Watch Gang burst onto the retail watch scene with a subscription model that promises you'll receive a watch that is of a higher value than the monthly subscription cost.
This sounds like a pretty good deal if you want to quickly and effortlessly increase your watch collection. Add in their various pricing tiers and weekly giveaways of luxury watches from brands such as Rolex and TAG, and I'm very tempted to join.
If you haven't heard about Watch Gang, here's a quick video about what they offer:
But with any new watch related purchase, I like to do my due diligence. I've included this below in my attempt to answer the question: 'Is a WatchGang subscription worth it?"
Note - I'm in no way affiliated with Watch Gang and haven't received any incentive for reviewing their service.
The above table shows the 3 different pricing tiers along with some recent watches offered in each tier. I've also provided pricing in brackets along with the link verifying the price.
Note - given the nature of these watch microbrands, it's difficult to verify pricing because these watches are not offered through many retailers. I've done the best I could.
The 3 pricing tiers offer a wide variety, starting at $49.99 ('Original') and moving all the way up to $299.99 ('Platinum'). But, it's clear they try to funnel users to their middle value 'Black' plan that costs $99.99.
Note - their pricing model uses the old trick of placing the price 1 cent below the actual cost in an effort to appear cheaper. I find this practice deceptive and I tend to put my guard up when I see pricing like this as it can be a red flag for other deceptive or at least non-genuine tactics.
I mean, does $99.99 really sound so much better than $100? Do you think we're too stupid to realize $99.99 is actually $100? Anyway, rant over. But seriously, Watch Gang, please change this as I think it will help with your credibility (& sign-up rates).
What I do like about this subscription service is they provide 3 frequency options, giving you full power over how much you want to spend and the number of watches you want to receive.
The three different subscription frequencies are:
It would appear as though the monthly 'Black' subscription is the most popular (and most marketed),
The on-demand option is great for those looking to trial the service before setting up a monthly or quarterly subscription. Providing this option increases their trustworthiness as they aren't simply trying to force their most profitable monthly subscription plan option onto you.
If I do decide to trial Watch Gang, I'd be looking to purchase the on-demand option. Depending on the value of that 1st watch, I'd either continue with a subscription or just do-nothing if I didn't want to continue.
You'll probably be presented with a coupon or similar benefit to entice you to join Watch Gang. A common benefit is free shipping for the first month. But, after this introductory offer, you'll be paying the following shipping fees:
So, be sure to factor in an additional $10 on top of whichever plan you choose if you live in the US.
If you happen to live in Australia then you'll need to factor in a very substantial $35 additional. This places the lower price plans at a significant disadvantage over buying from a local source that has more competitive shipping costs.
To bolster Facebook membership numbers and generally sustain interest, Watch Gang continuously runs the following giveaways:
We all like free stuff, so hard not to like the generous ongoing promotions from Watch Gang. They explicitly mention that they are not affiliated with TAG Heuer and Rolex - indicating that they are not given these watches.
I do wonder how much these promos are costing each week and the ROI of them. Assuming they get these luxury watches at 50% retail, they'd still be looking at $5K each week. That's a lot of new members they need to onboard to cover these prizes. They've been doing these competitions for a long time now, so I can only assume they are financially viable.
You don't need to hold a current subscription to enter some of their competitions, so it's worthwhile checking out their competition details and putting your hat in the ring.
I've heard some positive reviews about the Watch Gang Exchange private Facebook group and wanted to see for myself. Unfortunately, I don't meet the entry requirements as I haven't received 3 Watch Gang subscriptions.
This was a shame because I wanted to see how active the secondary market was for Watch Gang watches. Whilst researching the various prices of previous watches offered, I regularly came across numerous posts on (WatchesUSeek etc) of current Watch Gang members trying to offload their latest watch for the value of their Watch Gang subscription.
It was pretty clear that these watches struggled to get any attention because they are not brands that resonate with collectors. The ones that did get sold generally did so below the Watch Gang subscription cost.
So, I'd suggest you put aside any hopes of quickly flipping your newly acquired Watch Gang watch for a quick profit. I certainly wouldn't be hoping to get anywhere near Watch Gang's quoted retail price for the watch.
Watch Gang touts their relationship with watch manufacturers and volume pricing as the reason for being able to supposedly offer watches valued at 5x the subscription cost.
