• Friday, May 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Investors target top wristwatch brands as store of value

iconic-wristwatches

The World’s super rich are taking to the collection of iconic wristwatches as an alternative means of investment and store of value. The   watches targeted belong in the class of Rolex, Chopard and Paiget, Backes & Strauss, Frank Muller, Richard Mille and Urwerk, and the list gets longer everyday, as the desire and appetite for luxury watches grows, according to BusinessDay findings.

The trend which is global, is now steadily catching on in the country, as super rich Nigerians, buy vintage and high end luxury wrist watches, not just as fashion statements, but as alternative investment items.

The Nigerian market for vintage wristwatches is estimated at more than $1 billion, and is growing in leaps and bounds, according to persons familiar with the industry.

The targeted wristwatches are regarded in super rich circles, as high brow fashion and status statements and stores of value.

Richard Mille, Backes & Strauss, de Grisogono, Rolex, Chopard, Paiget and Patek Philippe are among the most collected brands in the country. Demand for these brands is usually driven by the wristwatches’ condition, scarcity and complications.

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Frank Mullers’ Aeternitas Mega 4 is an all time classic. It is the most complicated wristwatch ever made, with about 36 complications, 1, 483 components and 99 jewels. In addition, Backes and Strauss Regent Diamond jubilee limited edition, which numbers just 60 pieces, is one of the brands being collected. It was designed to celebrate  Queen Elizabeth of England’s 59th year on the throne and came in an 18 carat white gold case handset with one or two rows of ideal cut diamonds.

A spokesperson, who prefers not to be named, at Julian’s Luxury store, an exclusive agent for high end luxury brands like Backes & Strauss, Frank Muller, Richard Mille, Urwerk, amongst other brands in Nigeria, said super rich Nigerians know the economic value of the  watches.

“Nigerians are now collecting these high end luxury brands because they are very discerning consumers. They know the luxury brands that very top people around the world wear. “Nigerians love exclusivity. For instance, Richard Mille is very simple but very pricey. An average Richard Mille piece that has no diamonds sells for  between $70, 000 and $80, 000, on the average.

“To wear a Frank Muller piece stands you out in the crowd. It says a lot about where the person is coming from,” he said.

Ify Nonyelu, business development director, Upfront & Personal, said in a previous interview that Nigeria was a brand driven market. “Status, therefore, is highly regarded and names like Rolex Piaget, among others, sell more than wristwatches of equal grade, but from less known brands,” she said.

At , Christie’s, the famous auction house in the United Kingdom vintage timepieces are the sixth largest department that made more than $116 million in sales in 2011, according to Paul Sullivan, a luxury goods critic.

“A watch is a piece of art in itself,” says Daniel Iroegbu, a watch dealer.

“High end watchmakers have created an allure around their brands. The most exquisite and expensive timepieces are collectors’ items any day. Brands like Patek Phillipe, Rolex have attracted attention to their unique designs. It is not a surprise that the Nigerian rich are buying fast into this novelty. They are doing so with the aim to make money, just like anyone will collect the art works of a Bruce Onobrakpeya or Grillo,” he said.

Smart high end wrist watch brands are already making in-roads into Nigeria to seize the opportunity this emerging market offers. “Nigeria is an emerging market with a lot of brand attention. Major brands are franchising to Nigerian distributors, because they realise that Nigeria is awash with plenty cash and very brand conscious people.

“The Nigeria market thus offers the best growth opportunity for high end wristwatch makers, especially with the economy of the rest of the world going south,” Nonyelu added.

A timepiece like men’s Rolex stainless steel black dial Daytona, which currently sells for N2.61 million ($13, 592), could cost 30 percent more in a year or two, said analysts familiar with the vintage wristwatch industry

A piece of the Backes and Strauss Regent Diamond jubilee limited edition sells for an average price of 300, 000 Euros and analysts say in another five years, the price could triple.

A piece of Franck Muller Giga Tourbillion collection currently sells for $193,012 and analyst say, in another three years, it will be worth more than $772, 000.

Another wristwatch brand, Hublot Big Bang 44mm from Hublot Watches, which currently sells for  N3 million  ($18,900) a piece, is also expected to be worth 30 per cent more in one or two years.

Collectors disclose that like old wine, the older the make and date of the wristwatch, the more expensive and valuable the watch becomes.

In 2012, the most expensive wristwatch sold at an auction was a 1928 Patek Philippe chronograph in Geneva for $3.6 million, according to online reports.

Collectors have an option to pass on vintage wristwatches to their children, who usually cherish such gifts. Rasheed Gbadamosi, chairman, RAG Ltd, said he inherited a Rolex wrist watch from his father. “I am not a jewellery person, but I treasure the Rolex I inherited from my father. He gave it to me shortly before he passed on. He told me it will be useful to me some day. I still have it and I wear it occasionally,” he said.

FUNKE OSAE-BROWN