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Haute Horlogerie: How to put the right price tag on a new timepiece?

Haute Horlogerie: The Connoisseurs really know how to estimate the real value of high-end timepiece.

7 comprehensive steps how to put an accurate price tag on luxury timepieces:

How to define haute horlogerie? It usually refers to the High-end luxury timepieces priced above the middle range of 15’000 to 20’000 USD.

The highest price is justified by
– noble and rare base material being used (jewellery, precious metals)
– aesthetic and unique design of the timepiece
– complexity of the movements, how many complications have been integrated
– perfect hand finish of all components

Here are some 7 steps, that should help you in your decision making process:

  1. Limited Edition:
    The most valuable things come in small quantities. They often are produced by dedicated and specialised hand-craftsmen. The required expertise combine many years of education and practice with knowing how to use very specifics tools. Preferably high standard testing has been performed to ensure it will run smoothly for a very long time! Rarity remains the major criterion. Just inquire: How many editions of this creation? 1, 10, 100, 1000?
  2. Complication:
    Just looking “beautiful” is not sufficient to create real value. You need to examine, the complexity in the movements. Which horological complication in terms has been integrated. A very expensive timepiece should display more than just time. A tourbillon is fascinating to watch.
  3. Sophisticated construction and assembly: Was it performed by hand
    How long does it take to manufacture a particular model in haute horlogerie? It should be in terms of months. Are they produced by pairs over a certain period or all bunches of them in no time? This can reveal whether or not a timepiece is handmade or not.
  4. Traditional knowhow and ancestral Background.
    While upholding the tradition of an ancestral fine watchmaking a specialised manufacture designs and supplies his customers with authentic movements and complications. This does not exclude innovation. Undergoing a process of miniaturisation and improved engineering are good signs of progress. Therefore, if a mechanical watch gets thinner, with more sophisticated engineering, all these are excellent accomplishments and a must-have for the haute horlogerie connoisseurs.
  5. Highly refined Design and Finish
    You may use a microscope or a magnifying glass to investigate whether or not the hand-finish of all components is perfect. Has your timepiece been decorated with Geneva stripes, snailing, fine circular graining, rhodium plated. How original has the dial been designed? Is it a unique creation?
  6. Precious base material construction
    It is a good idea to ensure that the metals used are inherently valuable. How much precious metal; rose, white, yellow gold or platinum is in play in the case or in the movements? Are hands and hour markers in gold or platinum? Precious stones should not be missing in the movements or embellishing the outstanding design of the timepiece. It is essential to look at the origin of the stones. The major options are natural, manufactured or synthetic. Of course, the most valuable stones are natural ones.
  7. Certificate of quality/100% Swiss made origin.
    The seal of Geneva or The Fleurier Quality Foundation certification are the best qualitative horological certification for finished haute horlogerie timepieces, manufactured 100% in Switzerland. Both certifications relate to specific watches that satisfy strict rules as applied by Swiss law. 100% Swiss made means all components are exclusively designed, manufacture and assembled within Switzerland. The movements must also have various technical and decoration requirements in addition to their place of origin.
  8. Conclusion: Dreams, emotions, identification with a product/brand
    The magic of watches is evident when is owner shows you his watch on his wrist and tells you stories about it; how he eventually could afford the timepiece of his dreams. He may proudly tell you, who gave it to him as an unforgettable gift. It reveals a lot about the owner’s personality and whether or not he is a connoisseur of haute horlogerie.  He may simply identified himself with an image created by the marketing of the brand fulfilling some of his dreams. It is quite a challenge for a former independent watchmaker to keep its own identity and tradition once it has been acquired by one of the big four in high luxury timepieces: Swatch, Richemont, LVMH, Kering.

Ulysse Nardin’s acquisition by Kering (formerly PPR), is the latest in a long list of independents being bought up by large groups. A few years ago, Kering also bought the prestigious brand Girard-Perregaux. Large companies are known to be quite under pressure by the shareholders for margin, profit optimization. Questionable decisions by the top management to downsize a specific brand or marketing campaign that must fit into a certain image could be disappointing for aficionados. That is an opportunity for independent, artisanal, price competitive, innovative, hand made and niche brands like

The worldwide most famous brands by groups in haute horlogerie:
Swatch Group: Omega, Blancpain, Jaquet Droz, Breguet.
Richemont Group: A. Lange & Söhne, Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin, Piaget
Kering Group: Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux, JeanRichard, Gucci
LVMH Group : Hublot, TAG Heuer, Zenith
Independent: Patek Philippe, Breitling, Audemars Piguet, Rolex, Richard Mille, Chanel, Hermès

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