Investing in Time

Reprinted from Perfect Timing

Master City World Timer
By Franck Muller
If time is money, then what's the worth of the timepiece? These days, you might find that your timepiece is worth even more than your time.

In June, Antiquorum, an auction house specializing in important timepieces, sold an 18k yellow gold Patek Philippe, with perpetual calendar and moon phases, for $1.1 million, a world record. The watch, one of three made in 1961, was purchased in 1981 for $9,000. Not a bad return on investment at all.

In recent years, prices of rare and high quality watches have been growing fast, says Osvaldo Patrizzi, chairman of Antiquorum. "Watches have become a highly desired item among collectors. But because there are only a finite number of watches of any one style, they are scarce and the competition is fierce."

That's not to say that every expensive watch is likely to provide a windfall return for its owner. Patrizzi says you first must start with a high quality, recognizable brand that is in near mint condition and probably part of a limited edition collection. Then make sure you have an original certificate of authenticity from a leading auction house that shows your watch hasn't been tampered with, or worse, is fake.

If you come across a vintage watch you want to but as an investment, Patrizzi offers these guidelines:

1. Buy only what you really like. "You shouldn't buy a watch solely as an investment," Patrrizzi says. "You have to genuinely appreciate it, just like a fine painting."

2. Expect to put down a sizable initial investment whey you but that rare watch. Today, that could range anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000, depending upon what similar styles or brands have recently garnered at auction.

3. Wait at least three to five years before you resell the watch. Of all goes according to plan, the value will rise enough to cover the necessary markup that auction houses require and still leave you with a handsome profit.

To safeguard your fine watch, keep it in a vacuum-sealed container if possible and store it in a vault. If your watch contains complications that are complicated to set, such as a perpetual calendar of moon phase, you might want to invest in a motorized storage box that simulates wrist movements like the ones that keep automatic mechanicals wound.