Is it the Brand or is it the Movement? By Watchking
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  1. #1
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    Is it the Brand or is it the Movement? By Watchking

    Is it the Brand or is it the Movement? - Part 1


    If you take up watch collecting for any length of time you will inevitably be asked the Big Question by people you know, ?What?s the Best Watch??. We all know that the answer is the same as it is for questions like ?What is the best Dessert??, or ?What is the best boat??. The answer is that it all depends on what the buyer wants and it?s different for each collector. But we also appreciate that some ?things? are better than others of a similar nature. Thus it is for watches. New collectors should do their own research and they should march to the beat of their own drummer when it comes to collecting watches, but there are still some general trends, histories and situations that influence the long term values of many watch brands and many models of movements.

    Using with the Lemania 5100 movement as a very famous example we might better understand watch collecting by understanding this product?s life cycle. During the 1960s there was a great quest amongst watch companies to produce an automatic chronograph movement (that hopefully accommodated ?date? as well). By the end of the 60s this quest had been realized and not only were there great movements like the Breitling/Heuer/Buren automatic chronograph and the Zenith 400 movement, but shortly afterwards came the Valjoux 7750 and many others. This doesn?t even count the number of great chronograph modules that were developed during the same 1965-1975 period by companies like D & D. One of the best of these automatic chronograph movements was the Lemania 5100.

    The Lemania 5100 was a 17 jewel movement with a number of integral plastic parts. It distinguished itself by being one of the most rugged automatic chronograph movements ever made. This was important in the face of a tidal wave of Japanese automatic chronograph movements that began to appear in the mid to late 1970s. The Lemania 5100 movement took a little bit of time to perfect but once it was being made in maximum quantities this movement was used by dozens of watch companies to make automatic chronograph watches. The movement can be fitted to allow a watch to be a day/date model with 24 hour day/night indicator and will usually have a 12 hour chronograph counter. What is most important besides any other factors already mentioned is that watches using the Lemania 5100 movement have the easiest minute counter to read of any mechanical chronograph ever made. The reason is that not only is the seconds counter mounted on the center pinion like most chronographs but the minute counter is also center mounted and it uses the same 60 minutes normally found on the dial to show the elapsed minutes.

    This brilliant design stroke set the Lemania 5100 movement apart from other automatic chronograph movements. In spite of arriving on the scene at the worst time for the watch industry, this movement was consistently in production for 2 decades. Omega, Tissot, Eterna, Silberstein, Revue-Thommen, Hamilton and many other companies designed watches using the Lemania 5100 movement. Eventually at the start of the 21st century, the tooling was worn out, and Swatchgroup (Lemania?s most recent owner) decided to end production of the movement and movement parts. Many collectors consider themselves lucky to have any brand of watch containing a Lemania 5100 movement, and that goal will only become harder to attain in the future.

    So is it the brand or the movement that is most significant when deciding what watches to choose for your collection? Using the ?5100? example, the brand may enhance the value of any particular watch using the Lemania 5100 movement so an Eterna Automatic Chronograph might not have as much ?market value? (assuming equal condition) as an Omega Speedmaster using a Lemania 5100 movement. The Revue Thommen 5100 chronograph can be very expensive if it is the titanium cased version. And the Alain Silberstein models can be even more pricey because of the artistry of their designer. So brand can be a huge factor in terms of current value. On the other hand all of these brands seem to have appreciated in value over the past 30ish years about the same compared to their original cost. Assuming equal condition, most of the watches using Lemania 5100 movements have retained the same amount of their value compared to their original price when new. But as well, all of these watches are now in the same boat as far as repair is concerned.

    As of 2004, there are no more Lemania 5100 parts being produced unless Swatchgroup changes their policies. Whether you wear out a movement part or break something inside an Eterna w/Lemania 5100 mov?t or an Omega Speedmaster w/Lemania 5100 mov?t, getting a replacement part will require cannibalizing another Lemania 5100 movement or having the part hand made, and this situation can only become more difficult in years to come. This is an important consideration for collectors who want to use their watches, and that can often be as much fun as buying selling or displaying your collection. Repairing a Lemania 5100 watch now-a-days might cost more than the watch cost new at retail. This often comes as quite a shock to a new collector. Not only that, but as fewer of these movements are seen by watchmakers and repair techs, they will become less experienced at fixing them. I know of a few repair techs now, who won?t even clean this movement any longer. If one of these movements is ever damaged by a watchmaker, the hassle of settling with the customer is immense. It isn?t as easy as sending out for a new part any more. In fact I?ve been besieged by watchmakers looking for repair parts for Lemania 5100 movements for nearly a year now.

