Buying vintage watches is fraught with peril. If nothing else, it’s entirely possible to buy a vintage watch that doesn’t work, either immediately after purchase or soon thereafter. At that point, you’ve got to find someone with access to proper parts who can service your antique timekeeper and . . . wait. There’s also the problem of “frankenwatches” – watches hiding non-original parts. And then there’s . . .
Money. A desirable vintage watch may not cost as much as its box fresh descendant or a new name brand timepiece, but it ain’t cheap. Which isn’t a problem if A) you want it badly enough B) you’re flush with cash or C) you don’t care about reselling your vintage watches.
If you care about your vintage watch’s market value and/or its status amongst the horological cognoscenti, here be dragons. The hidden danger: the brand that made your vintage watch lo those many years ago suddenly remakes it, only “better.”
This isn’t “a” thing. It’s the thing. In case you hadn’t noticed, watch brands up to and including Audemars Piguet are raiding their archives with gay abandon.
The redo usually appears in a more commercially desirable larger size; equipped with a modern movement, guaranteed authenticity and a full warranty.
But there’s no getting around it: a vintage reissue dings the value of its inspiration amongst the gen pop. Why buy an old DOXA when you can buy a new one?
If you don’t care about value or props, the trend can work in your favor.
If you buy a vintage piece after a new version comes out, once renewed interest in the real McCoy simmers down, the vintage watch may cost you less than if you’d bought it before the redo.
Then again, the future value of your actual vintage watch will be limited by the existence of the “new” vintage watch.
Which vintage watch should you buy to avoid all this modern remake mishegoss, given that beautiful vintage pieces are catnip to manufacturers’ marketing departments?
You could buy your vintage watches from a defunct manufacturer, like Universal. But then you face the service and parts problem. You could buy an ugly watch. But then you’d have an ugly watch.
The answer is, seemingly as always, Rolex.
Rolex doesn’t do re-do’s. As Devo counselled, they go forward. While the vintage Rolex market is highly prone to fakes and frankenwatches, an older Rolex from a reputable source is safe from SRDS (Sudden Remake Depreciation Syndrome).
Case in point: the recently discontinued Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39. When its price sinks below retail, when it becomes vintage, I reckon it’ll be a bulletproof buy.
That said, the recently shelved Rolex Hulk has appreciated since Rolex pulled the plug, so it might be quite a while before it becomes a bargain. If ever. Meanwhile, there’s a world of vintage Rollies ready to suck copious amounts of cash from your bank account.
Bottom line: if you don’t fancy buying a vintage watch from a defunct brand, an ugly watch or a vintage Rolex, SRDS is out there, waiting. Fingerspitzengefühl says the danger ain’t going away anytime soon. You’ve been warned.