Are Watches Cheaper In Dubai?


People think of several places, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Dubai, when buying watches at a low price. But are watches cheaper in Dubai? Let’s investigate and see if this is true.

Watches can be cheaper in Dubai because of the large market, although the savings are generally not significant. You could save money from the lower VAT, but you will pay for import duty, which will negate your savings. You might also have warranty and service issues with the watch later.

Are Watches Cheaper In Dubai

We have also covered if watches are cheaper in Switzerland and Hong Kong. Feel free to check those articles as well if you are keen. 

Why Are Watches Cheaper In Dubai?

In short, there is a large watch market, low and no VAT, and the used watch market is large. These contributed to lower prices of watches in Dubai compared to many places. 

Low/No VAT

Compared to many countries, Dubai’s VAT is only 5%. This means you pay lower tax when buying luxury watches.

It is pretty low compared to many places. For example, Switzerland charges a VAT of 7.7%. Some European countries may charge up to 20+ % VAT, so the savings can be significant. 

ALSO READ: What Makes A Watch A Luxury Watch?

Large Market

Dubai is a prosperous city in a rich country. The GNI per capita of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is 43,470 in PPP dollars, one of the highest in the Gulf region.

Dubai is also where many wealthy elites from the Arab world shop, party, and have fun. 

This drives up demand for luxury things such as cars, clothing, and watches. Many merchants and dealers have set up shops to cater to them.

Therefore, Dubai has an extensive list of watch dealers, and they might just offer the watches you are looking for. 

Competitive Used Market

Dubai also has a large and competitive used watch market, with many dealers competing to sell their watches to you. 

This means if you are going to find watches that you are looking for, and perhaps even get some good bargain for your watches.

Are There Issues When Buying Watches From Dubai?

However, before you go ahead and go shopping for watches in Dubai, do understand that there are issues that you will need to deal with if you intend to take the watch home.

Import Duty

You will have to declare your purchase with the customs and pay import duty if you take the watch home or buy online directly from Dubai.

You might be able to escape this if you buy from duty-free shops, but that will limit you to what’s available in the airports.

Import duties are lobbied for foreign purchases to protect local businesses, which may not be able to compete due to higher costs in the US. 

For import duty, the rate for the US is:

AmountImport Duty
First $800No Duty levied
Next $10003%
Over $18006.5%

This might not sound a lot, but when you do your calculation, you might discover that a $10,000 Breitling might cost you over $563 in import duty.

This additional tax might have wiped off the possible savings from buying from Dubai. You might just be better off buying local instead.

Warranty

You might have issues with the warranty if you purchase watches from Dubai.

Warranty claims might not be as straightforward when your watch is purchased in Dubai, and you are trying to process it in your home country. 

Although many watchmakers offer an international warranty, there might be exceptions on geographical locations. For example, Fossil and Stuhrling.

This can be further complicated if you bought a used watch that still has a warranty from the watchmaker. 

Imagine the situation where you try to claim a warranty for your watch in Miami. In contrast, the watch was initially registered to a buyer in Dubai. 

The watchmaker would need to do additional checking and communication within their team to check, verify and update the warranty information. 

The process would take time and delay your warranty claim.

Servicing & Maintenance

Another issue you might have to contend with is servicing and maintenance. Specific watch models might have different parts or specifications to suit the local market better

For example, you might see watches with local language on the day wheel or dial. 

So if you need to service watches like these, it might be challenging since the parts might not be readily available in your home country. 

You might see your watch being shipped back to Dubai for servicing, and you might also have to pay the delivery fee. 

That means additional delays and fees for you. 

Reselling

You will also have issues reselling the watch when you want to. 

Suppose a buyer has a chance to buy a similar watch from different buyers at the same price. He would choose to buy from the seller whose watch is from the local market. It is safer and easier to manage anyway.

Some buyers just don’t like seeing languages they don’t understand appearing on their watch’s date window on the dial. So your Dubai watch is something they won’t purchase.

You might have to lower your price to sell it, which negates the savings you made buying from Dubai. 

What To Do When Buying Watches In Dubai?

Suppose you still insist on going shopping for watches in Dubai and are ok with the issues that might be involved. You can apply several tips to ensure you get the most bang for your money. 

Shop From Official Dealers

If you are shopping for new watches, only shop with official dealers. 

This is because you are a foreigner shopping in Dubai. Your unfamiliarity with the surroundings, language, and culture made you susceptible to being ripped off by irresponsible sellers. 

Check for lists of official dealers of your watch brand of choice in Dubai, and call in and ask for the price of the watch you are keen to purchase. 

This allows you to compare the price and make a better purchasing decision. 

You may be quoted in UAE Dirhams (AED), so it pays to check with your bank on the exchange rate for the day and the potential fees involved in international transactions. 

The usual exchange rate is around 1USD to 3.6AED. 

Shop From Reputable Used Watch Dealer

If you are going to bargain hunt and go shopping at the used market, be sure to do your homework. 

If possible, bring a local with you to do the shopping, as they might be able to help you get a better price for your watch. 

Some areas are popular and have good watch dealers, such as the Dubai Gold Souq.

Check With the Official Service Center

If you are to pull the trigger on a used watch, make sure to ask for permission from the dealer to have the watch checked with the official service center of the watchmaker. 

This is done for your peace of mind. Despite Dubai not being the center of imitation of clone watch manufacturing, some have managed to find their way there. 

Also, there might be Frankenstein watches, a mixture of original and non-genuine parts in a watch. These watches should be heavily discounted and mentioned up front, but some irresponsible sellers do not do so. 

Dubai has the service center of many of the world’s major watchmakers. You might have to pay for their verification service, but better pay extra than to be ripped off in a major way. 

Wrapping Up: Are Watches Cheaper In Dubai?

To sum up, watches can be cheaper in Dubai, although the savings are generally not significant.

You pay less tax, and the general competition and market size mean you can find great watches at a great value. 

However, it might be better to buy at home when you factor in factors such as import duty, hassles in servicing, and warranty claims. 

We have also covered if watches are cheaper in Switzerland and Hong Kong, so feel free to check out those. Thanks for reading!

Nigel Ignatius

Nigel is the principal creator of WatchPursuits.com, a website dedicated to watches. Inspired by the dedication and effort of watchmakers now and old, Nigel has a passion for watches and looks forward to share his passion with the world.

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