Over the past twenty years, collecting watches has become a sport for many; more and more people collect them, and we spend more and more money on it. It starts with just one, but before you know it, you are addicted to watches, and your collection contains many precious, valuable, and exciting pieces.
“For many collectors, it all begins with a particular watch. Maybe you have inherited an Audemars Piguet pocket watch from the early 20th century, and suddenly you are fascinated by the stories that old watches tell. Or your eyes may have been fixed on a 1976 Patek Philippe in white gold, and after getting the watch at an exclusive auction, you couldn’t resist and bid on another in a few weeks,” says Alexandre Mourreau, a Swiss-Italian entrepreneur, event organizer, and influencer who keeps an eccentric passion for collecting supercars and luxury watches.
Since once you start to learn more about the history of watchmaking, the vast number of different watch brands, mechanics, or materials, you simply don’t have enough. Alexandre Mourreau walks us through the “art” of collecting watches – as he calls it and introduces us to some important rules.
Better few pieces, but special
To become a collector or an expert, the number of watches does not matter. You can have a collection of a few extraordinary and valuable pieces or vast and varied collections. Some collectors are particular and like to select only one brand, range, specific models, or from a specific time. Identify your specific passion and choose what type of collector you want to be.
Money doesn’t always mark quality.
The excellent taste makes the difference between the elegance that a watch can convey and the most vulgar ostentation of money. Its price does not need to reach obscene amounts. There are good watches for little money, relatively high-end brands with very wide price ranges, and mid-range brands with quality finishes and materials.
“The feeling of wearing the watch you want is very subjective, everyone will perceive different sensations depending on the piece they are wearing, but it is clear that it will always be something special,” says Alexandre Mourreau. By the way, never assume that Rolex is the most expensive brand in the world.
Three traits of identity
The finishes, robustness, and quality of the caliber. There are watches for all tastes, styles, and needs, but these three aspects are essential to make a good purchase. “For example, the new Rolex Daytona is robust, quality, and has gorgeous finishes that allow it to be used in any environment,” says Alexandre Mourreau.
Recognize a fake
Be careful, because watches do not get rid of impostors. In this, Alexandre Mourreau follows a slogan: buy from the seller before the clock. Especially with vintage collectibles, he recommends going with lead feet, as there is a lot of latent phony. It never hurts to get professional advice. In addition, all purchases must be made at the authorized retailers. Each brand indicates on its website, who are the official agents for each city.
Counterfeits are very similar in appearance and are sold at a lower price, but their quality is unmatched. Sometimes it can even be seen in the finish and in the small details, such as glue or imperfections.
A vintage piece, the safest bet
Getting an old watch, especially if it is a pocket watch, is considered one of the best investments since there are very few new ones that can aspire to collector’s pieces. For some time, its consideration is reaching a level similar to that of the art market or the luxury car. Paul Newman’s Daytona, for example, reached $7.8 million in 2017 at auction. It is irreproducible.
Find the right size
It is a matter of taste, but we should discard a watch with an excessive diameter for special moments that require, for example, wearing a morning suit. More than size, it matters that it fits the wrist so that the case of the watch does not cause discomfort or prevent the shirt sleeve from falling normally.
The material marks its pedigree
Carbon is one of the most appreciated materials in the manufacture of sports watches. It is light, resistant to any impact, and provides a unique aesthetic. Its fibers form unrepeatable patterns that make each watch a unique piece. It is up to 80% less heavy than a watch made of other materials and is ideal for lovers of bulky watches.
As for the material of the crystal, the sapphire, extremely resistant to scratches, is prevailing. It is present in the most elite and upper-middle-range watches, due to its reputation for high durability. However, collector’s watches are usually made of plexiglass, which was the material that was used before.
Distinguish a quartz watch from a mechanical one
The latter uses the force of a motor spring as energy and needs a revision that should be done every five years to control its wear and avoid high friction between its parts. The great classics are usually mechanical. The quartz works with battery or battery and under the control of a circuit.
It is associated with medium or low ranges, although large brands such as TAG Heuer, Breitling, or Patek Philippe manufacture quartz models of high category and consideration in the market.
What makes the price skyrocket?
It is clear that the details count: diamonds, gold, enamels – but what usually gives added value are the so-called complications, which are the functions that go beyond marking the passage of time. And here the possibilities are endless: chronograph, stopwatch, acoustic, mechanical or astronomical signals, among many others.
One of the most peculiar is the perpetual calendar, which informs its wearer of the day, date, phases of the moon, leap years, or the equation of time, with millimeter precision.
If you still want to increase the level and reach those exclusive watches that could be the dream of every collector, you would have to go to old pieces made in few units and challenging to obtain or current copies made in a natural and almost artisan way.
This is the case of the Patek Philippe models, which despite their high prices, have waiting lists of up to several years for their purchase. Although the range of brands and models is abysmal, Alexandre Mourreau highlights these six little jewels that are far from being the most expensive on the market:
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
The 40 mm Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona in Oystersteel comes with a white dial and an oyster bracelet. The elegance of a black cerachrom bezel and tachymetric scale makes this watch one of the most carefully designed pieces. It was created more than 50 years ago and remains a class of its own.
Royal Oak Double Skeleton Balancer
The 41mm is a legendary watch, a piece that appears to belong in a modern art gallery. The metal precision, the bezel, and sapphire crystal exudes royalty, and is quite a popular piece among Hollywood celebrities.
Royal Oak “JUMBO” Extra-Flat
This exquisite piece of craftsmanship comes with a different style paired by the blue dial with Petite Tapisserie motif, white gold indexes, and luminescent coating on the Royal Oak hands. The 31mm watch inspires a luxury yet formidable impulse.
Patek Philippe Nautilus, one of the most coveted
Speaking of elegance, in this case, also sporty, you cannot fail to name the Patek Philippe Nautilus, a magnificent design by Gerald Genta. It is still one of the most coveted watches by brand and watches lovers in general due to its design, quality, and scarcity on the market.
Rolex GMT-Master II “Batman”
The box is made of Oystersteel – Rolex steel – 40 mm in diameter. The design of the handles has been slightly modified to accommodate the new Jubilé bracelet, with a small trick that will exasperate some: The Oyster bracelet cannot replace it. In this way, Rolex ensures that the few that are seen on the street are the new version (reference 126710BLNR), and not adopted by devotees of the previous version.
The two-tone bezel is perfectly executed in black and blue Cerachrome® ceramics, the glossy black lacquered dial on which are raised applied indexes and traditional hands, and with the corresponding Rolex Chromalight treatment. What works\ (and very well in this case) is not touched.
Rolex GMT-Master II “Pepsi”
Rolex has recovered for this model the ‘Pepsi’ arrangement, the nickname with which fans know this historic watch for the bicolor combination of the bezel in blue and red to differentiate day and night hours.
As for the technical details of this new GMT-Master II, the Jubilé bracelet’s choice, one of the most traditional of Rolex, is striking, while the rest of the GMT-Master II versions continue to use the most modern Oyster. In addition to helping differentiate it from other versions, this classic air bracelet (created no less than in 1945) gives the new GMT-Master II a successful vintage air. Another important novelty is being equipped with the new caliber 3285, belonging to the new generation of calibers that Rolex released in 2015. It stands out, among other technical details, for its exclusive exhaust Chronergy® and his 70-hour power reserve.