Heirlooms are important: they provide a link to our forebears and the more generations that a piece of jewellery or a fine watch has passed down through, the more important they become. Engravings giving dates and occasions provide proof that those long-ago figures existed and give a concrete date for a moment in their life. These pieces, by their very nature – the age often makes them unique, and they are usually made from precious metals and gemstones – are sometimes worth a lot of money. But the sentimental value and connection to family members makes it very difficult to sell these items, even in times of need.
Everyone needs ready cash at one time or another: this is a simple fact. But it’s possible to raise money on sentimental family items, without letting the piece fall permanently into other hands. If you need to raise capital quickly and you possess a luxury watch, perhaps the easiest way to achieve this is to consider borrowing against the value of your timepiece via Pawnbrokers of Rodeo Drive. Loans can be secured against brands like Cartier, Breguet, Hublot, Piaget, Rolex, Tiffany and more.
Pawnbrokers of Rodeo Drive has 25 years of experience when it comes to fine watch loans. As a respected international pawnbroker, the business prides itself on offering advice, information and a discreet service where you can unlock funds by pawning your luxury watch. As part of the service you can expect complimentary appraisals and instant funding. You can even sell your assets for access to immediate cash.
Understanding how a pawnbroker works
When it comes to working out the value of a pawned item, a broker will take many factors into account. Because most luxury watches are unique, there’s no set criteria that encompasses all timepieces – although there are some basics that each pawnbroker will consider before coming to a conclusion.
How It Works (our approach)
Let us assume you have, for example, a beautiful Breguet watch, a Perpétuelle from 1780, when the company was just getting famous for its innovative technology. Your great, great grandfather was interested in the latest industrial inventions and was just tickled with the idea of having a watch that never needed winding in much the same way that you are intrigued by the latest offerings of the technological age. So he snapped it up, maybe marking the occasion by having the watch engraved on the date of purchase. The watch has been handed down through the generations, and is now yours, in trust for your children, and grandchildren and so on. But…
It’s a tough time economically and you need access to some ready funds to invest in an opportunity that you’ve heard about: one of those rare opportunities that must be snapped up before the door closes and it’s too late to buy in. You don’t want to sell the watch: it’s impossible to auction off all that family history and sentiment, but it seems so counterproductive to have so valuable a piece of metal simply sitting there… A little research tells you that less than a hundred Perpétuelles (which, by the way, were known as the watch of kings because so many royals bought the beautiful and reliable watches) were made by Breguet and this obviously boosts the value even more.
But there is a way to access much-needed finance without selling off your loved and treasured possessions. Why not put the item up as collateral on a loan? In short, pawn the piece for ready funding, while your item is looked after safely until you pay off the loan and redeem your heirloom. At Pawnbrokers of Rodeo Drive, we understand the needs of our customer and our loan service is fast, discreet and confidential.
The Loan Service
Our loan service is strictly by appointment only, so there is no need to queue at the counter. Send an enquiry using our online form, and we will respond with a complimentary appraisal and approximate loan estimate. We are able to provide estimated appraisals over the phone too, or in person if you want to bring your piece in for a face to face evaluation. If you have any provenance, be sure to mention this too: it can help prove the item’s value and authenticity. Provenance is the word used for items like an original invoice, an industry expert’s certificate of authenticity or other documentary proof that the item is an original.
Antique watches are a fantastic item for collectors, being relatively small and holding their value reasonably well. We see many fine watches and will be able to let you know the value of your timepiece, as well as informing you as to how much you would be able to borrow against the item.
Be sure of getting the best offer for your watch by looking after it appropriately: do not use harsh chemicals on it, do not try to cover over any damage. Also be aware that it’s best not to have vintage pieces repaired: they can do better, value-wise, with all original parts even if they are not working.
Why get a watch valued?
There are lots of different reasons why people decide to get their fine watches valued. For some, they’d purely like some peace of mind as to how much their watch is worth. Others might want to know whether it’s worthwhile getting their watch insured.
Some people might want to know the value because they are short on cash and are considering selling their timepiece – which can be a difficult decision to make, particularly if the watch has sentimental value. Many people find it hard to part with watches they have received as a birthday gift, retirement memento or family heirloom – but thankfully there’s a way to unlock funds without having to part with a precious item for good.
