News & Insights

Watchmakers to Watch

7th February 2022. By Adam Wasdell

In recent years, collectable and vintage watches have gone from strength to strength at auction, with both prices and demand on the rise. Appealing to a broad market of buyers, watches are a practical and stylish introduction to buying at auction.

The collectable and vintage watch market, however, has long been dominated at the top end by just a handful of top makers, namely Rolex, Omega and Patek Philippe. With such high demand, prices for their watches are now out of reach for many collectors. Attention has now begun to turn to a broader range of fine watches from excellent makers, which offer new collectors the chance to buy a finely engineered watch at a more affordable price.

A Rare 'Pilot's' Limited Edition Ceramic Automatic Day/Date Chronograph Wristwatch, signed International Watch Co, Schaffhausen, model: Der Fliegerchronograph, ref: 3705, circa 1997 - Sold for £7,200 plus buyer’s premium


Amongst a raft of collectable and vintage watches on the market, names to watch include the International Watch Company (IWC), Jaeger LeCoultre, Longines, Breitling and Zenith. However, prices for these makers, too, are beginning to creep up. One of the most interesting brands to look out for is IWC, which was founded in 1868 by American Florentine Ariosto Jones. His desire to combine Swiss craftsmanship and modern engineering technology from the US led him to establish a workshop in Schaffhausen in North East Switzerland, and they became famed for their range of pilot’s watches. Indeed, a rare, limited-edition version sold recently at Tennants for £7,200, double the estimate. 

A Rare Stainless Steel Wristwatch, signed Zenith, Chronometre, 1954 (Sold for £2,700 plus buyer’s premium)


If you are looking to buy, keep an eye out for rare models, limited edition models or watches with unusual features, as these are more likely to become increasingly sought-after at auction. Whatever your budget, always buy watches from a reputable source or seek advice from a knowledgeable auction specialist. Look out for watches that are in good, original condition, that have not been cleaned up too much or that have had their cases refinished. Serious collectors prefer their watches to show their age a little, with a good patina to the dial and luminous markers.


An 18 Carat Rose Gold Wristwatch, signed Longines, ref: 7026-1, circa 1960 - Sold for £800 plus buyer’s premium

Adam Wasdell

Adam Wasdell

Wostep, MBHI

Watches, Clocks and Barometers Specialist, General Valuer

+ 44 (0) 1969 623780

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