I wish I could write a detailed review of the Heuer scene happenings during 2004 and then offer some insight into the future of the community in 2005. But I leave this for others...
Instead of that, I'll whine
Two things have changed (always in MY opinion) this past year in the Heuer scene. Both for the worse. Firstly, the availability of interesting watches has sank. Secondly the prices have increased.
From these two factors the worse is the financial one. The availability is still a problem, but the difference is not that big from previous years. I could live with it. The real problem is price increase. Let me share some views:
No matter how you look at it, prices for vintage watches have increased, period. They have increased in euros and they have increased much more in dollars. They have increased on ebay and they have increased in online shops.
A Silverstone sold on ebay for $4,5K, a Daytona is listed on ebay, from a veteran watch dealer for $2,5K and a cal15 Monaco for $6K, a used Montreal can be found in an online shop for $2K and the best one: $400 for a perforated strap that remotely reminds of the original without being the original... what's next?
What and who drives this prices so high? Why is this happening?
Watches in general (new and vintage) are a hot commodity at the moment. Furthermore there is a very strong online watch community (communities?) hungry to consume. And this has started not yesterday, it has started before 6-7 years or more. The watch industry is well aware of that and they try to capitalize on it. Brands move upwards in the price range (Zenith is the most obvious example among many others). New, low production - high price watch brands pop up out of nowhere. etc. etc. From a $20 Poljot to a $200,000 Richard Mille, the mechanical watch industry has seen very bright days in the last years.
New people came into the hobby. They bought, they sold, they learned, some of them left. But the out come is that now there are many more watch enthusiast than there were 7 years ago. Much more.
The vintage market is for most watch enthusiast the next step. Most of us vintage collectors started with a new watch, right? So, some of the watch enthusiast that have been created in the last years, move slowly to the vintage market.
Now Heuer has a very distinctive position among the other vintage watch firms. You see it has a community! A community dedicated to vintage watches. No many brands have such a thing. Now add to this this the fact that Tag Heuer "promotes" their vintage pieces by creating re-issues, and you may see why more new vintage collectors are looking at Heuers and why the dealers (on ebay or anywhere) are increasing their prices.
The bad thing is that they increase their prices a lot. And what's worse is that the people who pay these prices are very often new collectors with more money that knowledge. It ia a very different thing to pay a very high price for a rare model you were looking after for a couple years than to pay a high price just because you can. The former shows passion and knowledge for the watch, while the letter shows indifference for the cost and ignorance for the watch.
I sort of feel like an acquaintance of mine and early Panerai adopter, feels now about Panerai: "They are great watches, I'll keep mine, but when I saw the guest and the singer of a show, both wearing Panerais, I knew I will not buy any more".
But on the other hand, life and collecting would be too boring if there were no fads, no trends, no changes in prices; if we all though the same, liked the same, and did the same. We have an exiting year ahead!