Time for a new man’s watch? Consider going vintage to create a look that’s as individual as you are. Vintage watches are hot these days and are being sold by auction houses, retailers and websites. But there can be a catch — you.
“For someone just interested in buying a vintage watch … almost all the time, unless they’re getting good advice, they will make a mistake early on,” said Eric Wind, vice president, senior specialist for replica watches at Christie’s, the famed auction house. “They have to rely on trusted sources.”
Christie’s, which regularly holds watch auctions at its galleries around the world (the auction house also conducts private sales and has an online retail shop), has a number of watch-collecting guides on its website, and there’s the article Wind once wrote for Hodinkee, the online wristwatch magazine, on how to buy vintage replica watches on eBay. All very useful. But for the person wanting to know, right now, how to nail that perfect watch, here are some tips on what to consider.
1. Own the look.
“Know thyself,” said Keith Lehman, editor of watch news for the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, based in Columbia, Pa. He suggests considering what your interests are and choose accordingly. A man who does a lot of outdoor activities will likely want a watch that’s durable rather than fancy, for example. “Really, it’s an individual thing.”
Jon Goldfarb, owner of Second Time Around Watch Co. in Beverly Hills, Calif., agrees.
“It’s their watch, their wrist,” he replied when asked what would-be buyers should select. The only criterion should be buying a watch that you, the wearer, wants and likes. Larger replica watches have been a trend, but he believes men should choose watches that are comfortable to wear.
2. What’s hot right now.
Wind said some large timepieces have increased markedly in value while “smaller, more delicate watches” have stayed around the same price. The market, he added, is looking at “more aggressive, beautiful” watches while younger buyers getting into the field are looking for vintage Rolex watches.
Oliver Siegle, magazine editor for Chrono24, a vintage watch website based in Karlsruhe, Germany, wrote in an email that “basically every Rolex replica sports watch in steel” is hot right now. Patek Phillippe is “the highest and most exclusive option on the vintage market.” But, he noted, there are “still more affordable brands” like replica Omega, Zenith and Angelus.
Watches that have achieved a certain visibility or reputation, such as an Omega Speedmaster “Moonwatch,” like the one famously worn on the moon, are also in demand, Goldfarb said.
“Sport watches, the chronographs, the Explorers, are always popular,” he said.
3. Gift with care.
“It’s such a personal item,” said Goldfarb, when asked about giving a watch as a gift.
So, buy accordingly.
Lehman echoes this, saying one needs to think carefully about what the recipient’s interests are.
“If someone is a military buff, really into World War II, would they like a military hack watch?” he asked. A man who likes history? Lehman suggests looking for a model like an original cheap Rolex Oyster, the first waterproof watch introduced in 1926, because it comes with so much history behind it.
4. Buyer be aware.
How can you be sure the watch you’re buying is the real deal? Wind posed three points you should focus on:
•Can the seller provide a full report on the watch’s condition, noting what’s original and what’s been replaced?
•What is the watch’s history? Where did the seller get it? What is its service history?
•What’s the value? What are comparable watches selling for?
Jim “Griff” Griffin, eBay’s dean of education, said you need to have a good idea about what you’re buying.
“The better the condition, the higher the value,” he said by telephone from San Jose, Calif., adding that you should try to buy the best watch you can afford. “Always a better value.”
Griffin also suggests you consider the seller. Is he or she in the business of selling watches? Does the seller seem knowledgeable and know what he or she is selling? Does the seller have good feedback and experience?
Lehman, in an email, stressed “the importance of purchasing vintage watches from reputable dealers with established reputations. The extra cost that you may pay far outweighs the dangers of buying a fake or ‘Franken’ watch.”
A “Franken” watch? Yes. Such a watch is one that’s rebuilt with different or nonoriginal parts, he said.
In our latest series, we explore the most noteworthy watch brands any man expanding his watch collection needs to know – and the new and vintage models you need to own.
Rolex is not only one of the most recognisable and powerful global brands of the past century; the privately held, Geneva-based watchmaker is also responsible for many of the most important innovations in modern watchmaking history.
