Tag Archives: worth

Watch Investing: Five Watch Brands Best Avoided

We all know that flipping a Rolex is a no-brainer. If you can get a new Rolex Sub, Daytona or Sea-Dweller then you can sell it a few months later and probably make between 5K and 20K profit.

That’s why some Rolex dealers have three year waiting lists, they are the world’s safest investment this side of a detached property in Surrey. Not the Milgauss or the Air-King obviously, nobody really likes those.

But some watch brands not only fail to rise in value, they can lose you a fortune too, sometimes over 50% of the retail price in under two years. Depends on the model naturally, but here are some tips on which supposed `prestige’ brands are often a poor investment.

FAVRE LEUBA

Titan/Tata the car maker thought they would revive an old Swiss brand and yes, they produced some nice watches. The Favre-Leuba Raider for example is a nice Valjoux 7753 powered chronograph. But is it worth over two grand? Not really.

Titan are scaling down Favre-Leuba watch production this year and cutting their losses. The sorry episode shows you need more than an 18th century heritage to sell watches. If you’re tempted to buy an Favre-Leuba in the closing down sale our advice is don’t, you’ll never live long enough to see a return on that investment.

ETERNA

Once the byword for Swiss movement quality, the old Eterna name morphed into ETA, which still powers many watches today – made in Singapore, Swizerland or the UK.

Now Eterna produces Sellita powered automatics which are OK, albeit slightly dated in terms of style. That wouldn’t matter if they were charging Rotary or Seiko Tuna money RRP, but at £1700 or more an Eterna is a really huge waste of money. Look hard enough online and you can find some of them at £400.

Don’t buy the Eterna Kon-Tiki at £1600 thinking you will make money. With just 200m of depth resistance and a Sellita SW200 inside it Eterna are really taking the pi** frankly. There are better watches in the Christopher Ward range for £700.

HAMILTON

Ask 100 random watch browsers in a shop where they think Hamilton watches are made and I guarantee that at least 10 of them will say the USA. Still, after decades of being part of the Swatch Group, people still believe Hamilton is a US watch brand.

Try selling a Hamilton Jazzmaster (WTH is that name all about?), Khaki or even a Ventura at a watch shop or pawnbrokers and you will be shocked at the low offer.  Typically under £200 with box n papers. The problem is that many collectors have twigged that Hamilton use the same Powermatic 80 movement as the entry level Tissot models, which is a perfectly OK movement, but still.

The Intra-Matic looks nice but inside you’ll find the ancient Valjoux 7753 engine, adapted and tweaked. For £1600 that’s not a great deal.

You can buy lots of vintage Valjoux 7753 powered watches online for £600-£900 and you might actually make some cash. Need we go on? Buy a vintage Hamilton instead.

MONTBLANC

Looks like an IWC. Just buy an IWC. Better bet.

I once had a Montblanc foutain pen, lovely thing. That’s the trouble, many collectors still think this is a pen and accessory brand, not a watch brand.

Owned by Richemont, the Montblanc factory produces some amazing limited editions but their bread n butter range is seen gathering dust in many High Street jewellers shops. Unloved and viewed with some suspicion.

BREMONT

Controversial eh? Much as I like to support watchmaking in the UK,  after working 18 months in a pawnbrokers shop I had ONE, yes one, enquiry to see and try on a Bremont watch which languished in the window. The pre-owned Breitlings, TAGs, Rolex, Omega and other fast-moving models all had collectors asking to view on a daily basis.

These are beautifully made watches, very heavy too, so you feel like you’re getting lots of watch for the money. But four grand retail for the MBII or ALT P2? You will need an ejector seat when your wife finds out you spent 4K on a watch she’s never heard of. Fact.

 

 

 

Can Hamilton Re-Invent Itself as a Gamer’s Watch Brand?

Hamilton has a problem within watch retail. It’s seen as a budget brand, with nice models, but a lack of true collector appeal and you could say, a lack of defining, unique models within the brand line-up.

The quirky Ventura IS different, but it needs a modern brand ambassador – you can’t sell watches using Elvis now, he’s been dead for four decades.

The Khaki struggles to win cult admirers in the same way a Seiko Alpinist does. The Intra-Matic is very cool chronograph but it shares its movement with budget Hamilton models and retails at nearly two grand. Really, the Intra-Matic should have something like a micro-rotor movement with a see-thru caseback to set it apart in terms of tech.

