On March 18, 2014, the celebrity news source TMZ broke the news that American recording artist John Mayer was suing Robert Maron a.k.a Bob Maron —renowned watch dealer to the stars with clients like Charlie Sheen— for at least $656,000 USD, claiming that some of the watches Maron sold him, were 'counterfeit' as confirmed by the Rolex Service Center.
John Mayer, besides being quite popular for his guitar playing abilities, is also well known in the watch collecting circles due to his close relationship and contributions to a well respected watch blog. John's love for watches probably started when he met Eric Clapton —also known to be an important watch collector.
No matter how much you know about watches or how close you are to the experts, you could always find yourself lost in the murky waters of the vintage watch collecting world. Especially, when it comes to vintage Rolex and Tudor timepieces. Always, always do your homework and if necessary, reach out to well renowned experts like Philipp Stahl, Stefano Mazzariol, Marcello Pisani or Pucci Papaleo.
For those of you not familiar with Robert Maron, according to his website, he has been a watch dealer since the 80s and known throughout the world for his 'expertise' in rare and vintage timepieces, especially around Patek Philippe and Rolex. Maron is a graduate of Harvard University and it was while attending UCLA Law School that he first considered taking his hobby to the next level becoming a full-time watch dealer. During this period, Maron began actively buying and selling vintage wristwatches and the extra money earned from his part-time business helped finance his law school education. Maron soon realized that his love for fine watches outweighed his desire to become a lawyer and following his graduation from law school, he chose watches over law as his full-time career. It is hard to believe that a watch dealer with such credentials could be caught up in a scandal like this.
But what does this mean for the vintage watch world and vintage watch lovers? Well, the moral of the story is that you really can't trust anybody and 'buying the seller' is no longer the safe route to go anymore.
When someone like John Mayer —a so called 'watch expert'— gets allegedly ripped off by another watch expert like Bob Maron and not even John Mayer's friends could tell that these watches were indeed 'counterfeit', it means that the vintage watch industry could be facing huge issues moving forward. If you are not any of the four expert gentlemen mentioned earlier, you should probably be more than careful when buying vintage. Not only have we seen a large number of 'counterfeit' cases, bezel inserts, dials and bracelets but also even punched papers.
While collecting vintage Rolex watches is very appealing and wearing a 'Freccione', a 'Paul Newman' or a 'Double Red Sea-Dweller' gives you a ton of street credit among other connoisseurs and heavy hitters, you are taking big risks. While there are many watch dealers that will never misrepresent watches and only sell you fully legit watches, there are others that are well known to offer what we call 'put-together' vintage watches trying to make them pass for 'original untouched safe queens' —you guys know who you are. In reality, these watches are just the sum of pristine different parts of many watches.
Oh, and don't forget those selling 'artificially aged' bezel inserts. There are a ton out there selling for thousands of dollars. Also, if you look deep enough, you'll find an Asian company selling 'counterfeit' Rolex and Tudor vintage watch parts online that we were told about by a watch dealer—we still wonder why this company has not been busted yet after so many years in the market. If, after checking that website you are still brave enough to buy another vintage Rolex, that means that you could be one of the four vintage experts mentioned earlier.
To us, the only way to buy with peace of mind, is to buy from the original owner. Here's one that we know for sure comes from the original owner.
You can find the full complaint documents here.