If you want to sell a luxury Swiss watch then an auction can be a good way to do it, especially as the Covid restrictions make visiting watch dealers shops a non-starter. But what about the fees? Some auctions can take a hefty 15-30% from the sale price, in commission, buyers premiums, catalogue photos, secure packaging and consignment charges etc. so your Rolex Sub only realised say £7500, instead of the £10000 you thought it sold for on the day. Well, have a look at Watch Collecting, who aim to do a better job for sellers.
Welcome to Watch Collecting. A new 24/7 online auction platform devoted to collectible watches. We are preparing to shake up the auction industry with our first auctions in March 2021. Following the success of Collecting Cars, the team have been hard at work optimising the experience for watches.
Our fees are straight forward. Sellers receive 100% of the winning bid whilst buyers are charged a 6% fee on their winning bid (£600 minimum). Below are some examples of watches already consigned to our first auctions, will yours be next?
Verdict: If you own a seriously expensive watch then this is worth considering, as the savings are huge if you have a Daytona, Patek Nautilus or AP Royal Oak in your safe.
We took a quick look at the lots on offer tomorrow in the GH sale, which is of course online only. You need to register with an account before bidding by the way.
We like the Omega Seamaster Pro model, with box and paperwork plus warranty card. It lacks a spare link and has some wear, but worth a bid if you’re a fan of the reliable co-axial movement Seamasters. Will last a lifetime, low speed running and less servicing overall is the benefit of the co-axial in our humble opinion.
A 1990s Rolex Submariner, (pictured) with a 43mm case, classic black dial/bezel and very light marks on the case and bracelet would be a good buy – but there’s no box or paperwork, which makes reselling it a bit tricky. GH have set the estimate at up to 7K and we would agree, it’s too expensive to pay more than 9K overall, including auction fees, for a Rolex Sub that lacks any box/papers.
There’s a Rolex Oyster Yachtmaster, which also lacks box and paperwork – current pre-auction bid on that is 6K by the way.
If you like soemthing different there are mens and ladies Bulgari models, which feature some quirky case designs and offbeat dials. Bid estimates range from £800 upwards. There’s also an AP Royal Oak Offshore, blue dial, no box no paperwork, with a pre-submitted 6K bid on it. Got a bit of wear to the bezel and crystal however, needs some TLC.
So Brexit finally happened, what a lark. Will it have any efect on Swiss watch imports, prices or parts availability? Nope. The Swiss are too crafty as regards throttling supply, regardless of the deals that politicians do. But what else can the world of watches expect to see in 2021?
The Democracy of Kickstarter Will Get Bigger
All the tools you need to launch your own watch brand are already in place. Movements are cheap and reliable, specialist companies offer sapphire crystals, dials, bezels, straps etc in low volume production runs. NWC magazine can see a boom year ahead for crowdfunded watches, as people realise that Indie watch brands offer great value, high spec watches at about half the price of a typical Swiss automatic/GMT. Those who build their brand with striking designs, plus special rewards and deals on social media channels will do better than the samll companies who simply pile onto the latest trend.
2. UK watch retailing options on the High Street are set to shrink drastically.
There simply isn’t the footfall to sustain H Samuel/Signet, Goldsmiths, Beaverbrooks and Chisholm Hunter shops in many locations. With another miserable summer ahead as regards overseas tourism, plus lockdowns until spring, the UK High Street will see dozens of chain stores switch to online retailing. Brands like Seiko, Swatch Group or LVMH will be fine, but some of the smaller fry may struggle to adapt. Watches of Switzerland will gradually tighten its noose on High Street watch shop prime locations in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and other major retail outlets. Only boutique, luxury level watch shops in secure, non-scumbag areas will be viable in a few years’ time. Those who keep trying to sell £500 Citizen/Armani watches in towns where 60% of the adult population are in receipt of some sort of benefit will go bust, slowly but surely.
The luxury Swiss brands are going to have to form the wagons in a circle and that process will begin to gather pace next year.
3. The Cousins vs Swiss industry case will be resolved in the name of climate change.
This argument over spare parts supply is a classic David vs Goliath battle, and it started years ago as Rolex and others, tried to make sure that luxury watches could not be repaired, except via their authorised dealerships. Restriction of OEM parts is a tactic the car industry and others tried in the past, and it usually fails. But in 2021 the focus on climate change and constant screeching and foot-stamping from activists like Hostage Harry and the Exorcist kid from Sweden will cause a complete capitulation from the Swiss on all things recycling and less component miles being clocked up.
