Friday, December 11, 2009

Winding down from one, gearing up for another!!!

Well, Antiquorum had another MONSTER auction, bringing in over $9 million. $9 million.
It is really good to see the big players stepping up to buy top shelf pieces. It shows they are looking for sound investments and by the looks of these results, they have found them. While Rolex was not in the top 5 highest lots, there were some pretty impressive hammer prices like:
lot 233 @ $182k
This "pre Daytona" 6234 was pristine and it brought in big money for a non oyster.
while the 6238 "pre daytona" lot 232 only brought in $24k, mainly due to the refinished dial.
Lot 226 Milgauss 6541 was respectable even with it's aftermarket hands @ $45k
Parts were strong with lot 206, james bond bezel w/insert sold for $6k, which is about right for a red triangle.
Lot 98 Texas dialed 6263 Paul Newman came in at $70k. Do I say something? Ok, I will say something:
While I have been the one of the "more vocal" dealers speaking out on the texas dial regarding it's status as a "non original" part, these things keep selling and selling for strong money.
It appears people do not really care, so I am taking a back seat and watching the parade! The $10k reward is still up for the taking, and even though I guarantee no one will ever claim it, I am kind of liking these dials these days and would not have a problem wearing one...or dealing one. People know their history and are still paying up, though maybe not as much as a "non texas" Newman dial, so I am backing off.
That said, AQ really took it to the limit with the big Patek lot going $1.2 million w/hammer. Amazing. Big up to Evan, Bob and the crew, and especially Courtney who got my bids in through online problems and all, allowing me to win the 2 lots I wanted most. The bad weather prohibited me from getting to NYC and thanks the great AQ staff (Heather too) my bidding was seamless.
Patrizzi is also shaking things up. While they are setting up for a big payday of their own on Monday, they have a new "silent auction" process which is really going to change the way the big auction houses look at sales. here's how:
During the 3-4 day preview, sellers are allowed to place lots in for an authentic "silent auction". I personally placed 8 pieces with low reserves which will be sold or returned on Monday.
This will allow sellers to circumvent the 3 month turnaround time from drop off to payoff which is a real hassle for guys like me who sell fast and cheap. If it works and pieces sell, it will revolutionize the big auction game and allow more people to join and pull "retail" like prices from their stock. I think Patrizzi has the right idea and even though we have butted heads in the past, I like what they're doing and support them 100%.
I look forward to personally watching the action on 57th Monday. This is a big auction for Patrizzi and I really hope they do well.
news at 11, on Monday that is!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Strange, Strange Market...

What else can I call it? Strange is the only way I can describe a market where big auction houses are pulling crazy prices and mid level ($10-$30k) watches sit on forums. I have seen nice items sit, and crap sell in a heartbeat. It seems with the lack of a strong buying presence (end users) in the USA, we all are shopping our goods overseas. Overseas buyers are paying up, but not at the rate of 2007/8 and thus there is a glut of items on the market which sit above the "entry level" price point. Let's look at plastic daytonas. What is the buy in? I say $20-23k for screw downs, papers add $1-2k depending on package? Well, you cannot buy one. There are some papered ones on the market from known dealers for $28k and they are sitting. Interesting.
Tropical subs are losing steam also. Well, not losing steam but they MUST be priced right to sell. The big matzoh ball is what does "priced right" mean? I cannot tell you. It has to do with a buyers need, as always, but many US dealers are treading very cautiously after getting stuck with lots of overpriced stuff last year before the crash. They will never admit to a crash though. they will point to auction results and justify crazy numbers. What does the buyer make of this? Well, for starters you need to buy very carefully. Gold is continuing to rise and the dollar is dumping, unemployment is at 10% and we hear that business is good. But it is good, very good for certain pieces. If you can buy right and buy what is moving there is money to be made, just not the kind of money many US and EU dealers were making 2 years ago. It is puzzling, but yet we still buy. can this market spike again, as it did in 2007/8? I say no. many disagree, but those are people sitting on millions of dead overpriced stock. OK, not dead stock, just overpriced. The US buyer/end user is tight on funds. disposable income is scarce thus everything has to sell overseas where many of these boys have been collecting for years and have plenty of :"collectables". See my point?
We hear the common person who watches the DOW thinking it is a barometer for the state of the US economy saying "look, it is getting better", not realizing how the market works and who it really affects.
I have not pointed out any examples of high auction sales because may who read this know what I am talking about. many here also can see this "two tier" market continue to spread w/more area in between than ever.
What do we make of it? Are the auction houses "shilling", driving up their prices with fake bids in order to "project" a stronger market? I say no. I could see if it were one auction that was high/unrealistic but all houses are pulling strong numbers so it is unlikely there is any shenanigans. So why are auctions pulling strong numbers and privates cannot sell at the same level?
Maybe it is the following. Auctions historically have appealed to many rich people who get together and bid against each other and against their own egos...see what I mean?
It looks like something I said long ago is happening and that is the auction houses are where to go in order to bring the highest price for any special piece, and any piece in general. They have a following and are trusted. In a couple of weeks P & Co, along with AQ will have their NYC sales and I promise there will be heavy numbers on the buy side.
We just have to look within and see what all this means to the "lower tier"...

Friday, October 30, 2009

IWJG NYC Show Report

As many of you know and have read here, I was not confident going into this show. Having been through the routine of dealer to dealer based shows, I felt there would be nothing priced to buy for resale. Boy, was I wrong.
This show was a total rush from start to finish. I set up in the front, across from Aaron Faber/Patrizzi, left of Bob Wingate, feet away from Robert Maron Watches/AQ. From my first steps around the room, I knew this was going to be a good one. The dealers were buzzing and pricing seemed to be adjusted (for some) and buyers were abundant.
Let's dissect: From a selling standpoint parts were HUGE. I moved more parts at this show than I did since the 2008 Orlando IWJG show. many many foreign buyers looking for anything and everything, paying what I feel to be fair prices. Some strange things sold like newer model dials, old refinished plates, date wheels, and little things. My usual "small ball", high volume sales.
I was buying anything plastic and in the $5k range. I scored many times only to have a buyer offer me more five minutes after I bought it. This went on both days. Flipping is my business and I honestly could have came with nothing but a checkbook and left with the same only with a bigger balance. NICE!!!
Big Patek seemed sluggish with some of the "big boys" bringing home what they brought with them. Well, Brinks had a good day!
Lower end and mid level stuff in and around the $10k price point were moving quickly. I did see many dealers who were overpriced sitting, looking a bit confused as to why they did not sell anything the whole show, and there were a few of them!
Now I am not saying big pieces did not sell (I sold two over $30k, one of them modern) but there were many a dealer who went home with the same olastic Daytona priced between $25-35k. All the big boys had plenty of plastic chronos and they did not sell. the big Newman boys saw the same lack of action. I am not sure if it was the asking price but one BIG dealer said there was alot of lookers, not enough buyers. No worries, these will all sell at auction, where they BELONG!!!
The big part of this show which contributed to the smaller pieces selling was the new IWJG policy which let members invite guests. I has 11 people and some of my regular NY boys come and they all spent, but think about it: these "new dollars" walked in as "CASH ONLY" buyers so how much and which pieces do you think they bought? Corectamundo, the smaller pieces. It was a blessing to have these people bringing in money loosening up the dealers and it was a HUGE success. I have spoken with Olga Bullock, owner of IWJG and she has given me permission to invite as many VRF/TBR (the Buckley Report) readers free of charge to any and all US based shows including Vegas, Miami, Orlando, etc. What a great perk!
This is a sign of the market my faithful readers. not much disposable income so people are going smaller. Many of the big perfect pieces just sat, as well as some way overpriced "tropical" watches.
Patrizzi and Antiquorum were consigning and appeared to do well. Great thing! Look for big pieces to sell swiftly at the right venue, a room full of rich buyers, not dealers looking to turn a profit.
This my take on the show and of course there will be many who disagree. remember,even though I am a dealer, i am telling it like it was for me. remember the motivation of others who may WANT TO SEE IT DIFFERENTLY.
It was my pleasure to attend and if anyone wants to get free admission to any IWJG show, please email me.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

As October Winds Down (or up)...

