Service time: unofficial survey

I recently started reading on the internet about sending Vachy off to the VC spa because I know
that, inevitably, it will happen some day. I was a little surprised at some of the things I read
"I got my watch back 6 months later and the repair was not complete!" Of course,
I know better than to take isolated incidents and extrapolate, but it still left me curious.

So, here I am, hoping to get collaboration from some of the active members of the
Lounge. Could you please tell me (us) about how long it took for your previous watch servicing
to get done and any particular detail you would like to share? I guess, at the same time,
maybe mention your particular service center?

I would really appreciate something along the lines of "I live in Holland and I sent my watch
off for regular servicing and it took 2 months from the time I sent it. They contacted me twice
to keep me up to date and everything was great".

Thanks in advance to anyone who's willing to participate!

PS: Feel free to give tips ("send in November, it's faster.." or "send through the AD, it's better" or...)
Re: Service time: unofficial survey
02/06/2010 - 12:36
Hi Tien anbd Fellow Loungers, I submitted my vintage watch to Richemont in Taipei on December 7 2009 for an evaluation. They gave me an immediate assessment after the watch was looked over by one of their in-house technicians, advising that the watch was 10s fast.  However, as it was a vintage movement, a full service was impossible in Taipei.  It would have to be sent to Hong Kong, and if not possible there, then onto Geneva. Once either HK or Geneva could provide a quotation, the details would be forwarded to me and I could make a decision on whether or not to proceed. They told me there would be a delay owing to the Christmas and New Year holidays.  Up to that point I was most satisfied with their service - prompt, polite and informative. However, After not hearing from them for two months, I contacted the Taipei office a couple of days ago to follow up.  They claimed to have sent me an e-mail (which I never received) about the progress.  The bottom line was that the estimate process had not even begun yet.  More worrying, they were unsure where the watch was! They then said they would contact me by telephone in the next couple of days.  I am still waiting. I shall call them again next week and chase this up! Hope other Fellow Loungers fare better! Best regards JAMES
6 to 11 months
02/06/2010 - 19:11

Over the past two years I've sent four watches to the factory through the Richemont Canada service center.  The longest that it took to have a watch returned was 11 months and the shortest was six months.  These time periods seem directly related to these factors: 1) naturally, the nature of the work to be done, and surprisingly 2) the number of problems that arose during the process. Recently, some time has been saved by the policy of Richemont Canada to forward vintage pieces directly to the factory.  They tried to evaluate my first watch and scratched the case.  Since then they have only acted as a conduit to the factory. Some time was lost due to problems at the front and back end of the service process.  At the front end, one watch was returned twice to the factory for various issues that should have been preventable.  This was the piece that took 11 months in total.  I believe this was expedited by the intervention of the Director of the service department. Consistent billing errors and communication problems (a process handled by Richemont) added time at the back end.  The business model requiring Canadian customers to proceed through Richemont has, for me, only added aggravation and costs. Presently I am waiting for the conclusion of my last service order.  Problems with the Certificate of Authenticty required me to send it back so I'm waiting for a replacement.

