Watches belong to one of those few categories of things that you probably shouldn't throw away after you stop using them. In principle, the same could be said about cars, but watches have an undeniable advantage - they do not require a lot of space to store them, especially when it comes to wrist watches. Since its inception, watches have taken the best from both technology and decorative art, and therefore from the very beginning fell into the category of standard collectibles. Until about the 19th century, due to their rarity and extremely high cost, people who were noble and not constrained in means could afford to collect watches, who, moreover, often presented watch collecting as proof of their knowledge of mechanics and commitment to the idea of technical progress. An excellent example of this is the collection of clocks and scientific instruments gathered by the Saxon electors since August the Strong, which formed the basis of the exposition of the Museum "Salon of Mathematics and Physics" of the Dresden Zwinger palace complex.
1 of 7 Planetary watch, 1563-1568 © mathematisch-physikalischer-salon.skd.museum Andreas Gertner's World Clock, circa 1700 © instagram.com/the_watch_setter Pocket watch Grand Complication No. 42500, A. Lange & Söhne, 1902 © instagram.com/kristen_5027 © instagram.com/dyhvrxtbkkknj © instagram.com/wiebkekaffka
Now watch collecting is available to everyone and everyone, of course, if you do not strive for possession of outstanding rarities, but act outside the box, finding topics for study that are available from a financial point of view, such as, for example, Soviet watches or watches from Western brands specializing in the mass market … Nowadays, it is quite possible to allow yourself to go all out, collecting in hot pursuit the grains of history of the rapidly and unpredictably evolving newfangled smart watches. Whatever the topic, the question inevitably arises of the justification of investments and the possibility of making money on your hobby. Different answers are given to this question. Someone thinks that collecting in itself gives the owner of the collection plenty of positive things: emotions, pleasure from doing what he loves, learning about history and discovering any new facts,some are probably attracted by the adrenaline of an investigative detective. Others like to think that the value of the collection will grow in one way or another, and it will be possible to make good money on the resale of successful copies.
Still others, at some point, present their hobby as a socially useful business and set up private museums, such as David Yakobashvili's recent collection in the news feeds, where, in particular, an excellent selection of watches with musical devices and automatic devices that reproduce movement is exhibited. various characters. Still others consider collecting to be part of a historical investigation, among them the famous German collector and historian of the Soviet watch industry Johann Altmeppen, who is always ready to sell a specimen he has already studied. A special type of collecting is practiced by watch brands that consider buying historical pieces of their own production as an investment in their image.
When is steel more expensive than gold?
To figure out what is the price, a watch collector has to focus on many factors. Among them are, firstly, psychological - the status of a watchmaker or watch brand, "star" origin, the popularity of a particular topic in the industry or in the community of collectors, and secondly, those that can hardly be called objectively justified are rare a specific instance, its condition, authenticity (the presence of the original configuration), technical features, including the complexity of the mechanism, the perfection of execution, materials. Alexander Gotbi, vice president of the watch department at the auction house Phillips, is confident that the good preservation of the specimen is becoming increasingly important.
Rolex "Stelline" Ref. 6062 © press service
The condition of the movement, case, dial, bracelet, original equipment, lack of polishing of the case and bracelet during maintenance - according to Ghotbi, all these factors begin to play a dominant role in how high the final price of the lot will be at the auction. In general, to an outside observer, the assessment of certain hours may seem unpredictable, since in order to take into account the influence of various factors, one should know the whole story. For example, at auctions, steel watches often perform better than their gold counterparts. This is not surprising to the experts, since, say, a gold Rolex has always been viewed as an expensive purchase, and therefore the owner, as a rule, tried to handle his watch carefully. In contrast, a steel Rolex was often bought to be worn every day,therefore, such a model in excellent original condition is a rarity. Two rare Rolex “Stelline” Ref. Were sold at Phillips Geneva in May 2018. 6062 with moon phase indication and triple calendar: steel went for 1,452,500 Swiss francs, gold - for 636,500 francs.
