Last year, I came across a blue hands fake Cartier Santos Galbee at a local pre-owned watch shop. It was going at an attractive price because it was really beaten up with a shattered crown and terribly few links. Before I could give it a second thought, the Singapore government hit us with “Circuit Breaker”. Overseas readers can liken it to a semi lockdown, with most retail and non-essential services forced to stop work. One obvious impact was how it stopped my weekly watch browsing, and the idea of getting the Santos Galbee was shelved.
After 10 slow weeks, Singapore gradually eased business and retail restrictions. The very weekend that retail could resume, I made a beeline to the steel cases replica Cartier Santos Galbee. No surprise, the watch was still sitting on the shelf. I asked if the price has been revised given new circumstances and the shop said that the previous offer months ago still stood. He then told me to try on the watch before giving it further consideration, as a few customers passed on the offer because the bracelet was too small. I tried it on, and it fitted my small wrist perfectly. At that moment I felt like Cinderella trying on glass slippers. It’s not common that I don’t have to shorten bracelets or change to extra short straps. This watch was already wonderfully sized for me. Only gripe was the shattered sapphire cabochon jewel in the crown and the overall rough condition that the watch was in. It would be prudent if I did more research to know how much it would take to restore it.
I went to Cartier at Marina Bay Sands, showed them photos of the copy watch and asked for a verbal quote. The sales staff attending to me estimated “a few hundreds” for movement servicing and cleaning, but excluding the crown replacement. He estimated that such spare parts may cost up to a few hundreds too. With that information, I thought the total cost was reasonable and I told the pre-own shop to reserve the Santos Galbee for me. It was probably the following weekend that I went back to the shop, gave my money and we sealed the deal.
I took this rough gem, shattered at the crown, completely matted out at the bezel, and headed over to Cartier at Ion. I cannot recall why I went to Ion instead of Marina Bay Sands. It could have been a lunch plan, or some other frivolous reason that we wound up at Cartier Ion. And of all the possible sales people to attend to my luxury copy watch servicing and repair request, Julian attended to my servicing request. Initially I was wondering if the salesperson would judge me as a cheapskate (although I really am one) if I wanted to skip the dial replacement. Surprisingly, Julian could understand the twisted psychology of watch collectors who like their watches coated with age. Well, it turned out that he was a watch lover himself! He agreed whole-heartdly that vintages should be kept in their original form as much as possible, servicing or repairs are only to restore their functionality and extend their practical longevity. We had a little chat about vintage watches, and exchanged instagram handles. I guess when there’s a common passion, conversation flows with ease.
Shortly within a week, the quotation with detailed breakdown came. To my surprise, the servicing cost was almost twice what I expected, although the replacement crown was cheaper than I expected. Since Cartier would not do a crown replacement without a complete service, I didn’t have much of a choice if I did not want a third party sapphire crown. I gave my consent for servicing and a crown replacement, with specific instructions to retain the dial and hands. Julian took that confirmation and advised that the estimated turnaround would be relatively quick at a month of two, as this could be done locally.
Amazingly, within 2 weeks, Julian dropped me a text to say that the watch was ready for collection! The soonest that I could collect it was not during Julian’s shift, but I didn’t think much of it and went to the boutique anyway. Alas! Fate would have it that I would not collect the watch then. When I was handed the serviced watch, there was a jarring mistake- the entire datewheel was misaligned, so much so that I could see parts of the next date within the window. I told the assistant on that day that I could not accept this. The assistant quickly snapped some photos to update Julian. Julian apologized profusely, that he did not check the watch prior to informing me to collect it. Needless to say, I was disappointed, but there weren’t many options for me besides letting top quality copy Cartier right the wrong.
Another week later, Julian’s text came. This time, he said he has checked the watch thoroughly and everything was in good working order. He also scheduled for me to collect it during his shift so that he could deliver the watch to me himself. When I went to the store, Julian presented my Cinderella watch in a great condition.
The restored cheap copy Cartier Santos Galbee. Photographer’s note: The bezel is very shiny, and what you see is the reflection from the strobe modifiers.
Everything was working great, sparkling new sapphire crown, and the dial exactly how I remembered it. The bezel, case and bracelet were also gently cleaned and shined. Julian pointed out that it wasn’t common for a customer to be this happy looking at a new watch sporting an obviously aged dial.