The company produced the first waterproof replica watch (the 1926 ‘Oyster’), were the first to earn chronometer precision certification for a wristwatch, and created the first watch with a changing date in the dial (the 1945 Datejust).
It was a fake Rolex on the wrist of Sir Malcolm Campbell when he broke the sound barrier in 1935, and when members of the Hillary expedition made the first ascent of Everest in 1953, we’ll give you one guess at what they were wearing.
Founded by German watchmaker Hans Wilsdorf in London in 1905, the company anticipated the role the wristwatch would play in modern life, and Wilsdorf set out to make precise, waterproof, robust and reliable instruments to function as indispensible (albeit, luxury) tools.
Rolex replica watches in their purest sense have always been designed and built to complement specific tasks or professions. A Submariner is called a submariner because it’s a dive watch; the Daytona is a racing chronograph, and the Explorer was made to survive years of beating in hard environments – and still get the job done.
For all these reasons, a Rolex is a great place to kick off a watch collection. As well as being notoriously tough and reliable, it is a testament to their design that many of the models have been tweaked only very subtly since the pieces were first introduced.
The world of new and vintage replica Rolex is a treasure trove that deserves exploration. They have some of the highest residual (or resale) values amongst any replica watches thanks to their enduring popularity among collectors, and having graced the wrists of luminaries from Churchill to Clapton, Paul Newman to Pablo Picasso, it’s not hard to see why Rolex wears the crown.
Starter collector: Explorer
Offering a lot of history in a relatively simple looking watch, the Explorer is often seen as a purist’s Rolex. Originally released in 1953, it has no date, a 100m water-resistant case, a screw down crown and comes with a COSC certified in-house movement – bringing together every essential attribute that makes a Rolex a Rolex, it’s a triumph of unadorned practicality.
The older models with their simple black dials, and a case size of 36mm are understated, laid back and enduringly stylish – especially when fitted with a nylon NATO strap. The new edition for 2016 is larger at 39mm, has Paraflex shock absorbers and a healthy application of Chromalight lume that emits a blue glow in low light. New or vintage, the Explorer is a great everyday watch that will take on it’s own personality over time, and will undoubtedly outlast you.
Intermediate collector: GMT-Master
Developed at the request of Pan American Airways to provide its crews with a dual time watch in the mid-1950s, the GMT-Master features a bi-directional two-tone bezel for easy indication of day vs night when used across different time zones. The original red and blue bezel (affectionately known as the ‘Pepsi’ bezel) marks the GMT as one of the most distinctive travel and sports watches around.
Since 2005, the GMT has used Cerachrom (Rolex’s version of hardened ceramic) for the bezel, alongside other technical enhancements such as a highly stable Parachrom hairspring and Triplock crown for waterproofness. Whilst precious metal versions are available, the GMT’s charms are in its roots as a tool watch, and we feel it’s hard to beat the 2013 reference in 904L steel.
Next-level collector: Cosmograph Daytona
It’s an iconic, legendary watch with a timeless design that’s evolved subtly since it was originally introduced back in 1963. The Cosmograph Daytona is a no-nonsense chronograph that’s made to be worn daily. It has a robust self-winding movement housed in a tough-as-nails ‘Oyster’ case that’s built to last generations.
The new Cosmograph with black Cerachrom bezel was one of the standout hits of this year’s BaselWorld watch fair, but it is on the vintage market that Daytonas really come into their own. Steel Daytona models in rare configurations from the 1970s and earlier have a cult following amongst collectors, prized for their classic looks, versatile styling and high resale values. Problem is, they’re not easily obtained.
The history of Rolex’s Yacht-Master piece can be traced back to 1992 when it was first released as a modern reboot of the classic Submariner model. Despite its relative infancy, the watch has since gone down as one of the Swiss brand’s most iconic pieces, with paid up fans including the likes of Gucci Mane and Rick Ross. The Yacht-Master, in other words, is wrist candy incarnate.