I waited more than four months for a bracelet link.
02/06/2010 - 21:34
When I paid, I was told that the link was in New York and only had to be sent to California for me. Based on that experience, I sold the watch before it needed service. I am left owning only one Vacheron. It's a simple vintage piece, and I will have it serviced by my local watchmaker.
If there is a silver lining...
02/06/2010 - 22:34
... it is that you have time to save up to pay the hefty bill.  We still spend huge sums with them though because the 5 year service is, well, 5 years away....
Re: Service time: unofficial survey
02/07/2010 - 00:08
The responses so far don't seem very enthusiastic. Of course, I'm sure all readers understand that these could very well be isolated cases and that "typical" timeframes could be different. Another point to note is that none of the previous responses have been for simple maintenance, so I'm still being optimistiic :) Thank you once again to all those who replied and to all those who will. Tien
Re: Service time: unofficial survey
02/07/2010 - 11:08
Hi Tien, I've sent 2 watches in for work over the past year.  Both are vintage, one being 100 years old and the other being 55 years, and in need of major work (either hand making new components or replacing worn parts). Both have been quoted at 12 months, one was done in 10 months and the other has been expedited by the Director of After Sales service - its only been 4 months so far on that one. I've had communications problems with Richemont U.S. (similar to Dean with Richemont Canada).  I'm also still waiting to hear back from VC on the watch that has been returned.  I've written to both Richemont and VC about my concerns and expectations but have not gotten satisfactory replies yet.  I know that the holidays and SIHH got in the way, but those are over and I expect business to get back to normal. Based on what I've read from the other posters, my experience is not unique - actually less traumatic (i.e. James, I hope you get really good news very quickly).  While VC has increased its staff and has a focus on service and restoration (according to interviews/articles in VC's Watchtime Special Edition), there are still gaps between desired vs. actual.   I'veluckily received some personal attention from the Director of After Sales Service and am grateful, he is a very dedicated individual with a passion for getting things done right.  But I think he is facing the challenges of changing/re-engineering the after-sales service system (both internal within VC and the shared services between VC and Richemont).  I'm afraid that this senior executive is putting out too many fires by himself, instead of being able to rely on a system to meet his performance expectations.  Unfortunately, when quality and service standards rely on any one individual (no matter how dedicated), it is impossible to extinguish all the fires in a manner that is satisfactory to each and every stakeholder.  I believe the results are being displayed in the previous posts. My experience with watch company service is limited to 2 companies, but I had to send in a brand new Omega watch for full-service only 3 months after buying it due to slow and inconsistent performance.  It has just started acting up again.  The original service was provided at an Omega Flaship Store under original warranty service and this new service is being done under the previous service's one year warranty (luckily, I made it in time, just under the wire by 4 days).  I'm very surprised that the watch would have these problems (running slow and only working for 15-20 hours after being fully wound, even with it being an automatic) after being fully serviced only a year ago.  Service is recommended at 5 year intervals and this is a co-axial movement that is supposed to have less reliability and oil related issues.  I guess this shows to me what I've read others say about Swiss watch after sales service and support - that in general, there is much room for improvement.  There was an interesting article on this in the New York Times a few months ago, but I can't recall the exact date. Given these experiences, I would still send my watches to their authorized service centers and plan on sending 2 more vintage VCs into the Spa this year.  For vintage watches, though they are not perfect, I believe VC does still have the most complete knowledge and experience in making the watch "as good as new".  For newer watches, the local regional service centers should be able to do the work.  I will send my newer ones into the VC Maison in Shanghai, as I know and trust the master watchmaker and don't have to deal with Richemont or other delivery, 3rd party, issues. BR, Dan
Well put Dan
02/08/2010 - 04:11
I too have leaned heavily on Mr. Mungier and the Customer Service staff at Vacheron.  Their polite and helpful manner goes a long way to ease problems but, as you astutely point out, this service only comes into play for those who know who to ask and after having experienced the dissatisfaction. More to the point of Tien's question about service times, I'd would like to clarify that I don't actually rate the time it takes for the watch to return as most important.  In order of priority, I look for 1. accuracy, 2. value, and 3. timeliness. Accuracy is what I expect in restoration of original finish, function and completeness of documentation.  Value is what I expect in terms of an appropriate level of effort and quality for the funds invested.  Timeliness relates more to an efficient process of estimates and repairs, with no time wasted between stages or to rectify unneccesary difficulties.  For all of these points, I can cite both good and bad experiences. I would still recommend a factory restoration for anyone interested, at least once for the experience.  For the right piece, I too would do it again but would also take a very active role in communicating directly with the departments involved. Otherwise, I have identified several highly experienced local watchsmiths who are genuinely enthused to work on my Vacherons, even with me hovering over their shoulder .
I agree with you 100% on the prioritization...
02/08/2010 - 04:37
1. Accuracy (and quality of the work done to the watch to make it as "good as new") 2. Value 3. Timeliness (I've said it before, this is a great reason to own more than one VC Personally, I put Accuracy far above in my weighting of these 3 priorities - say 80%, 15%, 5% respectively.  I know its not going to be cheap for a vintage restoration, that's why watches are not an investment vehicle for me.  I attach an emotional/passion to the pieces I collect - and therefore place the heavy emphasis on getting them restored properly (which is another reason I love VC - they claim to be able to restore any watch that was ever made by the manufacture, irregardless of age and condition albeit at a price). For a new watch and it's regular, routine, servicing - I've been paying around $600 for my simple watches (previously at a VC AD and now at the Shanghai Maison), which I consider reasonable - since I expect to do so at 5 year intervals.  As with any customer, these are my personal expectations and I expect them to be met.  If VC (or any other service provider) has different expectations for what they provide - then they need to let me know ahead of time and try to manage my expectations. BR, Dan
I'm odd man out but I sent my Malte Chrono for service and it was back
02/08/2010 - 16:17
in 4 months!