rising VC prices on the secondary market: good or bad?


One thing that has come out of the Patek Philippe vs Vacheron Constantin threads below is that collecting Pateks has become more an investment for many rather than a hobby and its taking all the fun out of collecting.

Now what if VC prices for modern timpieces start going up and over retail at auctions and secondary markets? Will that take the fun out of collecting? Is this a good or bad thing?

To give some recent examples:

- Overseas chrono US limited edition: brand new in box sold on ebay for a bit under $19k

- Malte Tonneau chrono US limited edition: brand new in box on sale on the net at retail price

- Saint Gervais: saw it on the site of a very well know internet dealer for a bit over $700,000 (retail was around $380,000)

- Tour de l'Ile: recently changes hands privately for CHF 2,400,000 (retail was around CHF 1,800,000)

Does this mean that the market is warming up to modern VCs and collectors are finally understandig the achievements of VC or are the speculators in the house?

rising VC prices on the secondary market: good or bad?

rising VC prices on the secondary market: good or bad?

Re: after these Patek/investor discussions I'm very curious and want y
01/25/2008 - 22:48

In my opinion, if there is a brand for watches speculators, it's Patek: all the requirements are present (recognition, history, scarcity, selection with waiting list...). The prices with each auction reach records, some are almost indecent (in my point of view).

Of course and fortunately true PP lovers still exist! PP manufactures very beautiful watch of irreproachable quality, but excepted "basic" pieces, it's very difficult to see and buy a NEW complicated Patek in an AD.

VC still remain an impassionned brand, for exceptionnal pieces or limited editions, I think it's normal the price for second hand is a higher than retail price.

But when we look at the second hand prices for vintage pieces, they are not exagerated, the quote is sometimes negative

I recently saw a VC Malte Chrono Historique with gold case for a less than 9000€ on eBay (if only i could afford ).

VC is a haute-horlogerie brand, but still remain "open", and that why I looooove this brand!!

Re: after these Patek/investor discussions I'm very curious and want your
01/25/2008 - 22:49

Hi Alex,

I think that once prices have reached unreasonable levels even for speculators, ie a level at which its unreasonble that they can make a significant profit in flipping the watch, they will turn to another brand.

I believe that is now occuring with VC to a limited degree.

Not long ago, the Jubilee could be had for under $20,000US. You might find one in that region from a private individual but a retailer even in the secondary market is now asking well over $30,000. However, he hasn't sold it and hopefully he won't!

I can understand some price increase in limited edition watches but I'll hang onto my money. I believe that people are entitled to make a profit from their labour but making a profit from speculaion is just gambling and taking risks. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don't.

There will always be people who have a surfeit of money and to whom spending large amounts doesn't merit a second thought and they will always fund the very high end luxury products ie watches.

But I personally believe in some intrinsic value for my money and therefor if the price is reasonable, I will certainly consider it. If its not, even though I really want it, I'll take a pass. There will always be somethink else.

And if VC watches go the way of PP (which I sincerely hope they do not)... well at least I have a pretty good collection already.


I agree with JB...
01/26/2008 - 06:14

That once speculators come prices will go up on a brand until they find little or no profit in it and then they will gravitate to another brand which is maybe more affordable and gives the speculators a greater profit margin.   This has happened in the automotive world with exotics like Ferraris.  When the prices became insane in the late 80's into early 1990, it lead to people paying rediculous sums of money for even the most common of Ferraris, 308s were selling for $75-90K.  Daytona convertibles were selling for $1million, coupes for $450K.  As prices went crazy collectors and speculators a like started to look at Maserati Ghiblis, Lamborghinis, and Aston Martins...and prices on those went up also...but not to the dizzying heights that Ferraris went to before the crash of the exotic car market.  Are we embarking on a similar journey with PP being Ferrari and VC being vintage Aston Martins or Maseratis in the equation?  It took many years for some of those collectors to recover their losses once the market crashed.

