Is the vintage watch going the way of the postage stamp?

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James Elsener
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Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:27 pm

Is the vintage watch going the way of the postage stamp?

Post by James Elsener » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:02 pm

170 years ago the British Royal Mail started distributing the first postage stamps. Quite a few of these stamps achieved values of more than US$ 1.5 millions over time. However, the market for stamps is imploding. The reason being that there are many ageing collectors wanting to dispose of their collections and too few new collectors entering the game. A traditional generational gap. In a not too distant future people will not be collecting stamps anymore…..

What if today’s vintage watch is the postage stamp of the future? What if the age of collecting vintage watches is behind us? Questions that at this moment in time do not have an answer. However these questions are valuable enough to be contemplated in more detail.

There are a few factors impacting the vintage watches trade negatively.

The first factor being that ageing collectors of vintage watches especially in Europe try to cash in on their collections. And we see a dearth of new collectors entering the market and this at a time when many museums have decided to go easy on adding to their collections of precious time telling devices, too.

The second factor being that vintage watches’ values have taken off over the last few years to never seen heights. This makes for an out-of-reach entry level for most new collectors.

The third factor being that the wealthy people from Asia, Latin America and other newly rich places prefer new watches above the watches worn by the wealthy of yore as we did in the West.

The fourth factor being that many vintage watches have become pieces of art sitting idle in safe boxes or on display behind glass only. Only a few people owning such watches still wear them on a regular basis. And this fact makes for high cost of security by collectors of vintage watches.

However, there are some elements which may blow life into the vintage watch market some way down the road again.

The first element being that more people than ever in history are appreciating the beauty of time telling devices. This thanks to the increasing numbers of wealthy people in Asia and Latin America. Over time they might create enough love for the beauty of vintage watches too and not only of the limited series of today.

The second element being that today’s markets in vintage watches seems to have peaked. Over time this will allow more people to enter the market for vintage collector watches. When I look at the market for pocket watches I see this happening already.

The third positive element is the possibility to branch out easier into themed collections i.e. collections of military watches only, watches with enamelled dials only, erotic watches, etc. This ease of branching out is made possible by the ever increasing number of limited series of manufacturers.

In short the market for vintage collector’s watches is not dead yet and it is fragile only. What is paramount to its survival is how the older collectors instil the spirit of collecting in the younger generation. The survival of the coveted vintage watch depends thus very much on how much we are able to instil the love we custer for these watches in our children and our grand-children. It is thus much more a question of spirit than of money that will lead to the survival of the vintage collector’s watch.
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