BASEL/SIHH 2008 - my impressions  0 Comments


I first made a casual survey with my collector friends just this week about their impressions of this year's new releases at BASEL/SIHH - making sure first what my own personal views are of the offerings.

While the impressions varied quite a fair bit as to what caught their eye and fancy, what truly surprised me was how many had said the single and strongest impression was how prices have escalated beyond reason. I believe as many other better heeled collectors do, that brands have miscalculated the buyer's elasticity to price increases. I think the rubber of the ballon has reached it maximum capacity and any time now, it will pop.
Just look at this thread I started to guage the sentiments from collectors online (CLICK HERE).

One glaring sample of the excesses of brand's expectation is the Harry Winston Opus 8 that is listed at US$350,000 (see image on the right). A watch that is mechanical in form but digital in function.
To me there is an unreal level of brazen disregard as to the intelligence of collectors/buyers. While I do not fault the brand for wanting to push the boundaries of its R&D, I most definitely find that price somewhat disconnect from the realities of the real world.

I suspect that brands today cannot resist selling new watches at ridiculous prices because buyers from the new wealthy in Russia and China are just buying them like loaves of bread soaking up all the high priced pieces.
I have a premonition that if this continues for much longer, many if not most of the top 25 top watch companies and conglomerates will become target of corporate takeovers by the Russians and Chinese. At the very least, targetting the supply chain of the brands that includes part, case, dial manufacturers etc. If brands continue to use 'this is just a business' excuse, they certainly cannot cry foul when business comes kicking on their door to buy away all the Swiss brands.
Clearly more immediate changes can be seen in the way collectors are behaving online, complaints of price escalation and declaration of cutting back their purchasing behaviour. I think a period of austerity will flow over the Swiss watch industry - at least from cities and countries of established collectors. Will such behaviour influence the buying fever of new collectors from Russia and China?
I wonder.



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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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