Here is a fine example of a mid 20th century chronograph wristwatch in stainless steel with a Swiss movement and an original, unrestored dial.
Investing in today's world can be a maddening proposition. The U.S. Federal Reserve has pegged short-term interest rates at near zero for several years running now. This means that savings accounts and short-term CDs earn meager rates of return and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Some investors have reacted to these developments by transferring money from cash accounts and purchasing stocks. But with most U.S. equity indices having a dividend yield hovering around 2%, there is precious little protection against a downside move in stock prices. Indeed, the omnipresent prospect of a 20% to 50% draw-down in stocks should rightly give any reasonable investor pause.
Other investors have instead opted to move their cash into long-term bonds, where yields are somewhat higher. But the same problem exists here, although it is known by another name. In long-term bonds one takes on duration risk, which is the possibility that interest rates will rise substantially, driving the value of the bonds you hold down. So in a certain sense choosing between stocks and bonds in today's market is a lot like the plight faced by the Greek hero Odysseus. In the Homeric Odyssey, Odysseus was forced to sail his ship between the mythological sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis. To avoid one of the monsters meant facing the other. Likewise, if you navigate your financial ship to avoid one peril (duration risk in bonds) you expose yourself to another, completely different, but equally dangerous situation (the risk of a stock market crash).
Therefore, many investors today choose to wait things out, clinging to the safety of cash. While this approach has a great deal of merit, compelling alternatives do exist. Collectible, vintage wristwatches manufactured between approximately 1915 and 1975 are one of those often overlooked, yet incredibly intriguing alternatives. Provided an investor already has a fully funded emergency account, allocating a percentage of one's otherwise idle cash to a collection of fine vintage wristwatches could prove a wise choice. An heirloom quality wristwatch, if properly cared for, is unlikely to depreciate in value.
Affordable Vintage Gold Wristwatches For Sale
With their elegant lines, sweeping curves and retro dials, vintage wristwatches evoke the sophisticated culture of a bygone golden age. The cases of fine vintage wristwatches can be composed of either sterling silver or solid gold, varying in purity from 9 karat (37.5% fine gold) all the way up to 18 karat (75% fine gold). Platinum is occasionally encountered as well, although the price for these pieces is usually significantly higher. Examples with gold-plated or gold-filled (a type of thick gold-plate) cases are less collectible and should be avoided. Stainless steel, a very common watch material today, began to be widely used in wristwatches starting in the 1940s.
Vintage Omega Wristwatches For Sale
Unlike today's digital quartz watches, older mechanical watches keep time via a complex arrangement of gears, rotors and springs called the movement. In fact, the mechanical watch industry nearly went extinct in the 1970's when the market was flooded by cheap, highly accurate quartz watches. Vintage mechanical wristwatches can use either manually wound or automatic movements. As the name implies, automatic movements use the energy of the wearer's everyday physical motions to automatically wind the watch.
Watch movements often reference the number of jewels they possess. Jewels are used in mechanical watches to reduce the friction between moving parts, thus increasing accuracy and reducing wear. Vintage watches typically have between 7 and 27 jewels, but a 17 jeweled watch is considered fully jeweled. Increasing the number of jewels beyond this point yields very little benefit.
Vintage Longines Wristwatches For Sale
A vintage watch's value is partially dependent on the number of complications present in the movement. A complication is any time-keeping operation in addition to just hours, minutes and seconds. A date function, moon phase calendar and chronograph (stop-watch function) are all good examples of complications. Some watches can have a multitude of highly elaborate complications, making them very desirable to collectors. The complexity of a functioning vintage wristwatch's movement is a mesmerizing wonder, the culmination of several hundred years of innovation and old-world craftsmanship. In many ways a fine mechanical wristwatch is actually a miniature work of art that rests upon the wrist for all to see.
Vintage Chronograph Wristwatches For Sale
There are a myriad of companies that produced very fine vintage wristwatches during the early to mid 20th century. Elgin, Gruen, Hamilton and Waltham are the most well-known U.S. brands and investment-grade examples of these watches can often be purchased quite reasonably today. Most other collectible wristwatch manufacturers were Swiss in origin and include Audemars Piguet, Baume et Mercier, Breitling, Girard-Perregaux, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines, Omega, and Piaget. A few European watchmakers have even become synonymous with the finest quality: Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and, of course, the ubiquitous Rolex. While Rolex is the most well-known and popular of watch manufacturers today, it is important not to buy a watch strictly based on its brand. Brands naturally wax and wane in popularity over time. While Rolexes are high quality products, other watchmakers have created equally fine watches both historically and today.
Vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre Wristwatches For Sale
High-quality vintage wristwatches serve dual purposes simultaneously. First, they can be a store of value, especially if the watch case is made of solid gold or silver. Second, they are a usable accessory that can be worn for special occasions. A well-made, vintage wristwatch is a subtle, yet instantly recognizable indicator of social status and refinement. Nothing finishes a man's formal attire more effectively than a classically styled, yet timeless dress watch. Similarly, a woman attending a formal event with an exquisite, sparkling period timepiece draped fashionably upon her wrist is sure to turn heads.
Vintage Hamilton Wristwatches For Sale
Fine vintage wristwatches can vary wildly in price from just a few hundred dollars all the way to several million dollars, depending on condition, rarity, manufacturer, number of complications, case material, etc. However, high-quality, investment-grade examples in solid karat gold, sterling silver or stainless steel can readily be found in the $300 to $5,000 range with many fine specimens available under $1,000. These pieces would not only be functional and stylish, but also serve to diversify a more traditional investment portfolio composed of stocks and bonds.