Friday, December 21, 2007

Watch Buyers beware!

As printed on the front page of The Wall Street Journal Oct. 8, 2007, the famous auction house Antiquorum of Geneva has been staging unethical auctions for decades in which the leading watch makers have been anonymously buying their own creations with the intention of driving up the perceived value of their wares. And it works. Why does a relatively simple stainless steel Patek Philippe sell for $30,000? Because people think it's worth that much. By artificially inflating auction prices the watch makers in cahoots with auction houses are creating a perception of collectibility where there may be no depth of collectors. The Journal's article focuses primarily on the so called "Omegamania" auction in April which set many new records for Omega and helped establish them as a leading brand, despite the fact that their watches are mass produced.
Conversely, Gray & Sons, the world's market leader in pre-owned high end timepieces, sets prices the old fashioned way - supply and demand. Printing over 200,000 catalogs annually and sending them around the world, Gray & Sons are able to put their finger on the pulse of what the public wants in brand name watches. We price watches according to what is fair and reasonable in the existing market, without a 10% or 15% sellers commission or the normal 20% buyers commission that auction houses charge, not only to make money off the top but also to increase the final sale price to well beyond the fair market value.
Osvaldo Patrizzi, the founder and president of Antiquorum, was removed from his position by the board of directors shortly after the Omegamania auction, but remains a minority stock holder in the company. An outside auditor was brought in to scour the books and records. The moral of the story, however, is that the practice of artificial price boosting is not illegal and no doubt will continue as long as it remains so.
If you find yourself in the market for a collectible watch, check the website at Gray & Sons first... you may be very glad you did.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tiffany & Co staging the ultimate 4th quarter comeback.

Where have they been all these years? Tiffany & Co., one of the world's leading jewelry designers who has been on the front edge of style for 170 years is not a major player in the watch game. Their watch sales account for less than 3 percent of their gross. An astute observer might say that with the meteoric rise in the popularity of fine Swiss watches over the last decade Tiffany has not just dropped the ball, they have been sipping champagne in the jacuzzi while the game rages on the field.
Enter Swatch Group, the largest mass producer of fine timepieces on the planet. With a recent agreement Tiffany and Swatch have jumped into bed together for 20 years, and the competition better watch out. The new company will be called Tiffany Watches, but will be wholly owned by Swatch Group, with design and marketing shared between the two. How long will it take to achieve a respectable market share? ...Time will tell.
For more details, check out this article.