Tag Archives: values

Historic 1968 Rolex GMT Is a Bankable Investment

We love watches where you can trace the history since new, especially when that story has a military connection. So this 1968 Pepsi bezel Rolex GMT owned by Commander John Carr is a winner in terms of investment potential we think.

It is being auctioned later in May by Gardiner Houlgate and here is the spec from their website;

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date GMT-Master ‘Pepsi’ stainless steel gentleman’s bracelet watch, ref. 1675, circa 1968, serial no. 1870xxx, ‘Pepsi’ bezel insert.

‘Swiss -T<25’ black dial with twenty-four hour hand, dot markers, Mercedes style hands, sweep centre seconds and date aperture, cal. 1570 26 jewel movement, no. D167xxx

Expanding bracelet, the inside case back stamped ‘1675’ and dated ‘I.68’, bezel 40mm diameter.

Comes with the original box, guarantee booklet and chronometer certificate, Rolex service receipt for 1989, and tag.

Commander John R Carr was born in 1912 in Patagonia. Following the death of his father John returned to Britain and served at the Dartmouth Naval College. He served the navy during the war, rising to the rank of Commander, and retired in 1962.

He then went to work for Shell in Europe as Superintendent of Diving, and was the project director of an international group investigating the effect of mixed gas diving on the ability of men to work at great depths, called Capshell.

It was a collaboration of the Italian, US and British Navies, Shell and Italian diving firm Micoperi. This project was at the forefront of modern oceanography and paved the way for the oil industry to work in the deep sea.

The medical side of the research took place in Zurich and after the project was finished John was gifted this Rolex from the team. He passed away in 2001.


What we like about this watch is that it has NOT been restored or refurbished with modern hands, bezel or other bits by well-meaning technicians at Rolex. Yes the crystal has scratches, the case has marks and there is some dust inside the watch, but that makes it undeniably authentic, a true piece of watch history.

Clean it now and then, have it serviced but not restored – and then store it away safely. This is better than  money in the bank, we guarantee it will almost double in value in a decade – try getting that return from NatWest.

Love The AP Royal Oak Camo? Check Out This Auction

We like the AP Royal Oak of course, who wouldn’t? Classic design and it rivals the Rolex GMT II in terms of collector/investor appeal, especially a model like this with its camo style strap. Gives the watch a younger, fresher feel we reckon. Bidding is already over 10K by the way. Yeah. Better investment than Bitcoin some might say..here’s the word from the Watch Collecting auction site;

Introduced in 2019, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 44mm Camouflage Collection reveals the historic watchmaker in playful mode. Produced in brown, green, and blue camo patterns, the blue is the most vibrant and has proved the most popular with collectors. Keeping the classic Mega Tapisserie chequerboard guilloche dial, in the same cobalt blue as the ceramic bezel, the hands are given a lift with red to the 6 and 9 o’clock and to the tip of the chronograph seconds. Crown and pushers are also colour coded in ceramic.

Inside is the cal. 3126/3840, which is AP’s in-house automatic cal. 3120 topped with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module. It has a 50-hour power reserve. The strap is closed with a substantial steel pin buckle and for days when a more consistent colour scheme is required, a plain blue rubber strap is also included. Bought in its launch year of 2019, the watch is still covered by its purchase warranty which can be extended by a further three years via the Audemars Piguet website. The box, papers and additional strap are complete and in immaculate condition.

Is Rolex Fever Destroying The Luxury Watch Market?

Straight talk from the Editor’s keyboard;

I only ask the question because according to trade magazine WatchPro, one quarter of the entire Swiss watch industry is Rolex sales. The UK is arguably one of the most Rolex obsessed markets in the world, as the 2020 launch of the new Oyster, GMT and Subs showed. Flippers who managed to bri-sorry, get allocated a much prized Submariner were able to sell it on for around 50-80% above the RRP, depending on the dial colour, bezel etc.

