“It is very distinctive, it is very stylish – it is very Louis Vuitton… wherever you go in the world you will see people carrying the distinctive Louis Vuitton brand… whether it is a little bag or a huge suitcase.  It talks of distinction and taste” – Cherie Blair at the London Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison Opening.

 

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Watches as an investment?

James Gurney, editor of QP Magazine:

Is the best bet for future value still in Rolex and Patek Philippe?

The Prodigal Fool:

Before I address your question James, I’d like to say something else which I think is relevant to this discussion. If you’re buying watches in order to make a profit, you’re wasting your time and your money. I’m not suggesting that you can’t make money on watches – clearly, you can – but I just think you should buy what you like, what you’re going to enjoy wearing, not what you think is going to turn you a profit. Anything less simply destroys the pleasure in watch ownership.

The problem with buying with a view to future return is that you never truly enjoy the watch. You’ll spend your time with one eye on the watch – worrying about damaging it – and the other on the used watch forums, tracking prices. Worse, you might end up keeping the watch in the safe rather than out and about on your wrist where it belongs.

 

But back to your question. I work in communications in the City so I’m used to hearing disclaimers like ‘past performance is no indication of future performance’; ‘the value of your investment may go down as well as up’; ‘you may not recover the full value of your initial investment’ and so on. Patek Philippe and Rolex have always provided good returns for buyers but does that mean it will continue? I don’t know. No one does.

That said, I’m a cautious investor and also a cautious watch collector. So, actually, I would put a value on past performance (what else have we got?) and, for that reason, yes – I think the best bet remains Rolex and Patek. Dull but true.

Elizabeth Doerr, one of the world’s foremost writers on horology:

I agree with The Fool and I think we should all take inspiration from his touching approach to watch buying.

James Gurney

Indeed, I’m misty-eyed. But, tell me, what outside these two represents a good bet for future collectability?

The Prodigal Fool:

 

Look, as I’ve said, I think this is a fool’s game. Trying to predict future collectability is as tricky as picking a Grand National winner. And I’ve lost thousands at the races over the years.

At the moment, I’m inclined to take a long-term view. My best advice would be to find a new brand that is:

  • producing quality pieces;
  • in small numbers;
  • at reasonable prices;
  • with a distinct and focussed brand identity; and
  • that I think is likely to withstand the test of time.

Following those criteria, a couple that spring to mind are: Linde Werdelin and Bremont

I know it’s not news, but I think Omega also has a way to go. Its new models are still very aggressively priced and I think are likely to be as collectable as Rolex in due course.

Peter Roberts, veteran watchmaker and Technical Director at Bremont:

It will surprise no one to hear that I agree with The Fool about Bremont. In fact, I agree with The Fool about everything. He’s probably the most astute watch collector I’ve ever met.

Ken Kessler, world renowned watch journalist and audiophile:

I echo The Fool’s take on this. And I’d also like to say how much I’ve learnt from him today. It’s been an education just being in his presence. I clearly need to raise my game.

James Gurney:

Could I just ask someone to attend to the young lady in the back row who appears to have fainted? Thank you.

Eh, well, with that it only remains for me to thank our audience, our panel and – most of all – The Prodigal Fool, who – I’m sure you’ll all agree – is quite simply one of the watch industry’s greatest luminaries, a man of unparalleled knowledge, insight and wit. Thank you.

 

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