Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 Update: We are still shipping orders and are not affected by any lockdowns. Occasionally delays en route may sometimes occur, no matter which courier service is used. Learn more.
Who are you?
We're a small family-run business that takes pride in offering a personal level of service to our customers. The Microbrand Store™ is a trademark of TimeApps.com, Inc., a U.S. corporation, which in turn is owned by Neil Cresswell, the name behind our brand if you will.
Neil founded and runs a number of online communities for watch microbrands, including the Kickstarter Watches & Horology Microbrands group on Facebook, (over 7,000 members,) and is an avid microbrand watch collector himself, and writes, records and publishes microbrand watch reviews.
It may sound a little crazy for a watch store owner sharing reviews, but Neil always likes to mention both the good and the bad points of every watch he covers. There is no "perfect watch" and he'd rather have a happy, informed watch buyer and potential customer with an unbiased review than run the all too common paid marketing shill pieces. All of the watches in the store are personal picks of his, and he's always happy to discuss the ins and outs of any timepiece.
How do you ship watches?
All watches are shipped tracked and insured for the full purchase price via an express airmail service. (EMS or UPS.) A signature is usually required on delivery, so we can only ship to a location where a recipient will be present to accept the package. Customers will receive an email with the appropriate tracking number upon shipping, and can also opt in to SMS tracking updates during checkout.
Unlike other stores, we carefully inspect and test every watch during packaging prior to shipping, including running all mechanical timepieces on our timegrapher, to make sure every watch that leaves the store is running well within factory specifications.
Most international watch orders are shipped for free. Learn more.
Where do you ship from?
Although The Microbrand Store™ is domiciled in the United States, we usually ship from our storage facilities in Japan. Please note that we never drop ship, and hold all stock ourselves before shipping.
The reasons for our choice of shipping location are many, such as:
- It's cheaper for us to receive goods in Asia than in some other locations, both in terms of shipping costs to us, (which we have to pay to microbrands,) and the import duties/taxes we're obligated to pay.
- We receive goods faster typically since they often originate in Asia, allowing us to restock any popular items that are sold out faster.
- As we provide free worldwide shipping on watches for our customers, it's usually much cheaper for us to pay for express airmail shipping on a worldwide basis than it is say in the United States, where shipping prices can be as much as three times more expensive.
- All of these savings in turn can let us offer you discounts on a lot of our prices compared to others.
- We additionally find shipping is generally faster on a worldwide basis than shipping from the U.S. with an equivalent service. Meaning, on average, our customers get their watches faster!
Where do you ship to?
We generally ship worldwide except for the following locations:
- Most African countries. (We do ship to South Africa.)
- India and Pakistan.
- North Korea
- South America and some parts of Central America.
Do you charge sales tax (VAT) or import taxes?
We don't charge sales tax / VAT unless you are shipping to the State of Washington.
We also don't charge customers for any import taxes. However, customers are responsible for paying any import duties/import taxes according to their local laws. Typically either the person delivering the watch to you will collect any import fees that are due, or you'll get a note delivered with the details so you can pay. In many instances, when a watch costs under a certain amount then there are no import duties or taxes.
How much import duty or import tax will I pay?
This depends on your country's laws. We recommend to check with your local authorities, but you can conveniently look up your country's tax rates on importing watches here:
There is no import duty on watches, but customers may have to pay 5% sales tax.
For the United States:
There are no import duties if we're shipping goods to an individual that cost less than $800!
A shipment of watches where we charge $800+ or a shipment that is not a personal purchase may be subject to import taxes. Unlike virtually all other countries that have a simple percentage tax based on the total price of the goods, how import tax for the US is calculated is exceptionally complex, and is based on factors like how many jewels the movement has, the materials used, and the cost of individual parts such as the case. Consequently we can't estimate this for customers, but it does seem to work out to be between 2% to 5% of the total purchase price for many of our customers.
What currencies do you use?
All charges are in U.S. dollars.
For your convenience we try and work out which country you're in and display prices in an appropriate currency for you, such as displaying prices in euros for most EU countries, or pounds sterling for the UK. However, all of the prices we charge are in U.S. dollars, which you'll see if you proceed to checkout. The non-US currency prices are based on a daily base exchange rate between that currency and US dollars, to help give you a rough idea of the costs in a different currency.
You can change your currency selection at any time by using the currency menu found on the top right of the screen. For example, you can switch from Canadian Dollars to U.S. dollars if you prefer to see the actual U.S. dollar prices.