How can you defend the cause of blocking local independent watch repairs, or claim that buying new is better for the planet than refurbishing a ten year old TAG? The Swiss watch industry, along with jewellery and fast fashion, will face a vehement campaign against it this coming year by Marxist groups like BLM, Antifa and XR. By settling the Cousins dispute they take a step towards championing the art of hand-crafted repair, recycled parts, promoting a less disposable consumer goods manufacturing policy, fewer product miles and so on. All those mean marketing brownie points in the MSM.
4. The UK government will encourage manufacturing with grants.
Previously EU rules meant that the UK could not offer to subsidise sectors of the economy, like fishing, shipbuilding, aircraft etc. Now it is free to actually invest in making things, and then selling things around the world. Just a few million here and there in watchmaking courses at Altrincham and other locations, start-up loans, partnerships with Universities, overseas showcases/pavilions etc will make a big difference. There is so much talent in the UK, let’s hope that the UK government does more than buy a few more fishing trawlers this year.
5. Rolex waiting lists will get worse.
Next year will see the rich getting even richer, via Bitcoin, cyber scams, stock market booms, property values rising in certain areas etc. Much of the profits will be spent on Rolex watches because they are the symbol that ays to the world, `I’ve made it.’ So expect popular models to be unobtainable, expect bribes to be offered, price premiums of 5-8 grand on pre-owned or flipped Subs, Daytonas and GMTs.
In the used market, the big profits will be made on bigger case size Rolex models. Anything under 37mm will struggle to match the 20% increase in values that the bigger Oysters will achieve this year. No, I’m not joking, people will buy Oysters or Explorers because they cannot find a decent used Sub under 8K by June. Just like demand for nice 4 bedroomed houses that can be sub-let in University cities, the demand for Rolex watches far outstrips supply and that trend will continue throughout 2021.
The 42mm white dial Explorer II is my top pick of 2021. You could make a two grand profit, if you can find a mint pre-owned example for about seven grand, because the rise in values will be huge at the top end of the Rolex market and that tsunami of cash means all boats will rise.
Technology is changing watchmaking, and in many ways it is making the entire process more democratic, more inclusive, since almost anyone can set up a watch brand, use computer software to design models, 3D printing on prototype parts and source low volume manufacturing and packaging from Switzerland to Singapore. Here’s a press release that we missed a month back, but it shows how new tech is helping watch brands create anti-glare crystals…without even making a prototype sapphire crystal. Clever stuff.
XRby is leveraging Ansys’ cutting-edge optical design simulation software to innovate métiers d’art limited edition luxury wristwatches that are engineered with tremendous speed and affordability. Using Ansys software, XRby is radically simplifying the development and enhancing the aesthetics of the wristwatches by eliminating physical prototype testing.
Jura Mountains watchmaker XRby is producing a limited edition of high-end métiers d’art mechanical wristwatches, which will incorporate costly materials such as organic fibers and precious stones. Historically, these customized watches would require at least one physical prototype to attract customers. Facing extremely high production costs and stringent sustainability goals, XRby pivoted to produce virtual protypes using Ansys® SPEOS™, through the Ansys Startup Program. Adopting this Industry 4.0 vision equipped engineers with a numerical optical simulation approach, helping them innovate watch concepts, analyze light reflection and rapidly test numerous aesthetic options to achieve their optimum design.
Using Ansys SPEOS, XRby selected sapphire thickness and edge angles to improve watch aesthetics, tested several watch assemblies and evaluated more than 100 materials and elements. Additionally, SPEOS generated physics-based, true-to-life images of digital prototypes throughout the development process. This empowered XRby to not only understand how watch designs would appear in real-world lighting and usage conditions, but also make design choices more quickly — substantially reducing development time and cost.
“Adopting an Industry 4.0 approach and using SPEOS helped our engineers design a beautiful canvas less than two inches wide, conserve natural resources and introduce a new luxury brand to targeted elite clientele in a purely virtual manner,” said Xavier Rousset, founder at XRby. “With SPEOS, our engineers selected the optimal materials, shapes and decorations for the watch’s designs in mere hours, compared to traditional simulations, which may require days to deliver the same results.”
XRby utilizes SPEOS texture mapping early in the development cycle to forecast how watch materials will behave in different lighting conditions.
“SPEOS helps XRby perform accurate texture mapping to create next-generation optical simulations that demonstrate how their material choices will behave across numerous environments,” said Yvain Ballini, CEO at CADFEM France, XRby’s dedicated Ansys channel partner. “This helps them perfect the physical appearance of their extremely unique watch under practically any possible lighting scenario.”
Prospective customers are able to view SPEOS’ high-definition simulations of the watch design and place orders on XRby’s website.
