Before I get rolling, I am aware that fine mechanical watches are extremely expensive. This isn’t news.
Yesterday, I was out window shopping at a very fine watch shop. I am extremely interested in the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Small Seconds. I’d post a photo of it but I just don’t have a good one. Superb manufacture 8100 caliber that’s significantly smaller than the tiny (by today’s standards) 35mm case. Manual wind on a black croc strap with buckle. The shop has had it in stock for several months so I visit it periodically. I went into the shop and asked to see it again. The winding is superb, the dial and hands are just perfectly elegant. A wonderful presentation all together. When I target a watch, I collect as much pricing information as possible. I scour the used and gray markets to get an idea of what to expect. The retail price on this little number is $11,300. Frankly, that’s just insane for a watch with no complications. That kind of jack for a manual wind without so much as a date complication is just ponderous. Even at a fair retail discount, the price is still about twice what a recent used 8100 caliber watch went for at auction.
I think this one’s going to stay in the dealer’s stock for quite a while. Not many collectors are interested in watches less than 40mm anymore. In fact, Vacheron Constantin uses this same caliber in a 40mm Patrimony case. The spacer ring dwarfs the movement. Collectors are also not interested in spending that kind of cash for a very simple watch. I’m not either.
Update: February 28, 2009: I saw this watch again at the same AD today. Free market forces are still strong in that shop!