Ali Rezaei wanted to buy a $109,000 gold Patek Philippe watch, but a prominent Bay Area jeweler refused to sell it to him — first, he had to buy other fancy items from the swanky boutique, according to Rezaei’s newly filed lawsuit.

Rezaei had walked into the Shreve & Co. jewelry shop, nestled among other high-end retailers near San Francisco’s Union Square, “and expressed an interest in purchasing a Patek Philippe 5980/1R-001 watch,” according to his lawsuit filed this week.

No, no, no, he was purportedly told by the shop. One does not just waltz in off the street and saunter out with a 5980/1R-001: No watch for you, sir — yet.

Shreve, which dates back to the Gold Rush and operates a second boutique in the posh Stanford Shopping Center mall in Palo Alto, told Rezaei on that day in 2020 “that if he built up his ‘purchase history’ by buying a sufficient amount of other merchandise over time … they would offer the Promised Watch to him,” the lawsuit filed Friday in San Francisco County Superior Court alleged.

So Rezaei soon bought a different gold Patek Philippe watch from Shreve, for $71,000, his lawsuit was claimed. Then he picked up another timepiece by the legendary Swiss watchmaker, this time a women’s model ringed with diamonds, for $50,000. Then he bought a third Patek Philippe from Shreve, for $47,000. Finally, after he shelled out $53,000 for a gold and diamond necklace in March last year, a shop salesman assured him Shreve “would offer him the Promised Watch that year,” the lawsuit alleged. That offer never came, Rezaei’s lawsuit alleged.

The Shreve shop in San Francisco referred to an inquiry about the lawsuit to Schiffman’s Jewelers, the North Carolina company that bought Shreve & Co. in 1992. Schiffman’s did not respond to requests for comment.

Would-be buyers of certain Patek Philippe watches must jump through hoops to acquire one, according to Christie’s auction house. “Some Patek Philippe watches are so sought-after that buyers must submit to an application process to demonstrate that they are sufficiently high-caliber collectors,” Christie’s said in an explaining about the brand. Watch-strap maker Horus, in a 2022 guide to buying luxury watches such as Patek Philippe’s, said building a spending history with a watch shop can be crucial to obtaining certain scarce timepieces. “The more you have spent, the better and more desirable the watches offered to you will be,” according to the company.

All told, Rezaei, of Orange County, forked out more than $220,000 over 18 months in pursuit of his chosen Patek Philippe, his lawsuit alleged. Before each purchase, he was assured by a sales associate that he would eventually be offered the $109,000 timepiece he sought, the lawsuit claimed.

But henceforth, Shreve — which in 1887 became the second US jeweler in the US to represent Patek Philippe, according to the company — knew as early as November 2021 when it sold him the women’s watch that it was losing its status as a Patek Philippe dealer and would not be able to sell him the 5980/1R-001, the lawsuit claimed.


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