The Evolution of What's "Collectible"...
Collecting watches is nothing new, and has been going on for centuries. What changes though, is what collectors choose to focus on. And here trends come and go.
We look back at auction results and try to determine what were collectors chasing after, and how is it different from today?
I like to look at the auction "Estimates" to get an idea of what the market perception was for a particular watch, of course you always have to take that number with a grail of salt, but here are some interesting finds I think are worth sharing.
Bubbleback: Estimate CHF 6k-7k: Sold for CHF 7.5k
Daytona: Estimate CHF 6k-7k: Sold for CHF 8.6k
Exchange rate at the time: 1 CHF = USD 0.76
As you can see, back then Blubblebacks were perceived almost as valuable as Daytona's! So size was not really an issue back, nor there was a significant premium for steel or sports Rolex models!
Some Comex models sold in 1996:
Comex Ref. 1665: Estimate CHF 4.5k-5.5k. Sold for CHF 8k. No. 2074
Comex Ref. 16600: Estimate CHF 6k-7k. Sold for CHF 9.2k. No. 3232
Exchange rate at the time: 1 CHF = USD 0.8
Only slightly more than the Daytona, but both of these sold above its higher estimate.
Moving on to the 2000s...
Daytona Ref. 6239: Estimate USD 9k-10k. Sold for USD 10.1k
Daytona Ref. 116520: Estimate USD 9k-11k. USD Sold for 10.1k
Vintage and modern Daytona's had similar estimates, and in this case, they sold for the exact same price. Crazy!
Also, Gold GMTs were selling for higher prices than Gilt chapter ring, Swiss only, GMT models.
1675(gilt): Estimate CHF 6k-7k. Sold for CHF 6.3k.
16713: Estimate CHF 8-10k. Sold for CHF 10.3k.
Exchange rate at the time: 1 CHF = USD 0.68.
And in case you were wondering about the price of gold...
Gold price at the time: USD 320 Oz.
Gold price today: USD 1,243 Oz. (03/17/17)
So even in 2002, collectors were not paying much attention to steel sports Rolex models.
Collectors rationale: Pay NO premium for tropical dials, and white gold Day-Dates are better than Explorers. Really...
Day-Date. Estimate: USD 6-8k. Sold for USD 8,050
Explorer. Estimate: USD USD 3.5-4.5k. Sold for USD 4,600
Now the inevitable question is what will be the future of collectability? or for example, will tropical dials continue to carry premiums? Only time will tell!