October is usually a strong month in the watch world. Modern dealers are stocking up for the holidays and many times, people are thinking year end bonus and what to do with it. Last October was pitiful, with all that "stock market fallout" stuff and the wild economy. This October is more stable with the auction houses getting much of the big vintage action, meaning heavy pieces.
Most of the stuff I am seeing is smaller under $20k goods which are much easier to move in troubled times. By working on small margin, there is swift action thus good profit. The dealers who are having problems are the guys who are holding on for the last dollar on the table, looking for an end user who may or may not have much knowledge and thus will pay up. These sellers are hoping the market shoots up and are pricing based on these assumptions. In most cases, they will just sit on dead inventory. I personally cannot see the point of holding merch that was bought during the peak of the market with cheap money. I hear over and over "I paid this or that", but ultimately, the CASH is worth more now, even if you are losing a few points-10/20%. It makes no sense to me. With prices very sketchy it seems only dealers are buying. Many end users are not in the game due to the bad US/EU economy. Asia is pumping but it seems it is all dealers. The US end user is not prevalent in this game and therefore all roads lead to overseas buyers. This is key in terms of market price decline. Remember, the US buyer fueled the "watch bull run" of 2006-8. These guys borrowed cheap money from their HELOC and bought stuff be it new cars, new bathrooms or vintage/new watches. With these players out of the game, there is a dynamic missing and thus, prices are softening. regardless, dealers are holding on, keeping prices up thus keeping new players out. The buzz in the USA for new end users is not a good one. The pieces moving are in the $5k range, entry level stuff. This is good, but with everyone knowing about vintage subs, GMTs and the like, no dealer can buy them right enough to make a decent profit. Think about it, with ebay flashing nutty "buy it nows", civilians search and know how much stuff is worth to the last dollar, many times unrealistically, but they have a database.
On 47th there are so many hawks we never see a fresh piece, and when we do the seller has "educated" themselves and there is no/very little profit. I am still buying as it is better to make a tiny profit than none at all, but it takes alot of pieces to make it worthwhile.
The IWJG show will be very telling. With all the hullabaloo after the Vegas show it will be interesting if there is anything to buy. Understand, these sellers are all online, ebayed and Muniched so what is the point of selling to another dealer when their real customer and profit is a FEDEX or flight away? Who knows. I will be there regardless, cash/checkbook in hand ready for the one deal to make a show. There's always ONE!!!
I look forward to seeing everyone in NYC and al the best...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Buckley responds:

First, I was personally asked by Ed Faber to review any vintage Rolex that came in for sale due to the many fakes that have been sold by auction houses over the years. It was a friendly agreement, with me never asking for money, just a "blip in the catalogue" as a courtesy. Fortunately, I was present before lot 198 made it to the block for the June 7th NYC sale. That watch has a $30k or so reserve. FAKE. Experts missed it. Your "experts" have now overlooked an even MORE obvious fake in lot 169 of the current catalogue. Does anyone see a pattern of your "experts" no spotting the vintage rolex fakes? I mean, 169 was spotted by an associate by viewing the catalogue, never having held the watch. When I saw it, I agreed it was a BAD fake red dial from early 2000 Vietnamese made.
Our "agreement" was out of friendship and our mutual desire to not have P & Co. be like some of the other houses which are looked at with not much respect. John Buckley/tuscanyrose has always backed the right horse and has never been afraid to point out bad/questionable stuff. It was an agreement and everyone who was anyone via the online forum world knew it and was glad I was assisting.

Let's get back to the "texas" dial. Obviously whoever you are within P & Co organization you may or may not know that I have personally put up a $10,000.00 reward for anyone who can show me a Rolex catalogue or auction catalogue showing a "texas" dial prior to 1994. I take that stuff seriously. Osvaldo and I spoke at great length in Miami this past January and I believed he was on the same page. Personally speaking, I am sure Osvaldo does not get to inspect all the watches coming for sale. Even if he did, frankly he is not up on the many variations and levels of fake stuff that has come about over the years. It is no fault of his own but he is not a "street dealer" who has the advantage of seeing the full spectrum of watches. Many times auction houses receive watches cherry picked from someone's safe, or in the case of many fakes, constructed to "fool the experts' of any given house.

Regarding your "experts", where are they? They are certainly not in NYC. Anyone in NYC knows to come see me if they have any questionable watches or dials and I will always give them courtesy.
My own personal watchmaker was asked to work for P & Co. and quite frankly, even with his 20 + years at Rolex is not up on fakes like I am.

This leaves you with a small problem which is only going to become bigger. How does a lot 169 get by your experts? Mistakes? Te err is human? Tell that to the poor soul who trusts the auction house and buys it, only to be duped (unintentionally), but no matter. Collectors do not forget buying fake stuff. Collectors trust their own.
Please understand I offered my expertise freely and unconditionally. I attached my good name and stellar reputation out of friendship and quite honestly "a blip in the catalogue". Though I never got the blip, it was not as important as me seeing the Rolex inventory and making sure it was clean. When I received calls last week from associates and online dealers/collectors asking what an obvious fake (169) is doing in the catalogue I was quite disturbed. The most disturbing part is there is obviously no one on hand to spot the obvious fakes so what will happen when a really good one comes in?
Oh yeah, the 5 year return policy. My services were offered unconditionally/free of charge and by not taking my services or expertise seriously, another bad fake graces your catalogue for all the watch world to see. All you had to do is send some scans. I was not asking for anything but even after the lot 198 debacle, no one believes they need assistance.
You folks do not have anyone qualified to spot this kind of stuff. PERIOD. Not many of the big houses do. That is why it was important to me for P & Co to be different, standing behind quality.

Ita, I would love to take you up on your invite to the Geneva HQ, have some coffee and examine some watches. It is not my intention to offend anyone as I am quite fond of Ed, Philip and Osvaldo but your your house will not be taken seriously by the real collectors until you get a handle on this obvious problem. 30 years experience on a watchmakers bench sometimes does not mean anything when a very well made 'dangerous" fake is constructed with the express purpose of fooling someone.
I care about quality and hate the idea of someone buying a bad watch. I believe the auction houses are in the right place at the right time for buyers/collectors and can be very successful, but only if there is a very strict counterfeit protection policy.
I harbor no ill feelings and still offer my services and expertise at no charge to your organization as I feel it is important P & Co have someone who can spot these fakes.

best regards...

Patrizzi responds...

For those who did not see, there is a comment at the bottom of my previous post. I will respond shortly...

Ita said...
As a regular reader of your blog I was surprised to read your comments in your Thursday October 15 blog and feel I should respond. Probably it is best that I give my comments in the order that you made yours…
1. “Listing a Texas dial PN and calling it correct.”
Being in the watch business yourself, I’m sure you are aware that one expert’s “texas” dial is another expert’s Rolex dial and that the discussions on this could go on forever and ever (as you would know if you were ever present in our watchroom when our experts are writing a catalog) but, at the end of the day, it all boils down to whether you like the piece and want to buy it or not. Added to which, at Patrizzi & Co we offer you the added reassurance that we give a 5-year guarantee on all our watches.

Given the fact that between our auctions and private treaty business we see more than 2,500 timepieces pass through our hands each year (watches, clocks, scientific instruments, automatons, musical clocks and watchmaking tools – all dating from the 15th century to the present day) – I do hope you will forgive us if we make an occasional error – after all to err is human – to forgive (they say) is divine! I know you love Rolex, but horological works are not only Rolex but the whole spectrum of watches and mechanical masterpieces.

2. “my thoughts are I am going to meet with them and sever our agreement.”
I have to say that we are unaware of any agreement you may have with Patrizzi & Co – I have asked my colleagues here, in New York and in Milan, and of course Osvaldo Patrizzi, and no one is aware of any current agreement we may have with you. So I am not sure how you will be able to break an agreement that does not exist.

3. “I cannot have them leaving the catalog to inexperienced people they have on their staff and my name being associated with them.” (For the last part of your comment see my response no. 2 – to the best of my knowledge your name is not associated with us and ours is not associated with yours…)

Our experts who write our catalogs are very experienced (each with more than 30 years of watchmaking experience) – and yes, we naturally have trainee experts learning their trade with us – but these work alongside our watchmakers and senior watch experts – all working together, exchanging information and physically checking the watches together. I would be very happy to invite you to our Geneva HQ to see for yourself the next catalog being produced and to enjoy the debate and reexamination of watches it occasions.
Ita McCobb, Patrizzi & Co

October 17, 2009 6:32 AM

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Patrizzi & Co. need to shape up...

Well, it did not take long for P & Co to follow along with the other houses by listing a "texas" dial PN and calling it correct. No surprise. As I write this, my thoughts are I am going to meet with them and sever our agreement. I cannot have them leaving the catalog to the inexperienced people they have on staff and my name being associated with them. Lot 169 is just so blatant an oversight I can barely stand it. This is what happens when you get "experts" who learn their craft by reading books and on the internet. There is no way around it, you MUST handle watches, and not just watches people bring for auction, lots of them on a daily basis in order to understand the differences between real and fake.
While I am flabbergasted I am also glad to be on the path of my real choosing: being the watchdog of auction houses and pointing out all the discrepancies. Troubleshooter, I like to call it! lol
My God, what are these people thinking?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Auction follow-up

Bottom line appears to be nothing hit reserve. The auction totaled 3 million or so w/1.2 going to one watch.
Contrary to prior statements, the Rolex were sparse but those in the auction were not bad. the 16800 was as nice a package as you would see here but reserve had to be well over the last bid 6k. $6k was a fair price for a 16800 full set, maybe even low for one that nice but it was certainly not a $9k package. The 5508 had a story during the auction with power going down with someone winning at $11k then they restarted and it was $14k. While the 5508 was "ok", it was not pristine and I think $14k was way too much for that particular piece.
The 1655 was the biggest joke getting up to $13.5k for a 7 million swiss t <25 model (nice one too) but what could the reserve possibly be? I mean come on, I have sold 6 of those in the last 2 months none selling over $12k.
I think everyone is a little gassed up from the Vegas show and AQ sales. While stuff is moving, it has to be priced right. take a look at the VRM and it tells the story. same stuff overpriced to begin with sitting and sitting. stuff priced right is sold with two and three back up buyers. Now the big "matzo ball" is the perfect piece. OH YES, QUALITY AND PERFECTION IS STILL KEY!!
To a degree, yes it is. But again, if someone pops a perfect red sub full set on at $25k it is not going ANYWHERE.
The big lift in pricing over 2005-8 was fueled by cheap American money with $200k yr guys getting in and buying up many times "sub par" stuff. now people are looking for either a deal, or they want perfection at the right price.

