4 REASONS TO BUY VINTAGE MECHANICAL WATCHES
In today’s digital world, where everyone is permanently glued to screens of various sizes, be they smartphones, laptops, or tablets, the mechanical wristwatch is an anachronism. Let’s face the fact that mechanical watches will never be able to compete on the accuracy front with the cheap, mass-produced quartz technology that was pioneered by Seiko in 1969. Quartz technology, incidentally, nearly destroyed the Swiss watch industry – they instantly one-upped mechanical watches in the pursuit of accuracy that had become the very raison d’être of the Swiss watch industry. Why wear an expensive mechanical watch that is fundamentally less “functional” than a cheap quartz one.Pick up any mechanical watch and put it to your ear. Listen to the mechanical heartbeat of this device and then remove its caseback, reveling in the complexity of the intricate microcosm of gears, plates, levers, and springs. The beating of the balance wheel (thousands of times per hour) and ticking of the hands is entirely driven by mechanical energy – there is not even a modicum of electricity in the thing! There is a timeless quality here, as opposed to the planned obsolescence we observe when it comes to electronics. The basic technology driving the timekeeping organ of the watch, the lever escapement, was invented in 1755 by Thomas Mudge. Not much has changed since then.
2. INVESTMENT POTENTIAL
In recent years, the rise of watch platforms like Hodinkee and Watchuseek have transformed what used to be a rather niche hobby to a more mainstream interest. This increase in interest has led to a veritable flood of money pouring in as attested by the eye-watering auction results of the last five years.Just as is the case with any other collectible, condition is king! In the past, the condition of the dial was the make-or-break factor in determining the value of a vintage timepiece. As the vintage watch market has evolved, however, collectors are increasingly focusing more on (and thereby attaching a premium to) cases that retain their original finishing, full lugs, and bevels. Though it is difficult to ascertain if the current momentum in watch price appreciation will continue, well-maintained vintage pieces from classic model lines will always be in demand, especially as these pieces get older and more and more fall into disrepair.
3. LUXURY ON A BUDGET
Luxury watches are just that – a luxury, but it must be said that many luxury watch brands started off manufacturing high-quality tool watches that, though expensive, were well within the grasp of most middle-class enthusiasts. Unfortunately, those times have passed, and watch prices have rocketed into the stratosphere.Vintage watches offer two obvious financial advantages over their new counterparts: first, lower price of entry. Vintage watches offer the perfect gateway to enjoying high-quality movements at a more accessible price. Second, no depreciation hit as is the case with cars, the second you leave a dealership with a new watch, it will lose a substantial chunk of its value. By buying used / vintage, you are buying a piece that has already seen the initial depreciation take its toll. And not only are you not losing money because of it, but you actually profit from it!
Nothing is more precious than memories. In this respect, watches can immortalize life milestones or commemorate achievements and because of that, can make for fantastic presents. One of the best ways to do this is the so-called “birth year” watch, essentially a timepiece that was sold or manufactured in the same year that someone dear to you was born. Determining the exact year a watch was manufactured or sold is an imprecise science. Quite often, the original invoices were simply discarded or have since been lost. Watch companies used to produce movement components and cases in batches and storing them before gradually using them up as watches were manufactured and sold. It’s not uncommon to find a watch with a case manufactured in 1969 housing a a movement with a serial number dating it to 1968, with the first record of sale from 1970! Nonetheless, it is the thought that counts, as they say, and birth year watches make for incredibly thoughtful and personal gifts.