On Saturday May 14th, a Rolex Antimagnetique Reference 4113 from 1942 was sold for nearly $2.5 million at the Start-Stop-Reset auction of stainless steel chronographs in Switzerland. Few minutes earlier lot 31, a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Paul Newman Reference 6239, just barely missed the $2 million mark. For many of us this looks like madness, something that is difficult to explain.
And if it might seem windfall for some of us who do business in watches, there are aspects beyond these peaks that need to be taken in serious consideration.
We, at Manfredi Jewels for instance, are maintaining and repairing watches with 3 generations of engravings; we see the value families assign to a watch, we see the history of lives and indirectly history of our Country, written on the case and the dial of a watch. Sometimes people identify others with “their” watch and consider “that” watch the identifier, the style, the essence of that person.
In this age of wearable technology, the role of a mechanical watch has evolved from a device that “tells the time” to a “dynamic jewel”, or a “personal statement” or a “style signifier”, the perfect complement to define a personality.
And in most of the cases, it can be even more than that. It can be “a wearable sign of love”, or a wearable memory of a parent, something that “tells time across time, across generations and lives”.
We have customers that are sharing their stories related to their watches. Simple stories like “I selected this watch from my collection when I did my first round-the-world trip. It deserved it, and it was my ideal traveling companion”. It is in the second part of that sentence that we can see an intrinsic love, an attitude for an object that can become part of your life.
We had watches consigned to us by customers who got the timepiece from relatives coming back from long travels abroad, or who were celebrating a successful deal in Asia, or bought to celebrate an important family event. Watches that meant so much to their owners that little by little became almost “part of the family”. Watches are always associated to emotions, to special events in life. It is almost a paradox, “a timepiece in continuous movement that points to a special event or emotion in time”.
And for a vintage timepiece there are many elements that make every watch “unique”. Components like the light “patina” that some dials show over time, give the watch a special “personality” that adds value to the timepiece. It is almost an additional layer on the watch that has been deposed by time, day after day. Or for instance the small signs of wearing on the case, a testament of the time the watch has “shared” with someone else life.
Men in particular love mechanical things and how these work. And so, often, we sell watches that show the movement inside, the “beating heart” of a spectacular watch. In this case it is the dynamism of these miniaturized gears that captures the attention and create beauty and value.
These gears have been sometimes conceived in the late 18th century and still maintain their function, their original design, their unique characteristics.
So, there is a lot to say about a vintage watch worn on our wrist. There is a history of engineering, the evolution of technology and costume, the signs of lives written on it, but most importantly the emotions that have been associated over time to that specific piece.
Now, back to the beginning and the price-peaks we have seen a few weeks ago, these are interesting exceptions that make the news. However, it is not required to invest huge amount of money to get a valuable pre-owned or vintage timepiece. And most importantly these watches will give you a lifetime pleasure while holding their value as their appreciation evolve through time, over the years.
And we, at Manfredi Jewels, try to preserve these valuable watches and make them available for new enjoyments, new chapters in life, new emotions.