Is a grey-market watch worth it?

•2 October 2017 • Leave a Comment

x-post from r/watches

[OP got offered a new PAM380 for 3200 euro, wants to know if it’s a good deal.]

 

This is how you choose whether or not to buy a grey-market watch.

To compare prices, we usually use two sources above others: Jomashop and Chrono24.

Jomashop sells new watches. Chrono24 lists both new and used watches.

Right now I see Jomashop selling a new PAM380 for almost exactly 3200 euro (though it is out of stock). Now, Jomashop does provide a certain amount of warranty coverage, but the general feeling on this sub is that it’s worth nothing (or less) – so that doesn’t really enter into the calculus. So this does suggest that 3200 euro is a fair grey-market price for a new grey-market PAM380.

On Chrono24, you can buy a new PAM380 for as little as 2700 euro. Now, on Chrono24, you have to “buy the seller” – make sure you buy from a reputable company or individual, or you can get scammed. However, it looks like there are plenty of used PAM380 from perfectly reputable “trusted sellers.” The cheapest one – here – is listed as condition “0 – new/unworn” and comes with boxes and papers. This suggests that 3200 euro is a rather high price for a new grey-market PAM380.

But the third step is to look at the retail price of a new PAM380 from an Authorized Dealer (AD), and comparing it to the grey-market prices. A PAM380 from an AD costs about 3400 euro.

When you buy from an AD, you not only get a complete guarantee of authenticity, and a perfect and legitimate paper trail of your purchase, but you also get the manufacturer’s warranty. This is the best possible warranty to have – a lot of people consider it the only warranty worth having.

Also, when you buy from an AD, you can often talk them down a little. 3200 euro is not unreasonable here. Especially if you walk in with this grey-market offer and ask them to match it.

To determine whether an AD purchase is better than a grey-market purchase, the general algorithm employed on this sub is:

IF [cost of new watch from AD] MINUS [cost of watch grey market] IS GREATER THAN [cost to send the watch to the manufacturer for servicing], the grey market watch is a good deal. OTHERWISE, it’s a bad deal.

In your case, 3400 euro (at most), minus 3200 euro, is 200 euro. According to Fratello, the cost of sending a broken/misbehaving watch back to Panerai for servicing will be 440 euro – which is more than 200 euro. As a result, this is not worth the risk. Just buy from an AD.

Now compare to buying from Chron24. 3400 euro, minus 2700 euro, is 700 euro. That’s a big savings. Based on Fratello, it’s more than the cost of a manufacturer’s servicing. So buying the grey-market watch on Chrono24 is worth the risk.

As such, if you can get the AD to reduce its price to the point where their price, minus 2700 euro, is greater than 440 euro, then it’s a good deal. That price is about 3200 euro – IE, matching your grey-market offer.

Personally: in any circumstance, I’d pay up to a few hundred euro more to buy from an AD. It’s just so much easier, and so much less risky. But that’s just me.

So to answer your question: 3200 euro is a fair price for a new grey-market PAM380. Still, it probably isn’t worth it. You can, however, get a grey-market PAM380 for so much less that it might be worth it. However, the difference is so small that it’s probably better to just buy from an AD – and if you can talk the AD down even 5%, the AD becomes the definitively better option.

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Bike touring and AT hiking compared

•28 September 2017 • Leave a Comment

x-post from r/bicycletouring

I’ve been on two bike tours – 600k and 1000k, nothing fancy. Earlier this summer I decided to hike on the AT. I made it 1000k, over the course of about six weeks. Here’s my thoughts on how long-distance hiking compares with bike touring.

HIKING!

-My favorite part about long-distance hiking is that you rarely have to worry about getting hit by a car. This is my #1 fear on tour. Also #2 and #3 fear. Sure on the trail there are the occasional road crossing, but they’re all quick and safe. (Except Wind Gap, PA. Fuck that road crossing so hard. But all the others were great!)

-A hiker never has to worry about riding during rush hour, or avoiding certain roads that will be more heavily traveled. On the AT in particular, you just go.

