Cues for Collecting Timepieces

Limited-edition timepieces don’t depreciate in value.  If you’re considering becoming a collector take a few minutes to review five pointers from a seasoned collector and a luxury watch industry executive.

Before buying a luxury watch, Larry H. Barkley, Sr., president of Georg Jensen USA (www.gerogjensen.com) advises collectors to consider limited editions, including discontinued designs, because they are strong investment pieces because they grow in value.  Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Chopard, A. Lange & Sohne, Rolex, Piaget, Harry Winston and Patek Philippe are brands that capture the lion’s share of the luxury timepiece market.

TRUSTWORTHY DEALER:  Buying timepieces from random sources is not the approach subscribed to by serious collectors.  Afterall, you’re looking at investments of US$10,974 for a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duetoo Lady watch or US$49,600 for a Datograph by Lange.   Finding a dealer you trust is paramount because your dealer can confirm or invalidate information you gather from your pre-purchase research.  They can also advise you on the projected resale value of a watch.  Auction houses and estate sales are also reliable venues for purchasing exquisite timepieces.  In New York, fine timepiece retailer Wempe (www.wempe.com) can serve as your barometer.

DEFINING VALUE: Movement is an important factor in the value of a timepiece. “Swiss-made movement is verification that it is a fine timepiece and highly regarded,” says Barkley.  Quartz movement registers on the low-end of the value scale, automatic movement falls midrange, and the top of the precision tier is tourbillion—a regulating device that cancels the effects of gravitation on the precision of a watch’s movement

COLLECTING CRITERIA: “The fact that a watch has Swiss-made movement is verification that it is a fine timepiece and highly regarded.”  Quartz movement registers on the low-end of the value scale, automatic movement falls midrange, and top of the precision tier is the tourbillon—a regulating device that cancels the effects of gravitation on the precision of a watch movement by rotating the balance, lever and escapement around a single axis.  “Watches made in Hong Kong don’t garner the respect of those made in Switzerland,” he says.

MINUTE MAINTENANCE: “Watches are like fine automobiles they have to be serviced at the respective intervals: quartz every 2 years, mechanical 15–18 months,” advises Barkley.  “Your timepiece can lose a few seconds if it’s not serviced at the appropriate interval.”  To store his timepieces Barkley stages them on watch display props, keeps them in the watchcase they came in or leather pouches to prevent surface scratches.

BUYER’S GUIDE: “Look for transitional timepieces,” advises Barkley.  Polished steel is very appropriate for corporate settings but 18k gold is preferred for watches—gold is very flexible.   Get two appraisals that validate your investment for insurance purposes.  For an independent guide to buying visit www.luxurywatches101.com and check out the JCK Las Vegas show (www.jckgroup.com).  Preview new releases at the premier watch and jewelry tradeshow the Basel and Geneva Fair in Switzerland (www.baselworld.com).

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