I guess you have heard it already. The Swiss watch exports are suffering. Hong Kong and Macau are paralyzed and the Swiss manufacturers are stunned by export numbers that are as low as they were in midst of the financial crisis in 2009. The novelties on offer at Basel World 2016 did reflect on the slump and several of the luxury watch brands offered more steel watches that before. Often with complications which we have seen before only in precious metal, but at a much lower price due to the metal that is en vogue these challenging days.
And if the vintage pieces are sold with record breaking results, they reflect on how the contemporary collection is perceived. Patek Philippe have been promoting their vintage pieces for several decades already and it is only natural that another great independent brand follows this trend.
If the watch manufacturers are weakened there must a cure, right? Sure there is and for some brands the cure is found in the past – literally. The cure however is not only found in relaunching classic models from the past, but also working with auction houses and inviting collectors to museums (if the brand is so lucky have their own). Audemars Piguet recently invited friends of the brand and watch collectors to get an intimate look at the incredible vintage pieces that are on show at their museum in Le Brassus. And the timing was great too as several auctions were held in nearby Geneva offering vintage pieces from that very brand. And if the vintage pieces are sold with record breaking results, they reflect on how the contemporary collection is perceived. Patek Philippe have been promoting their vintage pieces for several decades already and it is only natural that another great independent brand follows this trend.
But new brands are also supporting their past, i.e. Linde Werdelin that recently launched their own market place, LW Vintage. Here fans of the brand can buy pre-owned pieces that have been serviced and fitted with a new strap by Linde Werdelin. That way not only can newcomers get a good look at the past, but also get the opportunity to buy a watch with a lower price tag than the new watches that are on offer.
I would expect to see other brands offering their own pieces from the past. But do pre-owned watches fit in with luxury watch business? Yes. They do. And I am sure Rolex management would have sport a smile, if they were the rightful owner of the ref. 4113 with split seconds from 1942 that was sold by Phillips at the Start-Stop-Reset auction on May 14th at a staggering 2.4 million CHF. Which incidentally would buy you 200 of the new Daytonas. See where I am going with this?