Friday, August 14, 2009

Watch Collecting

As more and more people in the United State become increasingly fanatical about watches, they realize they have begun--knowingly or not--to develop watch collections. What exactly defines a good watch collection? Why do people collect particular watches? Before one can begin to answer these questions, it's crucial to understand that people purchase watches for a variety of reasons. Many people buy watches for a particular look or style. Others are fanatical about a particular brand. Then, there are other consumers who really care about the functionality a watch provides, such as chronographs, calendars, alarms or multiple time zones. There is even a group who acquires watches to speculate on higher future resale. Are all of these consumers also collectors? The answer is no. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to building a watch collection. The only important thing is to develop your own "collecting criteria" and adhere to it. The general perception of collecting anything is the notion that it will be worth more in the future than it is now. Unfortunately, when it comes to timepieces, the reality is that very few timepieces will actually increase in value. Certain examples will, but most won't. Consider cars as an analogy: with a very small exception, most vehicles depreciate the moment you drive them off the lot. In most instances, you buy the car because it's useful, beautiful, or inspires passion and emotion. The same concept should almost always guide you when choosing timepieces and other similarly expensive or pedigreed items. When it comes to collecting watches, it is important to remember to purchase from an authorized retailer. This greatly helps to ensure that the complete box and papers, factory warranty and certificate of authenticity are present, as well as access to after-sales service and support. You would insist on this if you bought a new Ferrari, and the same applies to watches. Proper documentation is crucial should you ever decide to sell your timepiece: watches with full box and papers from an authorized retailer are always considered more valuable than those watches without. Additionally, collectors should always retain all links, buckles, straps and miscellaneous novelties that may have originally accompanied the watch. Manufacturers have come to realize and embrace the trend of watch collecting. As such, many brands release certain new models in very limited quantities or in numbered sets. This is done to promote the "collectibility" of their product. In some cases it is very effective, but in others it is not, as the "limited number" is deceptively large. Remember that certain Manufacturers specialize in producing certain complications. Generally speaking, the more complicated or hand finished a timepiece is, the longer it takes to produce, and the more necessarily limited it will be in production. Complications by Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Breguet, and Vacheron Constantin have long since been collectible, but there are many emerging "boutique" brands that make exceptional and unusual timepieces in very small numbers i.e. Svend Anderson, Greubel & Forsey, Jean Dunand, Richard Mille, Peter Speake Marin and others. In the past, Roger Dubuis has limited their watches to collections of 28 per variation. Harry Winston makes an elite Opus series, with each "Opus" comprising six watches or fewer. A variety of other brands produce limited editions of a certain model in series of 50, 100 or 500. When you take into consideration that these numbers are for the entire world, even these quantities are not huge. The most important point to remember is: develop a "collecting criteria" focused around what you like and what evokes emotion, rather than what some expert or magazine tells you you should buy. And whatever you choose, buy authorized, insist upon the proper paperwork and protect the value of your collection. Timepieces worth collecting are like art and they should be treated and respected as such. If you follow these basic guidelines, your watch collection will provide you with years of enjoyment.

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