JUN 04, 2019

Bonhams’ Director of Watches shares a few pieces of timeless advice about starting a vintage watch collection.

With their incredible attention to detail, innovative mechanisms and sartorial appeal, watches have long commanded the attention of fashion elites. But recently, it seems the appetite for prestigious timepieces has reached new heights.

The global watch market is now valued at more than US$46.35 billion annually and expected to grow to 53.2 billion by 2023 – and Asia accounts for much of the demand. Bonhams Hong Kong has seen the passion of Asian buyers first hand, successfully selling the largest, multi-brand watch collection owned by a private collector in Asia this June.

This June, Bonhams presented “The Centennial Collection: 100 Years of Timepieces” which chronicled multiple brands across every decade from the 1920s to today. One of the world’s largest, the predominantly vintage collection performed well under the hammer – led by the Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moon Watch” made in 1969, which sold for HK$525,625.

In the Bonhams Hong Kong Watches 2.0 sale held on the same day, gem-set ladies timepieces by respected, traditional watchmakers also performed well. A few of the highlights included a rare pink-gold and diamond women’s watch, ring and matching cufflink set by Patek Philippe fetched HK$750,625, for instance, while a white gold, diamond and ruby Breguet watch sold for HK$813,125.

In recent years, companies such as Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe, Chopard, Vacheron Constantin, Cartier and F.P. Journe have seen consistently high sell prices for vintage watches, particularly when the timepiece showcases a few important factors: rarity, provenance, quality and style.

Patek Philippe’s vintage pink-gold and diamond women’s watch, ring and matching cufflink set sold for HK$750,625 at Bonhams this June. Credit: Bonhams Hong Kong.

What to pack for that beach holiday? Paul & Shark has the answer. Playing on the athleisure trend, the Italian brand’s summer collection offers a cool and cheerful range of T-shirts, breathable trousers and swim trunks that will look the part at any remote island getaway.

The range includes monochrome hues and tropical motifs, stripes and colour block prints. Our favourites? Shark-print swim trunks – very on brand – and lightweight surfer-inspired tops in bold, bright shades.

Created in 1969, the Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moon Watch” sold for HK$525,625 this year. Credit: Bonhams Hong Kong.

Curate your collection: “A great watch collection is not simply a casual assortment of watches; it’s carefully curated – often revolving around a style, theme or stages. Looking at a watch collection, you can almost tell the preferred history of the collector. Take our recent June sale of the Centennial Collection, for instance. This is a collection with over 70 brands curated across 40 years. The full collection, comprising over 1,000 pieces, spans every decade of the last 100 years. The quantity is huge but they are not random watches – they are carefully selected.”

Provenance is paramount: “Check the components of the watch – the case, dial, hands, and movement – to see if they match the period and manufacturing model. Watches often have serial numbers and, nowadays, quite a few of the brands can provide some history about the watch for a minimal fee.”