As the cacophony of the annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) – the fair for vintage replica watches that takes place each January in Geneva – fades, it’s worth turning our attention back to the ever-changing supply of collectible vintage timepieces, says Justin Mastine-Frost in the Robb Report. Take the Bovet Mono-Rattrapante Chronograph (pictured), powered by the Valjoux 84, whose chronograph complication includes the ability for split timing.
It’s not as high-tech as a full “rattrapante” (split-seconds) chronograph. Nor is it the most affordable vintage chronograph out there (selling for at $5,900 on MentaWatches.com). Yet this functionality gives it “a leg up” over other similar watches – hence we “don’t expect this one to stay listed for too long”. Selling a secondhand watch can be a bit of a headache, says Kathleen Beckett in The New York Times, who discovered this first hand after inheriting her husband’s 1930s Patek Philippe.
Having had the replica swiss eta movement watch authenticated by the watchmakers in Geneva, she went first to auction house Christie’s, where she was told that, despite being out of fashion (yellow gold instead of white, and too small), with a bit of a polish and a new strap it could fetch between CHF8,000 and CHF12,000. But there were other charges to consider, such as insurance, catalogue photography, customs charges, shipping and commission – usually 6% to 20% of the final sale price.
Meanwhile, at a watch shop, not having the original box or certificate of origin threatened to knock 15% off the value. Selling the watch online was another possibility, but the Swiss-based website Iconeek.com charges 15% commission and valued the watch at up to CHF7,000, with a reserve price of CHF5,000 – much lower than the Christie’s estimates. Another online shop, US-based Hodinkee.com, offered to price the watch at $7,500 (CHF7,540), charging 15% commission. “So if it sold, I’d get $6,375 (CHF6,400). I was tempted,” says Beckett.
In the end, Beckett opted for a private sale organised by auctioneers Phillips in New York, where she was offered $6,200 (CHF6,230) “pure and simple”, with the unspecified commission paid by the anonymous buyer. The reality is that “for watches that are not one-offs, auctions don’t make any sense”, Hamilton Powell tells Larry Olmsted in Forbes. Powell founded Crown & Caliber after both he and a friend got ripped off buying and sell replica watches.
The US-based start-up has 40 employees, including half a dozen full-time Swiss-trained repair specialists, to scrutinise, polish, repair and value second-hand watches. It lists the watches on its website, charging the seller a 19.5% “consignment fee”, plus a “small prep fee” based on the selling price. He believes his venture could change the industry. “The watch market is just like the car market was in the Seventies, it’s just starting to mature in terms of pre-owned.”