Just ideas, we all have them. But Hamilton have decided to capitalise on the craze for online gaming with a Far Cry model.

Here”s the video trailer;

So what’s the deal here? Well the Khaki watch will feature gameplay benefits and functions. Hamilton say that the Khaki Field Titanium Automatic is gifted to game players following the completion of a dangerous mission.

That is you win a virtual watch, not a real one. You have to buy that.

But will gamers decide that the Khaki is cool enough to wear, or just collect, in the real world? It’s a difficult question and Hamilton faces tricky decisions in the future if it is to save itself from oblivion. Fact is, Swiss watches under £1000 struggle to sell because buyers see them as low status, not impressive enough to command bragging rights down at the gym, classic car meet etc.

We are seeing the collapse of the middle market in watches, cars, clothing and so much more. People want an impressive brand name, or something cheap n cheerful that ticks the right boxes at Aldi or Lidl. That’s why Debenhams is dead. That’s why M&S is heading the same way.

 

Are Rolex Homage Watches Worth Buying?

It’s an interesting question because even if you have nine or ten grand lying about spare, you may well struggle to buy a Rolex Sub or GMT homage this side of Renata battery expiry date. That’s 2024 by the way.

So if you just want the Rolex look, and don’t care about the Chinese assembly or build quality, here are some alternatives we spotted online.

BENYAR MILGAUSS-A-GO-GO

We actually placed an order for this Milgauss lookalike from China recently, so watch out for a review of this quartz watch which costs a mere $25 including shipping on Aliexpress. At that money it is gonna be hard to find fault even if the second hand falls off after 3 months.

LOREO SUB

This one is one eBay in various dial/bezel combo; Pepsi, all black, blue/black etc at about £95. You get German tech it says, which could be the sapphire crystal? Seagull movement inside, nice steel bracelet too – VAT and customs duty on top of the ebay price though. We saw a couple of pre-owned examples in the UK if you want to save all that mither.

PAGANI DESIGN DAYTONA DEMON

Pagani are one of the best known Rolex tribute acts around, with some positive reviews online. Priced at about £80-£110 in the UK the Daytona lookalike is undeniably good value with a Seiko movement inside.

Pagani even have their own UK based ebay store, which is handy as regards back-up if things go wrong, plus avoid the import duty racket. Great looking Subs and GMT models too.

REGINALD, YOUR ROLEX IS HERE LUV

The Reginald is another China brand, with this quartz Submariner copy retailing at just over £35 plus taxes on ebay. You get 30m water resistance and…oh come on, do you care? It’s under 50 quid.

CADISEN DATEJUST

The Cadisen Datejust sells for about £70 on ebay or Amazon and again, the dependable Seiko NH35 automatic movement in inside the case. Thinking ahead, that movement is worth about 30 quid, assuming you wanted to build a MOD watch one day.

Anyway, you get a steel bracelet, 100m of claimed depth rsistance and a range of dial colours. Aliexpress has this on for about £50 plus import tariff n VAT, so not too pricey. See-thru caseback as well.

Happy shopping!

 

Vintage Quartz Watches, Yea or No Way?

There are some early quartz watches that fetch incredible prices. If you have an original Bulova Accurton, a Seiko Astron from the late 60s or a Casio calculator watch from the early 80s, then you’ll be happy to know that values are rising.

Of course these are ground-breaking watches of their time, and deserve respect from collectors. Seiko, more than any brand, revolutionised watch sales with their cheaper quartz watches. They were still expensive mond you, I recall buying a basic black Casio digital for £20 back in the early 80s – which was almost half a week’s wages – because the Seiko digital was too fancy at £29.99.

Naturally, that Casio went to the bin decades ago, just like all the digital watches I bought in the 1980s and the quartz watches I bought in the 1990s too. But recently I have bought a few old quartz models, generally the Lanco, Timex and Seiko SQ models, plus a brand new, big 43mm Pulsar I liked just because it had a groovy teal coloured chronograph.

Apart from Seiko SQ50/100 models, I always suggest people avoid the older quartz watches because they aren’t so reliable, or so easy to revive from their comatose state when people leave them in drawers and the batteries split open, then leak that green oxide shit all over the place.

