Passion for vintage watches is a good investment for the future…
by Geoffroy Ader (watch expert now at Artcurial, before at Antiquorum and at Sotheby’s)
The pleasure of watch collecting has become today also an investment for some collectors. If we follow the market trends, either auction or specialized dealers, we strongly notice the influence of vintage watches being a strong asset in a portfolio, which brought the idea and new concept of “The Vintage Portfolio” Blog.
Being a watch passionate since 1995, now as an independent watch expert as well as an auctioneer previously at Sotheby’s, I was immediately seduced by the idea of writing and giving info on the vintage watch market trends. Today’s generation of dealers are always online and the market is mostly moving in the right direction with a new generation of e-collectors. It is fascinating to see the evolution and transformation of the watch market towards digital solutions, which are both easy to use for young collectors as well as also the best way to initiate newer collectors to the world of watches. It is a world with its unique code and complexities that needs to be constantly reviewed to best understand its vintage portfolio.
What is a vintage portfolio in watches? Difficult question to answer in only a few words, it takes time to best understand watches, one needs to best concentrate on the passion before trying to be a real collector of vintage watches. There are many different aspects that you need to understand before enjoying collecting. Which is why we started this blog helping customers to structure their investment thoughts and give guidance through the rough waters of investment decisions.
Of utmost importance is to collect watches that you like while also being aware of the impact of the brand you are buying with its community of influencers. Things have evolved over the years and especially online where there is today a much wider variety of watches that appeal to collectors. One needs to take a decision in buying watches that hold strong value over time while some are becoming stronger investment assets.
Difficult to define the best vintage portfolio? One constant remains, there are the two star brands Patek Philippe and Rolex, while you have star models that belong famous brands like the Reverso for Jaeger LeCoultre or Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet. These are classics that will always remain a strong asset your portfolio. Within the range of more affordable watches, vintage Omega models have received great attention of the collectors community in recent years.
If you look at statistics, it is interesting to note that prices have largely today being oriented towards sports models, which means that you have a premium to pay for the moment for watches which are identified as “must have” in this category. For the moment prices are very strong in this market sector, it might be wise to invest in some models which have not largely benefited from speculations but still have upside potential in your portfolio. If you take as an example the Omega Speedmaster, it is the perfect combination to start your portfolio.
Known as the “Moonwatch” by the watch community since it accompanied the first footsteps of astronauts on the moon in 1969, it has so many versions and different variants that one can easily imagine to concentrate his portfolio on this type of watch. If the portfolio on vintage Omega watches is a strong asset, one should also encounter the importance of condition of each watch which makes prices fluctuate very strongly on the market.
Not so long ago while analysing auction at various capitals of the market, it was easily noticeable that watches with a strong potential were the ones in almost perfect condition. There is always a premium for vintage watches complete with all original accessories, they are nowadays very rare to find in private hands and therefore motivate competition from collectors worldwide.
It is very important to understand the market and especially trends that have been on the market for the past years. If you take the barometer of auctions, record prices are consistently showing the same trend towards a good return investment on quality. This blog will certainly keep you updated on all the trends with different brands, specific models, looking at different periods and style, to make sure you will be up to date with the market trends in the vintage watch market.
Let us take the two most expensive wristwatches by Rolex and Patek Philippe, it reflects the impact and premium given to the most popular brands on the market, there is a huge return on investment for exceptional pieces that are almost unique of a kind. Two brands which have ruled the business of vintage watches while having different market strategies have upgraded the vintage watch market as a strong financial asset in your portfolio.
If Rolex is defined by many observers as the sports watch by excellence, it has really performed extremely well over the last two years with a new world record at more than 5 million Swiss Francs in May 2017 Phillips auction for the now famous Rolex Ref. 6062 So Called “Bao Dai”. If the price achieved is amazing, it is the performance from when it last appeared at auction in 2003 that really is stunning where it only made less than half a million Swiss Francs. The portfolio return is more than ten times (1000%) the initial value over 13 years. This does, of course, not mean that this return shall be achieved with every Vintage Watch acquisition over time but it sets at least a high benchmark for the collector’s community, indeed.