When visiting a pawnbroker with your watch, the first thing they will take into account is the market value of the item. Approximately 85 percent of borrowers go on to reclaim their watch after they’ve repaid their loan – but a pawnbroker must always consider what could happen if the owner of the luxury timepiece cannot afford the repayments. The pawnbroker may then be in a position to sell the watch to recoup any funds they have lost on the loan.
When assessing the market value of a luxury watch, a pawnbroker will base their assessment on what the watch is likely to fetch at auction if the loan secured against it goes unpaid. An experienced pawnbroker will consider several factors to ascertain market value. All good pawnbrokers have expertise industry knowledge, and they’ll also look at current price lists or check the prices of similar items at auction to come to an estimated value. In cases where the luxury timepiece is particularly rare or unique (for example, if it was once owned by a person of note) the pawnbroker might have to consult a specialist in order to accurately evaluate the worth of the watch.
The market value of your timepiece will not equal the amount you can borrow against it. In most circumstances, a pawnbroker will offer you between 60 and 70 percent of the market value of your watch.
Supply and demand
Market saturation often dictates how much a broker will agree to lend you against your watch. If the current luxury watch market is filled with a particular brand, such as Antoine Perziuso or Audemars Piguet, it’s likely that the watch will command a lower price than a rare item. However, supply and demand trends have a tendency to change with time, and prices can fluctuate based on changing market variables.
Luxury watch model
The make and model of a watch are important when it comes to deciding pawn loan values. Rare, exclusive and limited-edition models will typically command higher values, as these are often thought of as “investment pieces”. Brands like Rolex, Chopard, FP Journe and Harry Winston are usually in high demand among collectors, although changing markets mean that what once was a collector’s item may now seem out of fashion, and vice-versa.
The condition of your luxury watch
Before agreeing to provide a loan, an experienced pawnbroker will take some time to scrutinise a luxury watch to ensure it is in excellent condition. Luxury watches are renowned for their precision, so any malfunctions or inabilities to accurately keep time could have a huge impact on market value. Occasionally, minor imperfections won’t affect the value of the watch too much (if it is a particularly old or rare model, or if the watch can be easily repaired, for example). However, well looked-after, cared for and properly stored watches will inevitably be worth more than watches that have been “around the block” a few times.
In a world flooded with bogus fake watches, a pawnbroker must be 100% certain that any watch which comes into the store is authentic. It’s therefore important to bring all relevant documentation with you when visiting a pawnbroker. This can include certificates of authenticity and any relevant repair documentation.
Prestige watches and timepieces are items of craftsmanship that blend artistry with functionality and are wonderful things to own. But if you have a fine watch that you no longer wear or simply desire to sell on, you want to know whether it is worth selling or pawning. Naturally, not everyone is a chronograph historian or an antiques dealer, and working out the precise market value by yourself can be quite difficult. So, if you want to have an approximate idea of how much you could stand to gain from pawning a timepiece, there are some things you can look for to estimate how valuable your fine watch is from the comfort of your own home.
1) The authenticity of your watch
The initial and arguably most crucial part of the process is authenticating whether your watch is real or not. Imitations abound, with hundreds of thousands of counterfeit timepieces made from cheap materials in an attempt to look the part but without the high cost. However, there are some ways you can make an assessment on the authenticity before taking it to an expert.
The quality of craftsmanship is often an immediate indicator of a fine watch’s origins. High-end watches that cost several thousand dollars and are handmade by trained watchmakers are items that have had a great deal of skill and care put into them. A mass-manufactured fake watch designed to trick people into thinking they are making a saving has had absolutely zero care put in to its construction.
Spelling mistakes are a large giveaway when it comes to fakes. Copyright laws are often sidestepped by makers using misspelled brand names (‘Brietling’ instead of ‘Breitling’, or ‘TAG Heur’ for example) and often these can be cleverly hidden to distract potential buyers.
Of course, if you purchased the watch yourself, or someone you trust did, we understand that you know whether it is genuine or not. But should you decide to pawn or sell on your fine watch, bringing along corroborating documents that are supplied by many prestige brands (such as a certificate of authenticity) will make the authentication process much smoother and could potentially increase the amount you receive.
2) Manufacturer – who made the watch?