    So always keep in mind that whatever watch model you buy or whatever brand, the movement can end up being the most important factor for a watch collector who wants fully functional watches. In the case of Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet and a few others this is less of a factor because I have had both of these companies make a part to repair one of their own watches. It is possible to get a hand made part produced to repair a Lemania 5100 as well. But keep in mind that if a movement is out of production and there are no longer repair parts that are easily obtainable, the value of the watch and movement go down considerably if wearing the watch is important to the purchaser. A slow beat fusee movement pocket watch made in the 1700s will almost always need parts to be made by hand if a repair is required, so that is usually factored into the price. But more than a few new collectors have been caught unaware when they bought an expensive watch with only a small movement ?problem? at what seemed to be an incredible price, only to find out that repair parts were no longer available from the original manufacturer. And brand doesn?t always help any in this situation. For example, there are now quite a few Rolex movements that have no service parts available.

    So when you are starting a collection always consider checking on the availability of repair parts when the watch with a simple movement problem is priced so you want to buy it. It is always possible to find a company that will make a part to service a watch but the cost may make the watch purchase a very bad deal indeed. We?ll discuss more about brands and movements and how these two factors influence watch values in the future. Good luck and have fun collecting watches.

    Watchking
    We don't get enough sand in our glass Please respond to this article in our main forum or by sending an e-mail to Watchking
    Last edited by Ernie Romers; September 25th, 2010 at 12:55.

  2. #2
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    Is it the Brand or is it the Movement, Part 2

    Is it the Brand or is it the Movement? - Part 2

    If you decide to collect watches that are new or of recent manufacture then the model of the movement and the watch brand are two important considerations. New watches won?t be too scarce unless they are limited editions so rarity won?t influence collectabilty. After a few years in the marketplace a track record will be developed for any modern watch and that will help you judge the overall value of the watches you want to purchase. In most cases a movement or watch model that has been available for five years will begin to be priced well, while still keeping the luster of ?recognition?, but won?t have been flogged so heavily that it is passe`.

    It?s always nice having a manufacturer?s warranty on a new watch. And who knows, you might be on the leading edge of a trend that will establish the watch you buy as a classic. It might seem strange that the manufacturers/assemblers can use the same movement (or at least the same base caliber) when their watches can be wildly different in price. One of the best examples to use for this explanation/comparison is the ubiquitous ETA 2824/2, 25 jewel automatic movement. (Base Caliber is a reference to the movements that some watch companies buy for the purpose of taking the movement apart and either changing the way the movement operates or in order to add complications and/or special finishes or cosmetics).

    The ETA 2824/2 movement has been around for a couple of decades and has earned a reputation for rugged reliability. It?s only ?fault? is that it isn?t the most compact movement on the planet, but it can be made into a chronometer, it is the heart of many dive watches, it accepts complications with ease and it?s reasonably priced. In the 2001 model year there were watches from all the following brands using ETA 2824/2 movements or movements with the 2824/2 as their base caliber: Breitling, Croton, Davosa, dFreemont, Eterna, Jean Marcel, Maurice Lacroix, Mido, Nivrel, Porsche Design, Sothis, TAG Heuer, Tudor(Rolex), Xemex, and others. Amazingly the retail prices for these various models of ?2824/2 watch? ranged from US$295 to US$3,300.

    Of course many of these watches had added complications, and most of the watches using the ETA 2824/2 as their ?Base Caliber? were using the plates and perhaps the balance or regulator for their watches, but when a movement is taken apart completely and the plates are redrilled, or moonphase or chronograph modules are added, the performance and value of the original movement are likely to be greatly enhanced. These enhancements are another tribute to the versatility of the 2824/2 movement. Used right from the manufacturer or completely rebuilt, the 2824/2 can be a reliable workhorse if not a thoroughbred. So what can the new collector of new watches deduce from the wide array of watch models all using a similar movement?

