Enough talk about the vintage watch craze

Over the past year we have heard more about the “vintage watch craze” than almost the whole of the last decade! But there is absolutely no craze, nor trend nor fad! Vintage watches, especially wristwatches, have been doing quite well since the late 1980s when the wristwatch became accepted as a suitable object of desire and collection alongside the pocket watch which had thus far been regarded as a more serious form of collectible horology.

By Alexandre Ghotbi

The vintage watch market has seen systematic growth for the past 25 years with record prices chasing record prices at an ever faster rate. A market that formerly appeared to be hallowed ground exclusively reserved for cognoscenti and scholars in Europe and America has opened up to newcomers from Asia and the Middle East. Furthermore, the serious shake-up of the modern watch market has pushed the media to turn its attention from modern to vintage.

One of the most interesting phenomena is not the press coverage, but rather the amazing number of young aficionados turning to vintage watches! I would explain this by the fact that not only can vintage watches be obtained at a fraction of the price of their modern counterparts (putting aside the whopping results of certain pieces), but wearing a vintage timepiece is a sign of independent thinking, the personality of one immune to the attractions of marketing.

Age aside, there are certain elements which all vintage collectors agree upon and that can explain the growing appeal of vintage. One would be the price of a vintage timepiece. This price is not set by the maker, but instead by the market, with auction prices being the benchmark. A second element, which may well be the most powerful, is the rarity factor. The chances of running into someone wearing the same “ultra-limited” timepiece are low. Let’s not forget that vintage watches are rare not because a brand decided to make a limited number in a special case metal/dial combination, but because they were made in a time of pre-industrialized manufacturing, which means that finding models in good condition becomes more and more difficult as we go forward.

However, the most important elements in the attraction to vintage watches are intangible: these watches are comfortably reassuring, they show the free spirit of the wearer who refuses to bow to the dictates of trends and marketing, and most importantly these watches bear the patina of time… They have a story to tell.