Watches from more esteemed manufacturers, such as those mentioned earlier, generally command greater value. Rare, discontinued and limited-edition models can also raise the value of your timepiece, and these possibilities will be considered by the valuation team. Indeed, brand prestige and recognition has a large part to play in the resale or pawning value of a watch. Highly valuable watches have become synonymous with aspirational ideas of luxury and wealth, something that has bled into mainstream popular culture. Much in the same vein that car marques like Ferrari and Lamborghini or fashion houses such as Gucci and Versace have become symbols of success, watchmakers like Rolex and Patek Philippe, amongst others, have attained equally symbolic status.
3) What model is your fine watch?
Once you’ve established the make of your watch, finding out which range or collection it is from and the specific model name is the next part of the valuation process. This step is important because the range of luxury watch prices within one brand can be truly astronomical. As an example, the Swiss brand Patek Philippe has produced collections ranging from $3,000 all the way up to $200,000.
If you don’t have documents with the watch’s information on, you can find the model by first looking for any badging on the watch itself. The back of the watch face may have information engraved on it or perhaps on the strap. If this reveals nothing, searching online for the brand name with any distinctive design features (e.g. Blancpain watch with black watch face and gold frame) can help you narrow down your search.
Being filled with intricate mechanisms and encased in structures made from highly valuable materials, the condition of a watch directly affects how much it is worth. Damage, whether internal, superficial, or both, is undesirable when it comes to pawning or reselling. Check whether the fine watch is keeping time properly, examine the glass for scratches or chips, as well as having a look at the condition of the exterior. If there are any extra features such as alarms or timers, check the functionality of these too.
Blemishes, rust, dents, restoration jobs and replacement parts can all affect the value of a fine watch. However, this doesn’t mean damaged watches are automatically worthless. In many cases, watches can be repaired, and the time and cost it could take to restore a watch to its former glory will be taken into account by an experienced valuer.
As an example, let’s say your watch is incredibly rare and more than 40 or 50 years old. If it is in a state of disrepair and not able to function using existing vintage parts, then this will bring its potential value down. The same is true for newer watches which have been poorly looked after. The condition does not just refer to the aesthetics of the watch, but also the inner workings of it, and how capable it is of carrying out tasks, such as telling the time. If it is not holding its time properly or performing all the tasks it’s able to, then perhaps it may be worth employing a skilled craftsman to open the watch and replace or tweak existing components.
5) Providence and rarity
As mentioned in the first point about authenticity, proving your watch is what it appears to be is equally important if you are in possession of a very rare or historic chronograph. Many of the prestigious watchmakers, especially the storied Swiss brands, like to produce extremely limited edition runs of truly superb watches to demonstrate what they are capable of. These rare models have unique designs and quirks, such as Blancpain’s Chinese Calendar collection or Patek Philippe’s World Time models.
These are the extreme examples, but there is an array of limited-edition watches from different brands that are worth more because of their increased rarity. Proving the authenticity of these watches is paramount for the resale value and is generally a very useful thing to do when dealing with any valuable items as it eliminates doubt and saves on time.
If a watch is simply valued straight off the wrist of the owner, it is likely to command less than a piece which comes with an original box, a bill of sale, certificate of authenticity or other relevant documentation. If the watch has previously been repaired, the servicing papers outlining that it has been restored by a qualified watchmaker could also help it to hold its value.
Some models have been produced to the highest of qualities, but very few were ever sold. If you own such a model that is just 1 in 100 or 1 in 10, then you own a highly desirable timepiece. The manufacturer is hardly going to make any more, so the rarity of your piece drastically increases its price. Just ensure that your watch is rare for a good reason. If it is rare because no one wanted to buy it and it was found to have many flaws after production, then its rarity is not necessarily desirable.
Sometimes, watches that have been owned by celebrities or other people of note can also command a higher price – provided there is documentary evidence to support the history of the timepiece and its owner.
While newer watches can – and do – command high price tags on the timepiece market, a vintage piece is likely to be worth more. That said, brand new watches are also in demand, particularly if they have never been worn or used. Many clients bring unwanted gifts in for valuation as a means to generate capital from an item they don’t want.
As mentioned above, an old luxury watch has the potential to be worth an incredible sum of money. Old watches have a certain element of style and rarity that simply cannot be bought in the new watch market. However, it must be appreciated that, just because your watch is old, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is valuable. The condition of your watch and its ability to perform its tasks will greatly affect its worth. There is a certain amount of leeway given to the fact that an old watch is expected to deteriorate slightly over time. However, just to make it clear, a 50-year-old watch that is in fantastic condition and still works seamlessly is likely to be of some value. Age is indeed an important factor when valuing a watch, but you will need to consider it in line which each of the 3 following points as well.
