Free Press Journal

Luxury watches – Analog or Digital?


In this age of smartwatches, where do the analog watches stand? FARHANA MADAR finds out.

In a modernized world of advanced technology and push notifications, companies such as Apple, Samsung, Nike, Google and so on are pursuing what you would call smartwatches. The question here to ask is – Are these computer driven smartwatches going to be competition to luxury antique watches of say, Rolex? Well, fortunately, while smartphones already have all our digital needs taken care of, it is possibly only the ultra tech-savvy individuals that will find such inventions productive and beneficial for their everyday life.

To shed some light, Dr. Sharukh K. R. Pavri ( explains, “The antique watch is going to outlive any smartwatch. Do you think anyone will ever be able to bequeath his smartwatch to his child? Leave aside his grandchild?

Pavri adds, “This explains why the increased sales of the smartwatch need not necessarily translate into a reduction in sales of mechanical watches.  Antique watches have a lot invested in them both in terms of emotions or memories and financial value and both of these increase over time. The mechanical watch industry is still alive and kicking and I’m sure will survive this too. The satisfaction of literally bringing back to life someone’s prized antique timepiece is a large part of why I enjoy my horological work.”

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Also to share Jagdish Junjuri, Watch Proprietor, Shri Sai Watches Pvt Ltd says, “There is a lot of demand for Vintage Watches especially from European Countries.” He adds, “Our company mainly deals with Omega, Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.”

Furthermore, loyal patrons and watch connoisseurs with their profound watch-fetish would agree that an old antique watch, one which is a piece of history, has a value to it that is unmatched, thus and so, owning or inheriting such an object d’art that has its very own story is just, priceless.

To provide a firsthand sense of that exact feeling, Proprietor and Watch Advisor of Bespoke Watch Advisory Brijesh B. Vissanji shares, “For a true collector and lover of timepieces, it is a great joy to see these old timepieces keeping track of time, the moon phases and even the daily calendar. This is poetry in motion for the watch aficionado. Owners of such timepieces are very sentimentally attached to them.”

It is such words of gratification that may arouse the curiosity of watch enthusiast as to what are some of the timepieces that the advisory has to offer; to answer this Vissanji adds, “Beautiful vintage timepieces from Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Omega, a Jaeger Le Coultre table clock and a Zenith chronometer pocket watch in solid gold are some of the antique pieces to have come through our doors. The value of these starts at a few lakhs and the sky’s the limit for rare pieces.”

Valued Investment

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Time is money – There is a sense of power that is attained with having hold of a luxury vintage timepiece. Just like fine wine, that only gets better with time, as the years tick by, the value of antique watches increase.

Auction houses such as Christie’s have a standard policy – When an antique watch is purchased from their shop, be it a Longines, Vacheron Constantin or Rolex, the resale value of the piece  remains about 90 to sometimes even a 100 percent. The Chronometre Royal Wristwatch by Vacheron which was manufactured in the 1950’s which comes with a luminous dial is the perfect example of a vintage watch providing a full to almost full re-sale value.

However, while vintage watches may have its financial perks, these investments can also be a tricky thing. One must educate themselves on investment-grade watches and read through online watch forums before going ahead and spending a fortune. Databases such as www.vintagewatchforums or allow users to have interactive discussions by issuing queries and providing/receiving advice on all things watches.

For further closure, setting up an appointment with a horologic or watch advisor always helps.  When conflictions arise in purchasing the watch of one’s desired interest, it is with passion that these specialists assist and provide firsthand knowledge on ones chosen piece and sometimes even suggest timepieces that hold greater value as investments.

As for going ahead and buying a luxury vintage piece, auction houses are probably the best and safest bet. Frakenwatches (fakes and replicas) are sometimes tough to spot even with an eye for detail; therefore, to prevent milking of money, it is crucial to find out the authenticity of the reseller from an expert before going ahead with the transaction.