Recently UK retailer Goldsmiths announced that it was rolling out a new store concept, based on Mayors of Miami, where watch brands would have dedicated zones. This offers consumers the chance to look at particular brands in detail. The danger with this idea is that it mirrors the disaster that is the Premiership in English football – all the money, marketing and top talent is concentrated on a handful of brands. Goldsmiths will have Rolex, Breitling, Omega, Cartier, TAG and Tudor – which is of course part of Rolex. You could say it’s Rolex-Lite, but that does minimise how good a Tudor Black Bay is in terms of value when compared to a Rolex Sub; same build quality for half the price, some might say.

But this focus on a handful of brands, with Rolex as the `One Watch To Rule Them All’ is going to damage the market in the end. Because history teaches us that every bubble, whether it’s a UK housing market, Tesla, South Sea, tulip bulbs or spices, will go pop eventually. When it does, then confidence is buying luxury watches as an investment will largely evaporate. It will have a catastrophic effect on watch retailing, as chains like Goldsmiths, Beaverbrooks and Watches of Switzerland depend on luxury Rolex and other watch sales to help keep them afloat, now that the government has decided that house arrest is a good idea long term. Footfall is NEVER coming back to pre-lockdown levels, and many older people – who make up a high percentage of luxury Rolex buyers – don’t trust the inetrnet. They also don’t want their Rolex purchase data to be held online either, as they rightly assume that various thieves and accomplices will hack that info at some point, leaving them vulnerable to house burglary or card fraud.

The final reason why Rolex domination is a bad thing is that it stifles innovation, to the extent where many of their watches are often quite boring. The Oyster range really needs a kick up the rear, as it’s becoming the Honda Jazz of the watch world; safe, steady, reliable but entirely uninteresting to any serious watch collector. There is nothing to talk about if you own an Oyster, exept its value.

Rolex don’t really do anything left field, quirky or challenging in their range, except perhaps the Milgauss, which is a 1950s idea still in production for some bizaarre reason. Personally, I like the Milgauss because I love the blue dial, but you have to admit that it’s a one-trick pony as a modern watch. Rolex could be creating some 21st century ground-breaking watchmaking tech instead, not just anti-magnetic as regards digital devices, but with tourbillions, liquid-powered chrono functions, or maybe a MODshop where well-heeled customers could order truly one-off Rolex models, created in the same way that Bamford London are doing. But better, with all the resources that a global brand can bring to bear.

When you are number one there’s only way you can go, and that is down. Change and development is necessary, despite the risks associated with it. Rolex is in a sweet spot right now – apart from the ongoing customer anger concerning waiting lists. Demand could not really be any higher and it is consistently voted the number one brand in any marketing survey you read. It is amazing that so many people believe that Rolex is the best watch in the world, despite the obvious truth to anyone who has taken their watches apart. They are not the very best, but they are brilliant at mass production to a very high level. But resting on those laurels is not a strategy for long term progress and it will also damage the entire watch industry when consumers decide that buying a Rolex is no longer as safe an investment as buying a Premium Bond.

Maybe that’s the future, the Rolex Fantasy Share Index? You basically mine your Rolex data like Bitcoin and when you get to GMT III level you cash in. Stranger things have happened…

Pottery Throwdown? No, This IWC is Tough Stuff

IWC have a strong reputation when it comes to pilots watches, in fact some might say they are the go-to choice. Others would perhaps choose a Breitling, or maybe a Bell & Ross. So a new variation – and a revival of a cult classic – of the familiar Pilot Chronograph is always interesting. Here’s the press release from IWC;

With the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705”, IWC Schaffhausen travels back in time to honour the legendary Ceramic Fliegerchronograph (ref. 3705) from 1994. After fading into obscurity for almost a quarter of a century, it became a cult classic and is now considered one of the most sought-after models from IWC’s recent history. The new tribute edition faithfully replicates the original’s dial design. Instead of using ceramic, however, it features a case made of Ceratanium®, a groundbreaking new material developed by IWC. Powered by the in-house 69380 calibre and fitted on a black calfskin strap, this special edition is limited to 1000 watches and sold exclusively on IWC.com.