Best Selling Watch brands at Auction
Watches can be simple, time-telling devices, or they can be something a bit more interesting. In older times when the idea of a man wearing jewellery was not the done thing, his watch was one of the few exceptions, and an expensive and beautifully crafted watch became the sign of a well-dressed, successful man. These days there is less of a need for time-telling as smartphones can do this, along with many other things, but a fine watch still has a place in today’s world, helping to polish the image and building the brand of the wearer. There is a thriving trade in both new and second-hand fine watches, and below are examples of some of the most expensive watches recently sold at auction.
Rolex is a high-end watch brand – arguably the best known of all. It will be no surprise that the highest price gained for a fine watch at auction was for a Rolex. To be specific, it was a Daytona known as ‘The Unicorn’. The watch was made in 1970 as a special commission for the customer, and what sets it apart from any other Rolex Daytona is the fact that it is made from white gold, rather than the more customary stainless-steel or yellow gold. The Unicorn recently sold at auction for almost six millions US dollars – its uniqueness, no doubt, was a major reason for that impressive price tag.
The Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 is a very high-quality watch, going for as much as six hundred thousand US dollars retail. What makes this particular watch special is the fact that it was retailed at Asprey, the very exclusive British department store that has catered to the exceedingly well-off since 1781. This particular watch was made in 1952, which now makes it a vintage piece, and boasts signatures on the dial from both the retailer and the manufacturer: Patek Philippe and Asprey. It also has Patek Philippe on the caseback, along with a London import mark, and a hallmark from Asprey. So high-end is the store that being accepted for sale in those hallowed premises can boost the value of an item! The Asprey Patek Philippe sold at auction in 2006 for a then-record price of 2.2 million dollars. It sold again in 2018 for more than 3.9 million dollars: almost doubling the original investment made by the seller.
Of course, these two watches made so much money at auction because they are unique: there is something about them that sets them apart from other fine watches. But even ‘normal’ fine watches can achieve excellent prices at auction, with the Rolex Daytona and the Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 both appearing more than once in the top ten list of highest amounts gained at auction.
How much could my luxury watch sell at auction for?
The price your watch could command at auction will depend on all of the above factors. As you might expect, rare or limited-edition models have a greater chance of commanding large values at auction – although demand also plays a key part in determining how much your luxury timepiece could sell for. For example: even if you have the rarest watch in the world, if there are no interested parties at the time of going to auction it could sell for far less than its market value.
However, it’s unusual for a rare watch to not command interest under the hammer. In 2018 alone, there were at least five auction houses that sold watches for no less than $2 million. Some of the most expensive watches ever sold at auction include:
1) Patek Philippe’s Henry Graves Jr Supercomplication
This watch reached a final asking price of $23.98 million during an auction overseen by Sotheby’s in Geneva. The luxury pocket watch is regarded as one of the most complicated mechanical timepieces ever created. It boasts 24 complications and is manufactured from 18-carat gold. This watch was commissioned by the banker Henry Graves Jr, from where it gets its name.
2) Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona
In 2017, a Rolex wristwatch owned by the actor Paul Newman sold at Phillips’ auction house in New York for $17.75 million after a 12-minute bidding war. Over the course of the day, the auctioneer sold watches totalling almost $29 million from manufacturers including Heuer, Omega, Audemars, Piguet and Cartier.
3) Patek Philippe Star Calibre 2000
Back in 2012, this watch (reference 990/1) reached a final asking price of $3.28 million during an auction held by Christie’s in Hong Kong. This exceptionally rare 18-carat double-dial clock watch features 21 complications, Westminster chimes, a leap year cycle and more.
How to increase the value of your fine watch
One of the most common items which are worth a surprising amount of money in your home is your watch. A luxury watch is more than just a basic timepiece, it’s a long-term investment. However, you shouldn’t be content with just maintaining it, not when our experts at Pawnbrokers Rodeo Drive know exactly what steps you can take to actually increase the value of your luxury watch.
Along with an increase in the value of your watch, these steps are also likely to help you sell your watch easier should you decide to cash in your investment, as well as describing the things you really shouldn’t do.
