Man files lawsuit against jeweller for not selling him promised $109K Patek after building up $220K purchase history

Man files lawsuit against jeweller for not selling him promised $109K Patek after building up $220K purchase history

Zach Blass
  • Patek Philippe collector Ali Rezaei has filed a lawsuit against Bay Area jeweller Shreve & Co.
  • Rezaei alleges he was promised an allocation of a US$109K Patek Phillipe 5980/1R-001 in exchange for “built-up purchase history”
  • After accumulating US$220K in purchase history, Rezaei never received the “promised” allocation – prompting his filed lawsuit

When this story surfaced on SiliconValley.com, it was immediately circulated amongst #watchfam on Instagram – and for good reason. People are sick and tired of enigmatic waitlists, and the inability to purchase the watches they want at retail. The “unobtanium” phenomenon has buyers understandably furious. One commonly held belief surrounding how to best increase your chances of getting a highly coveted watch at retail is the notion that buyers simply need to build up purchase history to get the watch they ultimately want. This involves expensive purchases that are often not the watches a buyer actually wants. They are instead stepping stones towards the end goal watch. But, as one Bay Area client learned the hard way, even this commonly advised avenue is not so clear cut.

This is where the news surrounding watch buyer Ali Rezaei, and his lawsuit against Shreve & Co, comes to the forefront. The story goes that Rezaei visited his local Patek Philippe authorised dealer to express an interest in purchasing a highly sought after Patek Phillipe Nautilus 5980/1R-001 chronograph that commands a retail price of US$108,820. But, his expression of interest was swiftly rejected. Nothing is particularly fishy about that, as most people would face the same fate upon an initial request. It would take VIP status for a retailer to offer such a reference to a collector, and he would need to build his relationship, or more aptly purchase history, with the retailer before such an allocation would be offered.

According to the lawsuit filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, Rezaei alleges he was told: “That if he built up his ‘purchase history’ by buying a sufficient amount of other merchandise over time… they would offer the Promised Watch to him.”

So, with his eyes set on getting an allocation, Rezaei decided to play ball – purchasing US$220K worth of goods from Shreve & Co in the name of getting his promised 5980/1R-001.

Ethan Baron of SiliconValley.com explains: “Rezaei soon bought a different gold Patek Philippe watch from Shreve, for $71,000, his lawsuit claimed. Then he picked up another timepiece by the legendary Swiss watchmaker, this time a women’s model ringed with diamonds, for $50,000. Then he bought a third Patek Philippe from Shreve, for $47,000. Finally, after he shelled out $53,000 for a gold and diamond necklace in March last year, a shop salesman assured him Shreve “would offer him the Promised Watch that year”, the lawsuit alleged. That offer never came.

Watch manufacturers tend to underpromise and overdeliver. For example, most watches are tested quite far beyond their pledged depth rating or, in some instances, timepieces can be more accurate than their stated parameters. Watch retailers, on the other hand, tend to do the opposite. At best, a retailer will not get your hopes up unnecessarily and will simply advise that such highly sought-after watches are typically reserved for their most loyal and high-spending clients. Where Shreve & Co. possibly took things too far is if they actually did promise Rezaei an allocation by the “end of the year” in exchange for accumulated purchase history as the lawsuit alleges.

This story, however, has one last interesting twist. At some point during Rezeai’s 18-month US$220K spending spree, the company knew it was no longer going to be an authorised dealer for Patek Philippe.

Ethan Baron explains: “Shreve — which in 1887 became the second U.S. jeweller in the U.S. to represent Patek Philippe, according to the company — knew as early as November 2021 when it sold him the women’s watch that it was losing its status as a Patek Philippe dealer and would not be able to sell him the 5980/1R-001, the lawsuit claimed.”

So, what is Rezaei ultimately accusing them of? And, what compensation is he seeking? Ethan Baron explains: “His lawsuit accused Shreve of offences including fraud, false promise, breach of contract, and intentional and negligent misrepresentation. He is seeking at least $500,000 in damages.”

I am not an attorney, so I cannot speak to his odds of winning or losing the case. But, what I can be certain of is that Rezaei has the whole watch enthusiast community rooting for him!