A good friend of mind and occasional customer asked me recently how I could be so sure that the vintage watches I sell would increase in value. Hmmm. So Sure? Tough question. There is no doubt that i firmly believe that when i say a watch will increase in value it’s based on experience and an appreciation of the dynamics of the market and the desirability of a particular watch. However the question got me thinking about what it is that gives me such confidence. Could there even be a formula that captured the idea? There is little doubt that there is no such thing as an absolute certain investment as the last 10 years have shown. However there are a number of very well established financial dynamics that are just as applicable to the watch market as any other investment in life. Elasticity of demand and appreciation calculus are just a couple of examples that economics experts use to try to formalise the intangible. But it’s a notoriously fickle enterprise and i found myself struggling to fully justify my confidence in any absolute way. Past performance? Definitely a factor. Cultural trends? Almost certainly.
But really when forced to distill my confidence i came up with the following. A growing demand greater than a continually decreasing finite supply will inevitably result in fiscal appreciation. The simple, inescapable, fact is that there will never be any more 1969 Omega Speedmaster made because vintage isn’t something you can build into a watch. It has to be acquired over time. What’s more the demand is, and will continue to be, huge for these watches. Add in the fact that I, along with other dealers, have noticed a different type of buyer in the market, who wishes to hold on to their pieces for the longterm means that fewer and fewer watches are being recycled into the market. so a continually decreasing finite supply allied with a greater demand equals price rise.
Any first year economics graduate will tell you that when demand outstrips supply and in particular a supply that can only grow smaller, then prices inevitable have to rise.
In reality what this means is that I have to work harder than ever to get the right level of stock without compromising on my core belief of giving great value, great products and great customer satisfaction and confidence. And in terms of giving confidence to my customers I would make one simple observation. When in history has ever been a time where a product was so desirable, whilst simultaneously so rare and so hard to come by without that resulting in a price appreciation? It simply cannot go any other way. Whilst I’m not pretending this is Keynesian concept, I do think it is important to recognise that sound economic reasons for believing the value of vintage watches is only going in one direction.