Whenever someone asks me how I could possibly spend so much money on watches, I make the argument that it is actually a relatively safe place to put your money if you purchase carefully. Brands with limited production, high demand and desirability tend to stave off depreciation for the most part. Not to mention that if you manage to negotiate a decent discount when you purchase the watch, you are reducing the amount of money you risk losing compared to the RRP-paying average joe. Speaking of Joe, the more people that pay full-flog for the watch, the higher the perceived value and second-hand asking prices for the watch tend to be.
Where all of this gets tricky is when certain brand’s boutiques offer huge discounts to customers who haven’t even asked for one, which has the impact of devaluing that watch to the discounted price. Which means that Customer A who has paid $4000 online has a watch worth no more than Customer B who bought it for $3000 at the boutique, a point James referred to at length in his article about Online RRP vs. Grey Market.
Now I don’t want to get caught up in finger pointing *cough* TAG Heuer *cough* but the result is that 100% of your customers have a watch worth fractions of the retail price. Once a brand’s boutique discounts their product openly, they are essentially saying that it’s not worth the RRP, which is like taking a spiked bat to their perceived value.
The worst offender of this (by a country f*cking mile) is LVMH. For the uninitiated LVMH stands for Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, and they are a luxury multinational conglomerate with many French fingers in many expensive pies including our beloved R.M. Williams. LVMH is behind TAG Heuer, Hublot, Zenith and Bvlgari timepieces – none of which can claim more than mediocre resale value.
And as though that wasn’t quite enough, LVMH has now teamed up with Bamford Watch Department (BWD). BWD is a company that, as best as I can tell, take Rolex watches and spray paint them either black or white. Now, this is fine in and of itself – everyone has the right to poor taste – but as you would imagine it does precisely nothing to aid this whole our watches are worth nothing second-hand scenario. In fact, my best guess (not a guess – I know) is this will result in an even more dismal resale scenario appealing to only a niche market. Not to mention, the premium that Bamford is charging is eye-watering.
Take the Steve McQueen TAG Heuer Monaco for example. This is one of the few TAG Heuer models that doesn’t plummet in value after 10 minutes on your wrist. Now I will admit that at $7500 it is a pricey prospect, but nearly $11,000 for the Bamford bastardised version is extortionate. Especially as you don’t get any of the vintage charm that goes along with the classic blue-faced variant.
TAG Heuer make some attractive watches, and at certain price points you can’t get a better name-brand piece, but be aware that in a lot of ways they are not an enthusiast-backed choice for your next watch purchase. I highly doubt that in future anyone will be willing to pay a $3500 premium for a Bamford TAG over a standard one unless they turn into the next Tiffany or some sort of Comex Submariner situation occurs (I made myself laugh).
In summary, you can buy whatever you want for however much you are willing to pay – that is your prerogative. The reality is that almost nothing you will ever buy outside of an unmolested Rolex or steel Patek will maintain any of its initial value. That being said it is nice to know that when you spend thousands of dollars on a watch, you might retain a portion of that should you wish to sell it on.