    First of all look at the prices and differences to determine long term value considering the company that is ?branding? the watch. For example, the dFreemont Chronometer (Palomar) is one of the least expensive certified chronometer watches on the market. If a precision mechanical timekeeper is what you want and collect, then this could be a good choice for you. Those seeking avant-garde styling might prefer the minimalist look of the Xemex or Porsche Design basic automatic date models. For a very low price the Mido, Davosa, Croton 2824/2s (and a few others even less well known models that are less expensive than US$295), will get you into a nice automatic 25 jewel watch with a proven movement. There are dive and pilot watches of great renown that also use this movement. In fact a collector could make an entire collection of different watch types, all of which use the ETA 2824/2 movement.

    This proliferation of models has a huge advantage as time goes by. This situation is exactly the opposite of the service wasteland that currently exists for discontinued movements like the Lemania 5100. In other words it will probably be easy to get a watch serviced that uses a 2824/2-based movement, for our lifetimes, and those of our descendants. All the 2824/2 based watch models are ?safe? to wear because they can be fixed easily. The fact that these watches would be described as ?full sized? is also a benefit in an era when larger watches are in vogue. In addition watches with the 2824/2 movement as their base, are pretty familiar territory for most watchmakers and repair technicians. There is no great trick to servicing, cleaning and lubricating the 2824/2 movement. That is a reason why it is currently one of the most popular quality movements in the history of watchmaking.

    Perhaps the large number of models using the 2824/2 movement could work against it in it?s ability to retain value. But this hasn?t been the case so far. There has been no dramatic price drop in the basic movement cost and so complete watches using these movements haven?t really gone down much in price. Some new watch companies have brought out 2824/2 watch models that are very reasonably priced and this might put some price pressure on the more expensive brands (like Tudor), but it doesn?t seem to have been significant. In fact, as time goes by and new modules for complications come along, there doesn?t seem to be any major price reductions that have occurred in watches with 2824/2 movements. The recently depressed economic market (from 2001-2003) shows that 2824/2 movement watches have retained relatively stable pricing. This is good news for the new collector of new watches. Only time will tell if these watches are valued as collectors items. In 20 more years watches using this movement might be less desirable. On the other hand they could become classics, recommended as ? a watch that every collector should have?.

    Most likely it will be the condition of the watches and the care the collector has taken to maintain the watches that will make the biggest difference in their value retention. As well, certain ?versions? of 2824/2 watches will prove to be rarer, or easier to service, or styled in a trend setting way. All of these factors will make a difference in their future value as collectibles. And let?s not forget the case design. The Rolex Oyster case is a famous example of a watch that became a classic to a great extent because of it?s case design. Breitling is also a company whose watches are popular in large part because of their well thought out, and well made cases. This is a factor that new collectors should consider when they are building a collection of watches with a proven movement. New collectors who like watches using the 2824/2 movement would be taking few risks building a collection of watches using this movement. There is no way to determine what a watch will be worth 20, 50 or 100 years from now. But it is possible to recognize a winning movement that would be a desirable one to have in any collection of watches that is also going to be worn on a regular basis. Wearing your collection is a big part of the fun of watch collecting. And while collecting for fun may seem much different than collecting for profit or collecting watches as rare art or craft, it definitely has it?s place in the big scheme of things. I believe that collectors who enjoy what they are doing will pay more attention to collecting, research and maintenance and this will help the novice to make rewarding buying decisions. Good luck and have fun collecting watches.

