Vintage Time of Luxury

Vintage luxury watches are becoming a knowledge-based upward trend.

Audemars Piguet, approx. 1970s. Source:–id3071537.htm

Rolex, Patek Philippe, Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet are the luxury watch brands selling for record-setting prices at auctions. Expertise and condition followed by provenance are of high importance for potential buyers.

Patek Philippe Calatrava, first model made by Tiffany, approx. 1943. Source:

The production quantity is the decisive factor for the purchase price. Philippe Dufour are quite small in production what makes the watch extremely desirable and thus expensive. People want to acquire rare watches and this is one of the reasons to the raising interest for the vintage market.

Philippe Dufour watch. Source:

Instagram, where vintage watch collectors expose their possessions to the public eye, has been an effective platform to raise the interest for the durable vintage timepieces even among the young generation.

Audemars Piguet, 1930. Source:

According to the Business Insider, one of the rarest vintage watches in the world is the Rolex gold Oyster Paul Newman Daytona called « Bao Dai » , which was acquired by the last emperor of the Nguyen dynasty in Vietnam in 1954. This particular model is the only one to have had diamond markers on the even hours, what makes it undoubtedly rare.

Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam. Source:

In 2002 « Bao Dai » was sold by the Nguyen family for $235,000 after the Emperor passed away in Paris in 1997. In May 2017 the timepiece was sold at Philips Geneva Watch Auction for $3,717,906 To an unknown bidder.

Rolex 1952, reference 6062 owned by Bao Dai. The watch is only example to feature diamonds at the even hours and is one of only three made. Source:

The watch companies invest in their brands by concentrating their marketing strategy on heritage and exclusivity achieved by means of limited production. They educate the consumers with specific knowledge and make them see the product purchased as an investment vehicle.

Richard Mille RM 027 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal, No. 13/50. Estimate: $360,000-460,000. Source:

The vintage watch market is similar to cars and wines, where the consumer is expected to have a prudent basic knowledge in the issue and desire to develop the latter. It is, in my view, a question of a new luxury sector, so-called Meta-luxury built beyond luxury.

Patek Philippe, 2006. Source:

Modern watch industry doesn’t really follow the same trend and according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH, the year-on-year exports were down in 2016 to CHF 19.4 million (10 percent) in comparison with the previous year, when it was CHF 21.5 million. The current year the numbers were going up till August, when the export fell from CHF 1.7 million to 1.4 (18 percent).

Total value for the 10 main markets. Source:

The interest for vintage timepieces might also trigger the sales of the modern watches and even affect the performance of those by adding a vintage touch to the design, just like in fashion.

“Bewatched” by Ksenia Rundin, 2017. Collage black & white, mixed media.

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