Now, Rolex has released a clutch of new 40mm Yacht-Master models, the highlight of which being a dazzling new Everrose gold iteration. By combining 904L steel with 18K Everose gold for its “Rolesor” case, the timepiece is then finished with a dark chocolate dial and soft pink hue. Labelled the “replica watch of the seas,” the sporty silhouette means the watch is as equally suited to outdoor nautical activities as much as for stunting in the Hamptons. There’s also steel and platinum colorways offered, if rose gold isn’t your thing.
Predictably, a Rollie of this magnitude doesn’t come cheap — it is expected to retail at around $115 via official replica Rolex dealers. If you’re feeling flush, however, then check out this article on 10 other luxury replica watches.
— Writing for Scottish Business Insider Claire McBain delves into masterpieces of micro-mechanical engineering
Whether you are hoping to acquire your first luxury timepiece or add to a diverse collection of high-end wrist wear there is a lot to consider as you enter the opulent and fascinating world of deluxe watches.
From iconic brands to household names, a luxury replica watch is an aspirational piece and reasons behind each and every purchase are diverse.
It may be a treasured heirloom investment; a tangible asset that gains value as you enjoy it, a hobbyist or collector’s prized item, a sign of exclusivity, status and professionalism or, quite simply, an aesthetically pleasing piece of jewellery.
Joe Walsh is the managing director at Laings of Glasgow, a prestigious family business spanning more than 175 years.
He says: “A watch is very important when it comes to a gentleman’s overall outfit and look.
“It can bring style and sophistication, often defining a man’s personality.”
But there is absolutely no such thing as a ‘typical luxury replica watch owner,’ particularly with interest free credit making purchases with high price tags accessible to more people than ever before.
A £100 watch over five years on credit, for example, would amount to less than £170 per month, making it immediately appealing, and available, to a varied client base.
Collectors do, however, make up a good proportion of those with their eye on the replica watch market; either high wealth individuals fortunate enough to regularly add to their magnificent accumulation – one for every personality perhaps? – or those who hunt down particular models and to build up an enviable selection over many years.
Greg Kelly is brand and marketing director at JV Watchmakers, which services luxury replica watches for consumers and retailers, as well as specialising in vintage watches.
He explains: “Collectors, in my experience, tend to be those who see it as an investment and those who do it purely for the love of the watches.
“I have one customer who has a collection worth around £250,000 and views it as his pension pot, taking more pleasure in buying and trading vintage replica watches than having the money sit in a savings account.”
On the flip side, another of Kelly’s’s customers fell in love with the German brand A Lange & Sohne and now only buys from their collection.
Related, pre-owned watches remain a vital aspect of business for retailers with customers perhaps trading in one model for another or gifting a timepiece with a memorable date for a birthday or anniversary.
Kelly continues: “This allows people to make savings, perhaps starting with a lower priced model and continuing to ‘trade up’ until they secure a more expensive piece.”
Other purchasers will be buying a ‘daily wearer’ that can be passed down to a child when they are old enough to understand the concept; a welcome contrast for some to today’s largely throw-away culture where there is little expectation of anything lasting for a lifetime.
Edinburgh-based Hamilton & Inches founded their business on this sentimental principal whilst Swiss replica watchmaker Patek Phillipe coined their marketing campaign on the very concept: “You never actually own a replica Patek Philipe. You merely look after it for the next generation.”
Matthew Finnie is the watch specialist within the management team at Finnies the Jeweller, which has serviced the Aberdeen market for almost 60 years.
He says: “For me, a watch is one of the most personal possessions anyone can have and I know many of our customers feel the same.
“The concept of passing on a fake watch, something that’s been part of your life day in and day out, is something to be cherished.”
The global high-end watch market has certainly grown over the years with some brands disappearing as quickly as they arrived whilst classic, traditional watchmakers – trusted brands such as replica Rolex and Patek Philipe – have remained at the front line, despite market challenges and increased competition.
“Production is limited so the global economy is very important,” explains Walsh.
“The craftsmanship required to make each piece requires an exceptional skill set, as well as time, effort and availability of the correct production facilities, which are expensive to build.