    Watchking
    We don?t get enough sand in our glass

    Readers might find the main character of my latest book interesting since he is a website administrator and watch collector who accidentally become involved in a murder mystery. The first 4 chapters of this book (The Physics of Crime) may be read online at;

    http://tomtgradeczek.tripod.com/TPOC/Chapter1.html

    Please respond to this article in our main forum or by sending an e-mail to Watchking
    Last edited by Ernie Romers; September 25th, 2010 at 12:56.
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    Is it the Brand or is it the Movement, Part 3

    Is it the Brand or is it the Movement? - Part 3

    Cartier, Turler, Bucherer, Bulgari, Tourneau, Krigel, Roberge, Bailey Banks & Biddle, Birks, Eatons, Chaumet, Harry Winston, and Tiffany are just a few of the watch brands that are also the trade names of stores or store groups whose watches are eminently collectible. These companies and those like them have had watches of various quality levels made for them, for years. Some of these companies have purchased or even started watch manufacturing plants, and a few have had proprietary watches made for them. These brands of watches are famous not only as timepieces on their own but also because the myth and mystique of the parent company is an important factor in the value of many of the watches with these brands.

    While it has been common for jewelry stores to sell watches of their own ?house? brand of watches for many hundreds of years, these store brands listed above really came into their own during the early 20th Century. In many ways it was the Ball Watch Company that helped push this trend along. At the beginning of the 1900s an railroad entrepreneur named Webb C. Ball decided to ?create? a brand of watches that would be as good as any manufacturers? brand on the market and it was a well known fact that he also promoted the fact that Ball watches were made by other companies in the watch business, while emphasizing that his company?s watches were made to ?Ball Standards?. Webb Ball was instrumental in developing the US National standards for railroad approved timepieces after a huge train crash caused many casualties, all because one trainman?s watch was 3 minutes different from another trainman?s watch on an oncoming train. Ball railroad watches were almost immediately accepted as being of the highest quality and as good as any other watch available at the time.

    At about the same time Tiffany was promoting the sale of their own brand of pocket watches made by such world renowned manufacturers as Koehn, Audemars & Piguet, Vacheron Constantine and Ulysses Nardin. Now-a-days many of these manufacturers are makers of the most highly respected watches in the world, but in this era they were much less known outside their own small corners of Europe. The buyers and merchandisers at Tiffany recognized these companies as being superlative manufacturers but the buying public were less aware of this fact in North and South America and Asia. At this time the brand name of the jewelry store often enhanced the value of a high grade watch in the eyes of a buyer because these retailers were known to be selling fine goods and there was also the added benefit of local repair service at a time when many watch companies still offered warranty service only if their watches were shipped back to the factories.

    Cartier was one of the most prominent of the ?house? brand retailers. This company even went to the extent of designing their own signature watch models. Cartier has a very large manufacturing and assembly plant in Fribourg, Switzerland where jewelry and watches are made, so today Cartier has succeeded in becoming a vertically integrated distribution company, making and then selling its own designs of products. While many of Cartier?s own brand of watches were produced for them by other companies like European Watch Company, their success has allowed Cartier?s to found an atelier capable of producing every grade of watch from the most basic to the most complicated. Cartier has been careful to emphasize its own brand and very high standards of quality during the last 100 years that it has been marketing wristwatches and so its brand has retained its cache`.

    Cartier also designed the watch that can rightly claim to be the longest produced ?sport? watch of all time, the ?Santos?. Named after a sportsman whose name was synonymous with ?adventure? in his day, the Cartier Santos watch has stood the test of time. A solidly made watch that is water resistant and shockproof, the Santos is eminently collectible as an automatic wind watch. This watch has perhaps inspired as many or more copies than any other watch in history. It was also a sports watch that was available in both steel and precious metal. Cartier has always stood by their watches but the Santos was always a flagship model and so Cartier made a special effort to keep Santos owners happy even though many adventurers purchased this model of watch to take on their ?adventures?. Today people don?t think of the Santos as being as much a sports watch as a luxury watch in spite of the solidity of it?s construction and the generally heavy weight of this watch. Modern super waterproof or shockproof watches in steel, graphite and plastics dominate the sports watch market today. But the Santos was a special watch that was a true sports watch in an era when most wrist watches were delicate and prone to failure. The fact that today the Cartier Santos is recognized as a luxury watch is an indication of just how collectible this watch is. If you can ever find an automatic wind Santos in good condition at a reasonable price, it is a great investment.

