Notable Watchmakers, F-J

Continuing on from Wednesday’s blog, here we’ll be adding to our watch dictionary of manufacturers, separating the wheat from the chaff in an attempt to present a reliable guide to watchmakers past and present.

Watch Manufacturers We’ll Be Discussing:

  • F.P. Journe
  • Girard-Perregaux
  • Glashütte Original
  • Greubel Forsey
  • Heuer
  • Hublot
  • HYT
  • IWC
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre

Back in the Day

What we haven’t covered much of late is the vintage watch, and we’d like to address that now. While some brands continue to go from strength to strength, some have never fully re-captured an earlier heyday, meaning that older watches are often far more sought-after and valuable. An excellent example of this is Tag Heuer, or should we say, Heuer. For, in the 1950s and 60s, the Heuer models really made a name for themselves. You see, TAG acquired the Heuer brand in 1985 and before this, it was a stand alone company. It was here that Heuer began its association with sports, being seen with racing drivers and astronauts. It is no coincidence then, that their latest model, the Jack Heuer 80th Birthday Edition, is a Carrera, based on the company’s 1963 creation. 50 years ago the base price of a 60s Carrera was $89.50, but recently sold for $5,000 at auction – a fantastic investment.

Style Over Substance

Each year, the Basel World exhibition features the latest in all things horology. And in 2012, we were given this by Hublot:

Now, of course our readers are entitled to their own opinions, but for the traditionalists among us, this is a sure case for style over substance. What we have found over previous blogs is that quartz watches are more accurate than a mechanical watch will ever be. But that’s not the point – the value of the latter lies in the appreciation of master craftsmen manipulating fine cogs and dials to produce intricate masterpieces – something Hublot clearly forgot with this monstrosity, featuring no less than 1282 diamonds. While this is clearly a one-off, it is not that far removed from similarly bizzare designs including zebra patterns and flourescent pink mixed with gold. Such items tend not to hold their value as much as understated classics.

Ground Breaking Watches

Just as in any industry you will find award ceremonies, and none is so prestigious as the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. This celebrates the very pinnacle of watchmaking, with Greubel Forsey, HYT and F.P. Journe all achieving great success. When companies are as young as Greubel Forsey (just 9 years old), HYT (dating back to 2002) and F.P. Journe (est. 1999) they have no heritage of which to speak, and this makes it all the more important to excel in such competitions. This not only proves they have what it takes to compete, but staying power to excel into the future. In 2012, Greubel Forsey won the Best Complicated Watch Prize, with its Invention Piece 2. Meanwhile, HYT won the Innovation Watch Prize with its H1 Titane DLC, a truly mesmerising watch – featuring the first ever hydro-mechanical mechanism. Finally, although they haven’t featured for the last 2 years, we predict great things from F.P. Journe, who wiped the floor with 4 nominations in 2010 and won the Complicated Watch Prize with their Chronomètre à Résonance (pictured below).

Heavyweights

As with our last article, we can’t round this off without mentioning the well-known heavyweights of the watching world: Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Girard-Perregaux and Glashütte Original. Sometimes it’s not always about winning prizes, and these brands continue to concentrate on creating quality timepieces to last more than one lifetime. Perhaps the most well-respected of the above four is Jaeger-leCoultre, with a 150-year heritage and everything sourced in-house, it is a truly independent watchmaker. This leads us onto Glashütte Original, our only non-Swiss member of this group of four. Similarly to JLC, everything is sourced and made in house – and we don’t just mean with the movements. The two companies manufacture every aspect of the watch, from the case to the dial and hands. The benefit of this is that their watches are truly unique and this has a hugely positive impact on value. Then we come to Girard-Perregaux, certainly well-respected, but perhaps going in a similar direction to Breitling, associating itself with non-watch related brands such as Ferrari. While these pieces are limited editions, they do not appreciate well, and you will still find them in retailers at cut-prices. This is not wholly surprising – we always say that the classiest watches are the most understated, well-made and classic, shyly avoiding marketing ploys and standing alone as just great watches. Finally, IWC has split the watch community somewhat. They tend not to use wholly original movements and yet charge high prices for the brand – an example being the Portuguese Automatic, which uses a Valjoux movement found in many other less-expensive watches. Having said that, its undoubted pedigree does make the IWC an attractive investment – just be careful which watch you choose.

To find out more about the value of your watch, you can contact one of borro’s experts on 0808 163 9537

Until next time…

Clocking off, Ed Hallinan and the borro team.

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