The answer is probably not, but the thrill is that you just might! Which is why so many eyebrows were raised at the sale of the Paul Newman Rolex Cosmograph Daytona at auction for an eye-watering $17,752,500 (around £13.5m), paid by an anonymous phone bidder in 2017.
That’s the beauty of vintage watch collecting. The provenance of this particular watch came originally from Newman’s wife, Joanne Woodward who presented it as a gift in 1968, then via Newman’s daughter’s boyfriend 15 years later, who was, in turn, gifted the watch, with a diversion through south wales and then back to California.
The point is, it’s been on a journey. A journey that could, at any point, have found its way into a locked drawer in the Gower Peninsular (bear with me!) or ended up on a collectors shelf in a west country dealer (whimsical I know). But that’s just it. Once a quality vintage timepiece is despatched into the world there is simply no way of knowing where that journey will lead. And history doesn’t just make men wise, it makes watches valuable!
So if you’re wondering whether that old Rolex you locked in a cupboard 20 years ago might be worth more than you paid for it, then the answer is almost certainly yes. However the real question should be, why the hell are you not wearing it!
Because there can be very few things in life where an increase in value is matched stride for stride, by an increase in wear-ability. Everyone from famous actors (I’m looking at you Ryan Reynolds) to sports stars and politicians are recognising the inherent value of vintage in terms of statement pieces. For the rich, spending £50,000 on a Patek is actually quite a simple process. It’s about money. However, wearing a 1960’s immaculate vintage piece that may have lived through turbulent times speaks to an altogether different thing. It’s about class and sophistication. An appreciation of an art form and mechanical genius that, in its most basic form, hasn’t changed in decades. It’s the difference between wearing a piece to show people and wearing a piece you can actually talk about.
But for me, the real beauty of this passion (and I can’t believe more people aren’t embracing this) is that you can have all that Kudos and joy whilst still protecting your money and investing in something that can only ever really appreciate.
According to a recent Mail On Sunday article, which referenced the sale of the Newman Daytona, vintage watches could yield on average 5% per annum in terms of value. Pah! – Firstly I think 5% might be on the lower side of value but the real story here is what else in life can give you a return like that with such a visceral joy of ownership. Who needs an ISA yielding 4% per annum when you could have a classic 1968 Omega Speedmaster yielding not only north of 5% in yield terms, but also countless envious questions and admiring glances as well as style kudos. It’s not even a choice really is it?