    Eatons of Canada is also an interesting company brand. This department store was successful in the 19th and 20th centuries while Canada developed as a nation. Although currently defunct, there were many high quality Eatons brand watches sold through its stores. One of the most famous Eatons watches and one with a huge collector following is the Eaton(Rolex) Quarter Century watches. This watch was made for Eatons by Rolex for Eatons employees who had worked 25 or more years for the company. Produced for a number of decades, these watches are now highly collectible and they bring high prices on the open market. In fact this model of watch is considered an important part of both Eatons and Rolex product history.

    Although many of the retail watch brands mentioned above (like Cartier, Tiffany, Bulgari and Chaumet) have become synonymous with very expensive high end watches and are thus eminently collectible, it is often the less know retail brand of watch that can present the vintage watch collector with the opportunity to obtain a super high quality watch for a reasonable price. In this market niche Bucherer stands out (and to a lesser extent Turler or Tourneau) as a retail company that has sold thousands and thousands of collectible watches. Bucherer is a chain of jewelry and gift stores headquartered in Geneve, Switzerland. They sell the highest quality music boxes, spectacular jewelry, china and most of all, watches. Being in Geneve puts Bucherer right in the middle of the watch industry. For many years Bucherer was one of Rolex? largest retail sellers.

    But Bucherer also sold its own brand of watches all through the 20th century. While many of it?s watches were typical manual wind or automatic watches Bucherer was able to sell a very large number of its own brand of COSC certified chronometers. The fact that they were reasonably priced does not take away from their quality. In fact this often made Bucherer certified chronometers the best value and the largest selling brand to tourists who came to visit Geneve, hoping to buy a fine watch at a reasonable price. Bucherer also sold many of their certified chronometers in solid gold cases with a much lower markup than the elite watch brands. This is a great boon for collectors who want to build a collection of certified chronometers. The fact that there are many many Bucherer chronometers still available on the market after 30-40 years use is both a tribute the quality of their manufacture and a benefit to collectors because these watches are not scarce.

    Collectors seeking super complicated watches will again benefit from the retail store brand name on the dial of a watch that may have been produced by Rolex, Audemars, Patek Philippe, IWC, Lemania or Ulysses Nardin. Many collectors would like to own certified chronometer watches, or triple date moonphase models, or mechanical alarm watches or even repeaters, but can never justify the extremely high prices that many of the elite brands bring at auction or in vintage watch shops. But these same kind of high end watches can sometimes be purchased less expensively with retail store brand names on the dial, even if they were made by an elite watch company for these retailers. This is especially true if you want to collect complicated European pocket watches. A special example of this is the triple date, moonphase chronograph, automatic wind watch with the Tourneau brand on the dial. Tourneau is one of the world?s largest watch retailers and their own brand of watches are every bit as good as many of the more well known watch brand products they sell with the same features for substantially more. Look at the watch itself, check the movement, consider the warranty service on a retailer?s own brand when you visit that store. In many cases you will find the retailer?s ?house? brand is a much better value.

    So while in some cases a watch may be more or less collectible depending on which brand markets a certain movement, in other cases it can be the movement that makes all the difference. And in the case of watches marketed by retailers, some watches can represent a special value if the watch?s value is enhanced by the retailers brand (like it is with Cartier) or if the retailer?s brand name makes the watch substantially more affordable than it might have been with the maker?s brand name on the dial (like it is with Bucherer or Tourneau). So it is a good idea for collectors to become familiar with the movements which have proven to be of very high precision and reliability, so if they find one of these movements in a watch with a less well know brand name they can recognize its value. Sometimes when the same basic movement is in two different branded watches one model may be worth substantially more if the movements are rebuilt or enhancements are added. Sometimes it?s the brand and sometimes it?s the movement. Good luck and have fun collecting watches.

    Watchking
    We don?t get enough sand in our glass

    Readers might find the main character of my latest book interesting since he is a website administrator and watch collector who accidentally become involved in a murder mystery. The first 4 chapters of this book (The Physics of Crime) may be read online at:

    http://tomtgradeczek.tripod.com/TPOC/Chapter1.html

    Publisher inquiries welcome Please respond to this article in our main forum or by sending an e-mail to Watchking
    Last edited by Ernie Romers; September 25th, 2010 at 12:55.
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