As more and more American Consumers become fanatic watch consumers….. many start to develop watch collections. What really defines a good watch collection, and why do people collect certain watches? Before one can actually answer these questions, it’s important to note that people buy watches for various reasons. Some buy watches because they love the look and style of a piece. Some buy because of the brand, some for the functionality that the watch provides i.e.chronograph, alarm or multiple time zones and some for speculating on a higher future resale. Are all of these consumers also collectors? no, definitely not.
There is no right or wrong way to build a watch collection. The important thing is to develop a “collecting criteria” and adhere to it. The common perception of collecting anything is the notion that it will be worth more in the future than it is now. The reality is that very few timepieces will increase in value, some will, most won’t. Use cars as an analogy. When you buy most cars they depreciate the moment you leave the dealership, with few exceptions this is almost always true. You buy because the car because it’s useful, beautiful, inspires passion and emotion and more rarely because it may be collectable. However, the same basic rules of collecting apply to both automobiles, watches as to most other potentially collectable items.
Always buy from an authorized retailer. Always insist on the complete box and papers, factory warranty and certificate of authenticity. You would insist on this if you bought a new Ferrari, why wouldn’t you for your new timepiece. This is crucial if you should ever decide to sell your timepiece…….. watches will full box and papers from an authorized retailer are always considered more valuable than those without. Additionally, collectors should always make sure that they keep all links, buckles and additional straps that may have originally come with the watch.
Manufacturers have come to realize and embrace the trend of watch collecting. As such, many brands release their new models in very limited quantities or in numbered sets. This is done to promote the “collect-ability” of their product. In some cases it is very effective in others, it is really not as the “limited number” is so large. Remember that certain Manufactures specialize in producing certain complications. Generally the more complicated or hand finished a timepiece is, the more limited it will be in production. Complications by Patek, Audemars, Vacheron and Blancpain have long since been collectable. But there are many young new “boutique” brands that make very unique timepieces in very small numbers i.e. Svend Anderson, Grubel & Forsey, Jean Dunand, Richard Mille, Peter Speake Marin and several others. Roger Dubuis limits their watches to collections of 28. Harry Winston makes an Opus series of 6 or less. Numerous other brands produce limited numbers of a certain model in quanities of 50,100 or 500. When you consider that these numbers are for the entire world, even those numbers are not huge.
The important things to remember are: develop a “collecting criteria,” buy what you like, what evokes emotion and not what some expert or magazine said you should buy. And wherever you buy, buy authorized, get the proper paperwork and protect the value of your collection. Timepieces worth collecting are like art, they should be treated and respected as such and will provide you years of enjoyment.