Look at VRM and it shows price point. I do not like Ebay as a barometer though it is helpful.

Here is a prediction for IWJG and some may not like it. Prices will not be right. Dealers are too gassed up and you will hear the old "I can get more in Munich or Ebay". It will be a good show for smaller items, parts, and other stuff but there will not be any watches a dealer can buy and then sell here on VRF. Why should there be? all the dealers at IWJG are reading this lol!

All in all is fair to say the P & Co. sale taught us a few things. first off you have to know the market before telling someone you can sell their watch for stupid money. next though it is nice for buyers, the "no commission" hammer price is not good for sellers and it shows. sellers have to pad their stuff in order to not get hurt, thus high reserves.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Patrizzi & Co. Sale

The Patrizzi auction of October 7th was very telling. I entered late, lot 30 or so, but was pleased to find a full room and a good buzz. This was lacking at the previous US Patrizzi & Co. sale in June. Good sign.
What happened next was surprising to some, but not to me. Lot after lot went unsold. This happened because many of the reserves were IMO way out of sync with the market. I mean come on a 1655 7 million (lot 74) gets a bid of $13.5k and does not hit reserve???? I know this is a venue for "end users' but in the room were many of the "usual suspect" NYC dealers looking to cash in on the "no buyers premium" P & Co. is known for. I do not know about them, but this NYC dealer had no luck, or should I say no intention of paying up for pieces which were WAY overpriced and thus, went back to their owners.
When are people going to wake up and admit there is a money problem in this country and EU. Remember people, the reason for the "Revolution" in watch pricing was the availability of cheap money and credit in THIS country allowing many new players to come to the plate. Without these buyers, mid level stuff will not move. Here is another example: There was a steel Zenith Daytona w/papers (yes, those were papers) stalls at $9k we need to re-evaluate how much we pay for this kind of piece. Think about it: on 47th street you cannot buy a Daytona, Zenith or otherwise, for less than $8k. Does anyone else see what I am seeing? What was the reserve on that piece? had to be AT LEAST $11k. No takers. Yet, a platinum old style double quick President w/papers sells for $18k. ????? I just sold one to another NY dealer (new style, no papers) for $16 the day prior.
Two Tier, my friends. But Two Tier does not account for a Sky Moon selling for $1.2 million...or does it? It seems the big pieces sold for BIG money but not to US buyers. Surprised? Of course not. Or maybe you just do not want to admit it.
Pass after pass. One NY fixture sitting behind me was visibly frustrated. Why not? Better yet, WHY???
More after I collect my thoughts...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Short overview...

As many know, things have been a bit crazy around NY/NJ. Beginning of a new school for James, my mother falling and fracturing her pelvis last week, and other "stuff" in NYC w/partners. Fact of the matter is we are seeing alot of action in NYC on modern AND vintage. The variable is pricing. If is is crap, it must be priced right, as if it is MINT it must be priced right to sell. A quick look at the VRM will tell what stuff is priced right and what is not. If it sold, it is priced right, or "priced to sell". if it has been relisted over and over, it is not right for THIS MARKET.
The strong IWJG show report was nice to hear, bur we have to take into consideration what sold and at what price point. Did dealers dump and drop their pants? Not likely. Did they get 20k red sub w/papers money? Not likely. I am sure it was somewhere in between. Remember, there are many non US byuers who have strong money vs. the dollar and I am sure this is what accounted for most of the strong purchases.
Not a bad thing, but something to be considered.
is the market on a rebound? I guess that is what dealers would want to have happen and have the buying public believe. Is it happening across the board? Let's discus:
I can only vouch for NYC and 47th street when I say many there are "scared" of vintage. there are many longtime dealers who got the vintage bug and are now holding overpriced items "waiting for the market to rebound".
will it ever be like 2 years ago? Not likely. Why?
The phenomenon which occurred in the vintage market between 2006-8 was in effect "the perfect storm".

remember, for many years EU and Asian buyers have been into these pieces whereas the US buyers were not as present. There was alot of "cheap money" and many new "professionals" out there making $200k annually who caught the bug and dove in. now that these players have left the stadium, or are not as liquid, the demand domestically has declined. In come the EU/Asians who always played and know the game better. They know quality and what will sell in their particular market, as they have been doing it for decades.
The US buyers who bought anything as long as it was vintage rolex, have a problem. They bought stuff which in a strong market would sell in a flash and now cannot give it away. so what do they do? They hold on and hold on, and hold on waiting for the "rebound" but nothing happens with their piece because it is not "perfect" or marketable to the more experienced buyers/collectors.
At this time it is just a waiting game.
NYC sees alot of nice vintage stuff and also alot of the sub-par stuff I spoke about. Does it sell, sure but at drastically reduced prices. It may not be the Phillip Stahl or Jedly type piece, but these watches have value to mainly other dealers who "part them out" in order to make a buck. The steel changes hands and maney goes with it.
Is the market back? I am still not sure but something is happening. Is it good? Yes, for sure it is better than when nothing was selling for any price.

The P & Co auction on the 7th will be interesting as there are only a handful of vintage Rolex. the AQ Hong Konk auction has alot of stuff, but as was discussed before on VRF, many "Purists" are have ing a tough time accepting what they consider to be "authentic".
Sidebar: Though Texas dials are NOT Rolex, they have a value to many on this planet. Are they only "novice" collectors? think not. Those 3 CROC and other "texas" variations have a longtime following, and while they do, auction houses will sell them.
I believe it is an exciting time in the vintage world nonetheless. I have been buying heavy every day. The trick is buying right and selling right. I want to wish all who read this happy autumn and let's "turn and burn"!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Antiquorum Starts Season Off With A BANG!!!

Antiquorum CEO Evan Zimmerman walked over to me as I was inspecting some watches on the Wednesday preview and with a wink stated "we have more registered bidders than ever". Hmmmmmmmmm.
My mind begins to wander. Everyone who sees me at shows and in NYC like to engage in "market talk". As the self professed "king of market gloom and doom" I am sometimes skeptical of smaller dealers on the street who want me to hear some crap about how they sold a 1501 Date for $2k and expect me to blow it up on my blog and VRF. Maybe they are buried in a few? lol!!
"Real players" lay back in the cut and analyze so I wondered, is this going to be the big market indicator for the season?
I do not know but if yesterday's auction in NYC is any indication of where the market is going, I can only say "WOW"!
There are many ways to get an understanding of how an auction will play out. While sitting at the preview it was clear this was going to be a good one. Lots of people examining watches, pulling them apart, checking serials and casebacks. I was there with my trusty sidekick Viper who loves nothing more than pulling things apart and scrutinizing.
We arrived Thursday morning a bit into the first session, 30 lots in. As I sat down a beaming AQ Chairman Bob Maron walks over tells us the smaller lots in the beginning are doing "extremely well". Nice. Bobby's happy already. That's a good thing.
I was interested in the vintage Rolex, which by all accounts was scarce in this sale on the whole, and big Patek. Lots 93 and 94 go off as expected. Lot 95 then hammers at $7k which IMO is a little strong but not unexpected. Lots 97/98 go the same route. When lot 104 does not hit reserve, I am a little uneasy as it was just so perfect and sold for $100k last year. Then came lot 120, the 5970 Tiff which blew up over $130k+ BC. Lot 140 Breguet clock/watch combo sold for over $500k. By lot 173 the tsunami continued with a nice but ordinary 5513 went for $6k w/buyers commission! Lot 176 Tiffany 1016 was over $6500 w/BC, lot 177 $45k+.
Lot 179 was the killer selling for $84k w/BC. $84k!!!!
Patek lot 216 the "platinum Gilbert Albert" came close to $100k, which really was indicative of most Patek, current or vintage. All sold well which leads me to believe people are looking to plant money somewhere, ANYWHERE, but in the bank and want hard, tangible items with a proven history of value over the long term.
Lot 341 green Milgauss closed at $7200 which is amazing
My personal favorite (lol) lot 343 the Bamford Blackout Daytona closed soft, IMO at around $20k.
Can anyone say PRO-HUNTER???? There is no substitute!
Lots 350 and 351, 5513 mattes, closed in the mid $4k range, with lot 532 coming close to hitting $50k even with many "non Milsub" issues.
My other personal favorite lot 353 the cream 16550 full set closed over $15k. Lot 354 the 1530 full boat also did very well at $8k.
Lot 356, the orange hand, did not hit reserve which is not surprising as there are alot out there and can be had in the $11k range.
Lot 357 held it's own at $27k+ to round up the Rolex.
The big Patek lots were what really brought home the show:
Lot 401 over $74k, lot 402 clost to $400k but lot 413 and 414 hit the higher of their respective estimates at $780k and $680k+.
I must say, as I watch the market daily I did not see the strong "big Patek" numbers coming. They talk about a lack of money but it is apparent people will sock money into something which has a proven track record. Vintage Rolex is still hanging very strong in the auction world too. One observation I made during the day was there are deals to be had at auction and on the street but the "two tier" market is still in play. If you buy right, you can get top dollar at auction and vice-versa. We see deals on 47th and beyond, but these are serious Patek numbers. Some of the "more common Patek" did almost retail+ in many lots.

