Questions from a non-watch enthusiast

Hello fellow Watchcrunchers!

As watch nerds / enthusiasts / Idiot Savants we tend to be so engrossed in the world of watches that we overlook the fundamental questions that people outside of the hobby would wanna know. Recently I had a friend ask me some very good questions that I surprisingly never thought about and couldn’t answer very well, so I’d like forward those questions to you all:

  1. What makes certain designs so sought after e.g. pandas, tiffany blue dials, pepsis etc.?
  2. Why was it specifically Paul Newman’s watch that was valued so highly vs. other more well-known celebrities at the time?
  3. Do you think Rolex, AP, Patek Philippe watches will crash below retail in the secondary market?
  4. What’s the next big watch trend / brand / line that you think will go up in value?

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Marketing…🤯 ohhh no

I feel a @HotWatchChick69 dissertation looming…  

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I will take a crack at it:

  1.  Designs that become popular take an old idea and make a simpler more readable version. They always seem obvious in retrospect. Panda and reverse panda chronographs are instantly recognizable and the subdials are easy to see.  Early chronographs are complicated and cluttered. By merely adding contrast, the pandas are a huge improvement. Divers have often used color to aid in reading the bezel.  Primary colors will always be more popular than secondary colors. Tiffany blue is a different sort of faddish color.  Blue is the default favorite color of humanity. Variations on blue will always be more popular than hot/warm colors.  Blues are thought of as more versatile. I think that Tiffany blue is a way of making a warmer, brighter blue.
  2.  Race cars and physical beauty. Paul Newman occupied an odd cultural spot. It is hard to understand today because no one currently combines those attributes. He was both attractive to women and non-threatening to men. His love of auto racing was sincere. Fast cars, blue eyes, and Rolex made for a hell of a combination.
  3.  No. Throw a rock where you are and you can hit a luxury watch wearer. Supply and demand. 
  4.  It is hard to imagine other brands capturing the combination of reputation, popular appeal, and relative scarcity that is driving the high end of the market. Swatch is sitting on some very expensive brands:  Harry Winston, Jaques Droz, Leon Hatot, etc. They are all niche brands. You won't get a commodities trader in Chicago to spend their bonus on one of those. Richemont has plenty of high end brands in its portfolio.  None has the reach to make a splash. We read about Piaget. Very few buy them. The brands that are hot now will cool off, but I don't see them being replaced in that market any time soon. But, we will see. Rolex's dominance is a fairly recent phenomenon. 
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Ooh I'll take a stab at these 

  1. Hype of novelty
  2. Hype of celebrity 
  3.  Hype of a secondary market "crash" will probably keep these on par with retail, at worst. (Or best?) 
  4. Microbrand digital quartz is the next trend.
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Here's my take.

  1.  Popularity
  2.  High profile actor and race car driver
  3.  No
  4. Sinn 

I didn't say it would a long and in depth answer, I'll leave that for HotWatchChick69 & Aurelian 💯

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I’ll leave others to answer the 1st 2 questions more elegantly than “media” or “hype”. 
 

3) No, and to @Aurelian ’s point of supply and demand. Would take decades to trend even close to retail prices but not in this social medial timeline we live in. 
 

3) I’m gonna say classic big brand quartz, like maybe TAG Auquaracers, from 80’s. Watches like these (and other brands in the same timeframe) are what got a lot of us into this mess inherited or passed down from parents. 

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  1. They are more or less fashion trends, especially rediscovered fashion trends, sometimes merged with periods of technical innovation. No real rhyme or reason to it.
  2.  The right actor and movie at the right time. 
  3.  Yes, they will crash, the question is when. It will not be part of a normal recession, but people losing the connection with watches in general. They will go the way of the pocket watch.
  4. Nothing new. New color for Rolex, Seiko releases another 62MAS clone, but maybe the Chinese will innovate.
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Bzilla

Ooh I'll take a stab at these 

  1. Hype of novelty
  2. Hype of celebrity 
  3.  Hype of a secondary market "crash" will probably keep these on par with retail, at worst. (Or best?) 
  4. Microbrand digital quartz is the next trend.

Interesting answer to q4, I do see increasing interest in the quartz side too. Guess we’ll have to wait and see

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I'll throw my 2 cents in here...

1.) I think the uniqueness of the piece and the craftsmanship/design.

2.) Hype and nostalgia of Paul Newman + the story of the watch. Most people love a great story and the story of it coming from his wife made it even more memorable.

3.) No. There's still a large appetite for these brands. Will they come down, sure. 

4.) Creative, masterfully and beautifully crafted brands wit low volume (i.e H. Moser and Cie and Lange for examples).

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Aurelian

I will take a crack at it:

  1.  Designs that become popular take an old idea and make a simpler more readable version. They always seem obvious in retrospect. Panda and reverse panda chronographs are instantly recognizable and the subdials are easy to see.  Early chronographs are complicated and cluttered. By merely adding contrast, the pandas are a huge improvement. Divers have often used color to aid in reading the bezel.  Primary colors will always be more popular than secondary colors. Tiffany blue is a different sort of faddish color.  Blue is the default favorite color of humanity. Variations on blue will always be more popular than hot/warm colors.  Blues are thought of as more versatile. I think that Tiffany blue is a way of making a warmer, brighter blue.
  2.  Race cars and physical beauty. Paul Newman occupied an odd cultural spot. It is hard to understand today because no one currently combines those attributes. He was both attractive to women and non-threatening to men. His love of auto racing was sincere. Fast cars, blue eyes, and Rolex made for a hell of a combination.
  3.  No. Throw a rock where you are and you can hit a luxury watch wearer. Supply and demand. 
  4.  It is hard to imagine other brands capturing the combination of reputation, popular appeal, and relative scarcity that is driving the high end of the market. Swatch is sitting on some very expensive brands:  Harry Winston, Jaques Droz, Leon Hatot, etc. They are all niche brands. You won't get a commodities trader in Chicago to spend their bonus on one of those. Richemont has plenty of high end brands in its portfolio.  None has the reach to make a splash. We read about Piaget. Very few buy them. The brands that are hot now will cool off, but I don't see them being replaced in that market any time soon. But, we will see. Rolex's dominance is a fairly recent phenomenon. 