Patek Philippe "Nautilus" watch, 1976 © press service
Steel Patek Philippe is often quoted more than gold for another reason: the brand has always preferred gold to steel - and still prefers, as its president, Thierry Stern, unambiguously states. Therefore, steel models before the launch of the Nautilus model (1976) were produced by the Geneva firm as an exception. Of course, other factors also influence the auction results, but the opposition of “steel” and “gold” in the auction results of “Patek” and “Rolex” often plays a significant role.
With pedigree or registration?
Collectors are always attracted to when a watch has a history. Auctioneers are well aware of this and often deliberately warm up the atmosphere, pushing the cost of watches beyond reasonable limits. The most indicative in this sense is the sale of a steel Rolex chronograph with an exotic Paul Newman dial, which belonged to the American film actor Paul Newman, that is, to the very person whose name denotes a particular version of the Daytona model. At the Phillips auction in October 2017, this model set an all-time record in the wristwatch category - 17.7 million Swiss francs, while a production copy of Paul Newman with a less impressive pedigree goes for 150 thousand francs. Or less.
Patek Philippe and its celebrity clientele are the generators of many auction records. A pocket watch with a movement programmed to perform 24 different functions, which was made in 1932 by order of the American banker Henry Graves Jr., was sold in 2014 at Sotheby's November auction for $ 24 million; excellent gold pocket "Patek" in 1902 with a super-complicated mechanism (minute repeater, perpetual calendar and split-chronograph) could be purchased at Sotheby's June auction this year for $ 150 thousand, and a rare pocket chronometer 1910 - for only $ 30 thousand. This year's Christie's "suit" pocket watch from Patek Philippe was estimated at 3 thousand francs.
Henry Graves Jr. Pocket Watch, 1932 © Press Office
When the arguments for "star" origin dry up, auctioneers invent something new. Some time ago, everyone was crazy about the so-called "tropical" dials, that is, watches, the color of the dial of which fades over time and under the influence of solar ultraviolet radiation and sometimes radically changes its shade. If this happened with an Omega or Longines watch, you will hardly wait for a profit, but a beautifully patinated Rolex dial can make a fortune. So, "Paul Newman" with a "tropical" coffee-colored dial was sold at Artcurial auction in 2014 for $ 453 thousand, that is, three times against the good "non-tropical" "Paul Newman". The latest idea of the auctioneers is a wrist watch with a double "registration", that is, with dials marked not only with the brand logo, but also with the name of the retailer.through the store of which a specific instance was sold.
Rolex Daytona watches, Rolex © press service
It is hardly possible to predict the results of this campaign, but the prospects are not bad. Remy Giulia, head of watch division at Christie's Dubai office, is convinced that the second “signature” on the dial of Rolex, Patek Philippe or a watch of another reputable Swiss watch brand becomes an excellent argument at the auction, and such items should be valued higher than similar items without a second “registration”.
About finds and "cutlets"
In order not to drown in a sea of technical details, historical facts and collector's tales, you should find good sources of information you can rely on. Books - yes, specialized publications - yes, auction catalogs - yes, however, traditional sources have recently been increasingly supplemented by information published on the Internet. Osvaldo Patrizzi, the founder of the auction firm Antiquorum (1974, he was the first to introduce a wristwatch to the auction market, which was not considered as a serious object of the auction business), should be considered the pioneer of the active activity of auction firms on the Web. Now admission to trading of online participants is required, and almost every auction of a reputable auction company is accompanied by a wave of online publications detailing the most notable lots. In this, bloggers compete with the notebooks of auction firms: they both provide the reader with a lot of information.
