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.