By Joannis Mousicos
The pre-owned watch market, or grey market as it is often called, is colossal. It’s an industry that is definitely thriving, as more and more people are becoming interested in the wonderful art of the luxury watch. These days, there are so many different types of people buying and selling Swiss watches, each with his or her own view of what is desirable and the most prestigious at any given time. Some buyers have their eye on a particular piece for some time, and they make it a personal goal to save up and purchase that piece. Some are fortunate enough to have the finances to own an entire collection and they regularly trade in and out of watches, financing a hobby that often costs thousands of Pounds, Dollars or Euros. There are dealers who make a living from buying and selling pre-owned watches and there are those who buy what they feel are sound investments and keep them locked away in a safe, as an appreciating asset, much like owning shares in a growing company.
So what influences a buyer’s opinion as to what is the right watch to buy?
Often it comes down to personal choice; a huge watch doesn’t always suit a small wrist. Some like stainless steel, some like rose-gold and some like the modern look like titanium. Obviously cost can also play a part as many pieces are priced out of reach for a large portion of watch enthusiasts.
One factor that probably plays a more significant role in the selection of a luxury watch than any other, is that of the status symbol. In the modern society in which we live, the status symbol is possibly more important than it has ever been. We are forever purchasing items that let the world around us know how well we are doing and how hard we are working. From the big house on Wealthy Avenue to the classy sports car, we show these possessions off in the same way that a peacock shows its feathers, and the luxury watch plays its part in this – in fact it is one of the largest second hand markets in the World. Evidence of this is the popularity of the most well known of the watch brands. People wear these watches not purely because they are well made or even sound investments but mostly because those around them will know the brand and recognise the perceived success that goes with wearing these pieces.
However, there are those who break this mould – the true watch aficionados. These are the folk who have been “playing” in the luxury watch playground for eons, and are usually as passionate about watches as Gandhi was about sandals. They are of the type who hold a watch and stare at it for ages, celebrating the superior craftsmanship, design and effort that has gone into making such a work of art. The true watch aficionado buys a watch because he/she loves that watch and not because others do. In fact, it is often a timepiece that most would not even recognise as an expensive watch, yet many of these pieces are worth the same as a house in the suburbs, whilst some are worth the same as four houses. Often the love affair is fleeting and more of a whirlwind romance that burns out as quickly as it fires up, while they move onto the next “true love”, but sometimes it is a marriage that lasts forever. Some of the finest classics will never be sold by their owners.
Whatever your reason for buying, and whatever your personal preference might be, the luxury Swiss watch is a fantastic product and the industry is a breeding ground for some of the finest creators and innovators in the World.
Joannis Mousicos is a watch collector and dealer with an extremely good knowledge of the luxury watch market today and a keen interest in the history of luxury watches. He writes much on the subject and regularly consults on purchasing investment pieces.