1. Clean your watch every time you use it
While it may sound over cautious to suggest cleaning your watch after use, this is a great way to ensure it says in the best quality condition. Take a soft cloth and wipe down the strap and watch case, which removes any accumulated dirt and dead skin cells. Clean the glass screen too, and remove any marks or stains as soon as possible to avoid them becoming ingrained into the watch material.
2. Don’t use polish!
While many people might think that polish is the best way to keep something metal shiny, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, polishing actually causes hundreds of microscopic scratches on the surface of your watch, and can also damage the edges, wearing them away and reducing the distinctive angular shapes of your timepiece. If your watch needs more than just a light cleaning, then ensure that you take it to a professional, who will clean it in an ultrasound bath, a method that is guaranteed to remove the dirt without damaging the watch casing or the working mechanisms inside.
3. Avoid magnets
While many luxury watches claim that they are safe against shocks, are waterproof and can be used during intense physical activity, one external factor that has the potential to seriously damage the internal timekeeping mechanism of your watch is a magnet. Magnets can impact both traditional wind-up watches and those with a digital interface too, and any exposure can affect the reliability and precision of your luxury watch.
4. Keep your watch box
Collectors love a complete package, and the value of your luxury watch will significantly increase if you have the original watch box too. The condition of the box is just as important as the condition of the watch, so ensure that this is kept in a secure place, away from any potentially damaging conditions. Equally, your watch box was made to safely store your watch, so for extra protection, it is well worth storing your watch in its original box when not in use.
5. Never open your watch
A watch that has been opened by anyone other than a professional is likely to significantly decrease the value of it. Equally, attempting to open a watch without the right tools and expertise is likely to leave obvious marks and scratches on the casing. You should never have a need to reveal the watch mechanism, and idle curiosity is not worth decreasing the value of your watch. If there are any mechanical problems, then take your watch to an expert rather than attempt a bit of D.I.Y.
6. Research trends in luxury watch markets
The market for luxury watches has peaks and troughs, just like every other market. If you are looking to ensure that you sell your watch at the right time, then you need to ensure that you are doing so at the right point in the market. As such, spend some time tracking the value of your specific watch, as well as luxury watches in general before you sell. If the values are increasing, then it may be worth hanging on to your investment for a little longer, in order for its value to increase. However, markets go down as well as up, so don’t hang on to your watch for too long, otherwise the market may dip again and you will have lost your opportunity to sell high.
7. Get your watch serviced regularly, and keep these records
Anyone can say that they have had their watch serviced every two years, as recommended by most manufacturers, but without proof, this means very little to buyers. However, by presenting the official service records to verify your claims, the value of your watch can increase significantly. A full luxury watch service will ensure that the entire mechanism is disassembled and cleaned, all seals are replaced, and the moving parts are re-oiled to ensure they keep their precision. Essentially, a full service keeps your watch as good as new.
Do personal circumstances affect how much you could borrow against your luxury watch?
In short, yes. Most pawnbrokers will look at your personal situation when considering the likelihood of whether you’ll be able to pay your loan off. If you have a poor credit history, a pawnbroker might be more likely to prepare to sell your luxury watch on in the event of non-payment, and will factor this potential additional work into your loan terms.
Pawnbrokers are in the business of making money from the interest charged on loans. They would rather see customers repay their loan and redeem their timepiece than have to go to the trouble of selling a luxury watch. Customers who are considered “low-risk” are likely to be offered a better loan agreement that those who are an unknown quantity. Repeat customers are usually a good bet for pawnbrokers, as they already have a history of reclaiming their items after repaying a loan. It’s estimated that 80 percent of those who use pawnbroking services do so twice or more each year.
Pawning a fine watch is, one could say, a way of safeguarding your family’s history while accessing the cash you need to maintain or improve that family situation in the now. If you have a fine watch and some financial constraints, why not use our online form to ask us how we can help you?
If you are looking to sell your watch in the LA or Beverly Hills area, then Pawnbrokers of Rodeo Drive will buy your watch from you today! For more specific information on each of over 43 brands of fine watches we buy or loan against please visit our dedicated watches loans page, or visit some of the pages of the individual brands: Harry Winston, Hublot, IWC, Jaeger Le Coultre, Omega, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Nardin, A Lange & Sohne, Preziuso, AudemarsPiguet, Bamford, Blancpain, Breguet, Breitling, Bvlgari, Cartier, Franck Muller, Panerai, Patek Philippe, Richard Mille, Rolex, or Vacheron Constantin to name just a few of the many brands we buy or loan against.