-In general, it’s just as safe to hike in the rain as it is in the clear, and just as safe to hike by day as it is by night. And if you’re night-hiking and your lamp dies… you just shrug and stop and set up camp.

-It’s kind of cool to know that you’re taking the same trail as a bunch of other people. It’s a shared experience. Maybe you get this same feel when you take an Adventure Cycling route; all my bike tours were self-planned, so I don’t know.

-On bike tour I didn’t meet a whole lot of other people. I never met a single other tourist. But on the AT I met one or two new hikers per day (and I was hiking in a very quiet season). I also met a lot of day-hikers – several of whom gave me a beer! And even more importantly, some hikers I met day after day. Like, I was on the trail less than two months, but I’m gonna be friends with a few of those people for the rest of my damn life.

-On tour I was self-conscious about being a smelly mess everywhere, particularly stores and restaurants. On the AT, every place nearby is used to hikers – most trail towns even make their whole livelihood off of our smelly butts. No trouble at all.

-When you’re long-distance hiking, you basically never have to worry about where you’re going to camp. Any moment of any day, you can stop, drop your backpack, and set up camp. One of the hardest parts of touring, for me, was finding good places to stealth camp. On the AT, it’s basically the easiest thing in the world.

-Every few miles of the AT there’s a shelter. Some are within a mile of each other; I think the average is about 5 miles (~2 hours’ hike). They have sleeping-space. Almost all of them have a water source, a privy, a firepit. A lot of them have bear boxes or poles, clotheslines, and even showers. And you can just show up to any one of them, drop your stuff, and fall asleep – it’s kind of magical, really.

-On tour I averaged a century a day. On the AT, even after a month when I was getting my trail legs, I was still averaging 18-20. I was afraid it would seem slow. Honestly, it felt just as fast – because it isn’t about the distance, it’s (for me) about knowing that I gave my all every day.

-Hiking with poles engages your upper body a lot more. You’d probably have to bike /without/ handlebars to get the same thing from biking.

-You never have to lock up your bike. Most stores in a trail town have a spot for hikers to leave their bags. Theft at shelters is basically unheard of.

-Hiker Boxes. <3

-If you need a hitch: it’s harder to get to a road to hitch a ride, of course, but once you’re there it’s much easier to hitch when you don’t have a bicycle with you!

-The trail maps (and GPS apps!) for the AT are insane.

BIKING!

-On the AT, you don’t get the fun of planning your route. Which is something I really love.

-It’s cool how you’re on the same trail as everyone else, but on the other hand you’re never going to discover something new. And a lot of the trail is super boring. (Granted, I’ve never toured in the midwest.)

-This is kind of true on any trail: you’re not really supposed to break your own trail, forge your own path. 99% of the time, you are just going north (or south), and that’s all.

-On the AT, a lot of the mountains you climb don’t have a lot of payoff. A lot of stretches of hiking are super boring, sometimes for days on end. And the northern half of Pennsylvania is rocky in a way which is really unbelievably hard on your feet, 0/10 would not hike again everrr.

-If you need something on the trail, you will get to it when you get to it. On a bike I went through or near a town all the time – at least once a day, sometimes ten times a day. On the trail, if you need a food or a thing, you probably need to hike several days until you’re at the next town. Fortunately the trail is pretty good about hitting a trail every ~5 days, so it’s not too hard – but it requires logistical planning.

-The bad news is, you will be exercising 12 hours a day while wearing a backpack. The good news is, hiking backpacks tend to be super efficient about sweat (a lot of people wear Osprey “AG” packs – amazing). The good news for me was, I even tour with a backpack, so I was already used to it! The bad news is, my hiking backpack was an ultralight with very little sweat mitigation – which was >:|

-Weight of Stuff matters way more on trail than it does on road. Not only does it reduce your speed/increase your exertion… but you have to physically carry it on your shoulders. This creates the infamous “hiker hobble.” It is not the most pleasant thing.