Now we are no fans of watches or bracelets made from pottery here at The Northern Watch Co, because they shatter like a kid’s toy on Boxing Day. So this is good news, but there’s more;

Throughout its 152-year history, IWC has created modern icons such as the Big Pilot or the Portugieser Chronograph. But tucked away in the archives, there are also hidden gems; timepieces that are overlooked before they shoot to unexpected fame. One such model is the “IWC Fliegerchronograph Keramik” from 1994, which was IWC’s first Pilot’s Watch with a case made of black zirconium oxide ceramic. Despite its use of this highly innovative material and its purist instrument design, the chronograph enjoyed little success. After only about a thousand pieces, production was discontinued a few years later.

Very spartan, functional and matt black.


The ref. 3705 did not become famous until about a quarter of a century later. Following various articles on specialised blogs, the “Black Flieger” caught the attention of a growing number of watch enthusiasts. With luminous indices and hands, which had aged over time to a warm orange, the once-forgotten chronograph was winning collector’s hearts with its distinct neovintage charm. One piece from the personal collection of former IWC director Günter Blümlein was auctioned for a staggering 53,750 US dollars. But the ref. 3705 does not only embody IWC’s heritage as a manufacturer of professional instrument watches for aviators. With its black ceramic case, the model is also an early testimony to the extensive materials expertise that IWC has acquired since the 1980s; a quality that still distinguishes the company as a modern watchmaker today.


The newly released Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” (Ref. 387905) pays homage to this exceptional timepiece and is limited to 1000 pieces. The dial is a replica of the original from the 1990s. Two totalizers at 9 and 12 o’clock display stop times of up to 12 hours, the small second is located at 6 o’clock. Another feature is the day and date display at 3 o’clock. The ref. 3705 was pioneering in the use of black ceramic, and the tribute edition likewise features a recent innovation from IWC’s material scientists: the case, chronograph pushers and pin buckle are made of Ceratanium®, an IWC-developed material that is light and robust like titanium, but also similarly hard and scratch-resistant like ceramic. In the first step, the case components are machined from a special titanium alloy. Afterwards, the parts are treated in a furnace firing process, during which a phase transformation takes place, and the surface of the material assumes properties similar to ceramic.

It has the edge over the Omega Speedmaster in terms of easy-to-read dial markers n hands, would you agree?


While the original ref. 3705 was powered by the Valjoux calibre 7750, the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” boasts sophisticated movement technology from Schaffhausen. Inside the 41-millimetre case, the in-house 69380 calibre is at work. This robust and precise chronograph movement in classic column wheel design is one of the latest developments from IWC’s engineers. A bi-directional pawl winding system reliably builds up a power reserve of 46 hours. The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” is available exclusively through IWC.com, wechat, YNAP, and official flagship store on Tmall as a limited edition of 1000 pieces.

ICYMI: Rado Captain Cook Burgundy

Here’s one we missed from December, the new Rado Captain Cook Burgundy model. Here’s the word from Rado;

One look at the new Captain Cook bronze burgundy dial is all it takes to understand the grandeur of this timepiece. Rado is proud to present its new version of the Captain Cook bronze with the much awaited burgundy high-tech ceramic bezel.

It is not unusual for Rado to make such striking material combinations, and the ‘The Master of Materials’ once again plays with a modern material like high-tech ceramic and the oldest material created by men – bronze. The result is a timepiece that enamours with its brushed bronze case, bronze turning bezel with burgundy high-tech ceramic insert and laser engraved numbers and markers. The burgundy sunray brushed dial clearly contrasts against the yellow gold coloured applied indexes, but blends easily with the classic red-date display from Rado.

Its indexes, numbers, hands and markers are all powered with Super-LumiNova® that allows clear visibility in the dark, and whose looks remain almost untouched from the 1962 original Captain Cook, giving it a natural vintage look. However, diverging from the original, this timepiece is powered with the 11½ Rado calibre 763 movement prodiving 80 hours power reserve.