Patrizzi and Co are next on October 7th. While they may have not many Rolex in their sale, they are counting on higher quality pieces, as opposed to quantity. I am told by insiders that P & Co have lots coming in droves, but Osvaldo Patrizzi is not accepting anything but prime examples, which is refreshing and necessary.
I am very excited to see what happens on October 7th at Patrizzi & Co. Their sale will either solidify the market as real, or show this AQ auction to be a fluke. I am betting the market is coming back strong, but for the mere fact that cash is worth less and less each day. When inflation hits here and around the world, we can always use a red Subbie to trade for groceries!'

One last comment on yesterday's auction is this: Antiquorum had the "buzz" going...AGAIN! You could feel the electricity in the air when you arrived. Though I had to leave a little early I could tell it was going to be very strong w/sales close to $10 million. Not bad in a slumping Obamamerica, huh?
Again, many congratulations to Bob, Evan and the AQ team for a splendid sale and overall top rate event...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ready, Set, Go...the auction season begins!

Well, Summer is behind us and we have the wonderful month of September to look forward to. before we look forward, let's look back at the last two months:
As many remember, June was the last auction month before Summer vacation and both P & Co. and AQ had good turnouts. On 47th street July began slowly for most dealers still reeling from the downturn in the economy. Many were happy to be able to pay their bills. While we began July like all the rest, by mid month it began to pick up, with lots of nice collector pieces coming in daily. One of the highlights was a perfect brown dial red 1680 w/full boat. Needless to say it did not last the afternoon, scooped up by a NYC collector in minutes. There was also an abundance of 1655 over the last 6 weeks, 5 to be exact. Most were standard watches but there was a really nice straight hand in early August. The gilt Subbie and GMT also were popping. I personally traded 2 of each with the nicest being a 5513 4 liner bought at the late July NYC Antique Show for the price of a standard 5513. Nice!
I have also handled a bunch of 1803 Presidents, papered and not, which was unusual as they were trading for strong money.
Normal big gold pieces are way down, with single and double quick Presidents of the "80's-90's variety slipping down to under $6-8k, respectively dealer to dealer. Steel Daytonas are still in play between $7500-$8k, with mint examples higher if papered.
The feeling on 47th street is "regular" dealers are willing to touch vintage as many are holding pieces they thought were good deals at the top of the market but did not sell in time. Thus, they are buried in them waiting for a market upturn...YIKES!
Well, the market is holding, but "sketchy". There are few real collectors looking and when they are, they want top shelf pieces and are willing to pay a premium, for the most part. Standard GMT, 5513 are floundering around $3k dealer to dealer with not many real players for much more. Smaller plastic Datejust/Date models are very soft, in the $1k range. I remember when a $1k date head was a no brainer, but these days the dress parts are not bringing much in the secondary market and the mighty EBay. Let's talk about EBay for a minute. It has become the place to steal stuff but as history has told veteran EBayers, the Summer is not the time to sell there. Lots of parts deals are there to be found but you have to sit on it and many would rather pay more to have it when you need it rather than "snipe" or sit in front of a computer.
One section of the market which is booming is the fake/counterfeit Rolex Sport. I cannot tell you how many fakes are floating around from dealer to dealer. Many are bought by wise ass dealers who think they are getting a steal, only to find they bought a fake w/papers...HEY, that happened to me in early August!!! Yeah, I got my money back but it was a real eye opener. I am a very conservative buyer and was really spooked when this occurred. Real papers w/fake case back and middle, w/dial, hands, bezel all real. Numbers are engraved from a legit set of period papers and VIOLA... dangerous fake floating about.

Enough of this, let's get to the two auctions coming up here in NYC. While there are not a lot of sport Rolex in P& Co. for October, the watches are really clean and above average auction quality. OP has been really selective in choosing mint pieces and rejecting over 50% of the watches/junk that has been submitted. I agree, as many feel they can dump a crap piece on an auction house and buyers will think it to be more than what it really is...crap. Not at P&Co. Things are going well for the new (haha, new?) upstart. They are getting loads of watches and are readying for a strong season. The "no hammer" commission is a wonderful thing and I am happy to see it working. Each watch is being examined by a Rolex certified master watchmaker and given a "once over" to ensure it is running and looking great. This is HUGE for an auction house. One of the real problems with auction houses is when buying one must go by the condition report which will state whether a service is needed or not. Bidding on a watch which has been looked at for big problems is a definite plus and should elevate their game.
Having examined at all the Rolex in the upcoming October auction I can say there are no fakes and each piece looks it's very best.
I also had the privilege of examining all the watches for the AQ September 17th auction. Again, not many Rolex but the ones they have are very nice. One piece that stood out was lot 353 16550 Cream w/full boat. What a beauty!
There were other nice Rolex but my personal favorite watch of the auction was lot 104, the black 6238. OMG, what a killer piece. The other watch I was really digging was not a Rolex but lot 119 Patek Nautalis w/factory baguette bezel. Yeah, I know but what a great watch to wear in the pool!!!
On another note, I have begun filming some of the nicer watches at AQ in order to produce a show highlighting the auction houses and special watches. I am arranging to have some of the biggest collectors/dealers in NYC and abroad as guests which will be a real treat for all.
We have been given clearance by both AQ and P& Co. and will approach the other big NYC houses soon, if they do not approach us first.
All in all, I will say the vintage/high end watch market is still holding on. Many here and abroad want hard items to sink money into and these watches have a proven track history of retaining their value. I am very pleased at how the market held this summer and have very high hopes for the Autumn/Winter auctions.
Stay tuned for some preliminary video which will be coming soon. If there are any dealers/collectors who would like to appear in 2010 episodes please call or email me:

All the best...


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer vacation

Hello faithful readers!
As you may have guessed, we have been on hiatus for the summer but will return September 1st. I wish all of you happy watch hunting!

All the best,

Friday, June 19, 2009

Auction Houses and Transparency

An interesting thing happened the other day. Antiquorum pulled two questionable lots from their Hong Kong auction. While lot 370 was an easy target, lot 413 also was taken off the block as it could not be confirmed as 100% correct. Yes, I know there was a post on VRF the other day slamming AQ regarding lot 370 but after meeting with Evan Zimmerman, AQ CEO, both lots were going to suffer the same fate regardless. It is as I said with lot 198 in P & Co's auction, even though there are many people who handle these watches, sometimes they make it through and get into the catalog. Preparing for a catalog shoot is a wild event, as I can personally attest to. The main thing is both these bad lots are not going to be offered to the public. AQ has a huge operation with many staff members all over the world, and while I am not making any excuses, I can understand how a watch can get past their experts.
You know, when I started my transparency crusade with the auction houses I was not sure how they would take it. Remember these people are there to sell "other peoples" watches. I am pleased at how receptive P & Co and AQ have been, and how quickly they have taken action when something questionable is brought to their attention. Evan and I spoke at great length regarding authenticity and accountability. He is also determined to make sure there are no questionable watches going to auction and assured me he would do all in his power to see it does not happen in the future. I believe him.
I think this blog has a powerful voice and of course, I am always open to suggestion with regard to it's improvement. My goal over the summer is to establish relationships with the other auction houses in NYC Christies, Sothebys and Bonhams, so they too will understand there are many people out there who have an interest in quality and authenticity. I think the auction world is evolving for the better. I am much more comfortable buying and selling as I hope some of you are. If we continue to hold the auction houses accountable, they will raise the bar higher and higher, thus bringing us better and better watches to enjoy!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Antiquorum leads the charge...

Well, it is official. AQ put any talk of a market slowdown to rest with a strong turnout yesterday in NYC. They did almost 6 million in sales and have solidified their standing as the "World's Premier Watch Auctioneer".
I was in the Lincoln Tunnel when I was called to bid on the first lot and I was out bid before I saw the light of Manhattan. This was a sign of what was to come as the day progressed. I was very under the weather as Jo and James have been fighting some kind of bug, but Rolex held strong in the first session with these highlights:
Lot 104 Tiffany 16550 Cream w/bill of sale @ $17.4k hammer + commission
Lot 106 6263 w/RC dial @ $54k hammer + commission
Lots 107-110 were strong for current pieces
Lot 205 6262 was right @ $21.6k hammer + commission
Lot 207 6263 Fuerza @ $46.8k hammer + commission
Lot 208 16520 "patrizzi" went wild @ $36k hammer + commission
and so on...
Patek and other non Rolex "heavy" watches were very strong across the board. The McQueen stuff was unreal with the highest prices paid for a Heuer and 5512 !
OK, now that the stats are in the book, let's talk about the unmentionables. As you all know I have been leaning closer to the auction world lately for various reasons. Having been at both Patrizzi and AQ over the last week i have to say there was a definite "buzz" in the AQ room that was not present at P & Co. Look, my job is to be as honest and impartial as possible. Even though I have associated myself with P & Co. as their "Rolex expert", AQ drew far more people and brought higher numbers. True, AQ had 125 more lots than P & Co. but AQ pulled strong Rolex numbers where P & Co did not. Now we all know P & Co. is a new house, but OP himself is leading the charge and quite frankly I believed his presence would create the aura of "the new AQ". Not yet, maybe next time.
This AQ auction along with Christies and Bonhams have made it quite clear that the high end watch market is strong, as long as you sell in a room full of maniacs with the same common goal. Vintage has a real draw for many of us, but also the heavy non Rolex market is doing quite well.
I think we will buy well over the next few months and as I already predicted, the bottom of the market will be here by September. Right September. We are not out of the woods yet. Just look at the stuff available online and how good some of the pricing is. I see good deals on 47th street regularly, but real buyers are not easy to find so we go to the auction houses.
I think we need to still be careful and buy right. Modern stuff has stabilized, but vintage is all based on condition and pricing.
This summer will be a great time to buy, so load up and buy right!


