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.