So, for a variety of reasons, this week has all been about watches including being asked to undertake insurance valuations by clients with significant modern and vintage watch collections, to a client who has sadly lost their watch and needed some advice on replacing it. It really confirmed to me that many people are unaware of the current dynamics around the watch market and the implications that has for their insurance requirements, particularly in respect of watches they may have had for a number of years through purchase or inheritance. In some instances people are underinsured, sometimes significantly and I would encourage everyone to keep their watch valuations up to date.
The modern watch market is incredibly fast paced and seeing some pretty dramatic high demand v. lack of supply issues in certain areas. In particular, steel ‘sports’ models such as Rolex Submariners, Patek Philippe Aquanauts and Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks have never been released in large numbers, and with demand at an all time high, in the event of a client needing to replace one it is the secondary, or vintage market they may need to look to and for a recent, or unworn model, it may command a higher price in the secondary market than for a new version from an authorised retailer. At the time of writing, a Rolex submariner green dial and bezel (known as a Rolex Hulk) with date function has a retail price of £6,950 but is virtually unobtainable from authorised retailers but on the secondary market a virtually new or unworn example would cost somewhere around £13,500 and £15,000. An all steel Patek Philippe Aquanaut, again, virtually impossible to buy new, has a retail price of £17,370 but could cost between £35,000 and £37,000 in the secondary market. I am happy to advise on appropriate insurance levels and can liaise with your insurer or broker if that is helpful.
In terms of vintage watches, we see a mirroring of the situation with new watches - so again, there are pockets of unprecedented demand and growth in value, particularly with certain brands and models made by those brands. Add in some provenance and that can result in some incredible prices achieved. For example, Paul Newman’s own Rolex Cosmograph Daytona sold at auction in 2018 for $17.75million. It’s also recently been reported that Ellen Degeneres has treated herself to a very rare example of a vintage gold Rolex Daytona. Now, not many us can afford a watch like that, but what that does is help drive demand for other Rolex Daytona watches. Omega vintage watches have also seen significant growth in value, with collectors vying for vintage examples and ‘pre-moon’ or 'pre-Ed White' Speedmasters, affectionately referred to as Speedys.
Why is the buying and selling of watches such a significantly vibrant global market at the moment? I think that given Capital Gains Tax is not currently levied on personal possessions with an expected lifespan of less than 50 years, which apparently watches are, influences that. Magazines are talking about watches as an investment - not something I would ever guarantee is the case - but they are no doubt increasing interest in watches as part of an individual’s portfolio. And headline watches drive demand too, especially those that appear damaged or beyond reasonable wear. The point is that it’s important for people with older watches who may think they aren’t worth much because they are ‘a bit old and battered’ get them appraised because, who knows, they may just have something valuable on their wrist.
Insurers recommend watches are valued for insurance every three years. I am recommended by many insurance brokers across the country as well as The Edinburgh Watch Company to provide watch valuations. Not all valuation documents are considered equal, or indeed will be accepted by an insurer, or will be settled upon in the event of making a claim if the insurer does not give merit to the valuer. My valuations are accepted by insurers and I can travel to your home, office or bank to carry out the work which gives additional piece of mind in not having to be parted from your watches for days, if not weeks at a time at a jeweller. My fees are based upon time taken, or number of watches, not the value of the collection and are competitive. Please contact me to discuss having your watches valued. I am also happy to help advise on the sale of watches from your collection.