Oh wow, since I’m fairly young I didn’t know much about Paul Newman. Would be interesting to see who the next Paul Newman would be given how there are a lot of celebrities with killer watch collections. 

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Bzilla

Ooh I'll take a stab at these 

  1. Hype of novelty
  2. Hype of celebrity 
  3.  Hype of a secondary market "crash" will probably keep these on par with retail, at worst. (Or best?) 
  4. Microbrand digital quartz is the next trend.

This was my answer as well and he proceeded to ask “so what exactly is hype? And how does it form?” 🧐

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  1. What makes certain designs so sought after e.g. pandas, tiffany blue dials, pepsis etc.?  I think either history or hype, sometimes both.  
  2. Why was it specifically Paul Newman’s watch that was valued so highly vs. other more well-known celebrities at the time?  I don’t think this is an entirely accurate statement as phrased. 
  3. Do you think Rolex, AP, Patek Philippe watches will crash below retail in the secondary market?  Unlikely.  However, I do think They will dive a little lower and stabilize.  Once something becomes a commodity it is hard to undo. 
  4. What’s the next big watch trend / brand / line that you think will go up in value?  Montblanc.  based upon finishing, quality control, price point, etc., I think Richemont will continue to build this one out to the ranks of the other great houses it owns.  
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  1. Part of the answer has to do with just good watch design - legibility, functionality, form factor, how it wears, the details and finishing, how colour, materials, fonts and space are used etc. I think there is a certain group of watch enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts that can look at a watch and agree on how pleasing the aesthetics are, no matter their taste. An example I can think of is the BB58. The other part of this answer is related to marketing, hype and association with an image, lifestyle etc. And there is no better recent example than Tiffany Blue OPs.
  2. Who it belonged to, how it was acquired. Again I think the allure of what Paul Newman represents (Hollywood superstar, race car driver, entrepreneur) has somehow been weaved into a narrative, that appeals and aligns with collectors. Probably more appealing than say Marlon Brando, who had arguably just as cool a piece of watch folklore (bezel-less 1675 from Apocalypse Now), although in the collecting game, Brando prob has less pull.
  3. No. Especially AP and Patek's.
  4. VC or Lange (if they haven't already). Cartier maybe.
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can i answer it too? lol

  1.  because they often show on random ig reels
  2.  he is a respectable figure and racecar are very popular back then
  3.  no, i dont think so
  4.  affordable gmt, microbrand using seiko 4r34
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Ichibunz

Marketing…🤯 ohhh no

I feel a @HotWatchChick69 dissertation looming…  

Predictable GIFs | Tenor

But, in this case, I'm going against type!  No dissertation!!!  Short answers this time.

1. I think @Aurelian deserves a Nobel Prize Peace Prize for this one - certainly more deserving than many a recent awardee

2. Here, again, @Aurelian has a phenomenal answer!  Though, I will say that humans suffer significantly from fundamental attribution error and hindsight bias.  So, X will happen, which was due to entirely stochastic factors and 100% unpredictable and unforeseen, and then ex post we'll all say, "Oh, here's exactly why X happened, and I could see it from a mile away!"  It's possible that Paul Newman and his watch became so popular just because of random happenstance!  I mean, sure, he was A, B, and C, but it could very well be that A, B, and C were all necessary but insufficient conditions, and the sufficient condition was "random luck."  More interestingly, I once read about how female celebrities had it tough, because they couldn't appeal to as large of audiences as male celebrities could.  Both men and women will like particular male celebrities.  But, as a female celebrity, you can either appeal to men or women, but not both.  The examples the author used were the following - and I leave it to you to decide which of the two appealed to which audience!

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3.  Probably yes.  Prices of luxury goods always fall significantly when a recession hits.  Everyone begins selling off marginal assets in order to try to shore up balance sheets.  Heck, I, myself, am already beginning to cash hoard, and have put a stop to all marginal spending!  Beyond that, check out the below chart - it's the nominal 10-2 yield curve.  I know, I know...  everyone uses the 10-2 real yield curve, blah, blah, blah.  And we could have a 6 hour debate as to which is more appropriate and why, and then we'd get into a fist fight over the importance of rational expectations, money illusion, fiscal versus monetary effects, transmission effects, etc., etc., etc.  Suffice it to say, the summer before the contraction in GDP in 2020, the 10-2 nominal yield curve dipped below zero to -0.04%.  Today, the nominal 10-2 yield curve is at -0.19%.  Hence, my cash hoarding and the end to all my discretionary spending!

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4.  None.  If a recession hits, last thing on people's minds is gonna be "Which watch will help me flex best?"  Instead, it's gonna be, "How the f*ck do I make these mortgage payments?"  Even if somehow the Fed pulls off a "soft landing" - and my money is on that the Fed won't be able to do so - there should be enough economic pain and dislocation that market prices come down significantly, and supply catches up to demand, and prices for watches goes back to historical norms - at or below MSRP for whatever you want, whenever you want

Dammit!  I did write a dissertation!

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The answer to all those questions is money. make what sells, milk the celebs for sales. chase the ascending commodities, predict the next big buying push as soon as China comes out of lockdown. Money drives it not content or style.