With the universal penetration of the Internet, the importance of flea markets has practically dwindled to zero. The weekly "flea" is being replaced by the daily micro-auctions on ebay.com in the West, and on "Sack" and "Avito" in Russia. Any collector can dream of discovering a “fabulous find”, however, the chances of good luck with the growth of Internet awareness decrease, but there is a high probability of getting a copy in a non-collectible state, imitation, fake or “cutlet” (as collectors call watches with non-original parts and components) on free Internet sites with limited liability of the seller, usually postulated by the phrase "what you see [in the photo] is what you get" (what you see is what you get). Nevertheless, "fabulous finds" do happen. Patek Chronograph Ref. 1491J CC "Big Eye" 1937, apparently built as a prototype,- Christie's is undoubtedly lucky, this one in the history of Patek Philippe with an enlarged minute counter was sold at an auction in Dubai in March this year for $ 591,000.
Chronograph Patek Philippe, Ref. 1491J CC Big Eye, 1937 © Press Office
The unique Rolex Daytona Ref. Chronograph definitely belongs to the category of “fabulous finds”. 6265/9 in a white gold case, purchased as a steel watch by an Italian collector and a great connoisseur of antique wristwatches known as John Goldberger. This piece, the second most expensive Rolex, was sold in May 2018 at the Daytona Ultimatum, organized by Phillips, for $ 5.93 million. Sometimes the excellent safety of the watch is a fabulous success. Such was the steel chronograph Omega Speedmaster CK2915-1 from 1958, discovered by the son of the first and only watch owner while sorting things out in the attic of the family home. The chronograph was sold by the Swedish auction company Bukowskis in October 2017 for $ 276 thousand, which doubled the previous record price for "speedmasters".
Chronograph Omega Speedmaster, 1958 © bukowskis.com
Blue chips forever?
As in any active market, a circle of “blue chips” has formed at hour auctions, the cost of which is consistently high and the interest in which is just as stable. A significant part of them are products of two Swiss firms Patek Philippe and Rolex. The first is the leader of the luxury direction of haute horlogerie, the Patekas dominated the market and broke all records in the 1990s and 2000s. The second gives out massive luxury and in the 2010s seriously pressed Patek Philippe on the watch auction Olympus. In addition to a couple of leaders, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin watches are traditionally highly rated, some models from Breguet, Breitling, Cartier, Heuer, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines, Omega, Panerai, Universal Genève show very good results. Blue chips are growing as they should. For example, the original steel model of Patek's "Nautilus" Ref.3700 of 1976 was sold by Christie's in 1999 for $ 4600, in 2009 a similar copy was already priced at $ 28,850, and this year "Nautilus" from the 70s went for $ 80-150 thousand, and sometimes higher. These results are certainly fueled by the brand's diligent maintenance of the Nautilus shortage. The most popular model of the modern collection Nautilus Ref. 5711 in steel execution will have to be ordered in advance and wait eight years, or even ten years, but with a retail price of $ 29,800, the cost of a watch on the secondary market is about $ 70 thousand or more. The most popular model of the modern collection Nautilus Ref. 5711 in steel execution will have to be ordered in advance and wait eight years, or even ten years, but with a retail price of $ 29,800, the cost of a watch on the secondary market is about $ 70 thousand or more. The most popular model of the modern collection Nautilus Ref. 5711 in steel version will have to be ordered in advance and wait eight or even ten years, but with a retail price of $ 29,800, the cost of a watch on the secondary market is about $ 70 thousand or more.
Not so impressive dynamics are shown by other Patek watches, which, it would seem, were destined to a brilliant fate. We are talking about the “Caliber 89”, made for the brand's 150th anniversary - at that time the most complex pocket watch in the world. A total of four "Caliber 89" were made - of yellow, pink, white gold and platinum. Of these, the most frequently featured in the news was a yellow gold specimen. It was first sold by Antiquorum at The Art of Patek Philippe anniversary auction in April 1989 for 4,950,000 francs (approximately $ 3 million). In 2009, also at Antiquorum, these watches were sold for 5,120,000 francs (just over $ 5 million), and in 2017, already at the Sotheby's auction, with a preliminary estimate of 6.5 million to 10 million francs, the lot did not reach the lower estimate of 50 thousand. francs and was withdrawn from the auction.>