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Collecting - Vintage Value Equation (1)
WORLDTEMPUS - 2 August 2012
Every vintage watch is different. Accordingly, a collector determining the value of each vintage wristwatch comes down to putting values into an equation. And, ultimately, each watch has its own value equation. Knowing how to quantify and calculate the variables in the equation is equal parts experience, education, astuteness, and power of observation. While there is no substitute for experience, there are resources that can speed up the learning curve: an expansive collector's library, bookmarking the best websites, and - frankly - buying and selling as many wristwatches as you can responsibly afford. As I explained to my wife many years ago (I don't think she believed me, but it's true), "Every time I buy and own a watch, I learn about the watch and learn from the transaction." Don't underestimate the learning also garnered when a watch is sold. You quickly learn which brands and models are the best to collect (which also equates to investing in), and which watches are better left to looking at pictures of. ? The first order of magnitude, in establishing the value of a vintage watch is authenticity. While a counterfeit watch has value in the sense that it may (or may not) keep time and may look nice, we are talking pennies on the dollar (and sometimes much less) in terms of comparing the value of a counterfeit watch to its authentic counterpart. Our starting presumption and the first step in the evaluation of any wristwatch must be: is this watch authentic?
For the beginning collector, this is easier said than done. If you are going to be buying most of your watches from an established watch dealer, you can piggy-back on his or her experience and trust that you are purchasing authentic watches. Any dealer worth doing business with will guarantee the authenticity of any and all watches and will put that pledge in writing and offer a lifetime money-back guarantee should a watch turn out to be less than 100 percent authentic. Buying from established dealers allows you to safely spend your money and learn from each watch that you buy. Obviously, the dealer works on a profit, and buying from him or her may mean you are paying more than if you venture out into the wild by yourself. However, in my opinion, the extra layers of protection are worth the premium. This is where spending big on a watch library before you start spending big on watches will really pay off. There are numerous watch books available, all of which are illustrated with pictures. From coffee table books, magazines and watch annuals to auction catalogs and collector's value guides, each and every book will advance your education. Many of the Italian collector's books are excellent (and expensive, but worth every penny). There are Japanese books and magazines usually focused on Rolex watches that feature amazingly in-depth picture series on the various models and their iterations over time. The Antiquorum auction house offers many, also available on Amazon and eBay. Unfortunately, many of the best books are now out of print. However, my advice is to spend liberally on books. Even after you are an experienced collector, you will find yourself referring again and again to your library. I know I do, every day.
Democratization of information is the essence of the Internet. There is no limit to the amount of learning one can achieve online. Antiquorum's online database of auction results is an educational goldmine. You can study the pictures of watches - each picture can be clicked on to open up a high definition image - and find out both what the experts on staff predicted the value of each watch would be at auction and what the watch actually sold for. Studying these results over time, one can learn which models do best in terms of value and which characteristics most closely correlate with a watch's value. Timezone is a great resource to spend days immersed in learning and DoubleRedSeaDweller is a magnificent website for Rolex Submariners and SeaDwellers. You should explore all that the Internet has to offer in terms of watch knowledge. However, there is simply no substitute for experience. You should strive to see as many watches as possible "in the metal." Holding watches in your hands, studying them under a loupe, feeling their weight, winding them, playing with their crowns and chronograph buttons, putting them on your wrist, and noticing every last detail is the surest way to know immediately if a watch is authentic and if it is not.
COLLECTING - Vintage Value Equation (2) COLLECTING - Vintage Value Equation (3) COLLECTING - Vintage Value Equation (4)