Red tones are known to be the hardest to be replicated in ceramics, and even more a challenge to be used in watches, that now the watchmaker from Lengnau can add to its many materials’ achievements.

Verdict: Handsome design and the NATO strap adds a certain adventure sport look. Ceramic bezels add an extra level of durability too. It’s a pricy watch at about £2400 mainly because Rado don’t generally hold their resale value too well. We like the DC Leake jewellers green Captain Cook better at two grand in the Sale.

2020 Rolex Oyster: Are Offbeat Dial Colours The Smart Choice?

The Rolex watch market has its own rules, mainly unwritten and often propelled by rumours as much as real demand from collectors. It’s kinda like the stock market; lots of companies and rich guys are constantly hedging their bets to try and beat the next spike in demand, and that drives the price of the stock higher. Or lower if a new Rolex model appears and nobody wants the 2019 range.

Then you have people who essentially trade in Rolex futures. They have a client list, they know which client will pay roughy XXXX amount for their grail Rolex, and so they try to locate one. Generally dealers, from international authorised shops, to eBay traders, these guys have a vested interest in talking up the long term cash profit that MIGHT be achieved on historic Rolex models, as well as the modern stuff. So you’ll see You Tube videos, blogs, magazine features and so on bigging up Daytonas, Submariners, various GMTs, even the odd Explorer. If a Rolex has some kind of authentic celebrity or movie connection then that adds to its future value…generally. That may not apply if Bill Cosby or Jimmy Savile owned it.

We had a look around at the latest Rolex Oyster Perpetual prices, after the recent release of the new 36mm and 41mm models. The first thing to note is that demand is wayyyy stronger for the 41mm case sizes. No surprise. Next though, it was interesting to see that the yellow dial Oyster was being touted at just over £8000 by one dealer, which is about 4K up on the RRP. Maybe it’s time to think out of the box if you don’t want to wait for a Submariner or GMT model from the 2020 range?

Certainly the offbeat dial colours won’t atrract the same attention as green, black or champagne. People tend to be risk averse when it comes to investing in Rolex watches, because the safe play suits most collectors. But rare models eventually tend to go for big money, because there are low numbers available in say a decade, and some wealthy collectors would like a full set, kind of like cigarette cards  but with a 100K buy in price.


OK, I hear you, a 34mm case size is too girly nowadays, but consider the rarity factor here. The latest 34mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual has a brand new movement for 2020, in the shape of the Cal 2232. So this is a debut year, always worth bearing in mnd for future collector/auction value. It has a 55 hour power reserve and a Syloxi hairpsring inside, which looks very much like a traditional metal balance wheel assembly. I like that rather than the Parachrom balance spring Rolex movements, because although silicon is more efficient in terms of conserving energy from mainspring to second hand, for me, it lacks romance, craft, engineering kudos.

Just worth looking at this one, especially in Sunray Blue, which is arguably the most handsome of the Oyster 34 range imho. It has an understated elegance, lacking a day/date window, or any extra bling in the bezel. Bit boring perhaps, but for me a design classic that will never go out of fashion, which a vivid green Hulk might do.

There y’go, place your bets Rolex futures traders.

Auction Checker: Latest UK Swiss Watch Prices

It is always interesting to see what prices Swiss watches are fetching at auction. The latest sale at Gardiner Houlgate shows that a Rolex Milgauss, with warranty card but no box or papers, made £4500. That is considerably lower than the typical shop price for a nice recent example, but you always have to expect a loss of about £1000 in value if you mislay box and papers with a modern Rolex. Fact is, it raises questions about the owner; how careful were they with the watch, was it ever serviced?

Most of the watches on sale were ex-pawnbroker stock, unredeemed items. So basically, these have been forgotten as debts have piled up – very sad way to lose a beautiful watch.

