Apart from the usual models like the Nautilus and the Submariner that everyone is trying to catch, there are still lots of “sleepers” that are likely to become your next bargain.
And we at LuxuryBazaar.com have herded a selection of seven models that are bound to become very interesting in the next future. And more, they display some great-looking brands on their dials.
WHY YOU SHOULD BUY PRE-OWNED WATCHES?
Vintage is the new black. And retro-looking watches have dominated the scene of the scanty new releases of 2020.
Among the top contenders, heritage models have played the lion’s part — look at the new Tudor Prince line for inspiration — but the whole vintage market is in a full uproar.
Second-hand and vintage timepieces have a lot of upsides.
1 — They are charming. The retro look of their design tells a story of refinement and appreciation for the finer aspects of life and reconnects with time past, which is not merely passed, but experienced. They might be smaller and less showy, but they speak in volumes for those who know how to listen.
2 — They are affordable. We all know that almost every new watch loses 20% of its value as you walk out of the store and 30% during the following year. Then it stabilizes and reaches its market value. That is, what people would actually pay for it.
3 — You can strike a real bargain. Fashion trends in watches come and go. During the Eighties, bimetal timepieces were cool, while recently, they weren’t (even if they are showing signs of recovery). If you are shopping for one now, you are most probably getting it under its market value. And remember a distinctive feature of fashion: it comes and goes in cycles.
4 — Some brands are timeless. They are the bones making the skeleton of the industry. Watches from historical, established companies that have made the history of watchmaking like Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Cartier tend to hold their value. Even in less requested models.
5 — Last but not least, some watches are timeless. A 1950s Calatrava is virtually impossible to distinguish from a contemporary Calatrava. It might even look better — and have a more interesting movement.
WHY NOT TO BUY PRE-OWNED WATCHES?
Second-hand and vintage watches are not for everyone. It is something that requires a healthy dose of patience and understanding.
First of all, vintage timepieces are subject to their main feature: their past. They might have been repaired and refurbished during their life, sometimes not in the way they should have. There are many “frankens” in the vintage world — timepieces that mix-and-match original and spurious elements to create a complete watch.
So, be sure to take it slowly and do not pull the trigger in the heat of the moment. The best course of action is to trust a specialist to make sure everything is peachy: an expert like us at Luxury Bazaar, that is — we are here to make sure that the watch you are buying is the perfect timepiece for you.
Second, the older the watch, the lower the chance it comes with all of its elements, like the box and papers detailing its originality. Second-wrist and vintage timepieces could be as old as fifty years old, so they rarely come with these luxuries.
And remember that there is a brisk trade on the internet for these elements as well, so you have been warned.
Vintage watches need some TLC, like old cars. Do not expect to buy a brand new Tesla — you are going for a vintage Rolls-Royce this time. These timepieces need constant maintenance and some TLC from a trusted watchmaker. So, be sure you have one in your Rolodex before starting.
Also, take note that the vintage market is a slow one. Consider these watches as “old friends,” and give them time: if you do, they will slowly but surely increase in value. Almost all horology experts agree that a good vintage watch from a reputable company is going to rise in value in five years’ time.
So, if it is a quick buck what you are after, flipping new watches might be better suited for you.
THE SEVEN LITTLE SLEEPERS
After our recommendations, it is time to get to the core of our reasoning: that is, the seven watch models that we see as undervalued right here, right now.
Will they increase in value, and how soon? As we told you, in time, they will. We cannot say how and when, but it will definitely happen.
Some of these models were made sixty or seventy years ago, so they will not become more common in ten years’ time. Others have not still enjoyed their full potential because, up to now, they have been shadowed by other more fashionable timepieces coming from the same manufacturer or a competitor.
So, let’s talk about our seven little big champs of a financial understatement.
ROLEX EXPLORER I
The Rolex Explorer I, introduced in 1954, is commonly known as the watch of the Everest, even if this fact has been proven false. However, we still feel that it is a great-looking watch and represents a perfect alternative to the ubiquitous Datejust.
In 1971, Rolex revamped it with the Explorer II, which is more sporty and contemporary-looking.
However, we feel that the Explorer I is more balanced on the wrist with its 36mm diameter, especially for average and smaller wrists, and gives you a perfect combination of style and features, which render it the ideal daily beater if you do not need the date indication (and frankly, whoever really does?)
Forget about the original ref. 6610, which retails for around USD $22,000: you can find some good ref. 6694 with a leather wristband from approximately USD $4,500, and the more modern ref. 14270 with steel bracelet starting from USD $5,500.
Remember that just five years ago, both changed wrists for around USD $3,500.
PATEK PHILIPPE GOLDEN ELLIPSE
The Golden Ellipse is one of the most elegant dress watches ever made. Designed by the genius of Gerald Genta in 1969, its organic style elements and proportions, which follow the Golden Rule, mark the path of the designer to the Royal Oak and the Nautilus.
Still, probably due to the lack of interest in the pure dress watches of that era, it is seldom-considered in the second-wrist and vintage world. Its valuation is still relatively subdued — a sort of diamond in the sand for the most astute vintage collectors.
Several versions are available in different sizes, with the date or without, and wristband or bracelet.
The most affordable models start from USD $5,000, making it possibly the most affordable Patek Philippe on the market and increasing to USD $6,800 if you want a model featuring the integrated bracelet.