“For example, the growth of the Chinese economy brought a raft of new buyers into the market and replica watchmakers struggled to keep up with demand.
“The high import taxes into China led to Chinese travellers buying heavily in Europe, propping up the market during the downturn.
“But the tightening of rules on corruption in China, as well as their economic slow-down, has reduced this market significantly and, in turn strengthened the UK and European market.”
Many coveted brands are based in Europe with the Swiss market still the heartland.
Industry experts in Switzerland are using clever techniques developed and fine-tuned over generations, the best quality materials and the most up-to-date equipment – with some pieces completely handmade from start to finish.
Closer to home, the UK has an impressive and solid history in crafting timepieces and is currently enjoying a resurgence. In fact, one of the world’s forerunners in high-end timekeeping technology is based in Henley-on-Thames.
But, what denotes ‘luxury?’
Generally, a high-end watch can be defined by price, production and technology.
They fall into the price bracket of £1,000 and above (with some made-to-order pieces costing around £500,000), are not mass-produced and are mechanical.
This means no batteries – they depend on being wound up manually, automatically by movement of the wearer or by light, a technology pioneered by Citizen 40 years ago.
“As a term, luxury is overused,” says Stuart McDowell, head of replica watches uk at Edinburgh-based Hamilton & Inches.
“The finest watch brands begin with a product created to be perfect. Budget is secondary.”
Finnie, who enthusiastically travels the world to source the best brands, agrees: “A large price tag is certainly not a guarantee of quality.
“A high price can reflect many aspects, from the features and materials to the exclusivity, and whilst a significant advertising budget can raise the profile of a specific manufacturer there is no substitute for quality.
“Replica Watch buyers are very often a sophisticated and knowledgeable group and, with our help, can cut through clever marketing to ensure they’re spending wisely.”
Unsurprisingly, a major purchase such as this is rarely spur of the moment and most clients will have done their research, going into a store with a brands and questions in mind.
“Customers may covert a particular brand or piece for a long time before they’re in a position to purchase it or may work their way up to their ideal timepiece, says McDowell.
“A good watch should last a lifetime so don’t rush the decision.”
This is when the retailer’s role is crucial, particularly for clients new to the market or seeking help in the selection process.
Visiting a long-established, trusted and authorised vendor is the best way to get premium advice and education from those who have seen the watch making process up close and know the differences of each model down to the finest detail.
Some dedicated and passionate watch specialists have even taken clients to manufacturers to emphasise the hard work that goes into the production process, bringing a whole new appreciation to the art of watch making.
Moreover, liaising with the most reputable retailers is the only way to guarantee authenticity and secure a manufacturer’s warranty.
An increasing number of people want something that nobody else will have so, for some of the world’s most elite, the top watchmakers will very occasionally produce bespoke replica watches.
Patek Philippe, for example, will take years to make a unique piece and it is believed that the customer has to be vetted by the watchmaker first.
But limited editions and limited production, a factor of every watch brand, appear to be where real consumer interest lies, underlining the desire for exclusivity as opposed to jumping on a trendy bandwagon.
The Rolex steel Daytona, made in very small numbers, is extremely sought-after, boasting a very extensive waiting list.
However, according to Finnie, although styles and fashion change, quality prestige pieces, with their classic and elegant design, will never date: “Nothing can quite compare with the skill that goes into creating a fantastic, luxury watch; made and polished by a human.
“It’s a masterpiece of micro-mechanical engineering.”
Therefore, made-for-a-lifetime styles prevail and, probably, always will with a few tweaks here and there.
For example, traditional leather straps, favoured by the likes of Patek Philippe replica, reigned supreme for many years but modern sports replica watches, which tend to be on a bracelet, are the predominant offering from replica Rolex.
Moreover, watchmakers have expanded their ranges and technologies over time to suit interests and pursuits. If you are in aviation, there is a timepiece for you and the same is true for divers.
Likewise, styles can change over the years and craftsmanship, to some extent, will reflect these innovations.
