Classic designs never go out of style, says Head of Christie’s Geneva Watch Department Thomas Perazzi
WATCHES are typically given for a graduation, wedding or other significant milestone in life, so my suggestion would be for a buyer to veer towards something with a likely sentimental meaning or value to the owner.
On the practical side, however, there are some important considerations to make when choosing a model. High-quality movements have proven more than capable of lasting for generations: we regularly sell timepieces in perfect working order dating back even to the 1700s.
Next, opt for a simple and timeless design, which will be as appealing in 100 years as it is today. Finally, if one wants to keep an eye on collectability,
Simon Phillips, owner, Ronald Phillips Antiques
‘My children are both young and haven’t shown a huge amount of interest in inheriting yet, but my son George, who’s 14, has many times expressed his wish to receive my Patek Philippe watch. The company’s saying ‘you never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation’ is very true.’ look for a limited edition or a watch scarcely available even if not properly a limited edition.
After a couple of decades of particularly bold stylistic trends —characterised by very elaborate dials and oversized cases —the market today seems to be moving toward a more restrained phase. Dials are getting simpler and cleaner and the average case diameter is moving down to 38mm–40mm from the previous 40mm–42mm. This is further confirmed by the resurgence in interest toward iconic, but very clean, historical models such as the original Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
Recent results in Christie’s salerooms worldwide demonstrate that the brands currently most in demand are those names we know: Patek Philippe, Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. All of these are historical brands with a particular focus on quality of their movements as well as elegant, timeless designs, from the Calatrava collection of Patek Philippe to the more ‘sporty’, but equally iconic, Submariner and Daytona models by Rolex.
£5,000 at auction
At this price, you’ll be able to find an Omega Speedmaster, an all-round, very versatile timepiece at an accessible price. Another great classic, actually created about 80 years ago and still considered a masterpiece of design, is the time-only Rolex Oyster.
£5,000 to £20,000
Among the most iconic timepieces ever designed, the Rolex Daytona sits right in the middle of this price bracket. The Calatrava collection by Patek Philippe is also available at this price point and is considered one of the most elegant and everlasting watch designs. Audemars Piguet also offers some examples of the Royal Oak Collection at this price and the historical name of Breguet proposes the modern version of its legendary Type XX wristwatch as well.
£20,000 to £50,000
Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin all have representatives in this category, with the Nautilus, Royal Oak—chronographs and complicated pieces—and Overseas collections, considered among the most elegant sport watches ever designed.
£50,000 and above
In this price point, we enter the realms of renowned, highly complicated timepieces such as the perpetual-calendar chronographs with moon phases reference 5270 by Patek Philippe or the Patrimony Traditionelle reference 47292 by Vacheron Constantin.
The vintage Heuer wristwatch, reference 2446-3rd Ex, is a striking piece, which Jack Heuer first brought out in 1966. Famously, the Formula 1 racing driver Jochen Rindt wore this iconic model in the late 1960s; as a result, ‘Heueristas’ now refer to this model as the Rindt. Perhaps only as few as 1,000 Rindts survive to this day; five years ago, they could have been bought for £5,000, but, today, good examples are being traded for as much as £30,000.
Last year, Tag Heuer, which bought Heuer in 1985, launched an internet-watch-forum competition to help decide which vintage Heuer it should re-create as its next ‘heritage’ model. Some 20,000 collectors voted and the Rindt was the winner. Tag Heuer will launch this new version later this year at the Basel watch fair.
Personally, I would recommend the vintage 1960s Rindt as a fantastic heirloom for the next generation. It has a timeless design, a wonderful racing pedigree and, by comparison to Rolex, was only made in tiny numbers.
Get it while you can, because once the ‘heritage copy’ comes out, the vintage Rindt will be hot to trot! Ben Wright (07814 757742; www.benwrightvintagewatches.co.uk)
The sought-after Rindt Vintage Heuer Autavia of about 1968