“Using SPEOS through the Ansys Startup Program equips XRby with a state-of-the-art, Industry 4.0 method for simulating photons’ path across physical matter and creating an image just as it would be perceived by the human eye,” said Shane Emswiler, senior vice president at Ansys. “This helps slash development time, drives enhanced decision-making during the design phase and delivers unique product customizations for a highly discerning market.”
For decades, the UK mainstream £50-£1500 watch retail sector has been domimated by big jewellery chain stores; H Samuel/Ernest Jones, Goldsmiths, Chisholm Hunter, Fraser Hart and Beaverbrooks. But that old fashioned retailing via bricks and mortar stores, often located inside shopping malls, is facing a Covid reality check. It doesn’t work very well in a pandemic and when the hysteria about Covid-19 finally subsides and people realise you can never defeat a virus, you just live with it, then all those stores will have to be ruthlessly audited in terms of operating profit margin against the online sales portals that big chains have rapidly expanded during lockdowns.
The results will highlight how much it costs to keep shops open, pay staff, security, insurance, rates, rents etc. and contrast those overheads to an online sale of a Michael Kors, Raymond Weil or TAG despatched from a warehouse somewhere near the M42.
More importantly, all brands – not just the Swiss – have realised during Covid that they can sell their watches direct to the public, they don’t need retailers. In fact, many brands have seen huge increases of over 60% in terms of sales volumes.
This is the real reson why major disruption is going to take place in 2021. I’ve heard on the retail grapevine that Seiko are no longer accepting any requests from shops, independent or chain stores, to stock their watches. Fact is, Seiko don’t need retailers, the brand name and its values are well established. Seiko, like other brands, already has its own boutique, single make stores. The Swiss are also well advanced with this strategy of course and it can only be a matter of time before Rolex decide to ring-fence their brand by pulling all franchises and setting up their own dedicated network of flagship stores in London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham and perhaps another three or four locations. Once they have that empire in place, then Watches of Switzerland should start getting nervous, twitchy even. Maybe that’s one reason why Watches of Switzerland has recenly launched an online store with Vee24, see the press release here.
In truth, for many prestige brands you only need between one and three UK service centres to deal with warranty and servicing, and then sell most of your stock online. People who want a Submariner or Daytona know exactly what they want; the case size, colour, model year, bracelet type etc. They don’t need a guy – or a girl -in a waistcoat and embrodered shirt telling them that the new movement now has a 70 hour reserve and improved superlume. They don’t care! They just want to own a Rolex.
But that’s top end of watch retail you say, the 10K-20K stuff, surely you can’t sell £100 Timex watches online and say `go bollocks’ to all the watch shops. Of course you can, and many of those mid-market brands will have no choice than to embrace online only and end their dealer network.
Let me give you one example; Sekonda/Accurist/Limit are distributed by one company, who have a team of sales reps on the road, all earning circa 30K, plus company car to maintain, stock to insure etc. The watches sell wholesale for about 50% of the retail price, so a £100 Accurist is 50 quid to the dealer – so long as they buy at least 25 watches, or 50 examples of the Manager’s Specials, which are half price. So the UK distributor of a Sekonda Seksy that retails for £100 may actually get about £30 for that item, once all the costs of distribution are factored in.
The alternative is that you set up a website, hire say 4/5 staff who all live at home with their parents and pay them 22K a year each to run the site, pack the watches and deal with basic warranty problems like replacing a watch crushed by the third party courier company driver. That courier company charge you about £3 per item to deliver within 3 working days, £5 for 24 hour express delivery. Suddenly, you are getting £100 retail for that Sekonda Seksy watch – not the retailer – and your distribution costs have dropped dramatically, plus you no longer have to worry about retailers undercutting each other, because YOU set the UK price, countrywide. You just boosted your profit margin by about 20-30%, trebles all round for the shareholders and directors.
Yes, there will always be independent watch shops that deal in pre-owned Swiss and some entry level watch enthusiast brands like say Hamilton, Tissot or Zodiac. You can make a living in a wealthy town like Brighton, Hale in Cheshire, Keswick, Stirling, Penzance, St Helier etc. Or a brand could sell mainstream sub £300 watches at retail outlet villages like Bicester or Cheshire Oaks, where people go for a leisure day out and so are open to being marketed to, and sold to, by people who know and love their product. But all those mall based watch/jewellery shops at Intu Trafford Centre, Westfields, Merry Hill Dudley etc. are doomed because our whole way of life is changing. Governments are determined to isolate us, control and mask us, restrict our movements with cycle lanes, suburban roadblocks, ULEZ charges in city centres etc. all in the name of climate change.
