In a previous post, I’ve taken the SmartWatch to task and tried to test the market resilience of these devices against the Swiss Luxury market. The question being, can the Luxury Swiss market survive the onslaught of technology, and more importantly, is a Luxury Swiss Watch still a good investment?
The outcome so far isn’t 100% decisive but it’s fairly damning when we see the decline in SmartWatch sales. Now, I may be pining for days gone by, or at least ‘imagined’ days gone by because I’m not actually old enough to remember the ‘good old days’. But I like to think, at least, things used to be made to last rather than replaced as they reach their built-in obsolescence, regardless of condition or cost of repair against costs of replacement.
Am I being too sensitive? I don’t know, but how should I feel about a device that sets me back a few hundred dollars, only to be outdated and superseded by the time you reach the end of this post?
What’s The Difference?
I’ve also pontificated to anyone willing to listen that the art of watchmaking is no longer solely focused on accuracy. No, the digital devices will always have the edge on that. The main point, if not the whole point of saving up and buying you Luxury Swiss timepiece is knowing is has history, and knowing the precision moving parts are built by a skilled master watchmaker.
The Alternative Isn’t Pretty
Not to put a too finer point on it, the alternative is a sweat shop in Asia printing circuit boards in the same factory as the low-quality metal cases and movements of the cheaper brands or non-branded $10 watches. Ok, before anyone reports me to the authorities, or a manufacturer slaps a ‘cease and desist’ order on me, I won’t say anymore, but I’m only expressing what’s after all, common knowledge throughout the western world, so chill out.
Where Am I Going With This?
Right, sorry, I wanted to ask if the Luxury Swiss Watch is still a viable investment. The digital age is with us and it’s attempted to take a piece of our manufacturing heritage, but it’s failing to follow through. Even taking into account the market fluctuations the value of the Luxury Timepiece is reasonably stable so far.
For example, the Rolex Submariner is and has always been a solid purchase and certainly attainable for those buying in the mid price range between £3,000 to £7,000. Similarly, the Breitling and Omega watches are also, well sort after, and good holders of value.
Technology Working In Partnership
An interesting point was made by Jonathan Darracott, global head of watches at Bonhams. He pointed out the increased interest in Luxury assets including watches was partly due to technology, saying the watch market was buoyant because it’s “driven by accessibility of information, and the fact that people can educate themselves quite quickly, leading to buyers being more confident about what they’re purchasing.”
So, it appears I’ve found a good use for technology when it comes to investing in Swiss Watches, but in all seriousness, where does a potential investor start to scope the market?
As I just mentioned, it’s traditionally the Rolex that holds its value, but we can also look at Omega, Heuer, and IWC well before we need to consider what some believe to be the pinnacle of precision craftwork, and that’s the Patek Philippe.
Darracott notes that the Philippe has gain ground in recent years as a pure investment piece, citing the example of the A 1933 Patek Philippe Super Complication pocket watch, selling for 23.2m Swiss francs (£19m).
Swiss Luxury On Planet Earth
While £19m is clearly out of this world for all but the top 1%, it does illustrate the ongoing stability of the Luxury Swiss market in the face of modern threats. For the rest of us mere mortals, we can still enter the game and remain safe while smiling that we can do something THEY can not.
Beautiful And Affordable
How many times do you think a collector of a £19m watch has worn it? Ever, not just in public, but ever? After paying millions of £ or $ for his or her dream watch these pieces live their lives buried deep in the bowels of the deepest safe until inherited. Or brought out for a special occasion while the owner is shadowed by bodyguards. That does sound like enjoyment to me.
Things are a little more down to earth for most watch enthusiasts who don’t collect for the big returns, but the joy of ownership. In this world, the investment is the ability of the timepiece not to lose value, but possibly gaining some over the years. But while this is happening organically, the owner has the pleasure of wearing their pride and joy on a daily basis.
So, any financial profit is a bonus to its ownership and an asset to pass on to your loved ones.
Is the Swiss Luxury Watch still a viable investment? Put simply, yes. The more you spend the better your return, but if you are not a billionaire playboy, buying a luxury timepiece is about the investment in you, and the joy it gives you. It’s also knowing that you are unlikely to lose money on your purchase, but you don’t have to be afraid of wearing your beautiful watch in public.
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