I think its quite sad that flippers/speculators come in and drive up the prices keeping watches out of the hands of true collectors or forcing them to pay more than whats really necessary.  I'm not talking about watches that are in the $200-380K range.  Thats a rare catagory of watches where only the very wealthiest of people can afford to make a purchase. If someone can afford $200K and up for a watch, then a speculator/flipper or AD asking for over list price isn't going to keep a watch out of that person's hands. 

The people most greatly affected are those in the lower to mid range of watches from VC, AP, PP.  These are the people that are greatly affected by a flippers and AD's wanting over list price....I've heard that the PP Nautilus with power reserve and date  originally had a list price of $23K but all the sudden they started selling for $30-40K in some places.  Maybe some people can afford a few thousand over list price but $10K crazy for a $23K watch.  Its not even like you get anything for paying extra.  I say it would do collectors a world of good if instead of giving into speculators and AD's who want over list price...let them choke on their inventory for a few weeks or a few months and maybe prices will stabilize and collectors will once again be able to go in and get a great watch for a good value.  In fact I wanted a SS Rolex Daytona so badly I nearly paid $7K for the watch (list price was $4,350 in 1995) from an AD that my family made lots of purchases from.  I passed on the deal and got the same watch 6 months later for list price...so it was like getting my Rolex Explorer for free!

To be quite honest, the investment/profit issue is not merely caused by speculators and ADs.  A friend who's store was an AD for several brands high end brands said that many brands wish to use the PP model marketing highly sought after and profitable watches by creating scarcity, limited editions, and theme auctions to drive up prices and interest in the brands.  I do not know who specifically he spoke with, but my friend/contact said there were several brands using the same Lemania based movement found in the 5070 and they were perplexed and annoyed that there there was a waiting list for the 5070 and that people would pay over list for it, while their similar watch with similar movement had to be discounted.   I suppose as much as we might like the history, and design of brands like VC, Breguet, etc. and we hope that people buy watches for the way they make people feel, but we should not lose sight of the idea that the brands themselves are for profit companies that have to fight for their piece of the market and maybe that means trying to follow a PP model.   

Personally, I would rather see fewer limited editions.  I would rather see more watches in the $12-18K range and make them in greater numbers...so that these watches could get into the hands of collectors.  Sure I like seeing very complicated pieces, and I can appreciate the artwork that goes into them.  But I think it would be more fun to have a greater local ownership base, more people buying the watches and getting together in person to share their interest in this hobby, rather than companies moving their Calatravas and other entry level watches closer and closer toward the $20K mark.

I realize that its great to have watches that are worth something, maybe worth more than you paid for them, but in the end when the real reason people are buying these watches is in the hope that they will make lots of money with them it takes the fun out of collecting and it keeps the watches away from real collectors.

Sorry if this turned into a rant.

Best regards,


Money, money, money....
01/25/2008 - 22:59

"money, money, money" used to sing famous swedish band, at a time when the Doc had long hairs... ;)

Like in any industry, you have buyer and seller. If some people are disposed to pay a watch 1million$, you will have seller for that. It could be a watch with a 7750 or a manufactured mvt, depending on the buyer... People often show off, sometimes invest, and rarely collect for the beauty of a piece of work. But I think that most Loungers are in the last category. I think also that VC is a quite confidential brand, almost unknown for those who are not really interested in fine horology. And that's fine for me ! If the market warms up, it would concern the limited edition only. I only hope that VC will never maintain on purpose very high prices on some specific models, like an other famous brand does...

Interesting things to read,
01/25/2008 - 23:04

especially about Tour de l'Ile,

since many meant it was hyped,

because the first one was sold at the Quarter of Millenium Auction !

I think that the only problem that VC's are half priced compared with PP,

paradoxical is that there are comparatively so few VC's at the market !

They are truly kept in the family.