What do you think that will do to shopping habits? It will destroy them. It will will force us to buy more online.
Prediction: The chain store closures will begin in February, and continue throughout 2021. Swiss brands will announce more branded boutiques, launch slicker websites, loyalty/rewards clubs, their own apps complete with insurance partners, QR coded, private courier tracking of packages etc. By late 2022 one – maybe two – of the big jewellery store chains is bound to go bust once Richemont Group, Swatch, Breitling, Rolex and the other big brands all pull their products. That decision is inevitable, in fact the Swiss are gearing up for it as their launch of blockchain backed, coded watch ID shows – you only need that strict customer ID process if online is going to be your preferred retail channel.
Without those high margin watches the big jewellers will not be able to afford to keep their shops open, even with rent reductions offerd by cash-strapped Mall owners. Fact is, the staff, business rates, insurance, CT/VAT, security costs etc are so immense that High Street retailing can only work if you’re selling £15-25K worth of stock per day on average. When you remove a brand like Tudor or Rolex from the window, you also remove one of the primary reasons for customers to visit the store in-person.
Congrats to IWC who have won Factory of The Year Award, here’s the press info;
IWC Schaffhausen has won the GEO Award in its first-ever entry into the industry competition “Factory of the Year”. The prize is one of the most desirable awards for European companies and attests to the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer’s outstanding operational excellence across the entire value-added chain. But the strong performances of IWC in the areas of quality and sustainability have also been recognised by the jurors.
Perfect quality can only be achieved by excellence on all levels: The very highest performance is required in innovation, development and design, but above all in terms of various production processes, so that every individual timepiece from IWC fulfils the strictest requirements for quality, reliability and long service life. In 2018, IWC consolidated the production of movement parts, movement assembly and case-making in a new Manufacturing Center. Now the transparently structured watchmaking company, in which IWC combines traditional craftsmanship with the latest production methods and technologies, has been awarded with the GEO Award (Global Excellence in Operations) at the industry competition “Factory of the Year”.
Does it matter how sustainable watch production is? Of course, because we now live in a world where activists are running campaigns against capitalism, against the ownership of ANY possessions. Seriously, just Google it. So IWC using 100% renewable electricity, or Swatch opening a HQ made largely from sustainable wood really does matter. The consumption of resources is going to be used as a stick to beat companies with during the 2020s, by politicians of all persuasions – it’s an easy bandwagon to jump on.
So well done IWC, now let’s see Bremont and other British watch brands celebrate the benefits of UK based production. It matters.
There’s a lot to be said for a Timex reissue quartz model, as you get modern technology in a case and dial style that brings back those 70s vibes. The Marmont is a case in point at £155, which is admittedly quite a bit for a watch brand that was once considered a budget choice. You can get a nice Accurist, Skagen, Sekonda or Seiko for less.
This Day-Date model, captures the Timex look circa 1975 – the year that is, not the rock band – and has been recreated for today – with a stainless-steel case and plated gold-tone finish, functional battery hatch, day-date feature and its unique case design.
Timex also says; Because it belongs to our Q Timex family, you’ll find the same perfect touches as always — our “Q” logo on the dial, a reliable and accurate quartz movement inside, and our easy coin-slot battery hatch on the case back to save you from service trips to the nearest jeweler, if and when you need a battery change. Have to admit that saves you cash as you aren’t paying someone a fiver a time, or more, to change your battery every few years.
Continuing with the watch’s retro stylings, its dial is brushed with a sunray texture and finished in a cool champagne color. The dial markings are wonderfully dynamic and dimensional, with their own polished facets that catch the light and interact with the dial’s surface finishing and the light refractions of the domed crystal.
The Q Timex Marmont comes with an elegant black leather strap, debossed in a retro alligator pattern, plus a buckle to match its case with a period-correct widened strap keeper. As an homage to one of our iconic originals, this watch does more than sit on your wrist or rest in a box — it gathers light and glows with it, shining through the years to reflect its wearer as much as a watch ever could.
Torgeon has updated its T25 GMT model with three new dial colours, gunmetal, maroon and green. Lots of watch enthusiasts like a dial with bold colours and big numbers, and why not? The T25 has a kind of aircraft instruments vibe that is sporty and looks modern, plus the new dial colours offer more choice for your festive shopping budget.
There’s a 20% off deal right now, so the handsome green dial model with a Ronda quartz movement inside is £215. Not bad and we reckon this is a better spec watch than many fashion brand watches, that have a humble Miyota movement inside the case, plus a large plastic spacer. No names mentioned.
