Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kuala Lumpur: Night Market

Still covering our Malaysia holiday in dribs and drabs. You can tell my brain's in a bit of a mixed up state at the moment can't you?

Readers of the recently retired Bloody Marvellous! will know that I've had my eye on a particular watch: the Omega Seamaster GMT. Trouble is it's a bit pricey so while I'm saving up I thought I'd try to find an imitation one in one of KL's most famous night markets.

Jalan Petaling's night market

The night market on Jalan Petaling in Chinatown is renowned for having cheap copies of just about any designer accessory you'd care to mention. It's a huge, bustling, noisy, cramped labyrinth of stalls, a real pickpocket's paradise, and there's me with my Nikon digital SLR slung nonchalantly over my shoulder! And talk about the Hard Sell; at least twice a frustrated stall owner physically held on to one of us when we started to walk away without buying anything and Karen had to use her Foreign Office Voice to effect a speedy release.

The KL branch of CrapWatches "R" US

Just about every watch stall (and we visited a few!) had a "Nomega" GMT, and all were asking around 280 Ringgit, which is about £40 Sterling. Not too bad when you consider the original costs around £1500, but still this was "before discount" and just like in Life of Brian you're expected to haggle. I started at 100 Ringgit and gradually upped my offer to 140, whereupon the "salesman" gave me a sob story about his cost price and how he wasn't going to make any money. We finally agreed on 150 Ringgit, or just over 20 quid, and I thought I'd got a pretty good deal considering he would also adjust the bracelet into the bargain.

The Real Thing

My new watch stopped working two weeks later. I've tried shaking it (that's how you're supposed to charge it up) and it'll go again for a while but then stop when you most need it not too, which is all the time. I've done a little TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) calculation and my £20 watch that lasted two weeks has cost me £10 per week of use. Now, the real Omega that costs £1500 should conservatively be expected to work properly for five years at the very least, so even with a pessimistic view the cost per week of use would be around £5 -- half as expensive as the cheap copy.

The Fake Thing

There. That's the cost justification argument wrapped up. Now all I need to do is to secure budget approval from my Financial Director.

Karen? When can we have a brief planning meeting?


Jonny E said...

Haha. Interesting experience of your visit to the KL night market. Almost matches my experience in Hong Kong's Temple Street night market. I bought an Omega Speedmaster for HK$300 (strangely enough, about the same £20 as you paid for your Seamaster).

Looked good until the strap fell apart on the same night. I still haven't been to fix that. Added to which there is an Omega symbol that has obviously fallen off somewhere flying around in the watchface. You're quite right with the TCO analysis. In the end, as always, you *do* get what you pay for. I'll be taking a trip to China (Shenzhen) where apparently the watches are even cheaper...

Chris said...

Glad to know I'm not the only expat mug out there Jonny :-)

btw what time is it?

Jonny E said...

2:55pm right now. 7 hours ahead of BST at the moment. I think buying a dodgy 'copy watch' is something everyone has to do at least once. Not sure what my excuse will be for buying another one in Shenzhen though. I'll sort out a picture of my Speedmaster soon.