PATEK PHILIPPE AQUANAUT
We are stepping up the ante of the game a bit here.
Aquanauts are not affordable in any sense of the term. But they do become a very sensible alternative if we compare them to the Holy Grail of watch lovers and investors: the Patek Philippe Nautilus.
Presented by the company in 1997, the Aquanaut represents a sportier and more affordable alternative to its more famous sibling due to the different choice of wristband, which helped reduce its list price.
Patek Philippe made both men’s and ladies’ models of the Aquanaut, in sizes ranging from 30 to 43 mm, and mounting quartz and mechanical movements.
The most affordable Aquanaut models are — unsurprisingly — the ladies models, which start from around USD $10,000. However, “basic” ref. 5066 men’s specimens can be found starting from USD $25,000 onwards.
Everybody knows this watch, and it can’t be different. The watch worn during the Moon landing of June 1969 is something that tickles the fancy of every watch lover. Still, for an iconic timepiece like this one, the valuations start from a surprisingly low value, especially if we make a paragon with its arch-enemy, the Rolex Daytona.
Omega is known to release special limited editions of the Speedmaster, which contribute to its popularity among the fan base; generally, they rise in value almost immediately. Two examples are the Speedy Tuesday, which retails for USD $8,500 from the USD $6,500 of its introduction in 2017. The Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award, introduced in 2003, has climbed to more than USD $10,000 from an initial price of USD $7,350.
However, the basic Omega references are a sort of workhorse — they are there to stay, so they do not drop in value, ever, even if they do not appreciate much. However, there is much value in two editions of the Speedmaster: namely, the Reduced and the Date. With its 39 mm of diameter, the first is 3 mm smaller than the regular Speedy and can be found for USD $2,100. The Date is even more affordable: it mounts the automatic ETA 7750 caliber, and it is available for USD $1,900, upwards.
If we consider the world of vintage and retro-looking watches, we cannot afford to ignore the Cartier Tank. Its shape comes from 1917, derived from the tracks of the tanks used in the First World War, and is still perfectly modern, making it one of the world’s most iconic watches.
During its long career, Cartier has interpreted the Tank in many editions to conform its quintessential charm to the fashion of the time.
The Tank has mounted quartz movements. It has been mass-marketed in the Must de Cartier’s popular editions. It has come and gone in and out of fashion, but it has always represented a statement to be worn at the wrist.
The Tank Solo is the most affordable version. It mounts a quartz-based movement: well-maintained pieces start from about USD $1,800 to USD $4,000 for the rose gold versions. You can find mechanical stainless steel timepieces like the Tank Louis at around USD $9,000 for the yellow gold cased references.
UNIVERSAL GENEVE POLEROUTER
The Polerouter is a fascinating watch designed by the same Gerald Genta who created the Golden Ellipse. Introduced in 1954, it was one of the first automatic watches featuring a micro-rotor to reduce its thickness.
Its name derives from the fact that it was created to resist the magnetic fields of the flight route over the North Pole (its first name was PolaRouter).
Its distinctive lugs shape and pie-pan dial with the cross mark design genuinely represent the style of the era, making this watch a must for every vintage watch lover.
And more, a very affordable buy.
The basic references for the Polerouter start from just USD $500, making it an easy buy. Prepare to wait a few years, though: look for the perfect specimen with a mechanical movement, wear it at your leisure, and let the time. Remember that the right model could fetch you up to USD $2,000.
MOVADO TRIPLE CALENDAR
Despite the latest production of Movado, most oriented towards fashion watches of low interest for collectors and investors, its old production has a lot of interest for the vintage lover. Some of its models were rebranded and sold by famous companies like Tiffany, Hermès, and Cartier.
Movado was extremely gifted technically, making complicated calendar models from around 1938 to around 1955, representing a cardinal reference point for other very famous manufacturers, and producing timepieces for companies like Tiffany, Hermès, and Cartier.
The most interesting triple calendar models by Movado are the Calendograf, the Celestograf, and the Calendomatic.
The Calendograf, more commonly known as the “triple calendar,” was introduced by Movado in 1938 and remained on the market until 1954. It is driven by 470-derived Caliber 475 and features the following functions: hours, minutes, seconds, month, day of the week, and date.
The Celestograf, or Astrograph in the American market, can be defined as a “more” complicated version of the latter. It has the same characteristics as the Calendograf but adds a moon phase display. Produced between 1947 and 1954, it mounts the caliber 473, derived from the 470.
The Calendomatic is the automatic version of the family, introduced in 1948 until 1954. The functions are similar to the Calendograf, but this time the beating heart of the watch is an automatic movement.
The majority of these watches are mounted in Borgel-made cases (in different materials like chrome-plated, stainless steel, gold-rolled or plated, and yellow gold).
Borgel was a talented case maker who also worked for companies like Patek Philippe, Mido, and Ulysse Nardin. The famous Patek Philippe “Tasti Tondi” — a USD $250,000 vintage watch — features a Borgel-made case.
The Calendograf is the most accessible model of this series, starting from around USD $1,000.
The Celestograf, with the added moon phase complication, is way more uncommon and retails for around USD $2,500.
The Calendomatic instead is the most recent of the three, so it is a bit more affordable, starting from around USD $1,200.
The most precious references with the best cases, however, can easily surpass USD $5,000.