Sometimes I hear people saying how weird is getting a watch that already has been used by other people and I think they didn’t get it. I share the opinion that doesn’t matter what are you wearing in your wrist if it’s expensive or a cheap watch if it’s mechanical or a simple quartz watch if it’s a brand new or a vintage watch, as long as you enjoy and it brings you a big smile in your face, that is all that matter.
Last years we have been watching an increasing demand for the vintage watches and consequently the raise prices of these timepieces, but it was not always so, the game has changed.
Being myself an economic guy, with an educational and professional background in business management, it would be easy to explain by the supply and demand law, the market will always adjust over time, but that would be the easy explanation so, we decided to dive in the subject and look for other explanations.
Among the watches community rules the idea that vintage watches were for a long time underrated, there were times that people gave more value to the modern watches, the exposure of these pieces was much smaller, the crisis of mechanical watches in the ‘70s and the emergence of the quartz era, almost led to extinction swiss watch industry, fortunately, it didn’t happen but the recovery was long.
So, what changed last years, it’s consensual the watch community is much smaller than people may think, during years many reputable watch dealers conditioned the access of great pieces to a small group of people which may explain the concentration of big collections in some families, but today is a fact that same community is growing, sponsored mainly by blogs and social media that brings an unprecedented exposure of the watch industry forcing it to open up to the world.
Unlike the new watches, among the vintage watches is possible to find countless nuances in the same model that makes many of them unique pieces and at the same time have a timepiece very accurate and reliable. And here the things really start getting fun, the search for a reference number, a rare text in the dial, the patina in the indexes and hands, a tropical dial, a full original package with paperwork and boxes and beyond that charming and lifelong stories.
Another factor behind the increase of the value of the vintage watches is the collectability, some watches have become much-desired rarities, for many different reasons, such as the small number of pieces produced, for being limited editions, for being used by some celebrities, the year were produced, among many others.
But why some of these vintage watches are more desirable and more valuable than others, the specialists answer with the main factor, the condition of the watch, if it was carefully looked, if it was conserved with original parts, scratches and all, if it was kept with original papers and boxes and all of this is seen as factors that add value to the market. Beyond condition are other factors like the trends, the chance to become a good investment, but also the proud to wear in the wrist a piece of history, that looks cool.
If just a few years ago only a small part of the brands like Rolex, Omega, Patek Phillipe, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin looked to add value to the vintage watch market, today we are seeing many others brands that are now beginning to attract attention, names like Tag Heuer, Breitling, Universal Geneve, Enicar, Movado that still have underrated prices but are starting to become a good investment.
The last question that remains is knowing who are the drivers of this “new” trend, for sure they are not these brands, focused almost exclusively on launching new watches, however, we can identify two distinctively factors, the first was the small retailers and also the principal auctions companies that are making so much for the vintage watches on the last years, many times showing into the daylight pieces that have been locked in private collections, the second turns out to be a consequence of the first and is the Instagram, this social media was the one that grew the most revolutionizing completely the industry like no any other, the raise of Hashtags like #wristshot, #watchfam, #watchporn and many others show that fact. Fortunately, many other players have been joining and contribute to this movement, the stunning job of Hodinkee in the United States as the Fratello here in Europe. Today brands like Audemars Piguet, Omega and the Richemont Group are starting to take the first steps and recognizing the importance of their heritage timepieces.