During 2012 I attended 20 watch shows and 10 major auctions worldwide which has given me great insight on the state of the vintage watch market. The major watch auction houses which includes Sotheby's, Christie's, and Antiquorum sold over $200 million in the vintage and in pre-owned watches. According to Sam Hines from Christie's, their watch department broke a record in 2012 and sold over $126 million globally. The watch shows have had record attendance from both domestic and international dealers and trading was brisk during the entire year.
During 2012 large premiums were paid for watches that are in mint condition regardless of the maker. Collectors want the best condition and are willing to pay double and triple the amount for watches compared to watches that are in normal condition. This was witnessed in the most recent Christie's December 2012 auction where a stainless steel Rolex Ref: 6236 datacompax brought over $600,000. Normally that model brings between $100,000-$200,000. I witnessed this type of result for many other models that were in mint condition during 2012 at both shows and auctions.
Patek Philippe and Rolex were the most popular brands of 2012. The most sought-after watch of the year for Rolex was the Day-Date model known as the Presidential. Rolex produced different variations of these models since the late 1950's and collectors were snatching them up especially the original colored enamel dials known as the Stella dials. Of course Rolex sports models did well during 2012 especially rare Submariner James Bond and Paul Newman models.
There were at least a dozen Patek Philippe watches that brought over 1 million dollars at the auction houses during 2012. Some really rare and mint examples appeared last year such as Eric Clapton's Patek Philippe Platinum Perpetual chronograph Ref: 2499 which brought over $3 million. There was a world record set for a Patek Philippe time only Calatrava Ref: 570 in steel and gold which brought over $400,000. Any Patek that was in exceptional condition brought a record price in 2012. This indicates there is a shortage of top quality Patek's and the demand is very strong.
It is evident the watch market remained healthy in 2012 and I expect the same results in 2013. I will continue to hunt for rare and mint watches to list on the page in 2012, so please stay tuned.
Good luck in the New Year...