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"!