Phillips has an auction in NYC coming up in December, with the highlight being the sale of a Heuer chronograph owned bty the late movie and racing legend, Steve McQueen. Yes, the watch actually worn in Le Mans, and glanced at by Steve before the famous flag dropping scenes, which we are predicting will make $1.3m inc buyers premium. (UPDATE 12.12.2020: We were way out on that guess, as it made $2.2million, which is about £1.6m.)
There are extra motorsport and celeb watches just added to this sale, so here is the latest from Phillips press room;
Watch the start scene from Le Mans again, because it is petrolhead magic;
Phillips has carefully chosen 138 timepieces – selected for their rarity, quality, state of preservation, provenance, and aesthetic beauty – spanning top collectors’ brands including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, F.P.Journe, Richard Mille, Panerai, and Heuer, among others. The sale will also feature a special, charitable section titled, Time Counts, consisting of 12 lots donated by celebrated personalities, with all proceeds benefiting The One Drop and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundations.
Phillips’ Head of Watches, Americas, said, “Receiving the gift of a fine watch from a loving spouse, driving at speeds over 200 mph with a great watch on the wrist, or the first unboxing of a long-desired timepiece – these are thrilling moments that cause one’s pulse to race. The watches of RACING PULSE were chosen with the same goal of getting watch enthusiasts’ pulses racing with their exceptional quality, aesthetics, or provenance. Our team has brought together some of the rarest and most important watches to ever be offered publicly – an extraordinary group that speaks to collectors around the world. From Paul Newman’s iconic Rolex “Big Red” Daytona, to the most important modern Panerai ever offered, to an incredible selection of watches donated by celebrities including Guy Laliberté and H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco to benefit noble causes, RACING PULSE will offer an epic collection of modern and vintage timepieces for the final live Phillips auction of 2020. We are proud to present this catalogue and look forward to sharing these watches with our community around the globe.”
Interesting Rolex will be on sale too;
Rolex Submariner “MilSub” reference 5517
An extremely rare and historically important stainless steel diver’s wristwatch with fixed lugs and military engravings, accompanied by Henry Hudson-signed letter from Rolex Bexley, UK, c. 1977
Estimate: $100,000 to $200,000
In the 1970s, the UK Ministry of Defence approached Rolex with specifications for a watch that met their requirements, including fixed spring bars welded to the lugs, (preventing the fitting of a reflective bracelet), a 60-minute bezel insert, large sword-shaped hands, and a luminous dial. The resulting watch is now known to collectors as the “MilSub.” Following decommissioning, these military wristwatches were either destroyed by the MOD, or purchased by civilians, with most being transformed by removing the military features. As a result, the present example is an incredible find. It is complete and in exceptional, unrestored, and fully original condition. Fresh-to-the-market, the watch is further remarkable for its very rare, 5517 reference. Uniquely made for the MOD, the present example is without a doubt the finest Rolex “MilSub” to be offered at auction in recent memory.
We had a quick look at some Black Friday and Christmas wristwatch deals for you.
The T14 Tactical model, which features sporty orange details on the dial is down to $296, from $395. Quite a decent saving. The T10 Tanager is down to £115, from about 190 quid, and we love the blue dial on that model too. More here at Torgeon’s site.
The Christmas delivery deadline is this Saturday the 28th November, so if you want a watch made in Scotland, with a beautiful hand enamelled dial, then check them out here.
There’s a very handy 10% off across the board at thei UK based watch manufacturer, with the Panda chrono being our fave model. That is valid until the 28th November by the way. More here.
All sorts of year end discounts on the Gruppo Gamma watches, including the Venturo Field II model, which has that military look and feel. That one is down to $369 plus shipping costs. The ETA powered Divemaster is down to $950, which is water resistant to 500 metres. Yep 500. Try getting that depth rating from a prestige Swiss brand for under $3000. More at Gruppo Gamma here.
We got an email saying 40% off flash sale – could be valid over the weekend.
Stella has 25% off the RRP of around $1200 on the V2 Felix gents model. STP Swiss movement, 40,mm case, sapphire crystal, see-thru caseback – it’s a decent looking watch with that amount of discount. Offer expires when stocks sell out. More here.
The Swiss brand has launched a special all black edition called the Lewis…no only joking. They have a new Aviation Converter automatic. 80 hours power unit, probably the shared motor from the Tissot 80 Powermatic. Great looker, chunky 44mm case size and a dial that is a touch Breitling Navitimer – dare we say it? We dare. It retails at 1490 CHF which is about 1200 quid in UK money. More here.