I did buy a running Lanco from the early 70s, which has the Tissot 7067 movement in it, last year. This actually went OK after a little clean of the contacts and a new Renata 301 battery inside. But the time-setting malarkey on this watch is franly a bit silly.

You pull the crown out and it moves the hour hand, like many older Omega quartz watches by the way. But there is no second pull-out position to move the minute hand.

I googled the problem and found that you have to hold the crown down for 5 seconds, then release, then tap it again to make the minute hand twirl around.

Nope. No joy. The most likely cause is that the stepper  motor isn’t engaging with the gear wheel to make that magic happen, but considering the Lanco is probably worth under £75 at auction, I cannot be bothered taking it apart.

SPARES PROBLEMS

Another annoyance with this Lance is the usual Tissot/Omega/Lanco tension ring holding the crytal in, and it is a front-loader diassembly routine. So crystal off, hands off, crown n stem out etc and then release the movement. I will be blunt, I hate that obtuse thinking by the Tissot/Lanco group. Timex did the same thing for decades.

Basically it was a ploy to create work for their authorised repair network by making life difficult for the amateur watch fettler. The more you mess with old crystals held in by thin rings of metal, the more likely you are to scratch dials or break the tension rings or hands.

So yep, messing with old quartz watches is a good way to end up hunting for rare spare crystals, hands and tension rings too. All these delicate parts often rust into position after 50 years, or simply get brittle and begin to crumble away.

My solution to the hand-setting problem was to disconnect the battery and wait until exactly 2.41pm to re-fit and slide the connector tab across it, since that was where the minute hand had stopped at.

So I have a running Lanco quartz, kinda nice looking, new battery in place and a neat sort of Tiger’s Eye effect on the dial as well. Like many old watches, it isn’t perfect and it will probably never be worth more than £100 even if I live to be 90. By that time everyone will have a chip inserted in their arm that tells the time, reads your bad thoughts and automatically emails the Solyent Green factory when your fridge is out of vegan ping meals.

Enjoy your watches I say, it’s later than you think.

Bamford TAG Aquaracer Adds Orange Fire, Titanium Cool

Bamford of London specialise in custom modded prestige watches and if you like something different the TAG Aquaracer with orange details on the dial and bezel stands out from the TAG crowd.

You get the Bamford logo on the black dial, plus orange-edged hands, a little orange arrow on the bezel and a little orange track of flecks running around the outside of the chapter ring. There’s also a titanium case plus strap combo, which justifies the price premium. The Bamford is a partnership arrangement with TAG so it comes in a branded orange box too.

All in it’s £3250 which is a big ticket price for an Aquaracer, although the TAG RRP is about 2500 for the steel case, silicon strap cooking model. I’m not a fan of the Aquaracer because it doesn’t offer anything special for the price imho. There are better spec indie brand watches that offer 300m depth rating, chrono features and a date window for about £1000-£1500.

OK, I know what you’re thinking, the Aquaracer will hold its value better than an indie watch like a Baltic, Zelos, or many more, which is true up to a point. But try selling an Aquaracer at an independent watch dealership for cash; you will be shocked at how little you are offered. That’s because the TAG Aqua is a slow seller, it isn’t seen as being as collectable/desirable as a Carrera, Autavia or Monaco, more of an entry level Swiss watch. That isn’t fair because a Hamilton Khaki or Tissot Powermatic 80 is an entry level Swiss watch at about 500-700 quid.

The good news for anyone buying this Bamford edition is that the Aquaracer IS far, far cheaper than the build-a-bear Zenith and TAG Monaco editions that Bamford currently offer. By about 5-7K in some cases. As far as customised watches go, the Bamford Aquaracer is something of a bargain, and you get plenty of extra details for your 750 quid premium.

Buy the Bamford Aquaracer because you love the orange and black dial design and titanium lightness, not because you feel it’s a prestige investment. There are no brand new investment watches below 5 grand, there is no way you can turn a 3K watch into a £1200 quick profit by flipping it.

 

Are The Timex Snoopy 70th Anniversary Watches Worth Collecting?

Timex has launched a range of watches to mark the 70th anniversary of the Snoopy character appearing in Peanuts. Timex has a long history in producing comic related character watches of course, but these are quite expensive and so definitely aimed at adults.

