What’s next for stainless steel sports watches
Less familiar is the attention some collectors are now paying to dress watches, an industry term for watches designed to be worn with suits and on formal occasions. Interest focuses on the styles of clothing that were crafted from the late 1980s to the early 2000s by the watchmakers who laid the foundations for today’s independent scene, including Daniel Roth, Roger Dubuis, Michel Parmigiani and Frank Muller.
In July, A Collected Man, a London-based website for rare watches and other collectables founded by Silas Walton, published an essay on “the rise of neo-vintage watches”, referring to timepieces which are not quite new, not quite vintage and have long been “thrown away by collectors precisely because they fell through the cracks”.
“People recognize that these watches were made at a time when the watch industry was reinventing itself,” Walton said in a recent video call. “They have been manufactured to an extremely high standard; the design was very good in many cases. But once they went out of fashion, they disappeared into the drawers and there wasn’t enough activity to move the market until the era of Instagram and online platforms like ours, and suddenly the people have rediscovered them.
Mr. Walton referred to a Roger Dubuis chronograph from the late 1990s certified with the prestigious Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark, made “by the best case makers, with the best movement, the best finish and yet it sells $20,000,” he said. “How can that mean anything?”
Equally undervalued, according to Aurel Bacs, the Geneva-based auctioneer who heads Phillips’ watch department, are “cool men’s watches,” which he describes as slim 35-millimeter models from the 1960s and 1970 by brands such as Audemars Piguet, Piaget, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
“You couldn’t give them a few years ago because they wouldn’t give you that status,” he said.