-On a bike, going up sucks, but going down is easy. On the trail, going down just sucks a different kind of suck. (Now, I have bad knees, so I felt it faster. But after a while everyone on the trail has bad knees)

-When you’re hiking, there’s no ambient wind to cool you down.

-A lot of hiking has you going through tick-infested grasses. You’re also a much easier target for mosquitoes.

-You’re also more likely to hike into a bear than bike into one. That being said, bears are fraidycats and it’s not a big deal. Also I did once have to stop my bike to let a moose cross the road.

-Google Maps for roads is still more insane than any trail map.

SIMILARITIES

Honestly, most things. Because these things I outlined are all important, but 99% of either activity is going, going foward, keeping going, and getting there. And the other 1% is mostly gear shopping. So at the end of the day, they really are mostly the same. Which, really, I rather like.

FINAL THOUGHT

I think I should take an offroad bike tour. I think this might be a thing that I would like.

A Dream Of Springsteen

•2 July 2017 • Leave a Comment

I hiked the Appalachian Trail for 33 days. I covered 500 miles and touched seven states. I rollercoastered 80,000′ of elevation gain. I lost twenty pounds and 5″ of waistline. I slept in or at 29 shelters. I saw one bear and a pile of rattlesnakes. I made a number of very good friends. I am not done yet.

At the north end of Connecticut I decided to take a caesura. It was in the 90s with 100% humidity. My clothing would not dry. Not even overnight on a line. After days of this I developed terrible heat rashes. It was either spend 3 days in a hotel (at $120/night, because, Connecticut), or spend $40 to go home and heal and meal. I chose Kennebunk. And it’s been bloody lovely.

While being home I have climbed two mountains (Old Speck in Grafton Notch; Blueberry in Weld, ME), murdered myself at the gym, and biked a tone. It’s been lovely. I’ve also been preparing for my next great adventure, which is a move to New York City.

I decided on New York for a few reasons.

The prime mover is professional: I am a lawyer and business consultant with particular interests in finance and corporate governance. If I can’t find work in Money Mecca it’s probably time I move to a country with UBI.

The second is logistical: New York is more accessible for a fresh-faced country lad than is, say, San Francisco. I mean this just geographically and transportationally (where would I move? Oakland? Silicon Valley?) as well as fiscally (you can get a $1500/mo. studio within a 20 minute commute of the FiDi. Enjoy finding a 1500/mo. parking space in Mountain View). But I also mean it interpersonally. New York is an abattoir for human livestock, sure. But this slaughterhouse meritocracy is preferable to a city wherein I have no roots, no network, no contacts, and thus, very little opportunity.

The third is social: I have family and friends in the City. Almost as many as I have in Maine. I am old enough to realize the value of this.

And the fourth is temperamental. I want to work 80-hour weeks and be paid in Blancpains. As a result, I should fuck well be in New York.

I’ve been living in an apartment for years, and so I’ve rather well situated myself possession-wise. There isn’t much I’ll need to make myself at home. Also, I rather hope to be working so hard for the next 3-5 years that I shall never see my apartment by daylight, if at all. So I will take something small, something modest – and something a near commute to midtown and the FiDi, where, God willing, I shall be able to find work.

 

Heading Out

•15 May 2017 • Leave a Comment

Heading for the AT tomorrow. Starting in Harpers Ferry, heading north.

I will be traveling under the trail name of Axel. Because, c’est moi.

Pack weighs in at almost exactly 3kg, less food and water (and assuming that warm gear and rain gear are both fully worn – otherwise, closer to 4kg). Not a minimalist packout, just a light one. Only real indulgence is a Kindle.

I have 75 days until I must be back at home to perform Rosie’s wedding. Fortunately I will be walking right towards it.

Then I have 30 days until I officiate for Zach and Mary.

If I average 11 miles per day, I will reach Mount Washington at the very end of July. I would consider that to be a mighty good showing. I should be so lucky.

If I returned to the trail in August, 11 miles per day would take me from Mount Washington right to Katahdin. So that would work quite well.

