Conventional wisdom has it that in discretionary times – like the one we are in now – practical and less flashy watches will shine. Which makes the focus on steel bracelet timepieces quite apt. Not only is a steel watch more durable and easily repolished (read: it can always look spanking new), the metal watch’s tough sporty appearance adds a certain air of effortlessness compared to its fustier cousin, the dress watch.
This month, Audemars Piguet adds four new 34mm models to its best-selling Royal Oak Selfwinding collection to cater to daintier wrists. Out of the lot, two models come in full steel designs that feature a handsome blue-grey dial and a classic silver dial respectively that boast the maison’s signature grande tapisserie relief motif. Even Piaget has gotten into the steel action. Next month, it will be releasing an 888-piece limited edition Piaget Polo Date Green Dial with a stunning green guilloche dial with hands and indexes accented in gold.
Interestingly enough, there seems to be growing demand among savvy younger buyers opting for dress watches and complication timepieces housed in humble steel cases. One just needs to refer to the recent launch of the mechanical Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Perpetual Calendar and The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 for a glimpse of this changing tastes. Practicality and common sense play a big factor here – a mechanical model in steel costs much lower compared to the same model encased in gold while the inner workings of both versions remain the same.
And if the popularity of sports watches in the pre-loved market is anything to go by, then the demand for steel timepieces won’t be going down anytime soon. According to Tim Mosso, the media director of pre-owned watch e-tailer WatchBox which opened its Collectors’ Lounge at co-working space The Great Room in Ngee Ann City last Nov, iconic steel tickers like Patek Philippe’s Nautilus and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak are increasingly becoming hot ticket items. “You can see that we have a full case of Rolex and Patek Philippe sports watches in our lounge here because those have gained values faster than the market for used watches as a whole. That’s a unique market within a market,” he said.
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