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The Price of Time Went Up

From The American Horologist magazine, July, 1944


The Price of Time Went Up
By I. H. Kohr

The following warning was issued to prospective WATCH buyers, by the OP A on June 19th.
Take your TIME when you buy a WATCH to be sure that you are getting what you pay for and that the price is right.

There is an ugly story of crookery and price gouging in Swiss WATCH sales in this country.
There are two main kinds of chiseling according to the OP A. Sales -at prices above OP A ceiling and deliberate fraud in quality. WATCHES of the cheapest kind have been dressed in special cases and faces to sell at fantastic prices.

Cheats have included not only flyby-night salesmen and little retailers, but also some of the big department stores.

Example: A group of stores opened up in a New York section. They refused to sell their Swiss WATCHES to any but service people, The storekeepers figured that the service people soon would be leaving New York, would be gone before discovering they had been rooked.

In a given city the same kind of WATCH may sell at five different prices, ranging from the right price to five times the right price.

This has been especially true in areas located near army camps.

According to OPA officials Retailers, large and small, generally sell at ceiling prices when they have been able to buy at ceiling prices.

But where a commodity is very scarce, even some of the largest department stores have bought at over ceiling prices and sold at over ceiling.

Until Pearl Harbor, two kinds of WATCHES hit the American market.

Those made in this country, and those with movements made in Switzerland.

After Pearl Harbor, the government banned manufacture of WATCH movements in this country for civilian use. The precision work which had gone into making them was needed for war.

After this ban on American movements, retailers from all over the country deluged importers with demands for Swiss movements. All at once the distribution problem became vastly complicated.

Seeing a juky chance to make money, jobbers buy from importers and sell to retailers. This simplifies the distribution job for the importers but affected the price. Now three groups, importers, jobbers and retailers had to make a profit on the WATCH you bought. Sometimes as many as three groups of jobbers would figure in a sale of a Swiss WATCH. A jobber bought from an importer and sold to another jobber who sold to another jobber who sold to a retailer.

Thus there were five groups making a profit off the WATCH where before there were only two.

This meant prices were knocked around, knocked upward, in the process as retailers scrambled to buy from the jobbers and customers scrambled to buy from the retailers.
The price of TIME went up.


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