Lucien Piccard Bosphorus – Depreciation King?

Lucien Piccard Bosphorus

Good Lord. How did this Lucien Piccard Bosphorus Chronograph escape Dr. Frankenstein’s lab? What in the world are those “bridges” doing across the dial of a quartz watch or, indeed, any watch? The Bosphorous came into this world at $895. And here’s what Jomashop is asking for a new-in-box example . . .

$54.99. That, folks, is 94 percent off the original retail price.

Oh wait. You can use the coupon code LP15 to take an extra $15 off. I’m not good at math, but the $39.99 Lucien Piccard Bosphorus Chronograph is for sale at nearasdammit 100 percent off retail.

Lucien Piccard Lucien Piccard Bosphorus Chronograph side

This for a timepiece from a storied Swiss watchmaker, I kid you not. Well, kinda. Before we reveal the hidden truth about this Lucien Piccard’s pricing, here’s their About Us bumph:

Lucien Piccard, a brand enriched in vintage heritage and timeless style was founded in Switzerland in 1923. For over 90 years, generations have chosen Lucien Piccard timepieces for their superb artisanship and timeless designs.

Our timepieces have been seen on the wrists of royalty, dignitaries and celebrities worldwide including the iconic, debonair entertainer Frank Sinatra.

Lucien Piccard watch given by Frank Sinatra to Ava Gardner

True story! crownandcaliber.com reports that “Sinatra’s second wife Ava Gardner gave him a Lucien Piccard watch: yellow gold with a silver frost dial, engraved with a message, ‘To Frank and desert nights. Ava.'”

Frank Sinatra gift watch
Courtesy the Ava Gardner Museum (click on image for link)

The Night of the Iguana actress reclaimed the timepiece. It now enjoys pride of place in the Ava Gardner museum.

Preowned Lucien Piccard watch

Back in the day, Lucien Piccard was a respected etablisseur – they assembled watches from available parts. They sold some wonderful minimalist timepieces. Unlike LP’s current “gold tone” timepieces, their vintage gold watches still command a pretty penny. The asking price for the watch above: $920.

Lucien Piccard Noureddine

According to the San Diego jeweler leohamel.com, Piccard “pioneered the use of precious gemstones in watchmaking.” The watchmaker currently offers no less than 95 different watches with multiple colorways, two of which are bejeweled. With crystals. None of which have prices advertised on the site.

Lucien Piccard ad ultimate

At some point, probably during the quartz crisis, things went seriously south for Lucien Piccard. The brand soldiered on through the 80’s, trading on their luxury rep. By 2010, one of the most respected  and heavily advertised luxury watch brands in horological history – the “most distinguished name in Swiss watchmaking” – threw in the towel.

Florida-based Swiss Watch International (now owned by Clearlake Capital Group) bought LP out of bankruptcy. They pumped cheap Chinese-made Piccards into their online World of Watches and The Watchery websites. Not to mention Amazon and Jomashop and God knows where else.

Lucien Piccard at The Watchery

And here’s where we confront the truth about Lucien Piccard’s “depreciation.” All but two of their watches cost less than $100. The msrp is, as our man Adams has written,  a marketing ploy.

Not a single Lucien Piccard is sold at full retail, ever. The “depreciation” is an illusion. A gimmick. A scam. (We hear tell that some subdials are non-functional.) As Franz Rivoira puts it, Lucien Piccard is a zombie brand.

Lucien Piccard caseback

All of which is cautionary tale. “Discounts” are a mug’s game. Depreciation too. A watch is worth exactly what someone will pay for it. No more. No less.

If you manage to get a watch for less than someone else paid for it, most likely on the gray market, good for you. But the bottom line remains: you get what you pay for. Always.

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