FAQ #1 - Comparison of AP Royal Oak & IWC Portuguese Automatic  0 Comments


Recently I have been getting quite a few emails from new collectors asking for advice on some pieces here as well as some I do not own. I thought it would useful to compile them and share them on this blog so others can use it as well. Please note that this is my personal opinion and must not be treated as the be all and end all! I make no claims to being an expert on horology - just an enthusiast and an avid collector.

Q - Can you please provide comparative pros and cons of your new AP Royal Oak and IWC Portugese Automatic watches? Which would you chose as a daily wearer? Which one will be a better investment, or best choice to leave for my son when I'm gone?
A - You asked an extremely difficult question as I adore both watches. They each evoke different emotions from me and serve very different purposes for my collection.
First - both are iconic models in their own brands. That to me is important for collecting. Both are outstanding efforts of horology and manufacture as well - both are internally developed designs and new in-house movements. Both are in the same price bracket. Both are in 40-42mm size. Both have one of the very best dial you will find in the watch world. I would say easily within the top 50 in the world. Both are open backed. Both WILL easily age well over the next 50 years. The Portuguese is a design around for nearly 20 years. The RO has been around since the 70s. Hence they are true classics unlike other pretenders. Both are easily identifiable by collectors from 20 feet away.
Now for the dissimilarities: The Portuguese is thicker and comes in leather and the RO has new bracelet design. Hence the times I wear each are very different. The Port has 7 days and the RO has 3 days power reserve. The RO has a sporty character and can be worn with a suit or dinner jacket or polo shirt. The Port is a classic office watch - yet able to be worn on the week end at the club or shopping. The port has almost no bezel and the RO has the distinctive octagonal bezel.
Now for a daily wearer - I would probably say the RO as it's a well made watch that can take daily beating - BUT be aware that the nature of the RO design is that it is prone to scratching (somehow more than others). The Port can be a daily wearer too but to me it's a very special watch that I wear probably two days in a week - esp. on days I need cheering up.
One difficult reality test that you need to ask yourself - am I buying for myself or buying the watch to be recognised? Unfortunately many buy watches as a status symbol - like Rolexes etc. So the Port will unlikely be recognisable by non collectors as IWC is not a mainstream cachet brand but a serious collector brand. AP on the other hand is within the top three brands of the world in terms of prestige - Patek, Vacheron and AP.
Which watch that will be a better investment? Gosh that's asking me to read a crystal ball and I do not have one. My best guess is that both will retain its value well compared to most but the Portuguese will have a greater following with collectors for its uniqueness, history and design distinction from other brands. Many brands are copying the RO design these days and that may affect its value in the next generation.
Two words of caution. Watches are terrible investments. Maybe one in a hundred will keep its original value. Second they cost money and effort to maintain in good nick which needs to be done for it to retain some value - much like an exotic sports car. Hope this helps in some way. Buying a watch to wear and to invest is a very personal experience. You really need to try them on the wrist side by side to make an emotional decision. I personally think its wrong to decide without any element of emotional desire as it is delusional. Watches like clothes and cars are purchases of the heart and not of the mind.



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  • This is a personal blog of Harry SK Tan on all things pertaining to Horology - from watch collecting, horolography, news and developments from all over the world particularly Singapore.
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