Looking to invest in watches? What are your best options? How should you go about collecting the right brands? Remy Julia, Christie’s Watch Specialist, Dubai & Head of Watches Middle East, India & Africa tells Anne Kurian all about the right mode of investing in watches
How feasible is it to invest in watches?
The watch auction segment is growing very fast and with our online sales, we are reaching to a very new audience, including many more women investing or buying watches for themselves. Meaning, the market is populated with more players and the rarest watches are having a wider audience, concluding in stronger auction prices.
As with every investment, you need to know the subject to make wise decisions, but the market is not oversaturated, and the international watch community is very open to welcome novice collector and to share their knowledge and findings.
How does one go about choosing the right brands to invest in?
Best advice is to go with what you like. Ask yourself the question “Do I like contemporary watches, or do I prefer vintage pieces?” Once you have figured the main criteria out, you go to the next question: do I buy to enjoy the watch, or do I buy to build a collection or am I just buying to make a gain?
Answer A is the easiest and most straight forward – You see something you like and discuss the piece with a friend and the seller, further you do a bit of research and if you can afford it, the deal is done, and you enjoy your watch.
Answer B needs a bit more preparation before starting to buy – you need to know a bit more about the market, the niche segments where a good collection can still be built, with medium funds but exquisite finds of some rare watch examples.
Answer C is the most complicated because you need to become an expert to know where to find the most sought-after watch, which references are collected on the watch market at a given time, what are the limited editions and special orders made by the different brands. Furthermore, you would need a deep knowledge of the market to make sure to buy at a price which allows a gain when reselling.
What are the top points to be kept in mind for someone who is interested in investing in a timepiece?
The main and only two points are to train your eye and to upgrade your knowledge on the market as well as on the watchmakers, their history and the global industry developments.
Is it safe to buy investment pieces online?
If you start to invest in the watch sector, I would recommend buying at trusted dealers, and auction houses. We hold handling sessions, where we teach collectors what to look for in a Patek Philippe, ref 2499 and what might have been repairs not undertaken by the Patek Philippe workshop. Ahead of any live auction, all our pieces are exhibited for 3 days and everybody can come, inspect the watches and ask questions and receive advice from our specialists.
I would not recommend to start buying online – you need the view of experts and their recommendation, not to make novice collector mistakes.
What is the percentage or kind of appreciation value that an individual can expect for a timepiece that he has invested in?
Ask the same question to someone who works at a bank and you would receive the same answer, we do not know, and we cannot predict.
The estimate of a watch depends on its rarity, condition, repair status, as well as if the paperwork, certificates and original boxes are still available and is individual for each watch, even if you would bring two Patek Philippe ref 2499, made in the same year, and one in mint condition and the other would be in good condition the difference in estimates would be a couple of $100,000.
What are the watches/brands that are high in demand among investors and are ideal as investment choices?
For vintage watches it is surely Patek Philippe and Rolex, for pocket watches it would be Breguet and Patek Philippe and for contemporary watches… there are so many independent watchmakers, producing the most incredible pieces that many of them will stand the test of time.