Why this keen interest for vintage watches ?
Collectors often acquire these watches, whether at an auction in prestigious hotels on the shores of the lake Geneva, or at a watchmaking fair in La Chaux-de-Fonds, are often subjected to long discussions about their value, their history, their movement, the origin of their pieces... Our aim was to offer the reader a few key points regarding the reasons why buyers, both young and experienced, would encounter them.
They tell a story
Within each watch there is an atypical story. Perhaps they lived through the war, received a bullet splinter. Some may have been worn by actors, celebrities, mafia don ... Some are unique, made in a very limited number of pieces, some were lost in the ocean, in a war or simply undiscovered. But above all, each watch, new or old, reflects the history of its wearer at a given moment. And from this moment on, history is written. A typical example would be the watch of the actor Paul Newman. It's a Rolex Daytona reference 6239 with a creamy dial, witnessed the story of this great actor and continues to thrill auction houses today, with the model often fetching several hundred thousand Swiss francs and Paul Newman's Rolex itself breaking a new record at Phillips auction in October 2018 for $17,800,000.
Hell yeah, it's a good product to wear !
Vintage watches are definitely one of the best manufactured objects in the field of industrial design. Very often, these watches are the result of years of research, patents or tests. For example, Patek Philippe and its reference 1463, the first water-resistant chronograph with its decagonal (10) case, patented by the company Taubert & Fils, formerly François Borgel, in Geneva. Such complexity, aesthetic tension, and research concentrated in such a small object is precisely why they are so important to collectors and buyers. Coupled with a patina of the dial over time, the object changes while keeping its original DNA. For this reason, Furlan Marri Chronograph wanted to pay attention to those great case makers of the past.
Visual and physical experience
Watches were thinner, their diameter smaller (33 to 38 mm on average), making them easier to wear than modern pieces, more comfortable even on thinner wrists. Steel bracelets of the past were most often made of thin sheets of steel or aluminum folded and not processed directly from bulk, ignoring the weight of the bracelet. Dials were simpler and more readable, with much higher color contrasts. Collectors generally appreciate the physical experience of use. The weight of the watch is often synonymous with quality, preciousness in these days (a heavy bracelet), whereas in the past everything was about finesse, simplicity of use, focusing on the essentials of the function and its usefulness. Nowadays, some items are no longer produced, such as folded metal bracelets, due to manufacturing costs or labor, among other reasons.
A major investment
While vintage watch prices are skyrocketing today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find affordable watches at reasonable prices. Some years ago, amateurs could find what they were looking for at various watch shows or online. Today, very few can be faster than strong buyers who are constantly searching for last chances on Ebay, Chrono24 etc. You must still be extremely familiar with it, because wristwatches are often accompanied by fake papers, fake movements or of unreliable origin, all to increase the perceived value and the final price. Even famous auction houses are not immune to a fully restored but not original dial, or a dubious reprint. Experts often have to search through old sales records to find out if a particular piece matches properly. Despite this, prices rise year after year, so some collector's items such as the Paul Newman Rolex reflect this rise in price. In 2011, one of these Rolex Daytonas sold for CHF 165,000, auctioned off 7 years later and soared to CHF 705,000 ! An important investment for most collectors.
Create a strong community by bringing people together
Thanks to the arrival of social medias, one can easily join a group, a community, a forum and learn more about their favorite brand or recently acquired product. For several years now, "collector's dinners" (wristshots where everyone proudly wears their watch after or before the dinner), meetings on the bangs of watch shows or auction rooms, as well as special moments in a private room, sipping a glass of Four Roses Single Barrel Whisky or a Negroni cocktail, sharing the history and execution details of a Patek Philippe 1518. Naturally, there were already many online forums where collectors and buyers like to meet up to discuss their passions and share their new acquisitions. Nowadays, communities are also forming around new affordable brands, via social networks, so it is interesting to follow this trend by bringing a strong community around a product.
Interest of the new generation
While the average age of collectors is decreasing and their interest is becoming more and more serious and focused on all kinds of brands (affordable as well as highly desirable and expensive watches), it is time to take their tastes and desires into account, to keep pace with changing times. For example, having a vintage steel chronograph on your wrist can just as easily be worn with a three-piece suit, an umbrella in hand, as with jeans, a tshirt and Balenciaga sneakers (although the era of three-piece suits is more or less gone). Today's brands should also consider this change to adapt their image to their product, to target a younger age group without forgetting the vintage universe and DNA, as well as their slightly older customers. The experience and universe of the product itself, what it represents and what it conveys is also important. Younger collectors appreciate this kind of experience, the taste for adventure and this feeling of belonging to a legend, a story, an event as if the product had been created for them. These include all the Heuer Autavia, Pilot de Zénith and Rolex watches with GMT models, which are supplied to Pan Am pilots, and which constantly make people dream. Not to mention, of course, the fabulous Omega Speedmaster models on the wrists of Apollo 11 astronauts.