Friday, June 5, 2009

Patrizzi Auction June 4th, 2009

As you all now, the Patrizzi & Co auction was held in NYC for the very first time. There was a good vibe in the room when I arrived by lot 15. I was told upon entering, the Omega were doing really well and pulling strong numbers. I had faith that Rolex would do the same. I was very wrong.
While some benchmark Patek like the 5070 in white did well in the low-mid $50's, many Rolex lots pulled lower than expected numbers. Here are some low lights, I mean highlights!
Lot 99 18k Yachtmaster w/MOP ruby dial @ $10.5
Lot 156 bakalite GMT did not sell for $20k
Tudor was lower across the board, except for the turn-o-graph day date.
Lot 200 pointed 5512 w/4 line underline swiss dial sold for $12k
Lot 217 1655 orange hand did not sell for $11k
Lot 154 my DRSD did not sell @ $30k...THANK GOD!!!!!!
and so on and so forth.
What did sell were no name chronographs, Omega and Patek.
I am a little concerned that P & Co. did not pull much out of their rolex. It may be that there was really not much to get excited over but that said, there were 2 Newmans that sold for $50k and a little over $50k.
The days of Rolex flying out are not here, at least not on 57th and Madison. I am really serious to see what happens next week at the Antiquorum sale. They have some nice stuff and if numbers are down for Rolex then we are in for a long summer.
There were some "flukes" like an 18k 1675 w/papers which sold for $30k and a 1601 in solid gold @ $4700.00
Crazy!!! I cannot say if this a real sign that the US economy is starting to tighten it's grip but overseas auctions seemed to pull stronger numbers.
I will say it was nice to know there were no fakes being sold "by mistake". I bought a really nice Patek and while I did bid on many Rolex, I was not comfortable going too high as this market is a little "strange".
next week I will be back for Christies but more important AQ which will really tell us what we have to look forward to...or dread!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

LOT 198 is pulled from the sale, Patrizzi stands behind quality.

As many have seen after reading my previous post, I was a little unsure if P & Co were really going to do things differently or if it would be just "more of the same". Well, I have to say they are really committed to weeding out anything bad or questionable in order to provide ONLY high quality stuff for those who are interested.
Case in point, lot 198.
This was a really wild story, as I posted below. I did not see this watch for some reason when I was doing the regular inspection. In going through a watch sleeve, I noticed a bad bracelet and subsequently, a fake DRSD. For me, it was so painfully obvious that it was a complete "Vietnam" fake with nothing real but the 1570 movement. When I pointed this out to the staff, Osvaldo was overseas so I took the piece over to Ed Faber at his location to show him. While it was apparent the dial was fake, I kind of got the feeling that Ed was not convinced the case and the rest was wrong. I left it in his hands. Last week the catalog came out and I was not surprised it was still in there, taking up 2 pages! If you check, I posted about it on May 19th and knew the catalog was already at the printer so I figured I would alert anyone who would see it and tell them to stay away! Well, when I went over to check out the preview yesterday Osvaldo himself walked up to me and sincerely thanked me as everyone had handled that watch and did not catch on. He then told me that when he was made aware, he personally examined the watch again and weighed the components, only to confirm the case was counterfeit. I know, some of you are saying "how did this get past everyone"?? Well, as I stated, auction houses are in the business to sell watches and as I am sure when you look at other houses many bad pieces get in mainly because they do not have qualified people (or interested people) willing to stand up and say something is wrong. Think about it, this watch WILL sell for $25k and up, and these places work on commission...need I say more?
The watch is off the block and will be returned to it's owner who may or may not know it was counterfeit when they submitted it. I really feel as though Patrizzi & Co could have gone either way, maybe just say the dial is refinished and let it run and take the money, but that is not the case. OP and I spoke for a good while about honesty and transparency. I truly believe this company is going to set a high standard.
I really feel better about this whole thing.
Yes, there are a still some differences between tuscanyrose and P & Co, but I feel all of this can be worked out.
lol! By this I mean Philip Poniz introduced himself to me (he is a really nice person) and, lot 198 in hand, asked me to show him (and one of their "watch experts") how I can tell so quickly that it is fake.
Professor TUSCANYROSE????
I don't think so. Not yet, if you know what I mean. Many of you know me and know I do what I do for many reasons. I was asked to help, and I did. You all also know me as a raging capitalist!!! Get my drift???
So let's just say they were blessed on this auction. We will be discussing my future "position" after the auctions end this spring.
Will I really "pick sides"? I do not know, but I will say I like that these folks are truly serious about making P & Co. the biggest watch auctioneers in the world. They can and will take it to AQ, which will only be good for collectors and dealers alike.
Tomorrow is the big auction and I am feeling comfortable.
This is a good thing.
News at 11...


Friday, May 29, 2009

Resting before the big week...

I am taking the last few days off to rest as I have developed a nasty cold/sinus infection/whatever. I have to say I am not the least bit happy with the Patrizzi catalog. In addition to not using using some of the insight I provided on certain lots, many of the photographs are not really allowing said items to shine. There are many things I need to get straightened out with them before I "jump on board". I don't know. it just seems there is a conflict of interest in that auction houses need to sell stuff but I am a real nit picky person who looks at descriptions and EXPECTS to get all the relevant information before i place a bid. I know I am being kind of hard but I guess that is just me. Lot 200 is a pointed gilt 5512 which I specifically mentioned that they need to note the "underline" dial, and sure enough, the catalog does not even mention it. In addition, it says the watch is from 1967 with an 8xxxxx serial number. Geez. Also, the picture is so bad you can barely make out it has an underline so where is this watch going?
Lot 264 is my 16550 w/rail dial, which is not mentioned. My Tudor Saudi w/box and papers does not show the box which has a rare Saudi plastic seal. Little things which would really make certain watches pop that are not mentioned.
I have to say, the jury is out on all this. If they do not care to take this as seriously as I do, then they can do it themselves.
Very frustrating...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Here it is...lot 199

OK. 5513, HEV, 1.3 serial, sloppy relume, gnarley engraving on caseback.
Did not come in as a COMEX, as there are no shots of the HEV. I have more scans but I believe this is really an early prototype or something special. I will post scans in a minute but please discuss and lets see what comes of it. They want honesty and transparency so here it is!!!!!
The HEV is CORRECT, the numbers look right and I really think it is special.





Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fakes and auctions...

Wow.  Just a little update.
Just discovered a DRSD fake which almost made it to auction.  I did not see one group of watches during my inspection and BAM, sure enough, here is a fake.  Crazy.
This had everything fake but for the movement, dial, hands, case, etc.  Not for anything, the case was not too bad.  These counterfeiters are really getting better and better.
I do not know if this was photographed but if you see a fake in the catalog don't yell at me.  It will obviously not be sold but it is a little frightening.  
I am glad I am doing this.  It is painstaking and stressful, but in the end I want an auction house that people can trust 100%.
This watch supposedly was consigned by a collector overseas.  Whether they knew is anyones guess, but auction houses have a difficult position where they make money selling stuff and with each piece that is rejected, their profit is lowered.  Now can everyone see why there are so many fakes sold?
My new found calling is really a "work in progress".  I can only inspect if I see the piece and I believe I have now seen all the rolex/tudor, but I am going in again to review one more time so when this begins on June 4th there are no questions and people can bid with confidence.
Oh yeah, I will be posting some pics of that "special piece" next week.  There is a whole lot of protocol so I have to keep mum, but I promise it will be worth it.  There are a few really nice pieces including my famous DRSD tropical dial!  Yeah, I am cleaning house and will start over this summer.  I actually bought a few pieces including a blue MC, 16520 S serial B & P, Tudor Sub, 5513 maxi. 
Well, gotta wait for FEDEX then get on my horse.  The damn pool heater is not working and I have a bunch of people coming over the weekend so I am stressed.  
Never a dull moment at the "ponderosa"...


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fun, Fun, Fun...

