Buying Vintage or pre-owned watches are better for investment purposes than buying new.

ARTICLE DATE 11/08/2014

Buying Vintage or pre-owned watches are better for investment purposes than buying new.

In order to show a return on your investment when buying watches, you either buy vintage, or

you buy incredibly rare and special pieces. Purchasing a vintage timepiece that was previously

owned or tied to a celebrity such as Paul Newman, Steve McQueen or Arnold Schwarzenegger

can help increase the value of the watch over time. But is very important that you get the proper

guidance from a well experienced expert.

As soon as you remove a brand new timepiece the value of it has already decreased, just like

purchasing a New Car. Similar to the auto industry, the purchase of vintage cars have become

sought over by car fanatics and investors and many today are worth far greater than their original

sticker pricing. For example, The End of Days model from the Royal Oak Offshore collection by

Audemars Piguet. This timepiece was produced to mark the release of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s

film End of Days, it retailed for $13,600 in 1999. Just 10 years later, the company resold one

piece from the edition of 500 (which sold out) for $85,000.

In 2010, Christie’s held its strongest New York auction (an earlier sale in Geneva set 12 world

records). “We had clients tell us, ‘I am not earning any money in the bank, so I’d rather put it

into something I can wear, enjoy, and that’s holding its value,'” says Sam Hines, a Christie’s

vice-president and head of watches in New York. Well-preserved, rare vintage pieces by Patek

Philippe, one of the top Swiss watch manufacturers, led all watch auctions at Christie’s the

previous year. The most expensive watch auctioned that year was a 1942 model in 18-karat gold,

featuring a perpetual calendar; it fetched $2.77 million, almost doubling its high pre sale estimate.


Although you do need a discretionary income to collect watches, being a Saudi prince or Russian

oligarch is not a prerequisite. Holly Savino, a stay-at-home mother of two from New Jersey,

found a “tremendous amount” of investment possibilities under $50,000, she said. She favors

Patek’s men timepieces from the 1940s and 1950s because of their attention to detail and iconic

designs. She hasn’t sold her vintage Pateks yet but has been able to sell non-vintage men’s

Pateks at a profit. Contemporary ladies’ watches, as she recently discovered, don’t make good

investment. She lost money on a Patek with a diamond bezel. “Most ladies’ watches are seen

as pieces of jewelry,” she said. “They don’t fit into the history of horology, I don’t care who the

maker is.” A select group of contemporary men’s timepieces make good investments if they

are produced by one of the top brands and are extremely complex mechanically and limited

in number, Sotheby’s Rich says. Companies that manufacture these limited-edition collectible

models include Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Breguet, A. Lange &

Söhne, and independent brands, such as F.P. Journe, Richard Mille, and Greubel Forsey. There

are many winners out there. It takes time to investigate and find an expert.

Some exclusive vintage watch brands that have proven to be good investments:

– The 2005 “Vagabondage” collection comprised 69 platinum wristwatches, each priced at

54,800 Swiss francs ($51,844). In 2008, one piece from the edition sold for 81,600 Swiss

francs ($77,199) at Antiquorum Geneva.

– The platinum model of German maker A. Lange & Söhne’s Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite

tourbillon”, manufactured in 1996, fetched 315,000 Swiss francs ($262,740) at Christie’s

Geneva in 2008. It retailed for $103,000 before the entire edition sold out.

Typically, if you want to sell a new watch and realize a return on your investment, you have

to wait about 20 years. It is very important that you consult an experienced and well-respected

vintage watch dealer. A company such as Gray and Sons Jewelers, which has been in the pre-
owned vintage watch business for 35 years can properly guide you to the best decisions.

(1) Excerpts and some quotes from business week article, April 6, 2010 by Katya