they can back-up and have a longer wait time than advertised.
Rest assured that both companies are legit, so you will get your watch, but there’s a good chance it’ll arrive later than they quoted.
Plus, Ashford doesn’t refund your original shipping cost—usually it’s not too big of a deal ($6 or so), but for some items, shipping can cost a lot ($40).
Jomashop also charges an 8% restocking fee on items over $4,000, which is a minimum of $300—that’s hefty. So if you’re spending a lot of dough with Jomashop, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting because at that rate, returns just don’t make sense.
Warranties are a bit of a touchy subject when you’re buying on the grey market.
Because neither Jomashop nor Ashford are authorized dealers, you’re most often not getting the factory warranty you’d get from an authorized dealer. A big part of that is because the stock is usually a little older (excess stock from authorized retailers that didn’t sell as well the previous years).
Of course, the fact that it’s grey market is also why the prices are so awesome.
Again, if you’re shopping on the low end for watches (I’d say anywhere under $1,000), I wouldn’t worry about the warranty too much. There’s plenty of revolving stock at this price range and I’d wager that you’re essentially getting a brand new watch that’s maybe a season old.
Measuring a highly versatile 39mm in width (47mm lug-to-lug), French microbrand Baltic bring to the conversation one of the finest sub-$1000 dive watches on the market with the Aquascaphe. We particularly love its clean design lines and symmetry, unique "grainy" dial finishing, and particularly the aesthetic of the black / cream variant.
I would only shop Joma or Ashford in the $1,000+ range if you have a watch repair that you like and trust (or are willing to find one).
Jomashop vs Ashford: Which is Best for You?
Both Jomashop and Ashford have a lot of satisfied customers.
I’ll say this: if you’re impatient and quite nervous about shopping with either, just don’t.
The majority of negative reviews I’ve read for both are due to folks getting nervous after their watch didn’t ship in the first four days.
During busy seasons, both companies can be a bit slow on the fulfillment side. For a $50 watch, you might not blink an eye at a 10-day shipping period. But for a $10,000 watch, you might start to wonder what’s going on.
If you’re looking for a stylish timepiece under $500, Ashford is a great place to look.
If you’re interested in more luxury brands and have a budget somewhere between $500 and $3000, Jomashop has an amazon variety of brands and models.
If you’re shopping specifically for Rolex, Omega, or Patek Phillipe and you don’t mind buying used, I’d check out Bob’s Watches. The customer service is more personalized (they sell fewer watches, and always higher end—with Joma, your customer service messages are mixed with thousands of messages from folks buying $50 Invicta watches, so you’ll get a slower response time).
If I was looking at the same deal between Jomashop and Ashford, I would choose Jomashop. Their customer service and shipping has a slight edge over Ashford. That said, if you scope a fantastic deal on Ashford, it’s still worth going for.
Is Ashford grey market?
Yes, Ashford is a grey market watch dealer. Despite what the name might suggest, grey market dealers are entirely legitimate. You don’t get the same warranty coverage, but you’re able to get authentic watches at a fantastic price.
Are Jomashop watches authentic?
Yes, Jomashop’s watches are 100% authentic, and their new watches come with original papers, packaging, and are automatically registered. Because Jomashop isn’t an authorized dealer, you may not get the same factory warranty, though.
No, Jomashop isn’t an authorized dealer for their watches—they buy their stock from authorized dealers though. The benefit is that Jomashop’s prices are much lower, but the drawback is that you don’t get the same warranty as you would from an authorized dealer.