If Patek Philippe holds almost every world record in the watch category, the last one at more than 11 million Swiss Francs in November 2016 Phillips auction for a Ref. 1518, stainless steel, perpetual calendar chronograph and moon phases is again a perfect example of the ratio and return on investment over the same period of time. If there are only four known examples, the last one that appeared on the market at Crott auction in 2004 in Germany made just over a million Euros. The portfolio return is again more than ten times the initial value of this watch over a 12 years period.
These two results for exceptional pieces illustrate perfectly the dynamics over the vintage watch portfolio. One needs to select rare pieces that will be identified as icons by the market to represent a great asset. It is also important to bear in mind that the market is today very well educated and will be even more in the years to come. The perfect example being the success of watch blogs and their contributors now to market trend setters or influencers.
The Vintage Portfolio will provide you with strong analysis on the market trends, the basic metrics to best understand your portfolio or even build up your portfolio, it is a never-ending story but one key element remains, the passion will drive your appetite to buy vintage watches. Please always bear in mind that passionate people are the strongest market asset for watches.
I accepted the challenge to contribute as an advisor to The Vintage Portfolio, mostly because the passion of its young founder, Maximilian, who demonstrates a real talent in presenting you so many different watches, hopefully will bring you to the world of vintage watches while being able to find the one that best suits your wrist.
It is the passion that drives watch collecting and the vintage portfolio blog will explore for you all the trends around watch collecting, being the first steps to constitute a collection, the main drivers to buy or sell your watches, all these aspects that make a real vintage watch collector. Along with aderwatches.com both will also give you some trends and statistics on the auction market, the Vintage Portfolio will bring you the in-depth research on how to collect all watches.
It is important to understand that watches have been a collecting thematic since the early 80’s, since then it became one of the most vibrant sector on the art market, all international and even local auction houses have now a watch department, which makes it a strong market segment. Being in this industry for so many years, I found that the joint venture with online market actors like the Vintage Portfolio is the future of watch collecting.
It is easy, accessible, practical, one can follow up all watches being published online instantly, the world of dealers online is so fascinating, it brings the passion of watches instantly into your hands. No need to wait, it is there and so many collectors can easily join, it is time now for sharing information online, therefor the Vintage Portfolio blog will be your tool and I will guide you as much as I can with my long experience in this market sector.
But the investment as a passion is totally different from the one in finance, one should consider the object as the prime objective, the quest for quality and rarity, no matter the price range, is the essential part of your quest as an investor, it cannot be otherwise. If records are to be beaten, collectors are to be remembered, so I strongly encourage you to build your own collection with your own wishes, you will never make mistakes.
One last example strikes to my mind, the George Daniels Sale at Sotheby’s London in 2012, which was a memorable moment for all watch passionate, set the trend for many watch collectors who rediscovered this genius of time. This watchmaker who elevated watches to the rank of real masterpieces of art, became the legendary figure and source of inspiration for Independent Swiss Watchmakers. All his life was devoted to making the perfect watch. It resulted in a fantastic result and a record price for his masterpiece at auction, The Space Traveller. Years passed and it came again on the auction block at Sotheby’s this last September and achieved the record price above 3,5 million euros, which more than tripled its price in 2012.
This last example is the perfect combination between the collector’s eye and market’s eye, nothing is possible in a portfolio without your personality which will be reflected in your own selection, you will build up your collection with your eye, then it is the exact same eye from the market that will make your collection a strong asset in your portfolio. You always need to keep the perfect combination between the collector’s and market’s eye.
The Vintage Portfolio therefore has the mission to guide you through all these stages, no matter what the price is for a vintage watch, it is the passion you have for it that will drive the market and make others follow your taste, you will all be the market makers, but for the moment just follow your love for watches of all different kinds.
Geoffroy Ader / www.aderwatches.com
Links to watches we talked about in this article from auction houses results.