The cost is £179 for the Pepsi design blue and red model, with rotating bezel and 50m of depth resistance. It also has Snoopy character on the dial and a quick release battery compartment on the back of the stainless steel, 38mm case. However, it doesn’t have a sapphire crystal, just an acrylic and even though the bracelet is steel as well, we just don’t think this is a good value collectors watch. Sorry Timex.

There are other Snoopy watches in the range, starting at £95. Then, there’s the Marlin automatic at £249, with a see-thru caseback and unique Peanuts script on the back of the case as well. You could argue that the Marlin is likely to hold its RRP value best in the long run. You would be right, but probably still lose about £150 over 5 years.

Don’t forget to keep the Snoopy related box and paperwork too, if you want that £100 back in 2025.

Again, an acrylic crystal isn’t good on a watch costing around £250. Hiding the movement from view using a slogan isn’t that satisfying to look at either.

There are lots of Indie brands offering sapphire crystal dive watches, with 300m depth ratings at this price. There is certainly plenty of choice on Kickstarter. Many brands like Kraken, Zelos and others offer cheap ownership as you can get about 50-70% back in resale value, depending on how fashionable your dial colour, bronze case etc is at the time. Just saying.

More info here.

Yes, Russian Watches Are Worth Collecting. Chrono Values Rising

Russian watches? Cheap and cheerful, that’s what you’re thinking. Well, you are right, but they’re also very reliable and built to last like a T34 tank or an AK47. Many of these watches make perfect starter collection material, and fantastic value daily watches you can wear and enjoy. Yes, they aren’t Swiss level COSC certified chrono models that are going to fetch thousands at auction, but let me give you three good reasons to buy a used Sekonda, Poljot, Bostok/Vostok or Molnija.

  1. Good Examples Start at £25

Yep, you can get a very nice Vostok Komandirskie model on ebay or Gumtree, often including the original box and leaflet for £25 or so. This watch is still being manufactured brand new today by the way, costing about £60 or so online.

It has a few interesting features, such as the `wobbly’ crown, which is designed to bend like a tree, rather than break under pressure from cack-handed attempts at screwing down the crown. You’ll also notice the crystal is dome shaped, this is for water resistance – yep, you can dive down to attach a small IED to your enemies submarine or ship, whilst wearing this watch. Handy for all you Putin sponsored freelance asssasins.

The Komandirskie also has an automatic movement inside its sturdy case, which I’ve tested over 24 hours and is accurate to within 30 seconds. Not Rolex standard, but hey, what do you want for £25 quid Comrade Corbyn?

vostok flat 1

2. Ultra reliable

Here is another factoid for you. First watch I ever fixed was a dead Sekonda – TV dial model similar to the Raketa – which was clogged with dirt and fully wound up. All that was needed was a basic clean with the back off, no movement removal, a drop of oil on the end of the balance staff and off it went. Still running OK today five years later, which just shows how you can abuse these watches with no proper servicing and they still work. That non-runner cost a mere fiver at a watch fair by the way.

3. Good Original Chronographs Are Set to Rocket in Value

Sturmanskie and Poljot made some excellent chronograph models, many of which have movements inside that closely resemble Valjoux or Glashutte originals. Glashutte watch factory was captured by the Russians in the late stages of WWII, so just as the Russians took the second division scientists from the V2/V3 rocket programme, materials and expertise was taken back to Moscow.

poljot valjoux movement
Poljot chrono movement

Gagarin apparently wore a Sturmanskie in space, and the Poljot Strela is another model with astronaut connections. If you can find a good example of a 50s/60s chronograph that hasn’t been movement-swapped, bodged up with non-original parts etc then that could be a good investment.

I say could because considering you can buy a 1960s Valjoux 7733 powered Swiss watch, running nicely, for about £300-£500, paying well over £1000 for a Russian chrono with essentially the SAME movement inside doesn’t seem like a bargain to me. Having said that people pay £1000 for Sicura models based on the Breitling connection, which is of course complete nonsense.

The upside with a Poljot chrono watch is that any decent watchmaker will be able to service your watch for years to come, as there are still plenty of Valjoux 7733 movements available as spares and the stripdown and re-assembly will be bread n butter work for your local watch fettler.

 

 

 

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.