After looking through the various offerings from previous months across all the three different pricing tiers, I'm going to offer the following generalisations:
The original tier is the cheapest, so you'd expect to find the lower quality watches in this tier. You'd be correct. Watches in this tier are generally all quartz based movements from microbrands. Many of these microbrands I'd never even heard of and even researching them, there's very little information on the models offered through Watch Gang.
As an example, the PureDial Square Legacy watch included in June 2020's original tier was a Kickstarter project from a 17-year old that successfully raised the $5K needed to have the watches manufactured.
Now, I'm not going to weigh in on the quality of these watches as I haven't properly reviewed them. But, it doesn't get much more microbrand than a kickstarter campaign to build watches.
I personally think it's great that a 17 year old was able to raise enough money to start manufacturing watches. But, the key point here is they are starting to manufacture watches. This is not your well-oiled Swiss watch manufacturer.
Moving up in price to the mainstay of the Watch Gang offering is the Black tier which will set you back $100. These are generally a mixture of quartz and automatic watches.
You aren't going to get anything super fancy like in-house movement at this price - many of these automatics use Seiko NH35. But, if specs are important to you then you can get a high spec watch for a good price because these mircrobrands are competing on specs and you aren't paying a premium for branding.
But, because there is little brand recognition, your resale options become limited.
The final and most expensive tier is Platinum that will set you back $300. Now, I really like the idea of a platinum tier as it theoretically opens up many more options.
Most of the watches in this tier are automatics. Some with very good movements.
You may luck out and get a Tsovet or maybe something with a lower retail value. With the higher $300 pricepoint, this is starting to feel closer to gambling than watch collecting.
I don't think Watch Gang has done a good job transparently providing watch values. This is a shame as a core part of their marketing message is that you'll receive a watch at least equal to the value of your membership.
From Watch Gang's FAQ:
The value determination of our watches is based on many factors including the retail price and lowest online selling price. Before we ever strike a deal with a partner, we look to see where the watches are selling and for how much. For instance, if a Citizen watch is being sold in a jewelry store for $300, but is stocked online for $180, we use $180 to determine the value.
In the case with some Craft brands, we sometimes have to defer to the manufacturer's selling price as they aren't sold elsewhere. We also receive samples to ensure they meet our value and quality that our members expect.
We do not base our values from auction sites due to the nature of their operations. In the same vein, we do not honor pricing from sites such as eBay listings, Groupon, Overstock, out of stock, sold out or otherwise expired offers since their limited supply cannot dictate the market value nor sustain it. We do not honor those discounts since they are not honest evaluations of what an item is truly worth.
But, when you go to research the value they've calculated for their past watches, they simply provide a link to the manufacturer's listing as shown below:
This 'Beagle Listing' links directly to the retail pricing offered by the manufacturer:
As you can see, the link opens to a category page showing many different Beagles making it very difficult to understand which models they've actually offered to members.
But, most of these models have been priced by the manufacturer at 940 GBP, which is very, very overpriced for this watch. The same manufacturer offers a 70% sale on their site for numerous watches. I'm very confident that you'll be able to obtain Earnshaw Beagle for 70% off during an upcoming sale.
Heck, I found Walmart selling them for $380.
$380 is more expensive than the $300 Platinum membership tier. So, it lives up to Watch Gang's promise. But, it's nowhere near the 5x value they've claimed is possible.
This statement from Watch Gang is deceiving. In every single instance, I could only ever see reference to the manufacturer's selling price. This statement should read 'We defer to the manufacturer's selling price.'
They don't want to honor the pricing from other liquidators because they don't see these as an honest evaluation of what an item is truly worth.
As a consumer, I start to get frustrated here because they seem to care about what an item is truly worth, yet only specify the manufacturer's selling price which is far from what the market is willing to pay for many of these watches.
The fact you can't find these watches through other retailers and the lack of a functioning secondary market outside of Watch Gang's exchange is proof that these watches struggle to be sold for anything near the manufacturer's RRP.
I'm very comfortable arguing that the price set by other liquidators (such as Groupon) is way closer to an honest evaluation of worth vs the manufacturer's RRP used by Watch Gang.
I've spent considerable time researching previous watches available to Watch Gang members for each of the 3 tiers. The above table shows the pricing I was able to find for 2 watches within each tier. I will point out again that this was difficult to research as reliable pricing wasn't available for many microbrands.
In determining whether the Watch Gang subscription costs provide better value than buying the watch elsewhere, I'm using the lowest online price I could find within a 30 second Google Search. You could probably find them cheaper if you had more time.