Treasured Inheritance

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An analog that has been passed down through family generations certainly has some vehement sentiments attached to it. “I’m a recipient of a beautiful Rolex Oyster which was presented to my father by his brother in the 1940’s as a wedding gift. This masterpiece was worn by my father occasionally and before his demise he handed over this archaic piece to me, assuring me that it had never given him any trouble. This timepiece is made entirely of gold including the machinery. It is a family heirloom and that’s essentially why I have treasured it,” shares Faizan (name changed).

The Countdown Has Begun!

With just days left to come, it is thrilling to put forth, that every March a plethora of 2,100 high-end brands from 45 countries around at globe exhibit their valued watch collection at The Baselworld Fair in Messe, Switzerland. It is the undoubtedly, the most prestigious and anticipated event in the world of watches.

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Speaking about vintage watches at the Basel show, Karishma Karer, Editor, Hands on Time says, “There is a lot of interest in authentic and interesting vintage pieces. There also has never been a more interesting time for watches as a category! The watch industry is known for its resilience and creativity and this will continue in the years to come.”

Vintage Watches Hereafter?

Although the future seems promising for new and improved timepieces, a watch that can read the time after standing the test of times is a watch that will never go out of style. For instance, take an early 19th century military issued carved mechanical watch that has survived through warfare, and changing times. Attached to it are stories, nostalgia and sentiments, history and the best re-sale value money can buy. Who wouldn’t want that? Vintage watches are here to stay because ultimately, old really is gold.

Shah Rukh Khan

The King Khan of Bollywood prefers to step out wearing the TAG Heuer (of which he is also the brand ambassador) GrandCarrera Calibre 17 RSChronograph, especially when he is supporting his team during the IPL matches.

Sachin Tendulkar

The Master Blaster is obsessed with Piguet, so much so that owns 10 Audemars Piguet watches, and there is a buzz among watch connoisseurs which claims he’s added the latest Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore to his burgeoning collection.

Saif Ali Khan

Junior Nawab has a fetish for watches, and one of his favourites is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grande Taille, which also has the Pataudi family crest engraved on the watch case.

Hrithik Roshan

The Greek God of Bollywood has a soft corner for Rado (staying true ‘I wear what I endorse’). Hence it comes as no surprise that he prefers the Rado HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph over others. The watch that was gifted to him and has “Always Perfect” engraved on the case.

Vintage Watches Availed At Auction House Christie’s Watch Shop

Watch: Vacheron Constantin Chronometre Royal Ref. 6111

Cost: 7,900 USD

Description: The reference 6111 features ‘Maltese Cross Lugs’ and a screw down case back. This particular model has a luminous dial and luminous hands.

 Watch: Omega, Speedmaster, Ref. 145.012-67 SP

Cost: 9,500 USD

Description: The above reference was produced from 1967 until 1969.This model was used on many NASA missions. The mention of ‘SP’ indicates that the watch had special pushers with water resistance.

Watch: Cartier , Ladies Santos Octagon

Cost: 6,900 USD

Description: This discontinued elegant, classic and sporty watch comes with an eight-sided bezel, Cartier secret signature at 7’oclock and an automatic movement.

Watch: Rolex, Day-Date, Bark Finish, Ref. 18238

Cost: USD: 13,900

Description: This traditional men’s wristwatch came to light in the 1950’s and is still in production. It was the first wristwatch to display the day. Featured in this watch is a presidential bracelet with a hidden clasp. This particular piece has a bark finish to it.

Watch: Rolex, Daytona, Two-Tone, Ref. 16523

Cost: USD: 9,900

Description: This watch debuted in 1988 and was the first Daytona to house an automatic movement. This particular example is a reference 16523 from the year 1997 that features a beautiful white dial, partially engine-tuned gold registers, two-tone steel and yellow gold cases along with a two-tone bracelet.

Watch: Audemars Piguet, Royal Oak Offshore, Triple Calendar, No. 214

Cost: USD 9,700

Description:  This series of watches were introduced in 1993 to appeal to the younger generation. This particular example features the classic Royal Oak Offshore design with a purple dial, triple calendar complication and a matching purple Audemars Piguet leather strap.

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