Recent years have seen an increase in larger watches, popularity of vintage replica watches and a boost in use of and demand for rose gold.
Of course, men are not the only clients for luxurious wrist wear: “We can separate luxury replica watches into two groups,” explains Finnie.
“Those that are technologically interesting masterpieces of micro-engineering and the others, predominantly for ladies.”
These tend to be precious metal and gem sets and, although they are usually adorned with diamonds and jewels, the value still lies in the watch itself, underpinning the simple ethos of the beautifully and lovely made timepiece.
Mention Bamford Watch Department and you’ll get mixed looks from watch lovers. Understandably, there are those who think that customizing a Rolex is almost sacrilegious. On the other hand, there are those who defend Bamford and insist that they provide a cool option for watch lovers who love replica Rolex but want something a little different, for a variety of reasons. I’m not a fan of all of their work, but I’m quite fond of their new Heritage collection. Clearly, I’m not alone, because in just the short span of a few months since its introduction, Bamford is bolstering their Heritage collection with two more replica watches – the Bamford Heritage Explorer I and the Bamford Heritage Bicolor Paul Newman Daytona watch.
The Heritage collection is new to Bamford and was only released earlier this year. As its name clearly suggests, it’s inspired by the looks of vintage Rolex replica watches. As an example, one of the earlier Heritage watches is the Bamford Heritage MilSub that’s unmistakably inspired by the vintage MilSub made by Rolex in the Seventies for the British Ministry of Defense. It’s a wonderful marriage of the old and the new.
Joining the pack is the Bamford Heritage Explorer I, which draws ideas from the vintage Rolex Explorer I ref. 6350. Many of the lovely traits of the vintage Rolex Explorer I 6350 are found on this watch, including the glowing warm look of the gilt dial, the 3-6-9 dial configuration, and the unique textured honeycomb lattice dial. The honeycomb dial is a nice touch because it was only found on rarer versions of the 6350 replica Rolex Explorer. Other features that the Bamford Heritage Explorer I has that are shared with the vintage 6350 Rolex Explorer include the lollipop seconds hand and the large oversized crown with no crown guards.
The Bamford Heritage Explorer I is based on an actual current Rolex Explorer, and so it comes with a modern 39mm stainless steel case. The case, however, has been given Bamford’s signature light grey Military Grade Titanium Coating (MGTC) for better resistance to wear. Additionally, because it’s based on the Rolex Explorer, it has Rolex’s bulletproof caliber 3132 movement.
The other watch to join the Heritage collection is the Bamford Heritage Bicolor Paul Newman Daytona, and it’s a modern take on the vintage Paul Newman Rolex Daytona. While the Bamford Heritage Bicolor Paul Newman Daytona retains the Paul Newman’s signature subdials with distinctive markers, it adds gold hands, crown, pushers, and center links on the bracelet for a very bold and, I think, very cool look.
The Bamford Heritage Bicolor Paul Newman Daytona is obviously based on Rolex’s existing Daytona model. As such, it’s powered by Rolex’s almost legendary caliber 4130 movement for peerless timekeeping. The case is 40mm wide and, like the Bamford Heritage Explorer I, has been given Bamford’s light grey Military Grade Titanium Coating.
Like all of Bamford’s replica watches, these new Heritage watches will be divisive. I can already hear naysayers cry, “As if butchering a Rolex isn’t bad enough, these watches are copying from vintage replica Rolex watches!” They have a point, but the way I see it, it’s a way for vintage Rolex owners to own something that looks like a vintage model from Rolex (and it actually is a Rolex underneath) that’s freshened up without being a totally blacked-out Bamford.
Not everyone wants to go on months-long searches for their grail vintage fake Rolex, and I suspect even fewer still will want to deal with all the hassle surrounding authenticity and mechanical reliability. In a nutshell, these new watches marry the best of the old and the new, giving vintage Rolex lovers the chance to own a vintage-looking Rolex without any of the inconveniences surrounding vintage replica watches. The Bamford Heritage Explorer I is priced at £115, while the Bamford Heritage Bicolor Paul Newman Daytona is £240.