Another Patek Gem

Any Patek Philippe annual calendar is extremely prestigious.  Patek is widely regarded as the best brand in the world, and their product is the top of the line.  The new Patek annual calendar coming out later this year is going to be particularly special, and I absolutely cannot wait to see it in person.

In addition to being an annual calendar that only needs to be reset every leap year, Patek Philippe Reference 5235 is a regulator.  Regulator watches are timepieces with hands positioned on different axes of the dial to enhance readability.  As you can see in the picture of the watch, there is only one center hand, which indicates the minutes.  The subdial at 12 o’clock then displays the hours, while the subdial at six o’clock shows the seconds.

The placement of the date, day and month round out the watch perfectly.  What a clean watch!  This Patek Philippe Caliber 31-260 movement is clearly no joke.  It has a micro-rotor, a 60-hour power reserve and is 2.43mm thin.  That is ridiculous!!!  I am sure the price tag will be pretty substantial for this 18kt white gold beast, but it is truly incredibly in many different ways.


Dirty Money Watch Auction

There is an extremely intriguing IRS auction taking place in Florida tomorrow involving a huge watch connoisseur’s collection.  Interesting enough, the collector is none other than ponzi scheme villain Scott Rothstein.  Rothstein now faces 100 years in prison for his wrongful, selfish acts that cost people millions upon millions.

Although Rothstein was clearly an unethical, greedy man, he did sometimes showcase good taste in watches.  The timepieces up for sale include models from Pierre Kunz, Panerai, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Gerald Genta, Daniel Roth, BRM, Franck Muller and more.  While some of the watches are definitely out there, others are truly gorgeous and incredibly well-made.

Since I have preached that watches are very sentimental and carry a lot more value than just something that tells time, I have to wonder whether I would want a Scott Rothstein watch.  How far would you go to get the watch of your dreams?  If you believe in karma and are particular about the history of a timepiece, would you feel weird wearing your grail watch if it was originally owned by Rothstein?

If you look at the history of the hope diamond, some people thought it was so cursed that Harry Winston eventually just gave it away it to the Smithsonian.  It was apparently stolen from an idol in India and sold to earn money for gambling debts.  Some thought the stone would bring bad luck and death to anyone who even touched it!

It is one thing to purchase a watch where the history is unclear and unproven, but wearing a watch that has caused so much suffering to people could make you feel a little queasy. Rothstein’s last auction involving all of his high-end cars generated $5.8 million, so I will acknowledge that I may be looking a little too far into this.  There is no doubt in my mind that all of his watches will bring a hefty penny, and I am looking forward to seeing the results.  I do think, however, that the watches offered are at least somewhat dirty.

The Cell Phone Generation

There was an awesome article in The New York Times this week about watches being rediscovered by the cell phone generation.  If you have yet to see it, I definitely recommend you check it out:

In today’s world, watches certainly are not necessary to find out what time it is.  There seem to be cell phones and apple products everywhere you look.  I wrote a blog a while back about when a couple buddies and I went out to brunch, someone asked what time it was and two of us reached for our cell phones.  We all had nice watches on at the time…

Once cell phones became prevalent in our society, many people thought watches would become obsolete.  After all, they are no longer as necessary.  But in the end, is the time what watches are all about?

Musician John Mayer is a huge watch collector, and in addition to having a great last name, he has an awesome outlook on watches.  He was once quoted as saying, “A man’s got two shots for jewelry: a wedding ring and a watch. The watch is a lot easier to get on and off than a wedding ring.”

There are not many way for a man to express himself in a material sense.  The best quote in the NY Times article is Mr. Thoreson’s about how a watch is “an understated statement about your station in life, your taste level.”  Watches are not just timepieces, and clearly that message is being accepted by the cell phone generation.

Only Watch 2011 Charity Auction

I traveled to Chi-town for the holiday last weekend and must say Chicago is an awesome city.  There is a great feel to it and a lot of cool places to go to.  I love to travel and could only imagine following alongside the Only Watch auction timepieces later this year.  If only I had an endless wallet!

The Only Watch auction will take place on September 22, 2011 in Monaco under the patronage of Prince Albert II.  39 different timepieces will be sold by the Antiquorum auction house at the Hotel Hermitage.  There will be live, online and telephone bidders, while the entire proceeds will go towards research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

39 of the best watch brands in the world will make a special timepiece for the event.  The companies involved are as follows: Audemars Piguet – Bell & Ross – Blu – Blancpain – Bovet Fleurier – Breguet – Celsius X Vi Ii – Chanel – Chaumet – Chopard – Corum – De Bethune – Delacour – Dewitt – Franck Muller – Frederique Constant – Girard-Perregaux – Glashütte Original – Harry Winston – Hermes – Hublot – Ikepod – Jaquet Droz – Laurent Ferrier – Louis Vuitton – Maurice Lacroix – Mb&F – Montblanc – Patek Philippe – Piaget – Richard Mille – Romain Jerome – Tag Heuer – Ulysse Nardin – Urwerk – Vacheron Constantin – Van Cleef & Arpels – Vulcain – Zenith.

