Buying from Japan

So how easy is it to buy that latest watch model from Japan?

Rather than talk about what should or should not happen, the following is an account of my own experience just recently and over a UK Monday Bank holiday as it happens.

Not being able to get the watch I wanted in the UK – the Casio PRW3000T-7  Titanium bracelet version, I decided to purchase from one of my preferred Japaneses sources – http://www.shoppinginjapan.net   The main reason I like this company is that they have a good stock of the latest Japanese domestic models, often not available elsewhere – and if they indicate on their web sites they have stock – they do!  (How often have some said they do when they patently don’t!).

They are not only online being on Ebay and also have a direct internet site, but also are physically located beside the Bay Side Marina Shopping Arcade (open 10-4 Monday/Friday) in Yokohama and have a direct phone contact so you can talk to a live person.   The web site is good and they have a large stock not only of the latest watch models, but all sorts of electronics, cameras  and so on.  They can also be found on Facebook where they display many photographs of the watches they sell.

Prices are quoted in most currencies and they have a currency calculator link onsite, so it’s easy and delivery is FREE worldwide.

The buying process couldn’t be easier as they use Paypal and delivery is via EMS who hook up with Parcelforce here in the UK.

So in my case things went as follows –

26th April – Went online (used Ebay entry) and bought with Paypal.
26th April – Received email confirmation of the purchase via Ebay and Paypal.
26th April – Received Email from the shop confirming payment and advising they would post item the following day.  They noted delivery times were usually around 8 working days to the UK.
28th April – Received Email update from Ebay confirming item sent.
May 1st – Email from shop advising Tracking number and confirmed posting on 28th.   This included an EMS tracing report – showing item posted 28th April – and already in UK Customs on the 30th April.
7th May – Using the tracing tracking number – item was shown as moved from Customs to Delivery at Parcelforce Post Office UK and HELD – pending Customs charge.
8th May – Having the advantage of knowing the item was being HELD – I phoned Parcelforce, was advised the charge and paid over the phone.
9th May (Friday) – Received letter from Parcelforce advising item HELD and payment required etc – – however I’d already done this and advised it would be released and posted Monday 12th may.

12th May – Watch arrived via Parcelforce at lunchtime.   All OK and in perfect order.

So bearing in mind this clashed with a UK Monday Bank holiday this was pretty good.

So what payments are we talking about?
Basically this is 17% UK VAT plus a Clearance Fee from Parcelforce for sending out letters, processing of payment to them and subsequently transferring to Customs , which was £13.50.

So a perfect transaction with shoppinginjapan and a pleasure to do business with and in a pretty quick delivery – only being held a few days at UK Customs until import charge paid.   The charges can be paid either online or phone and if you use your tracking info, once you see it is held – simply phone them up and pay – saves you waiting for their letter.  The watch is released the same day.   So pretty efficient even at this UK end.

And this is the watch in question –

Casio from Japan via www.shoppinginjapan.net website - excellent service.

Casio from Japan via http://www.shoppinginjapan.net website – excellent service.

Yes this is it – wearing it already and changed the Home City to the UK very easily (it was set to Tokyo) then set it to Receive and the Radio Control picked up the signal from the UK transmitter at full strength (I’m in Scotland) and the time changed immediately to UK time (auto-adjusted for British Summer Time DST).   I’ve also already tried out the Digital Compass without calibrating it and it’s spot on – Wow! that was a surprise.

So highly delighted with this watch and so glad to see that the size reduction is perfect for me – once I adjusted the bracelet links (removed 4 all together) remembering the small split collar holders within the links, which took me about 10 minutes max.   No doubt this is one of the best Casio’s yet and my Japan transaction one of the easiest.

From the Orient

Always had a liking for the orient Watch Company ever since I first spotted it many years ago in Singapore.  It seemed to me at that time to produce models that were excellent as regards reliability and quality, especially considering these were mechanical, not quartz.

Orient Star SEL050001S dress watch

Orient Star SEL050001S dress watch

Of course they make both, but for me it’s the mechanical movements with their excellence/cost ratio that’s always impressed.   However I would comment – for me at any rate, I always feel that their models have that slightly old style Japanese look – I don’t mean this in a derogatory way in the lightest, but in your hand, to my mind they don’t have that sleek universal Seiko “perfection” look about them.   I hasten to add that this in no way detracts from the value for money of the watches at all – it’s more about my personal view on the styling and it also doesn’t apply to all models.   The second model for example is about as universal/modern as you can get and is mechanical value personified!

The first one however is the elegant Orient Star Classic SEL05001S dress watch.
Gold tone stainless steel cased with a domed mineral crystal is a neat 38,5mm diameter.  Dauphine style hands, a Date aperture @3 and a Power Reserve indicator @12.   Typically Orient in that this model features an in-house automatic mechanical hacking movement, this is the Japan made Cal 40N52 and features an exhibition back so the movement is visible.

A brown leather Crocodile style strap compliments the case nicely.

The watch company was actually conceived way back in 1901, but known more since 1950 as a Tokyo based maker.  A subsidiary of Seiko from 2001 and Seiko Epson in 2009 it’s one of the few watch makers with totally in-house mechanical movements.  Within the company there are actually three brands, Orient, Orient Star and the Japan domestic range of Royal Orient.

Orient Elite FET0H001B0 100m Screw down

Orient Elite FET0H001B0
100m Screw down

This model shows the diversity of the company and this is the Orient Elite FET0H001B0 which features a Day and Date Cal 46B40 Japan mechanical movement.   It is 42mm x 11.65mm stainless steel cased, 100m Water Resistance, screw down crown, Sapphire crystal with a black carbon fiber figured dial.

I particularly like the Day sub-dial feature and the smaller 24hr dial.   The date window is @6, broad hour and minute hands with a center sweep seconds hand and all in a nicely balanced dial format.

Once again it has an exhibition clear back where the mechanical movement is clearly visible and incidentally the quality of the case can also be seen.   It is a rather well built quality model with a complimentary figured rubber strap and buckle, the patterning on the strap reflecting the carbon fiber dial background.

Unfortunately for us here in the UK the Orient range of models are quite tricky to obtain and usually need to be sourced from abroad, which is a pity.   So care has to be taken regarding the source, customs charges, delivery times and so on as the excellent cost ratio of these models can be eroded.   Basically what i’m saying is that as priced these are great value models, but add in custom charges, VAT and 3rd party profit margins and personally I would have to think carefully before taking the plunge.