For everyone who has not heard I am going to be inspecting all the Rolex watches going up for sale at Patrizzi & C0. Yup, little old me and some of the biggest guns in the world of high end watches. Nope, I am not crazy. No, I don't have a political death wish. I am just looking to align myself with a strong auction house that will be HONEST when selling their goods. I can help them as I handle alot of collectible watches and being that I am on 47th street, I also know all the tricks when it comes to fakes.
Simple formula, isn't it? For some time I have been telling all who will listen that the only way to really get the highest price for your stuff is to sell at auction. The only problem with that was many of the other auction houses are really not too sharp when it comes to watches, ESPECIALLY vintage Rolex. I am not saying they sell bad or problematic stuff intentionally, it is just that they do not have the proper staff who really know the ins and outs of vintage Rolex. You have to admit, vintage Rolex is not like vintage Patek!!! There are no "archives" to refer to. The only archives are the old photos in my old hard drive and the 4 -5 active brain cells in my head! lol!!
Seriously, having seen the way AQ has really stepped it up (as I reported a while back) with a quality check list, it is only natural the other houses follow suit. Patrizzi & Co. took it to another level as they asked me to personally assist by letting them utilize my main watchmaker (Rolex certified/trained master watchmaker, 2nd generation) and also allow me to personally inspect all Rolex BEFORE they are sold.
Pretty cool, huh? I mean, you all know me and know I will not allow any fake or questionable crap to be sold to some poor unsuspecting person.
No way, no how. In my findings today there was not much except one really special piece, which I discovered quite innocently. You might ask, what will Buckley spot that the great OP & Co. cannot? Anyone who asks that has never seen the inner workings of a big auction house during a watch sale preparation. It is the same way I would miss something obvious because there is so much else going on. Well, my "fresh" eyes picked up on something really special. It will be described properly and hopefully sell for BIG money to some really lucky person. Nah, I am not going to say which piece yet. I will wait until I'm finished with the rest of the catalogue, but this was A MONSTER FIND. What can it be?
Soon my faithful readers, soon.
In any event, I am really proud to be associated with Patrizzi & Co. I believe the only other "real" watch auction house is Antiquorum, which has done really well having sold another (yes, another) MILLION DOLLAR Patek. Can you believe that? Well done and hats off to AQ and it's chairman BM. I can only hope that P & Co will be the one to sell the first million dollar Rolex!Well, that is it for now. Please understand that my new found calling with P & Co. does not mean I am not doing my usual "thang-thang" at 37 west, it just means call me or the store/office/cell frst if you want to make sure I can be there to greet you.
I am looking forward to June and all the fun it will bring...JB

Thursday, April 23, 2009

IWJG Report

This show will go down as one of the worst I have ever attended. I cannot remember a more dismal turn out for a "big city' show in a while. Again, there were many of the usual people with the same (now admittedly so) unrealistic pricing on vintage. Here is an example:A known close out dealer who got into vintage last year had a solid 18k 1680 on a strap. As I approached his table and he said everything is for sale, this is not a museum. When I asked how much his exact words were " I paid $19.5k so I will let it go for $15k". Is anyone else laughing? This is the same case all around the room. I cannot remember the last show where I bought a watch. I and one or two other vintage guys were selling but only at blow out prices. I sold a GMT 1675 for $2600 and was glad to be out of it. The real scary thing was no one was buying parts. You all know I am more a parts guy than anything and I always sell bracelets, dials, and other stuff during the show to complete sales for others. NOTHING DOING. If I took in $10k total for the show, it was a lot. There is no profit in that number.Let's do the math:showcase, safe, armored transport and admission was $1200, as I split a showcase with renaissance. Hotel was $800.00 for two nights.My question is how much longer will some of the smaller dealers who have to travel by plane/car continue to attend? We go to shows as part of our business and are able to factor in costs, and thus losses but some of the smaller guys are getting hurt. The show is not a wholesale venue anymore, as the Internet has really but that to rest. Honestly, the bulk of my sales were to people I know who are in the area. We were so bored and disgusted we had to do some business to keep from going home.The one good thing that transpired was I spoke with AQ and OP&Co. as I am putting a huge lot of stuff up for the June auctions in NYC. The market is not getting better anytime soon. There are no really nice fresh pieces on the horizon and with dealers and collectors not asking realistic pricing, much of the buzz generated over the last year is gone. This is the big problem. No one really cares anymore. no one wants to take a chance on buying something and losing half the value in a few months. I have come to the conclusion that the ONLY place to get real money for items is through auction. Think about it, your item is in a room full of qualified buyers with money. This is not Ebay. Yes, there are fees but when you think about it is far more cost effective than waiting around for an end user to come up. I really cannot understand some of these 'high asking price" guys. How would I look if I sold a watch like that gold 1680 to some unsuspecting person knowing it is overpriced by 50%??? What happens if the guy wants to return it or trade it? That is no way to treat a customer. These guys are looking for a "fish".Oh well. I cannot do that.
This is the way it is going and this is why no one is interested in vintage except the die hards. As I have been saying for some time, we will regress back to 2003 pricing by September. This summer will be BRUTAL.
I say if you are not married to it sell it and take your losses, as this stuff is only going down. If you want top dollar consider the auction houses. If there are any questions you can call or emaiol me but that is where I am going. When the new auction books are published, you will all see I am not bullshitting. I have alot of pages reserved! lol


Monday, April 20, 2009

Getting prepared...

I am unpacking from Spring vacation and re-packing for IWJG this Tuesday and Wednesday. I am going to keep this one short and sweet. I am seeing a real decline in action for common stock, on the buy and sell. I made an offer on a piece over a month ago and the seller is still holding on saying prices will come back up soon. The piece was a 5513 at $3k w/a refinished dial. Are people mad???? The hobby is going into very dangerous waters with the Summer approaching. I really think the only action worth getting involved in will be the big auction world. many newcomers are not getting a fair representation of pricing as many people just plain overvalue their stuff and scare off any potential buyer, and thus people lose interest. This is the worst case scenerio. Does anyone remember the "bubbleback" craze of the mid-late 90's?? I am not saying sport will die out like they did but it is the same kind of mess. There are not many players in the game and those who want to get in are not enticed by any good deals. I am primarily selling to dealers who in turn sell to other dealers. Not many end users. The public is selling but with moders and most vintage, you cannot buy it cheap enough to make a profit.
I will be in NYC as of later today and anyoine who wants complimentary admission to IWJG can call or email me.
732 492 6452 cell

I really hope I am wrong but reports from Hong Kong are the worst in recent memory. I am hearing many of the mid level players are not even coming to NYC, waiting instead for Vegas next month.

My NYC report will come Thursday. Sit tight...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

AQ auction

I am looking over the AQ 3-29/29 results and must say I am pleasantly surprised. Well I should not say surprised. AQ has consistently brought in more money for vintage that one can imagine. I believe the "two tier" scenario is alive and well. It just seems that when you get an auction house behind a watch or group of watches, people will pay, and pay well. Look at the Patrizzi Daytona, lot 100 which sold for $20k. These consistently bring in strong money via auction. Though I am not a big fan of these, this one looked beautiful.
The auction houses are bringing top dollar for good pieces. AQ is known the world over for putting together some of the most beautiful catalogs for many years and even with the "change of power" they continue to lead the charge. I have saved these catalogues for years and use them as a reference guide. I attend every AQ event in NYC and have to say there is always a buzz, no matter what the market is doing. True, prices are down a bit across the board from last year, but rare and desirable stuff is holding pretty well. I think we as collectors and dealers need to take notice of the good hammer prices we are seeing in this very down market. Auction houses are open to anyone bringing items in and are quite fair when it comes to fees. I know personally, I am going to sort through some of my watches and pick ones I believe will do well. It makes total sense. You bring these watches to a forum where people who are interested will assess them and possibly buy. I know people will comment on how all the auction houses let "suspect" watches slip by and sell, but it is the buyers responsibility to thoroughly inspect a watch before buying. I know AQ now has some kind of "condition sheet" which is very helpful, but one must personally handle and if possible open the watch and inspect closely. For those who are not familiar with auctions, this is available to anyone prior to the auction during the viewing. All auction houses allow for inspection and I suggest you take advantage of it if you are serious about a watch.
P & Co. did extremely well with the Blei collection. I was at the preview and there were some really nice pieces though DB was not too thrilled when I pointed out his 6538 has a 5512 dial in it! Hey, that's my job, right? Some of those Presidents were awesome. I found a nice enamel dial in my box the other day and need an 1803 to put it in! I think P & Co. is getting it together after their disappointing first auction. They did close to $4 million this time around and with OP at the helm will give AQ a run for their money. I still believe AQ is way out in front but the competition is good for everyone. P & Co. will make up ground very quickly with another strong sale.
I am wrapping things up over the next 10 days in anticipation for a little r & r over spring break.
The IWJG show is looming next month and after hearing how bad Vegas was I am not sure how it will go. It was reported that Vegas was a disaster. NYC April is usually a great show and being that it is my home base I am bringing everything and hioping for the best.
I do not think we are seeing the bottoming out I once thought was going to happen but this summer is looming large for dealers/collectors and April may be the show where people dump to avoid the prospect of a slow summer heading into a "bottom" in the fall. For real people, summer is always a slow time and with the "public market" the way it is common collectors may be holding on.
The auction houses will be the salvation for many with good pieces who are looking to sell. The public should be aware this is an option.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How the mighty have fallen...

It was only a matter of time before I was going to put this post out there for all to see so here it is:
The common and vintage market is shot.
Though we can sometimes sell a piece here or there for a good price, the general flavor of the market is down, down, down.