In order to reach Katahdin in 75 days, I would have to average 15 1/2 miles per day. Lord knows there are plenty of people for whom this would be easy. Whereas if I make it 100 miles in 10 days without ending up a small broken pile of fellow, I shall consider myself to have given an honorable showing.

If I do this, I would have all of August at my disposal. I could hike the Long Trail (273 miles – a perfect length for a month of hiking at 11mi/day). Or I could head back to Harpers and begin a Sobo. But this would be logistically difficult and also very expensive – quite not worth it.

Either way, I very much daydream that on September 5th I will be able to begin the flop of my flipflop, flying back to Harpers Ferry and pointing my boots south. I will then have 1000 miles to cover. To complete them by Halloween, I would have to average about 17 miles per day; at 11 per day, the end of November. With any luck the former will be, at that point, within my competence. The latter would not be impossible, but it would require carrying a bit more gear – two pounds more of sleeping bag and thermals, at the least.

In any event – this is all daydreams. To go a week without suffering grave and irreperable bodily injury will be counted a success, I’d say. Still, I would very much like to take the entire Trail this season. Then see what my situation is, and how I feel.

 

 

 

All Earthly Happiness

•22 April 2017 • Leave a Comment

Here’s my ideal life, then:

I live in a little apartment. It’s got a 15×15 living room, a 15×10 loft with a little staircase. Big windows, hardwood floors. Nothing more.

A kitchen at the back of the living-room, gas stove and big fridge and dish-washer. A pair of closets at the back of the loft. Central air.

In a perfect world it would be high enough that the windows would let you see some building-tops, a little sky. Or failing that a roof that does the same. But it’s not necessary.

The building has a safe space to park my bicycle. It has a gym for residents. It’s just a few blocks to work.

I have my kitchen gear: gyuto, stand-mixer, rice-cooker, sous vide. I have my coffee and tea kits. I have my apothecarist’s wall of spices. I have my Weck jars, my china, my silly little glasses.

I have my computer. I have my headphones and that’s really all I need. I position my biking gear, my hiking gear, my making gear.

I’d need a few things. I’d spend a hundred dollars at the grocery store, I’d spend two hundred at the liquor store (mezcal and calvados, Luxardo and Laphroaig). I could use a couch or the Ikea equivalent – but I could live without.

I’ll need a few new pieces of clothing. By the end of the summer I hope to need a new most everything. Five new suits, ten new dress shirts and boxers, a few polos and and clothes to exercise. But that’s about all I’ll need. Shoes and watches, hats and ties; these are things that don’t change size.

It looks like such an apartment, in Manhattan, would cost about three grand a month. I could live on ten a year in food and wine. If my job gives me health insurance, I’d need to clear fifty grand after taxes just to break even. Call it 60 a year, just to live.

But that’s all I’d need. I don’t have student loans to pay. I don’t need to save for retirement just yet. I don’t need fancy dinners and fancy wine. Just a clear route to the Hudson bike trail on weekends, or maybe a membership at the Frick for a rainy day.

Could I spend a thousand bucks on a new pair of Sennheisers, two thousand on a Lenovo two-battery? Could I buy a leather campaign-chair, a cedar blanket-chest, a Frankl skyscraper in black walnut and white maple? Could I buy three new pairs of Allen Edmonds, a camel-hair overcoat, a Gurkah Counselor Could I buy a Nautilus, a 5270G? Sure. But I don’t need to.

This, right here, is what I need to make a life.

So let’s talk about the life. That’s easy. I want to WORK. I want to make money. I want to work towards the possibility of earning a very large amount of money.

In my ideal life, I would wake up at 6:30 every morning. I’d drink a long tall tumbler of iced green tea. I’d go downstairs and spend an hour in the gym, half on weights, half on the bike. I’d come up and shower and suit up. I’d be at the office by 8.

I’d then work for twelve hours. I would work hard and I would GET PAID. Most likely in finance. Maybe at a law office. Maybe in business or VC. But I would WORK. I would GET PAID. I’d make more than the sixty that I’d need.

