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'MOST BEAUTIFUL VINTAGE WATCH IN THE WORLD' LUEL MAGAZINE OCT. 2015

We often read and hear about antique works of art and handcraft being sold at prices simply beyond our imagination at the renowned international auctions. This luxurious 'investment' may seem like a snobbish whim of nouveau riches disguised as noble tastes, but I think it could be a truly capitalistic form of appreciation of and respect to the human achievement in arts.

Could time pieces be categorized as objects of art in a similar fashion? Watches started to show up at the international auction houses in the 1980s. However, still under the sub-category of jewelry and craft items, watches could not yet have a full status as art pieces at that time.

This perception lasted until early 90's when Swiss watch industry, once lost in the harsh blizzard of quartz watches' dominance, made a major breakthrough: Swiss watchmakers resurrected from the long depression by acquiring enough capital though M&As with large luxury brands, and by appealing to customers' nostalgic crave for the intangible value of tradition.

As the marketing strategy of 'rediscovering the past' and 'modern reinterpretation' worked well on customers, original time pieces became more and more appreciated of their timeless value. That is how antiquated watches began to sell in Sotheby's and Christie's dressed up as traditional craft-works, and interestingly that is when people began to realize the beauty and elegance of vintage watches.

There are two watch brands proud of undefeated prestige at such international auctions year after year - namely Patek Philippe and Rolex (who else?). Their brand value has been repeatedly proven by the skyrocketing final winning prices at the auction, and one of the best such examples would be Rolex's vintage Daytona, whose price has gone up by more than 10 times since 1990's.

Widely known as Paul Newman's watch, Daytona has quite a simple-faced dial despite its complex function as a tachymeter. While many auctioneers anticipate the value of vintage Daytonas will continue to increase in the future, there is also a criticism that Daytona is the one responsible for the price bubble in the vintage watch market.

Pictured are the Rolex Chronographs from the 1960's - every vintage Rolex collector's dream watch. These are referenced respectively as 6239 and 6241, the very pioneer models that later became Paul Newman's legendary Daytona. Even though they used a hand-winding movement of Valjoux's 72 series commercially available back then, one may well say it is not the good brush that paints a masterpiece [no good workman blames his tools].

 

 

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