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QUICKFIRE Q&A: Inability to acquire Rolex and Patek has driven collectors to “next in-line” brands

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John Pietrasz, co-founder of Delray Watch Supply

Despite the business beasts that are Rolex and Patek Philippe, collectors have started to branch out and diversify their collections.

WATCHPRO catches up with John Pietrasz, co-founder of Delray Watch Supply, and learn more on how he and Delray have witnessed an ongoing shift:

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WP: Have you seen a shift away from the ‘usual suspects’ when it comes to collectors?

JP: Continually throughout the last 5 years, watch collectors have branched out further away from the usual suspects. Collectors have developed an appetite for unique and special watches offered from high end independents such as FP Journe and traditionally lesser-known brands such as Girard Perregaux, Ulysse Nardin, etc.

WP: Why do you think this is?

JP: Fueled by the notion of being unable to acquire watches from Rolex and Patek in an authorised dealer, watch collectors have sought out brands and models that are “next in line”. I am observing a great increase in demand for brands that produce what are considered alternatives to popular watch models. Think Girard Perregaux Laureato instead of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Sport instead of a Rolex Daytona.

WP: Do you think the pandemic has allowed collectors time to reflect and study how they want their collection to evolve?

JP: Five years ago, watch collectors would purchase watches that they enjoyed based on aesthetic and brand connection. Now, there is much more of a consideration from collectors on whether or not the watches they purchase will increase in value or maintain value. An idea has propagated in watch collecting communities that watches should retain or increase in value.

Though, historically watches were considered much more of a consumer good and less of an asset.

WP: What do the brands such as Girard Perregaux and Vacheron Constantin offer the modern-day collector?

JP: Aside from the high quality and attention to fine detail offered by these manufacturers, collectors are speculating that GP and VC are the “next big thing”. Throughout the last 5 years we have seen enthusiast-brands such as FP Journe and H. Moser skyrocket in terms of both desirability and trade value. Now, collectors are riding this trend and have begun to speculate with their pocketbooks on which brands they posit will increase in value in the future.

WP: How has online influencing affected this trend?

JP: Social media has created echo chambers in a sense. As watch collecting has become more mainstream, groups of collectors have begun to congregate around different brands or segments of watches such as vintage. While there certainly is still much room for collectors to have independent thoughts and preferences, social media seems to have a compounding effect on the desirability of certain models, especially in modern watches.

WP: Do you see the trend continuing?

JP: Old-world watch companies have been slow to move, historically. Recently these companies have noticed independent watch dealers such as Delray Watch achieve great success using social media platforms. My YouTube channel, John P Watches, and my business partner’s channel, Federico Talks Watches, have shown these companies that they should not ignore the power of social media. We are now seeing brands heavily invest in social media partnerships and it should increase in prevalence into the future. Any watch brand ignoring online influencing is making a serious mistake.

WP: Do collectors now see collecting as a passion more than an investment?

JP: There are three main tranches of watch consumers: casuals, enthusiasts, and investors. There can be overlap between the three, though collectors looking for investment opportunities in watches are becoming more popular in ultra high-end, unique, and vintage watches. Collectors want to purchase watches that will retain or increase in trade value.

WP: How has Delray Watch adapted as a business to this?

JP: Delray Watch focuses on pre-owned watches favored by watch enthusiasts. While we certainly carry the popular brands such as Rolex and Patek, we specialize in watch brands that offer great value although being previously overlooked by mainstream collectors. Collectors come to us for Girard Perregaux, H. Moser, Gerald Genta, Parmigiani Fleurier, and the like. These brands are now increasing in popularity which has translated into increased trade value over time.

WP: What is next for Delray Watch?

JP: We are continuing to grow the company and are actively considering partnership opportunities with like-minded organizations.

Find out more about Delray Watch Supply HERE.

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