Wristwatch experts determine values by considering all internal and external components of the watch, as well as current market conditions and trends.
Elements that determine the value of a wristwatch:
The manufacturer of the wristwatch is undoubtedly one of the factors that determines the value of the watch. The world’s most popular and sought-after wristwatch is one from Patek Philippe of Geneva, Switzerland, all other things being equal; i.e .: box style, metal, features, type, etc. Other important brands, but not necessarily in order of importance, are A. Lange & Sohne, Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Blancpain, Breguet, Breitling, Bvlgari, Cartier, Chopard, Concord, Chronoswiss, Corum, Ebel, FP Journe, France Muller, Gerald Genta, Girard-Perregaux, Glashutte, Hublot, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Omega, Panerai, Parmigiani, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Rolex, Ulysse Nardin, Vacheron & Constantin and Zenith.
There are, of course, many quality brands in addition to these, but for those looking for the best watches in the world, these manufacturers are at the top. Values are always based on what someone is willing to pay. For these fine watches, collectors and others who value fine craftsmanship are willing to pay more than a million dollars for the finest luxury wristwatch.
Public popularity, fashions and fashion determine which contemporary style is preferred at any given time.
Today, women wear larger style watches … even men’s watches like the Rolex Daytona, Datejust, Submariner, and Yacht-Master. The great Cartier Tank Americaine is very popular now, as is the Cartier Ballon Bleu. Glamorous and glitzy women like diamond watches … the Chanel J-12, the Chopard Ice Cube, the Patek Philippe Twenty-4 and the Piaget Protocol. Always popular is the classic Rolex President for ladies, as well as the Rolex Pearlmaster.
The men wear the A. Lange & Sohne ref. 1815, Patek Philippe, ref. 3919, as well as the Breitling Bentley and Panerai Ferrari models. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore in rose gold is highly sought after, and of course Rolex remains popular, particularly the two-tone steel and gold Rolex Submariner with a blue dial.
A wristwatch has the advantage over most other collectibles: it is useful. This single factor places the wristwatch at the top of the list of vintage collectibles, both for fun to wear and for future long-term investments. An originally expensive wristwatch will always have some value. Commercial grade “junk” will always be junk.
Case metal: The intrinsic value of the metal in the case is the only value that some old watches have. Many metals and materials have been used for cases over the years, including platinum, 9-10-14-18-22 karat gold, silver, gold filled, gold plated, nickel, stainless steel, plastic, and ceramic. The Patek Philippe watch in platinum is one of the most sought after contemporary watches today.
Box Brands: Many vintage wristwatches from manufacturers and jewelers such as Patek Philippe, Cartier, Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Tiffany, Hamilton, etc., were boxed, boxed, and timed at the factory. These watches, in their original marked boxes, are worth much more than the watches in unmarked boxes. All wristwatch companies, which perform movements, at one time or another and sometimes throughout the life of the business, sold movements ONLY, with dials marked according to the buyer’s specifications, which were then encased in custom cases or standard supplied by many American and European case creators. They are sometimes described as “Contract Cases”.
Box Style: The style of the case of both the contemporary watch and the antique watch plays an important role in determining its value. Hinged lugs, curved cases, enameled cases, “Art Deco” style cases make the vintage piece stand out from the rest, thus increasing the value for collectors. The style and shape of the contemporary piece are factors in the current price based on current popular trends.
Here are some things that are particularly important when pricing a watch:
Mark: Is it the original dial? Most wristwatches have metal dials. If metal, has it been refinished or is it necessary? Is the dial bent or scratched? Are there damaged or missing markers? Are the hands damaged? Is there discoloration? The more valuable the watch movement, the more valuable the dial.
Case: Observe the amount of wear. If it is a gold case, is it bent or dented in the rough or has the gold worn away? Have the lugs been bent, damaged, or replaced? Are the spring bar holes worn? Initials or other inscriptions often diminish the convenience and value of the watch.
Bracelet: If you are purchasing a watch with a permanently attached strap, make sure the strap is the correct length. Some types, particularly mesh bracelets, are expensive to shorten and even more expensive to lengthen. Leather straps show wear and tear, but are generally replaceable. A generic strap will cost considerably less than a factory-made strap. Does it have a tongue buckle or a folding clasp?
Crown: The original crown is important when they were marked, such as Patek or Rolex.
MovementWhether the movement is original or not and whether it is in good working order and complete with no failed repairs are factors that determine the price of the watch. The finish must be good, without corrosion, rust or scratches.
Of course, there are several other factors involved in the price of antique and contemporary watches, which will be included in future articles. In general, the true value of a watch is the price that a collector or investor, who wants the wristwatch and has the money, will pay to another collector or dealer, who knows the value.