Blog: A Watching brief

Our watch expert Russell Cole talks to the currently buoyant watch market and how low wrist time is a main factor in people’s decision to sell.


Watches not only tell the time, but also stories of the individual who owned the timepieces and of times past and adventures once had. At Bishop and Miller Auctioneers, it is these stories that make our watch sales so fascinating and integral to our collections.

 

“As there is not really an average watch seller, each seller and the story behind each watch is different, says Bishop and Miller’s Watch specialist Russell Cole. “Which is why I find watches so intriguing, you never know what piece may come in to our saleroom and what journey they’ve had to get there”.

 

So, who are our sellers? For the most part sellers fall into four categories:

· Seasoned collectors who choose to sell to make space in their collections by purifying or upgrading collections

· Family members selling on behalf of a deceased relative 

· People selling an inherited piece or a gift that they do not like and want to liquefy the asset.

· Or, and this the most common type of seller, one-off sellers with a single piece to sell. Perhaps because they do not wear it or because tastes have changed. Sometimes they were impulse purchases on the back of a healthy bonuses but are not getting ‘wrist time’.

 

Wrist time is a principal factor in people’s motivation to sell. People do not like to see beautiful watches sitting in display cases and getting (tragically) low wrist time.

 

“Beautiful timepieces are made to be worn, to be cherished and appreciated, and people recognise this and feel guilty at the lack of joy they are getting from their watches,” explains Russell. “Not to mention still having to cover expensive insurance premiums for items they no longer enjoy.”

 

Conversely, often people have no idea that a watch is valuable, and lots of opening conversations at our valuation events starts with, ‘I have this watch, I don’t know what it is or what it’s worth.’  It is wonderful to be able to tell them a bit about their piece, or that it is a rare and valuable collectors piece. Which is often the case.

 

A recent example of this was a lady who brought her father’s watch into a valuation event in Stowmarket. The piece, which was kept in her sequin purse for safekeeping, turned out to be an 18-carat gold Rolex gentleman's wristwatch, which sold for £5200 at our last specialist watch auction in December. The lady had no idea of its value.

In contrast, watch buyers tend to be collectors, people buying a watch they have always dreamed of owning, or people buying gifts for a relative or loved one. They choose to buy their cherished piece from Bishop and Miller as they need and appreciate the trusted advice, we can give them. Plus, as the watch market is extremely buoyant at the moment, with high demand for the top brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe, supply is limited. For many purchasers, our auction is the only way they can fulfil their dream of owning one of their dream watches.

 

One thing is for certain, beautiful, and skilfully made wrist watches will always have a place at the heart of Bishop and Miller Auctioneers.

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