A Collector’s Perspective: The Value of Limitation

There’s an undeniable feeling of specialness sired by owning something rare. Scarcity sells and brands have been taking note. But how do these varying approaches affect the likelihood of value appreciation in the years to come?

Image Courtesy of HYT

Some major brands like Hublot and HYT seem not to produce anything but limited editions. This strategy is underpinned by ‘total concept luxury’: The price alone feeds into the idea that you need to be super rich to wear one of these pieces, and by being super rich you, like your watch, are one of the chosen few.

The problem from an investment perspective is that these watches aren’t really worth the amount of money charged for them. The ‘average’ consumer in this price bracket wants their watches to be expensive and so the brands gleefully oblige by charging them through the nose for the privilege.

Image Courtesy of Hublot

And that’s totally fine. But it’s kind of irrelevant to those of us with more modest, if not meagre, budgets. When mid-range brands do something in limited series, we should sit up and take note, because that’s where the real treasure can be found.

Ben & Ross - Guynemer WW1 special edition in 2017
Image Courtesy of Bell & Ross

But what can be said to constitute limitation? Bell & Ross released the Guynemer WW1 special edition in 2017 with just 500 pieces available, and I raced out to buy it because it felt so rare. But is it really that exclusive? Maybe it’s just an arbitrary line that varies from person to person

Laventure Marine watch
Image Courtesy of Laventure

I continued my search for true scarcity, and went snooping around Kickstarter, where I found the Laventure Marine. Created by Clement Gaud, a watch designer with some serious industry pedigree, what I discovered was a handsome piece with admittedly derivative elements, neatly combined in a supremely well-executed package for a couple of thousand bucks. With just 50 pieces of each dial colour available it is truly limited, and an excellent opportunity for appreciation simply down to the fact it’s incredibly affordable.

However, this entry-level bracket is not really where you’d expect to see the huge level of appreciation you’d expect limitation to offer. For that, we must turn back to one of the industry’s ever-present powerhouses.

Omega is renowned for their endless waves of limited edition Speedmasters. The popularity of the brand and its perceived collectability drives buyers to frenzy because the general perception is that something like a Speedmaster is money in the bank, leading to the assumption that a special edition Speedmaster is that to the nth degree.

omega speedmaster
Image Courtesy of Omega

The sheer number of special editions and their voluminous run sizes demands discernment on behalf of the customer. Those that do not subvert the norms too much for the sake of cheap thrills are smart investments. With a growing enthusiasm for the ‘Speedy Tuesday’ movement, now is a good time to get in on the mix. At the very least it will make you feel special, if only for a while.

About the Author
Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.

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About the Author:

Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.