Think of all the questions about inherited VC's, we have had here,

and it's  to 90%, questions about the watch,

how old is it, how many was made, is it a good watch, etc

Quite seldom that people want to sell them,

or ask for value straight out,

they want to keep them,

but they want know more about them.

How many questions we had at HL, of that kind I don't know,

but they are as you all know very common.

It's the big problem for a collector of really rare things,

when the market is small, you don't know where and how to begin

I collect posters by A.M. Cassandre and they are really hard to get,

I'm talking about original, since there are millions of copies.

Printing a poster today isn't art any longer,

just pure business.

I have put weeks in front of this computer,

searching and read everything there is to read about Cassandre,

and first now I know where to look

And I also in last year managed to get three originals from the 30's !

Without being ruined

His original posters are rare but discovered and established,

by the collectors, and now highest priced of all posters.

My absolute opinion is ,

that we will in some years see a rally in VC's

I have and am convinced to 100 % of that,

starting collecting PP or Rolex isn't hard.

You can find them, en masse, any day.

Antiquorum even tried to hype Omega (!),

nothing wrong with watch,

my son wears my old Speedmaster Moon Watch,

but collecting Omega (!), via famous Auctionhouse

Believe in your heart and in the history,

and you will, in some years have a valuable collection of VC's,

since they still are in my opinion extremely underpaid

Vive la Vacheron&Constantin


Doc, you're right for the right reasons! Vive Vacheron&Constantin!! nt
01/26/2008 - 00:08


The bad thing about a rising brand in terms of popularity
01/26/2008 - 05:16

is that speculators/flippers/"collectors" will start to come in, jack up the prices and this will turn ADs to do the same.

Those people will only think about their profits. It happened to Panerai (the same watch retailing originally for $20k, now goes for $140k in the 2ndary market...can you imagine? The watch is the SAME, the price isn't. Who want to be fooled? :p), AP ROO LEs, Hublot, Patek (5980 - Nautilus chrono for the latest example)...those are hot brands now. It's good that not many talk about VC, we can still enjoy the highest quality of watches with decent price.

Alex, this is my humble view.
01/26/2008 - 17:44

I would like to see VC keeping its current status and price range.  The moment VC follows the marketing strategy of PP and AP, the traders will actively come into the picture (I am not against the traders as they do need to earn a living) and the true collectors will have to compete with the traders for he t"highly sought after pieces".

Good thing for traders because they have more watches from another brand for trading.  Bad thing for true collectors because they need to buy watches at a higher price.  Personally, I could not be bothered as I would not touch those "highly sought after pieces".

However, the current trend shows that VC may be the next target for certain groups and individuals with their own agenda to "play" VC watches in or through the auction houses.

May VC not follow the route of other brands that discreetly intertwine with traders, speculators and second market dealers.  Let VC remain a brand produces watches that reflect the true value at any point of time.



a word from Dr 500
01/27/2008 - 14:57

Dr 500 whose browser does not enable him to post on the Lounge sent me the following mail to share:

Alex, I have to chime in. I used to own 4 Patek's, now zero. I  don't like their snobbish attitude and the reality is they are way over priced, especially now! I should have kept my 5970 a few more months, but that's the way the ball bounces. I feel that there are many worthy brands/people to support and that is something I feel strongly about. When you invest in something, whether it be wine or watches, the people who make it give of themselves and you can experience that feeling in their production. I just like supporting nice people that make exceptional things.

Whate I gather from the prices stated is that the real limited
01/28/2008 - 15:40

editions and the exceptional pieces such as the Tour de LIle and the Saint Gervais are watches which the true collectors want and pursue. I find it even more interesting that the Tour de l'Ile was sold privately probably between two WIS and not at auction where it may have been sold for a higher price (considering the 25% fees auction houses are now claiming).

I think that if a watch is rare and limited seeing its price go up due to a real rarity is OK unlike all these pateks whic sell above list even though they are on the catalogue (ex Nautilus, 5970 etc...)

For me VC is a brand which attracts watch lovers, not speculators.