One of the coolest aspects of the Only Watch 2011 collection is the world tour the watches will be going on from August 30 to September 17.  All 39 watches will make a stop in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York, Milan and Geneva at some point during that period together.  The tour will end with the two-day event in Monaco at the Monaco Yacht Show.  Pretty sweet!

I cannot wait to see pictures of the watches that are a part of this Only Watch auction.  I have seen some previews, and the watches look absolutely incredible.  Patek has decided to contribue a Ref. 3939 Tourbillon Minute Repeater, while Richard Mille will throw in a Rafael Nadal RM 027 Tourbillon and Bell & Ross will donate an 18kt rose gold Roulette Radar.  You know, just your average timepieces…  The fact that all of the proceeds are going to such a good cause is awesome.  What is there not to get excited about regarding this event?

Old School Gem

A new limited edition model that Breitling will launch soon is the Superocean GMT with a green bezel.  The 41mm model houses the Breitling Caliber 32 movement and is available on either a rubber strap or a stainless steel bracelet.  I have seen the standard production version with a black bezel in person and think it is pretty nice.  The price tag is reasonable at $4,105 too.  GMT models from some other brands go for twice as much.

While I think the Superocean GMT looks like it will be pretty cool, it is definitely not my favorite Breitling with a colored bezel.  I am still currently in the midst of my vintage obsession, and I cannot stop looking at the blue dial Brietling 2016 Sprint Chronograph.  This bad boy looks like it has some serious pop to it!  I absolutely love the blue bezel, and the red hands and white hour markers go together with it perfectly.

The 1970s model uses the manual-winding Valjoux 7730 chronograph movement and is 40mm in size.  The watch was originally designed for runners and is extremely light; it was named the Sprint for that reason.  While this Breitling does not have the brand’s signature slide rule, the bezel on the watch is calibrated to read your pulse.  Not too shabby of a watch, huh?

The Value of “Swiss-made”

I wrote a blog post a while back about The Swatch Group and their future plans with respect to outsourcing watch movements.  Swatch Group CEO, Nicolas Hayek, is still planning on reducing the amount of movements his company produces starting in 2012.  Meanwhile, Swatch currently makes approximately 80% of all of the Swiss-made watch parts in the world.

I now just read an article in last week’s Wall Street Journal that sheds some light on a potential predicament that could be facing the watch industry if Swatch decides to cut movement production too drastically.  It has really got me thinking…

Let’s say Hayek’s frustration elevates with respect to some brands being able to put their focus on spending money towards marketing and opening new stores instead of movement production. He now wants to completely stop supplying them with movements, since he believes they are somewhat taking the art of watchmaking for granted.  All of a sudden, some watch manufacturers are not able to completely absorb the costs of making all of their own movement parts.  Consequently, they start opening factories in countries where labor costs are much lower.

Eventually, some “Swiss-made” watches will really be teetering on the edge of the definition; they would not truly be made in Switzerland.  Would some collectors and watch enthusiasts be turned off by this?  Switzerland has been the heart of watch making for centuries.  Now some “Swiss-made” watches will have hairsprings, rotors or key movement components that are made in other countries.  Is it a turn off or really not that big of a deal?

According to Swiss law, a watch is “Swiss made” if its movement is Swiss, its movement is cased up in Switzerland and the manufacturer carries out the final inspection of the movement in Switzerland.  A watch movement is Swiss if it is assembled in Switzerland, it is inspected in Switzerland and the Swiss manufacturer’s componenets account for 50 percent of the total value.  This 50% rule for “Swiss-made” watches has been criticized for many years. A lot of people do not think it is tough enough and believe it is way too vague.  The WSJ article mentions how the Mercedes Benz C-Class is manufactured in South Africa, but people still consider it a “German-made” automobile.

The Switzerland Competition Commission does see Swatch’s dominance in the world of movement production as somewhat of a monopoly and will consider whether a reduction is an abuse of power.  They did agree in June, however, for Swatch to reduce their production by 15%. The brands that put forth extensive efforts to start producing completely in-house movements over the last several years sure look smart now.

Patek Keeps On Giving

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I saw an incredible story on NBC’s Today Show. In May 1943, Minnesota native Charles Woehrle was on an American bombing mission when his B-17 went under attack. Charles was forced to jump from the burning plane and was then held as a prisoner of war for two years.

Approximately one year into his captivity, Charles came across a brochure for Patek Philippe watches. He then somehow ordered one with the promise of paying for it once he was released. Several months went by, before a stainless steel PP was delivered to Woehrle’s door along with a note from the family-owned manufacturer saying, “We wish that this watch will give you full satisfaction.”

When Charles eventually returned to Minnesota, he paid for the watch as promised. Forty years later, Charles’ house was burglarized and his watch was stolen. Charles’ niece, while preparing a documentary on her uncle’s life, decided to write Patek Philippe and let the brand know of his story.

Just this last week, Patek Philippe brought Woehrle to New York and replaced the watch to help him remember his past experiences. Amazing! What an incredible deed by Patek Philippe! While Charles’ original watch was stainless steel, the replacement is 18kt gold. I am sure, however, that Charles’ does not mind!