Ebay item # 270354503126

I find it particularly interesting that the ever popular steel Daytona has fallen so hard. Interesting, but not surprising. This is a watch that historically was a 1-2 year waiting list from an AD but now can be has on 47th street for between $9-10k depending on who you go to. The 116520 Rolex movement model is so soft that I am only offering $6-6500 on the buy from the public. dealer to dealer they are trading at $7k, give or take a few for papers and condition. The Zeniths are not basically the same, but for the "patrizzi" or floater, which in steel may or may not bring above $14k w/all the gimmicks.
I can remember a time in 2001 when a steel U/A serial was $6k and I believe we will be back there by summer. One only has to look at ebay and the forums to see what is really happening.
A 16750 w/all the gimmicks traded at $4250.00, or so we are told. I believe that was a great deal. I should have stepped up but I was waiting for $4k. There are only a few of us who are still buying on spec and we have to be careful.
I moved a 1655, full boat for under $14k which I thought was a good price, but sold it to a "pro" who hopefully had a customer waiting for a bit more.
The 5513 is the killer. These are now on the block under $4k so where does a dealer buy in? I say $2500-3k, depending on the dial. haha!!! Remember the "maxi" dial? What a crock. People spent $6k and up (I know because I sold some) for a fad dial...beautiful but nonetheless, a fad. No, it is not a COMEX or Milsub. I love these sellers who post "pre Comex" or some other hook to lure un some poor soul who is not hip to the current market.
The two tier market is still in effect, with major auction houses getting what I believe to be top dollar from buyers who truly trust that venue. Plastic Daytonas are still going off at auction for over $20k but what about the real world? I don't know about anyone reading this but I would be really careful to pull the trigger over $20k unless it was pre sold.
The mighty Big Crown has also softened. While the one on ebay which sold for under $20k was a little rough (wiped serial) it had a gilt service dial. What is that dial worth? It has to go for $3-4k, so what about the other parts? not sounding like a good deal at that price from here but hey, someone wanted it.
Look at the DRSD, the most common, commercial of all the "vintage" family. Gone are the days of $30-40k w/papers. Now under $20 is the place they will sell and without papers in the low teens. What is a good DRSD dial worth? In 2005/6 I regularly sold them for $5-7k, but remember paying $15k for a MK 2 over the summer.
All this is in the past, my faithful readers.
Let's examine the other "commercial classic" the red Sub. I have always thought of this as a boring piece and you know what, it really is. What is a nice dial worth? $3k? so what is a 1680 worth? $3k??? lol! are you getting it? I mean, these watches are all over the place and yes, I hear all of you screaming from UK that condition and provenance matter but, COME ON!!! These are selling on ebay for over $10k and up w/papers, but without I saw some of the nicest ones around in Orlando sitting for $7k, along with the $10k 1655s.
What about the super exotics? A plastic 2 ROC "Texas" edition sold w/papers at auction for over $60k which was low , considering the dial but where would a "real" one go? These "texas" dials wil fetch heavy money even in a down market. I have not seen a 3 CROC lately buy I am sure it would do OK. people with money are spending but only on really nice stuff and there are not many new collectors popping up buying everything in sight with soft money. It is mostly a game of dealer to dealer "smoke and mirrors", with the old "sell it in Munich or on the Internet", heard over and over.
I mean, when a newer mint President will not sell immediately for over $9k on a forum or ebay there is something wrong. when I buy single quick presidents for $4k and have a hard time selling them for $4500-5k something is wrong.
Speaking of the modern stuff look at new steel Subbies and Datejust. If you buy a 116220 for $2500 (list is $5550) you would think $3k is a sure thing, NOT!!! Subbies and SD are also really soft. I am not even going to mention the 'big" watches like my bling GMT and MP's, which are now in the "under "30k" group.
So, anyone want to dispute this? Oh, yeah the stock market was up a couple of days and the recession is coming to an end this year. ARE YOU SERIOUS? Oh right, Obama is going to create 3 million jobs in the next few years. Nice, that will offset the 500k jobs which are lost every month.
The old price structure cannot sustain itself.
The market is slowly moving back to 2002/3 pricing.
It is coming people, but for me it is already here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maneuvering a Strange Market

It appears the vintage Rolex market is more complex than many realize. The shows in Florida are done, the March AQ auction is history and we now fall into the "dog days" of Spring. Historically, Spring is usually a good time to buy and sell with tax time pulling many otherwise untouchable pieces out of safe deposit boxes and collections, but there is really not much happening. Time will tell but I feel people are holding on to their watches and selling off other "hard assets" like gold, stock, etc. Watches are usually the last to go so many of us are waiting to scoop up whatever we can from privates to bring to the open market. I have been buying every day but for every great piece (and there have been a few) I have to buy quickset datejusts, pressies and modern sport. Not the worst thing!

One interesting piece that needs to be discussed is the "big January" many dealers mentioned. It has been told to me by reliable sources that many of the big dealers had as good a month of January as they did last year. Hmm? January was the month of the IWJG show (bomb) and Miami Antique (another bomb). All I saw and heard was business was terrible so how do these guys report in February that they had good months? I kind of figured it out. During the IWJG meeting one of the larger online watch dealers spelled it out: He was buying for less, thus margins were higher so there was good profit. Let's break it down: dealers were paying less for product and selling for their usual mark-up (or slight Obama related discount). Sell less, make more per unit = PROFIT!!! OK. in laymans terms, dealers were "ripping" watches and moving them to people who are not as affected by the economy thus making money!!! OK. sounds about right.
There ARE buyers out there, but most of them are dealers with an end user on the hook for a specific piece. From where I am sitting, dealers are getting lean on inventory! The guys with heavy showcases are finding it hard, but not impossible.
During the last few hours of IWJG I spoke with one of the biggest and as I said, he was selling to end users.
The problem with IWJG, WWT and NAWCC shows in general is the sellers still have the mentality that they do not have to be competative because they either will sell on the internet or go to EU/Munich fair. Do you believe I am still hearing that one???
I really have to wonder if guys in Munich have no clue regarding pricing or if they will just pay more. If so, that is great. The internet? Ebay? I see ebay as a place to BUY, not SELL.
Historically, IWJG has been the real heavy "go to" place to find whatever you need. I am new to the organization, joining in 2006. I was an NAWCC person for many years prior since 1997. What is happening in IWJG is just a sign of the times. It is a very expensive show for the smaller dealer. Entry fees and showcases along with airfare and lodging will account for $2k for a smaller set up and $3k for a full set up. How long are these smaller dealers going to pay up? Also, there are shows literally every month so how many times will someone fly to Vegas/NJ/Dallas to hear another dealer forgo a hand to hand deal when they can find an end user "online or at Minuch". See what I mean? In addition, even though WWT and NAWCC have no security, smaller dealers may have to overlook getting robbed in order to find an affordable venue. Funny thing is even at the 'smaller" shows like WWT, NAWCC the same dealers take the same position asking higher than "dealer to dealer" pricing, stating they will get more online or overseas.
Does anyone see a pattern developing here??? There is no "wholesale" market for vintage, or most other stuff for that matter. Everyone wants the last buck on the table and are unwilling to allow another dealer to make reasonable profit.

I asked the readership to participate in a poll last post and the results were overwhelmingly in favor of posting pricing so this is what I will do. Please remember that there are many variables but the prices I post will be what I see online and on the street.
For the record, IWJG sent their January/February mailer and on the front page was this heading "Pricing Alert". There was a list of watches and the new price structure. I will say that anyone who is really serious about buying and selling should join IWJG, for no other reasopn but the receive the regular mailer w/current priceguide. It comes in handy when buying from privates as it is like a "kelly blue book" for watches. It gives you a basis to buy for the right price, and these ARE the correct dealer entry points, regardless of what others say.

It is important that we buy right and also sell right so there is a smooth flow of business. I prefer to sell to dealers as end users are very demanding and I honestly do not have the patience. The regular people I sell to know who they are and are set up to handle the countless photos, questions and general information that really is worth me not being involved in. I am out there buying, and buying right.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Let's call Orlando "the beginning"...

The Orlando IWJG Show is usually the biggest of the year. This year it's last day overlapped with the WWT Daytona two day event. I arrived Saturday evening to meet my partner and receive our shipment from Brinks, as is policy for any out of town show. As we walked to our set up it was obvious the show was not a sell out, as is usually the case in Orlando. There was a lot of space between aisles and many "dead zones" of open floor space. IMO, another 50-75 tables could have easily been set up. In defense, tables are very expensive and maybe those who were not "setting up" would be there walking the floor. Many others who have done Orlando for longer than I told me they have never seen it so empty.
The first day was the usual madness. I scoured the room for deals, along with many of whom I like to call "the usual suspects". These are the known dealers from all over the USA, VRF contributers and lurkers. After my first few pass I realized many were lowering prices to compensate for the sagging market, but not much was moving. I sold a few watches and many parts in the first 4 hours but come Sunday afternoon, it was clear the buzz was now all about WWT in Daytona, and not IWJG in Orlando. By Monday morning, many booths were packing and going to the "pre show" in the lobby of the WWT Daytona hotel. Monday ended slowly, but the evening would become very important.
In the weeks following the Miami IWJG January show an email was sent to the membership that we would have a "sit down" of all interested to discuss how the current economy is affecting our shows and business.
Sounds juicy already!!!
I arrived a little late to the meeting but saw that many of the "charter members" were sitting on a panel in front of the room. It was a "who's who" of real heavyweights. The first speaker was the owner of a very large pawn operation in the mid west and his words kind of sent a chill through the room. He said if anyone does not want to lower prices on obviously overpriced stuff it WILL NOT SELL, so why are you carrying it back and forth? Interesting huh? The rest of the panel covered stuff like new show locations, upgrading the Internet presence of IWJG and other related technical stuff. One of the major discussions was the absence of Europeans in attendance lately. Over the years the Munich show and other watch fairs all around the world have made it easier to do business in places other than the USA. The current dollar-EU/GBP rate is not helping either!
The last day of IWJG was Tuesday and actually, I grabbed a car and left early for Daytona to see what was going on over there. I arrived at 9 am and the show was in full swing. There were many different dealers and vintage Rolex and other brands were in abundance. Again, the problem was the pricing, as was with IWJG. It was the usual stuff and plenty of it for unrealistic (IMO) money. I bought some inserts, sold a movement and split after a couple of hours. I made it back to Orlando by 1 PM and walked the IWJG floor for the last couple of hours and waited for Brinks to pack and then caught my plane. I received calls from people at Daytona yesterday, which is the last day and nothing changed. people were not willing to sell coining the now common "I paid more for it than you are offering". No shit!
Here is the bottom line:
We all know the economy is in very bad shape and no stimulus plan will get us back to where we were anytime soon, if ever. What I see is dealers are holding on waiting for a "fish". This means someone who dows not know the current price point and is going to pay more for whatever reason. Problem with that is what happens when the "fish" finds out he overpaid, by alot?
Now I will agree there are some really rare and desireable pieces that will command higher prices, but the majority of stuff I see is just everyday common stuff, and plenty of it with more dealers than collectors. I sat with the biggest dealer in the country who pulled out invoices showing very high priced sales of watches which were not really IMO rare nor desireable. It seems dealers have their people who trust them and money is not an issue so where does this leave the vintage dealer?
Here is the big problem: Dealers want the last dollar from an end user. There is really no reason to bring a watch to a show and sell it short for any other reason but they need cash. I am seeing dealers quoting the same "I'll sell it on ebay" and I say be my guest.
The wholesale dealer for vintage is sliding by the wayside. I am the last of the mohegans.
What will happen is just my opinion so please, no death threats:
The economy will sap the hobby of end users faster than shit through a vintage dealer at the end of a bad show, and rumor has it the IWJG hotel ran out of Charmin. I already see many, many common pieces all over shows and on 47th street. No one is buying as many do not see real profit, or guaranteed profit and do not want to risk their very small bankroll.
I believe watch prices will continue to fall. I am selling and buying more parts, but only at fair prices. The dumping has begun, only prices are not stimulating buyers to bite.