Note - I'm not using the manufacturer's RRP as I've already argued this is flawed and should be changed.
The two watches I was able to find pricing on were:
After shipping costs, the actual value obtained via the Watch Gang subscription is:
I was easily able to find the Joshua & Sons watch for the same retail price on Amazon with free delivery. So, this watch would actually cost me more through Watch Gang as I would have needed to pay for delivery.
So no, I don't consider the $50 plan from Watch Gang to be good value as I could get it in my hands for $10 less elsewhere.
But, it does technically fall within their promise of the online price being less or equal to the subscription cost - so long as you exclude shipping.
The two Black tier watches I could find some pricing details:
I have to take aim at Watch Gang here for being either ignorantly or blatantly deceptive. The Invicta Subaqua listing is provided in the following link:
Which leads you to the following listing page from Invicta offering a MRRP of $3195:
Wow. I've paid $99.99 (plus shipping) for my Watch Gang black subscription and I've received a watch worth $3,200! That's 32x value!! I'm super happy with my Watch Gang membership.
I find the same watch 'on sale' at the official Invicta Stores site for $158... Even they couldn't stomach the original MRRP of $3,200 and have decided to halve this as their 'pre-sale' price of $1,619.
Do we give Watch Gang the benefit of the doubt and just say they overlooked this, or have they genuinely tried to make their membership look much more enticing than it actually is?
It's hard to say because they are not transparent with the value they've assigned to each watch. And, the more I dig, the more I'm starting to think this lack of transparency is deliberate because they aren't comfortable with the true fair value of the watches they offer.
But, given this watch costs $109.92 (incl shipping) via the Watch Gang black membership, and I could have purchased for $158, then I have still received a value of $48.
This lives up to Watch Gang's promise of receiving a watch of at least a higher value than the subscription. But, still goes nowhere near the 5x that is supposedly possible and is very underwhelming given Watch Gang has included a $3,200 retail price.
The two watches I was able to provide reputable pricing were:
Honestly, I was surprised by how many watches in Platinum subscription were still very difficult to find reliable pricing.
My starting assumption was that given the higher price, there would be significantly more retailers and reviews that would make this tier easier to research. I was wrong.
After shipping costs, the actual value obtained via the Watch Gang subscription is:
So yes, these watches live up to Watch Gang's promise of receiving a watch of higher value than the membership. The Laco appears to be particularly good value if I was in the market for one.
However, I'd feel a lot more comfortable if there was more pricing information for these microbrands. It's not clear if the manufacturer actually sells any watches at these prices (ie no verified reviews from purchasers etc).
Given Watch Gang's presence (190K+ Facebook Fans), marketing effort (I'm constantly retargeted by them) and reviews from current and previous members, I've no doubt that Watch Gang is a legitimate company.
I've also no doubt that if I sign up for a subscription that I will receive a watch that is either close to, or better value, than what I'd be able to get elsewhere.
But, I have not seen any evidence that they can support their claim that you may receive a watch 5x the value. So, if this was the hook that baited you into a membership, then I'd be having second thoughts.
Watch Gang appears to be going down the path of increasing engagement via seemingly random add-ons like 'spinning the wheel'. You need to purchase points first and the more points you use, the higher your chances of receiving a higher value watch. Basically, higher risk equals higher reward.
They are tapping into the same little pleasure centres that fuel poker machine addicts. I like to gamble (perhaps too much), but it's hard to work out the odds of winning with a computerized game like 'the wheel'. And you can be sure that the house is not losing...
So, is the wheel for me? Nah, I'll stick with Texas Hold Em for gambling.
Prior to researching the value of Watch Gang watches I was leaning towards trying it out. But, after doing the research and seeing the brands I'd likely receive, I don't think I will. There's just not that many watches that I'd be super happy to receive given the subscription price.
There are several on the platinum plan that look interesting and I'd happily pay $300 for, but others that just don't appeal to me.
If I wanted to effortlessly increase my collection of watches with decent specs from brands that I am not familiar with, then I'd certainly consider a membership.
For my money, I'd prefer to pay a little bit for a watch that I'm happy with rather than be disappointed with a series of watches that would get no use.
Also, the watch geek in me really enjoys researching new watches. I value the research more than the surprise.
I can see the appeal for new watch collectors - so long as they aren't expecting to make money from their collection down the track.