The watch collecting scene has changed beyond recognition over the past 30 years, with far more hobbyists entering the market and super-collectors dramatically increasing their spending.
Robert Read, head of art and private clients, at Hiscox, a specialist insurance firm, says he has seen watch collecting explode into a mainstream pursuit.
“Watches are no longer a niche business within the collector world. They are now big business globally right across the board, similar to the classic or ‘supercar’ car market. Just as you can have an instant modern classic car with a waiting list, you now have waiting lists for some watches.
“At the top end, collectors and investors see watches as mobile assets which have cash liquidity,” he says in a report on watch auctions for Britain’s Horological Journal.
The pre-owned watch market is estimated to be worth around one third of the $64 billion art sector, but is widening and deepening, according to Mr Read.
“To give an example, 25 years ago Hiscox might have insured a significant collection of watches and jewellery for £10 million ($13m). Now we are insuring £100 million ($130m) plus collections,” he says.