I have always said that watches can represent so much more to people than just a timepiece. The sentimental value of Charles’ original Patek Philippe was obviously of the utmost. Charles will never forget those two years he spent as a prisoner of war and certainly won’t forget the watch that was there with him.

Don’t Mess With a Watch Collector!

A good friend of mine told me to watch Crime Inc. on CNBC the other night, so I was sure to tape it. Once I watched it, I understood why she told me check it out.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad people in the world who steal from others. The statistics they were rattling off on the show were startling. For instance, approximately $7 million of goods were stolen during the hour-long program.

One of the stories the show focused on was that of a huge watch collector down in Palm Beach County, Florida. The gentleman did not want his name to be shared, so the show referred to him by the alias Peter Spencer. Peter Spencer is a serious watch collector that owned a watch collection valued at $1,000,000 back in 2009. “I don’t collect a watch that I personally don’t like,” he said. “I must like it and I wear it.”

Peter lived in a gated community in Palm Beach County that no one could drive into without knowing someone that lived there. In June 2009, while Peter was away from his home on business, his house was robbed and his watch collection was stolen. Peter and his wife immediately filed a police report once they knew the watches were stolen, but were told that the odds of the recovering the timepieces were slim to none. Watches and jewelry are extremely difficult to recover after being taken.

This watch enthusiast, however, was determined. He wanted justice to be served. “These are bad people,” he stated. “My main concern was to get them off of the streets.”

Peter started his detective work by checking every watch website that existed. Eventually, Peter saw what he believed to be one of his watches on a reputable dealer’s website. The collector kept a record of the serial numbers of all of the watches he owned and saw a match on the website. He proceeded to call the dealer and confirm that the Jaeger LeCoultre Extreme World Chronograph was his.

Peter alerted the Palm Beach County authorities and provided them with the first main part of their investigation. Apparently, the watch had exchanged hands several times before the dealer bought it. They traced the first sale of the watch back to a Florida pawnshop and eventually, the leader of a serious crime ring.

This gang of six thieves had made $12 million in profit from various burglaries over the course of ten years. In June 2010, they were arrested because of an initial lead from Peter Spencer. The moral of the story, don’t mess with a watch collector!

Ebay… To Save The Day?

While I was in Vegas last week, I overheard a guy say, “I wish I had just put all of my expendable income into watches over the last five years instead of the stock market.  I’d be a lot better off today if I had.”

With all of these crazy price increases from the various brands taking place, there is no question that the value of previously-owned timepieces is going to go up.  Breitling is joining the company of Audemars Piguet, Hublot and Ulysse Nardin by having their second price increase of the year tomorrow.  Patek Philippe just announced that they will be following suit as well in a little over a month on July 15.

Earlier this week, I read an article about a guy in California looking for a way to raise enough money to send his son to UCLA.  What better way to do so than to sell his used watches?  In order to help send his kid to school, he listed his collection of 19 Rolexes on eBay to be sold in entirety.  The auction started at $100 and was at $70,200 with over nine days left.

I have tried to track the auction over the last couple of days to see if we could witness another incredible eBay watch transaction, and I now see the auction has been terminated.  Rumor has it that the auction was canceling for violating the TOS.  Does anyone know the particulars?  I would love to find out!

Either way, look for a big boost in the pre-owned watch market over the next six months.  Believe it or not, new watches are becoming more expensive and less available!!!  I would not be surprised to see or hear about more large vintage-watch transactions over the rest of the year.

Vintage Vegas

I went out to Vegas last week with the intention of making some memories and checking out some sweet timepieces. I know, it is a tough life I have… Needless to say, the trip lived up to my expectations and then some. I could not believe how many cool watches were out there in Sin City! For those Breitling lovers out there, you really would have been heaven. I got to try on some incredibly classic models.

The first one was an 18kt rose gold vintage Chronomat from the 1940s. This bad boy features the Venus 175 movement and is incredibly clean. I absolutely love the use of the Arabic numerals to indicate the hours, and the red chronograph is simply money with the rose gold case and brown strap.

I also saw a stainless steel version of the Chronomat with the manual-winding Venus 175 chronograph movement. This model is from the 1960s and features a silver dial with a rare outer black bi-directional telemeter ring. Talk about another ridiculously sharp watch! Little did I know that it would only get better.

I then laid my eyes on a 1959 “AOPA” Navitimer. Members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association would have literally lost it. This watch was the sickest vintage Breitling I have ever seen. I want it! The whole watch is perfect. I absolutely love the dark brown strap with white stitching on the black dial. The dial speaks for itself.

For all those left-handed watch lovers, I then tried on a vintage Chrono-Matic 8806 from the early 1970s with the crown on the left side of the watch. It was a very sharp and unique watch. I am surprised there are not more watches with crowns at nine o’clock instead of three o’clock.

Lastly, I got to handle two rare 809 24-hour stainless steel Cosmonautes. One was in stainless steel, while the other was in 14k gold. These watch are from the 1960s and were used during the days of intense space exploration. With the 24-hour dial display, astronauts could distinguish between am and pm while in space.

Not bad, huh?