by Clare Blakely
Feb 27, 2023 | News

Watches - the increasing value of time

Having recently been burgled, I know only too well how the value of even an ordinary every day wristwatch has surged.

Watches are easy targets for thieves; from the drive-by motorbike, moped or e-bike heists you now read about in the newspapers; to targeted attacks on your home. Regrettably there was a 60% rise in London in June of 2022 of knifepoint watch robberies with Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham being the main areas. This is being driven in part by the very high values that watches are making in the second-hand market.

2020 was regarded as the year when the secondary market for watches went ballistic, as many people took advantage of those long days of lockdown by purchasing highly desirable brands such as Patek Philippe, Rolex and Audemars Piguet at a time when production was stalled due to the pandemic. Patek, for example, only produced 6,500 steel watches in 2020 when in a normal year it produces over 60,000. As a result, a steel Patek Philippe Nautilus was selling at more than double its retail price on the secondary market.

These prices may have come off their 2020 highs but the secondary market is still buoyant according to Alastair Meiklejon, watch expert at Doerr Dallas Valuations. He illustrated a recent article with the fact that the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo which peaked at £130,000 is now selling for £90,000, but that is still considerably higher than its advertised retail value of £35,000.

I am sure that serious collectors keep a close eye on their investments but most of us don't realise quite how expensive our watches have become until we make that claim. Now more than ever there is merit in an up-to-date valuation. The value of a watch will be determined by a number of factors beyond just its desirability, its condition, the complexities of its movement, the origin of its components and its box, papers and other accessories. Limited editions will further enhance a watch's resale price and replacement value for insurance purposes.

There are free appraisal tools online which can give you a quick sense check but insurers require an accredited jeweller from The National Association of Jewellers (NAJ) or an insurer approved valuation service such as Doerr Dallas Valuations in order to agree the sum insured of a very valuable watch. These valuers can offer a desktop valuation, or for a large collection would visit your home. However, if you need advice on the insurance of a watch it is worth first discussing it with your broker to make sure that your cover reflects what you need.

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