I’d work from eight to eight, twelve hours a day. Then I’d come home and call the day all done. I’d go for a walk. I’d go for a bike ride. I’d go down to the bar and have a beer. I’d sit in bed watching television through the V of my feet and that would be fucking fine. Because I want to work, and everything else is so much saffron. And that is what I would do, seven days a week.

If I made more money, would I spend it? Probably not. There are a few things I wouldn’t mind owning but they’re not necessary. If I had a million dollars, would I buy the X6 and the Super Record and the 5270G? Maybe. But it doesn’t really matter that much to me.

Would I get a larger apartment? Maybe. I don’t think so. I wouldn’t plan to be there very much. I want to work. I want to know I’m EARNING. That is the reward in this life. That’s for me.

 

Cheap Living

•21 April 2017 • Leave a Comment

Sally Greubel decided she really liked hiking. She didn’t really like anything else. So she set herself to figuring out what she would need for fifty years of such a life.

She’d need a base of operations, really. A place to store her stuff, a place to come home to. She could pick up a little house in a dying little town for ten grand, tax value of thirty. Five hundred bucks a year in state and municipal taxes. Five hundred bucks a year in utilities – she wouldn’t be there all that much. Five hundred a year in upkeep is more than she’d need. Call it eighty grand for a lifetime, tip to tail.

And to live, herself? A thousand a year would keep her in minutes, data, and a new cell phone whenever she needed. The state would cover her health care. Fifty grand to live the life connected.

Hiking, then. She’d have expenses. Clothing and camp-gear. Call it two thousand a year to have a margin of safety. Food and expenses. A thousand a month would do her well. And another thousand a year in bus fare and plane fees, getting to Point A so she could hike to B.

Eight hundred and fifty grand. By the time she saved that, she’d be too old to hike.

Retiring

•20 April 2017 • Leave a Comment

Bill Forsey was twenty years old and starting to make plans. He sat down with a pen and a joint and he did the math on his retirement.

Twenty years old. He’d need enough money to last until he was eighty at least.

For a hundred thousand dollars he could buy a nice piece of forest, a mile to the nearest house, ten to a gas station, thirty to a Wal-Mart, fifty to a hospital. Clear enough land for a house and a little yard. A nice little house, big windows, hardwood floors, screened-in porch behind. Of course in a lot of places in America he could get a house for a fifth of that. But build from scratch and he’d have what he want. And he’d pay less for it, in the long run.

A hundred thousand dollars. So for tax he’d pay between $250 and $2500 a year. Call it a thousand bucks. Sixty grand.

How about upkeep on the house? A fresh-built house using modern techniques is not a money sink. But call it two thousand a year, year in, year out. A hundred and twenty grand.

Utilities? Five hundred a year for internet. Same amount for cell. Sixty for a life. Water and electricity, septic, maybe wood for a stove. Another thousand a year. Sixty for life.

So over a life, that house might cost four hundred grand.

What else would he need? A thousand bucks a month for food would surely be more than he would need. But call it that. Twelve a year. Six hundred for a life. And we’re at a million.

You’d need a car. So a new car every ten years, twenty grand, hundred twenty total. Thousand a year for insurance. Two in gas. Thousand in mainternance.  That’s two hundred and eighty thousand dollars for a lifetime of driving a car.

You’d need technology. A new laptop every three years, that’s twenty grand worth of laptops. You’ll need the occasional new pair of headphones, cell phones, television, kitchen stuff. Call it fifty grand, decade to decade.

Clothing? Some, sure, here and there. Call it a thousand bucks a year.

Health insurance. Assume we’re on Medicaid, that could be zero. Assume we’re paying for it and that’s five grand a year. Call it five a year, three hundred for a lifetime. Add another hundred to pay out deductibles.  And we’re at one point eight million.

Two million, then. That gives the barest margin of safety to live an entire life, alone, for the rest of his life. To own a home. To hunt and fish and play. To read and watch and listen. To cook and plant and harvest, as much or as little as he wanted.

Bill Foresy had more than that in his trust fund. But it sounded awfully boring. So he moved to the city and lived his life instead.

 
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