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Investing in vintage watches that hold most value

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Investing in vintage watches that hold most value By Charlotte Beugge | Telegraph  –  Tue, Dec 10, 2013 17:45 GMT
watches Events in history can have a seismic effect on the value of watches, such as
the escape from Stalag Luft III. We explain how to invest in the watches
that will rise in value.replica patek philippe watches The value of premium second-hand watches has ticked up even in the tough
economic times of late. replica patek philippe aquanaut
With watches, it is the make and how rare they are that are important. A sale
of 50 Rolex Oyster Daytonas, a model that dates back 50 years, at Christie’s
in Geneva last month raised $13.2m (£8m). replica patek philippe watches
The top item wasn’t even made of any precious metal; it was a 1969 “Paul
Newman” model, which sold for more than $1m (£610,000), many times the
original estimate. And it wasn’t even worn by the film star merely named
after him because he wore that model in the Seventies. patek philippe replica watches
Closer to home, a Rolex owned by a prisoner of war went up for auction in
October. It belonged to RAF pilot Gerald Imeson, who was imprisoned at the
notorious Stalag Luft III camp, made famous in the 1963 film The Great
Escape. Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf gave watches to prisoners of war who had
had their own timepieces confiscated when imprisoned, although he asked them
to pay for their watches after the war was over. replica patek philippe watches
Flight Lieutenant Imeson, who died in 2003, paid about £170 for his (£5,000 in
today’s money). At the sale at Bourne End Auction Rooms in Buckinghamshire
his watch was sold for £50,000 to an overseas buyer. By comparison, a watch
of the same model but without the PoW story sold for £24,000 earlier this
year.
The Rolex of British POW RAF pilot Gerald Imeson
Probably the world’s most expensive watch is the 201-carat Chopard timepiece
that fetched $25m (£15m today) in 2000. However, the multicoloured diamond
piece is more jewellery than a watch. It is a “monstrosity” according to Dan
Wade of Paul Fraser Collectibles.
A more traditional piece is the 1933 Patek Philippe Henry Graves Super
Complication pocket watch that sold for $11m (£6.7m now) in 1999. It was
made for US banker Henry Graves, who was competing with car-maker James Ward
Packard for ownership of the most complicated watch. It took three years to
make and it includes a chart showing the stars over New York city.
The priciest traditional wristwatch ever sold at auction was a 1944 Patek
Philippe that sold for $5.6m in 2010. Indeed Patek Philippe is generally
considered to be the best name in luxury watches: of the 100 most expensive
pieces to be auctioned, 80 carried its name.
Mr Wade said Patek Philippe watches commanded high prices thanks to the long
history of the company (it made its first piece in 1868) as well as
“renowned workmanship, innovation, superb movements, the high quality of its
materials and crucially their small production numbers”.
A Patek Philippe watch
Martin Arnold, managing director of second-hand watch dealers Austin Kaye,
said Patek Philippe watches were of “superb quality”, attractive,
understated and far from showy. Mr Wade added: “The vintage watch market
works on the laws of supply and demand. The prestige of the Patek Philippe
name makes its timepieces highly sought after; their scarcity pushes prices
up.”
But he added that you could pick up a Patek Philippe Calatrava from the
Eighties or Nineties for about £6,000, so the pieces aren’t restricted to
the super-wealthy.
Apart from Patek Philippe, others to look for include Breguet, Audemars
Piguet, Jaeger LeCoultre, Longines, Cartier and Rolex. Mr Arnold said the
top pieces were always Swiss. He added: “We always make it clear to anyone
buying from us that watches are not an investment. Buy them because you like
them if they rise in value, that’s a plus.”
A celebrity link can add value. Last year a Heuer Monaco piece worn by Steve
McQueen in the film Le Mans sold for around £800,000 and Elvis’s Omega went
for more than £320,000. Jonty Hearnden of Cash in the Attic was once shown a
partly plastic watch said to be worth £400,000 because it was once owned
by tennis star Rafael Nadal. Only a few of the ultra-lightweight pieces by
Richard Mille were made.
But should you go for modern or old? Toby Sutton of specialist auctioneers
Watches of Knightsbridge said: “I would say 99 times out of 100 it is better
value buying a pre-owned or vintage watch over brand new. Many pre-owned or
vintage watches have increased considerably in value over the past decade.”
Mr Hearnden added: “I think the choice with watches is like cars: do you go
for up-to-date technology or the good looks of an older model?” He added
that over the past few recession-hit years, the vintage watch market had
been reasonably buoyant, more so than many other collectables.
And, unlike much jewellery, a good gold watch will be worth more than the
weight of the gold it contains. Stainless steel models can also be valuable.
Mr Sutton added that if you did buy a new watch make sure you got a limited
or special edition, “then you are covering yourself somewhat as these models
have a limited production run and become collectable a few years later”.
As with other collectables, condition is important but even
less-than-perfect ones can still be valuable. A box and receipt will help,
but Mr Hearnden said it was just as important to make sure the workings were
original too. Mr Arnold added that a new strap would not detract from value
as no one expected a leather strap to last for years. And Mr Sutton said
that if you did have a valuable watch, “I would say wear it: it doesn’t
really affect the value and is a good thing for the mechanism. With some
vintage pieces the more worn or discoloured the watch looks the more the
value, as it becomes unique.”
He added: “One of the first Rolex Submariner models made in the Fifties was
owned by a Scottish builder who wore it every day you could really tell.
It fetched £60,000 at auction.”
If you are buying a second-hand watch, Mr Wade suggested looking for the
number of complications (watch jargon for functions). “The more a watch has,
the more attractive it generally is to buyers,” he said. “Minute repeaters
are especially desirable.” Finally, a watch does need to be in working order
to make its best price. =
Is the insurance up to scratch?=If you have a precious watch, make sure it is fully insured. Lennox Bunting, a
high-net-worth insurance expert for Zurich, said rising prices for fine
watches recently might mean that a watch that hadn’t been valued in the last
three years was likely to be underinsured. “In the event it were stolen or
destroyed in a house fire the insurance payout might be less than the watch
is now worth, he said. “Watches which have been handed down through families
are sometimes overlooked when it comes to getting them valued for insurance
purposes.”
He recommended regular valuations and, if you have a special watch, telling
your insurer and providing a full description and valuation. If you have a
large collection or particularly valuable items, you may need
additional insurance.
Read more articles from The Telegraph here
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