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Sunday, February 5th
Watch stores pop up all the time, leaving you wondering if they're a company you can trust. Zales is the exact opposite: founded in Texas back in 1924, this is a store with a reputation older than most of us. With hundreds of retail locations across the US and a well-stocked online store, Zales will always have options when you're interested in buying a wristwatch.
Lots of Citizen Corsos, no Rolexes
Zales had an excellent selection of the Citizen Corso watch line we used as an apples-to-apples comparison across stores: 35 to choose from for both men and women. This was the only place we spotted the His-and-Hers sets; our favorite was the 5056-A with white dial and stainless steel bands. However, Zales had no Rolex watches on offer - in the Explorer series we looked for at each watch store or in any other style.
Good selection, not always the lowest prices
Don't let that stop you from considering Zales, though. Their overall inventory is impressive with more than 2,000 in-stock wristwatches during our last visit. That spans 13 brands - including Invicta, Movado, Caravelle, JBW, Coach, Fossil, and Mido, among others - priced anywhere from $100 to $3,500. Prices here tend to be below the MSRP, but they're not always the lowest compared with other stores: on one Bulova wristwatch we liked, another major department store came in at $20 less, but other retailers had pre-owned models at a higher price. Do your research, because Zales' Price Match Policy only applies to differences in pricing between their online store and brick-and-mortar locations, not their rivals.
Zales offers a smooth shopping experience. On the main page, you can shop by price, metal, Watches for Him (or Her), or occasion. There's also a fun quiz you can take; just look for "What Watch Style Makes You Tick?" and you'll find the link there. We also like Zales' Watch Lookbook: it's a helpful way to see which watches might be a good match for your style. (For example, the reference image showed a forearm with tattoos and a watch that paired well with that aesthetic.)
One advantage of buying from a well-known jeweler like Zales is the likelihood of customer reviews. Many watch stores have no shopper ratings on any of their watches; most of the styles we browsed here had at least a few, and some had a dozen or more. Another plus is that you may be able to order your watch online and pick it up at a retail location near you; you'll find that option underneath the estimated delivery date. But, with free shipping and no minimum order required, you're well-covered either way.
Online discounts available
When we visited the Zales online store recently, there was a "save $50 on your first order of $300" offer that popped up. If you're willing to give them your email address, you might spot the same promotion when you shop here. We also saw a sitewide discount, automatically applied to your shopping bag, of anywhere from 15% to 25% on purchases of $1,499+. (You may not be looking to spend that much on a watch - it's probably more applicable to people shopping for diamond wedding sets - but it's a nice savings if you're going for a luxury timepiece.)
30-day return window
Zales offers the standard 30-day return timeframe you'll find with many stores. As usual, your watch needs to be in unused, unworn condition to qualify for a refund. Print a no-cost return label through the Zales website or take it to a location near you.
Maintains a strong reputation
The Better Business Bureau continues to rate Zales as an accredited, "A+" retailer, which doesn't really come as a surprise for a watch store that's been around for a century. Shopper feedback hasn't changed much since our last review: while not necessarily specific to watches, some buyers have a fantastic experience with their purchases here, while others are frustrated by slow delivery times and items that aren't as high-quality as anticipated. And yet, with so many retail locations in addition to their online storefront, Zales is bound to get a higher-than-average number of complaints.
A watch store you can rely on
Zales offers the most convenient blend of online shopping plus in-store pickup and returns. This is a good place to look for mid-tier watch brands - nothing extraordinarily extravagant or super-cheap - and it's a reliable option for anyone who feels hesitant to buy from a lesser-known watch store.
That question is almost more easily answered by where you should not shop: the mall or jewelry store! You might be drawn in by a beautiful timepiece prominently displayed in the window, but do you really want the sales pressure or higher prices once you walk through the door? We don't either.
Your best bet is an online watch store. Whether you're looking for the next luxury wristwatch to add to your collection or something classic-yet-affordable, you won't find a better selection at any brick-and-mortar store near you. Why browse a few dozen options from a handful of brands and be limited to the retailer's business hours, when you can see thousands of styles and brands whenever you get the whim to shop?
But wait. What if the watch doesn't fit? Or I don't like it when it arrives? Usually not a problem. Watch stores have already anticipated your concerns, and you'll usually have a generous return window if you need a refund or want to make an exchange. A few retailers even allow you to wear the watch for several weeks before you make your decision - as long as it's still in good condition, without a lot of wear and tear, of course.
Which watch store should get your attention? There are lots of options, and many of them would be a perfectly good choice for your new time-keeper. Here are a few ways you can narrow down the options:
To help you find the right timepiece for that someone special (or yourself!), TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked today's most popular online watch stores. From everyday wear to black-tie occasions, the perfect watch is out there. Ready to start shopping?
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