Meanwhile a 2008 Rolex Sea Dweller was not sold, presumably failing to make reserve.  The watch had some slight marks showing wear, but again, no box or papers. A 2018 model Ladies Rolex Oyster Perpetual, with a handsome olive green dial made £2500, with an original gaurantee card but no box or other paperwork.

A GMT II in black and gold with an international guarantee card, but no box, went for £8200 which we think is strong money. That said, it looked in fantastic condition and given that some GMT models have a long waiting list brand new, maybe that’s a wish list box ticked for someone.

Here’s a thing though; a non-running Omega quartz Seamaster, no box, no paperwork and obviously no guarantee it would actually work once a battery was fitted, made £1050. We found a Seamaster auto on Watchfinder, with paperwork for £2350. Gobsmacked at seeing a grand paid for a dead watch!

More details on Gardiner Houlgate sales in October here. 



Police Auction Includes Patek Perpetual, Nautilus, plus Rolex Sub & Datejust

Merseyside Police have seized luxury motors, including a Rolls Royce from various criminals and these are being auctioned off online – tomorrow, September 3rd.

The blaggers swag includes a rose gold Patek Philippe Calendar watch with a new retail value of £130,000. However there are no box and papers with it, so the actual value is probably something like 60K – where would you sell it without that verifiable history?

There are two more Pateks for sale, both minus box and paperwork, but a Nautilus is always going to attract some bidding action.

Other watches in the auction include a Rolex Submariner, plus Datejust. The Datejust has got box and papers, we estimate that will make about £4200, and we will guess £6000 on the Submariner, which looks beautiful but without paperwork is something of a gamble.

You can always get it serviced and verified that way, although that might cost another £500-£700 depending on which dealership you approach.

The 24-hour online auction will start on Thursday, September 3 from 2pm and will time-out at 2pm on Friday, September 4. Here’s the Wilsons auction site link.

Auction News: Omega Classics Dominate Gardiner Houlgate Sale

The latest auction held by Gardiner Houlgate was definitely of interest to Omega collectors, with the majority of watches sold being from the famous Swiss brand. Omega remains a popular choice and it’s interesting to see how some models are rapidly appreciating in value, whilst more basic models like the Geneve watches from the 60s and 70s are basically treading water.

omega constellation values

Fact is, you can still pick up a nice Geneve, working order, for about £250-£300, plus buyers premium on top and those prices haven’t really changed in the last five years. A De Ville only made £160, which shows how collectors and dealers are shunning the 70s Omegas to an extent. The older Omega models with sub-second dials are also stuck in the doldrums, with the black dial models fetching a bit extra, but nothing special.

Even a price of £400 for a 1969 Constellation in working order, which looked like it had been serviced recently, is nothing to write home about, assuming you paid £200-£300 to buy it a decade ago when prices were relatively cheap. After auction costs you’re perhaps looking at a profit of £50, depending on how much the service cost of course – you might have lost £200. This all goes to show that watch collecting isn’t a guranteed investment.

omega speedmaster values

The stand out watches included a Speedmaster Ultraman which made £18,000, and another Speedmaster presented to the Shah of Iran in the early 70s, complete with moon landing paperwork, box, cert etc. Genuine piece of horological history and I bet the story of how that watch escaped the Shah’s family and found its way to an auction in the UK is a fascinating one.

An entry level Rolex Oyster, Cal 1570 with Jubilee bracelet (early 80s model?) made £2300, no box or paperwork on that one which has held the price down a bit – few dealers want to sell them on now without some extras – people expect it.

rolex batman gmt 2 values

A very handsome GMT II Batman Rolex, complete with papers and box, made dead on £9000, which is pretty close to new UK retail. Just shows how a waiting list for a current model can drive up demand for decent quality used examples, with some jewellers now asking 15K for a nice used Batman. How long will the waiting list bubble last?

Who knows? But Rolex are annoying a great many of their loyal customers with this childish game of `wait in line please, but hand over your cash now.’ It’s a bit like BMW or Audi dealerships – you get to a point where people feel like cash machines for the dealerships’ ever expanding empires and that’s when you lose some of them.