My final word will focus on some "suggestions" made to me by "concerned parties". If you noticed in the above there were no prices quoted on anything. I think it is boring but many are very upset that I am "killing" the market by divulging private dealer to dealer information.
What says you? Please vote on top of the page. I will go by the vote, as appearances to the contrary not withstanding, this is still a democracy and freedom of speech is still guaranteed by our constitution. Please vote...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Navigating a fractured market...

With the Miami shows behind us and Orlando looming, we have some choices to make as dealers/collectors. Overall, Miami was a nightmare. The big antique show is one of the most expensive and what I saw was really tough to swallow. You had all the big names with some of the most fantastic inventory out there just "curating". Thank God there were some sporatic heavy sales reported, but overall I am sure many who set up did not cover expenses. There is a serious problem within our little realm. The problem is many watchers are scared to enter the market because of the HUGE grey area in pricing. Let me explain:
In this "two tier" market which has evolved you have huge differences in pricing. Forums and auctions say one thing but Ebay says something else. As much as I do not like to use Ebay as a barometer for pricing, it IS helpful when no reserve auctions run and a price (not value) is determined. Think of the buyer checking Ebay for an item and seeing the same item sold at a show or store with a 100% markup. Now you can justify all you like but when a real ebay seller sells an item cheap, it is hard to justify the "price point" mark up. Hard yes, but it is going on regularly and people are freaked out by it, as they should be. With all the prime inventory sitting in Miami, I did not see many interested parties. I mean, not many even asking pricing as they have seen most of this inventory before and know pricing is way out of whack. I understand dealers bought on 'spec' and have lots of 2007/8 inventory which is perfect and also high priced. What do they do, sell at a loss? Tough call, but as this market continues to "deflate" the dollar you get today is better than the half dollar tomorrow.
It seems a majority of dealers are holding firm waiting for that guy who has to have that one item at their price. Problem is there is a severe lack of "end users" and those who are looking can pick and choose from lots of prime stuff. From where I am standing, vintage Rolex is just not hot because of the crazy hype and subsequent burst of the bubble. It is just risky top pay crazy money for a watch that was $30k in 2008, but in 2002 was only $5k. Will pricing roll back that far??? Do you take a chance on a DRSD at $20-25k?? All we have to do it be realistic in our thinking. With disposable income falling and an overstock of "commercial" collectables I say wait.
That said, I am still getting flack from many dealers who feel I am "destroying" the watch market. Lots of threats, though none physical...yet! I do feel bad for many who are buried in stock. I too have hundreds of thousands in parts which are now worth half of what they were worth last year. It's just amazing that I am the poster child for the down market when there are big dealers who are blowing out inventory on Ebay. What about them?
Oh yeah, they are not posting it online where a whole 1700 people have read it in the last 3 months. Why not tell them to stop selling at no reserve and just post starting bids to give the appearance of a strong market.

Markets go up and they go down. Vintage Rolex has cooled off a bit but has always been my bread and butter. The most freightening part of all this is the lack of interest and there is only one way to combat that. What NEEDS to happen is pricing MUST fall so as to generate an interest/buzz again. Without a buzz and some new blood, we will go the way of the bubbleback. If we take our losses and begin to sell at a more attreactive price point, the market will rebound quicker. If we continue to have some dealers holding on and polluting this fragile market with old pricing it will scare off any new interest and the market will continue to suffer.
Sounds like a true Republican way of thinking, huh???

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Went to a little "pa-tay" over the weekend...

The big question was not if I actually switched to vintage for the evening, but which one is "faux"?????
Maybe I should ask that question on my next survey...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rolex and the year 2009...

Well, the "holiday" season has finally ended, thank God. After one of the strongest openings in 2008, the final quarter was as dismal a quarter since 1st Q 2002. There were many highlights for this dealer, and many others. 2008 was a year of great heights and frantic bottoms. As I have been reporting, the market has dipped. Quite an understatement, huh? While I could easily see the watch market crash coming, I was kind of surprised at the whole global economic plummet. That was the nail in the coffin and the reason we will not see a turnaround in vintage Rolex for some years to come. Think about it: the watch world was so hyped over 2007/8 that many new people jumped in and bought high. Now, many are looking to cash out and there are no buyers. None. On 47th street I am seeing lots of nice stuff but I am not sure what to make of it. What would you say to an A serial Zenith w/black dial and full sticker on the back @ $8k?? I said "no". Is this really happening? are Zeniths going back to 2001 pricing where they would trade between $6-7k? Maybe. UI for one know of a dozen nicer than nice Zeniths and none are selling between $8-10k so I guess I'm going to just sit and watch. Funny thing is the plastic Daytona market is holding for now. Check Ebay #300284498660, 6263 full boat. Not bad at $26k. Had to be an end user because I know I woukld never pay that much, even though it seems to be a right piece. Who knows! Look at the red Sub market and the beating it is taking:
Ebay 160306161025 was a 200/660 and it did not get to $11k. There is also a "buy it now' from a known NJ dealer for under $9k on a 660/200 but no takers. I never had faith in red subs as they are really not rare and kind of a "commercial" collectors piece. I guess others feel the same.
There are lots of them and even the "full boat" perfect peices are stalling.
Speaking of "perfect pieces", I am seeing many high line dealers posting on VRF and Ebay. Now we are talking about the upper crust of dealers looking for someone, ANYONE to buy these pieces they obviously paid too much for over the last year. I have to cringe when I hear some of the "down market non-believers" squawking about condition, provanance and other crap. I don't care how nice some of these pieces are they will NEVER fetch the money asked. Not anytime soon, believe me.
We have to look at this market as an opportunity, but opportunity for what? I am seeing some nice stuff but none of it is worth buying as the market has not bottomed. The bottom of this market will arrive in September of 2009. Many dealers and "professional collectors" will hold out until after tax time but when the annual "summer slow down" hits, it will finish the deal. I am curious to see what the big auction market will do. I have to say, I am appalled at the absolute junk I saw during the last quarter of '08. Nothing fresh. I do hope we see some nice stuff from the big boys, and I implore those affiliated who are reading this to MAKE SURE ITEMS ARE DESCRIBED ACCURATELY.
Yeah, the auction fellows are not big fans of mine these days. I wonder why? ;)
I will say I am pretty sick of all the threats and legal letters. They seem to think no one else is hip to all the fakes and other pure crap they are putting out there. We need to have some accountability and until then, I will post what I see and damn the repercussions. Last year one of the big houses was "tipped off" to a post I made on VRF regarding those damn fake 3 CROC dials. Oops, I guess I should say "in my opinion"! Kind of interesting as I did some research and found out who the "tipster" was. "I know it was you broke my heart". Nah, it really did not break my heart but as a Brooklyn kid we do not take kindly to RATS. Can you believe this crap?
I am not going to get into the $10k reward and how no one has claimed it in over a year but come on!
I have always been a loyal soldier but I guess I have too much time on my hands lately. All these dealers who want me to keep quiet are beginning to annoy me. The market is down and I will talk about it just like I spoke about it when it was on the way up! Remember that boys?
ANYWAY...I really hope collectors begin to buy again. I am moving stuff but it is all modern and not really "collectible pieces. The service division is going really well. I guess people are holding their favorites and want them to work properly. I for one am wearing my new found collection. Yeah, I have a few choice pieces I will not sell cheap so I guess I am now a collector. OK. Wadda'ya gonna do?? They are not worth as much and you don't have to worry about beating them up.