Buying a Breitling in the Secondary Market – A deal, or a dud? November 25, 2019 – Posted in: Watches

Buying a Breitling in the Secondary Market – A deal, or a dud?

In 2017 the historic Swiss Watchmaker, Breitling Montres, S.A., founded in 1884 by Leon Breitling and known for their Chronographs and Cockpit instruments used during WWII, was purchased by a Private Capital Firm, CVC Capital Partners. A new CEO, Georges Kern, who was formerly CEO of International Watch Co. Schaffhausen (IWC) and served in other capacities for the Richemont Group, began revamping the model lineup. His focus, seemingly, is getting back to the DNA of Breitling by offering models very similar to classic models from the 1950’s and ’60’s. This focus appears to be keeping cost-conscious buyers in mind. Many of the models available since the advent of their in-house Chronograph caliber, the B01, in 2009 have been revamped and offered with a choice of in-house, or the lower priced, outsourced, yet embellished and COSC certified calibers. It could be argued that Breitling shot itself in the foot when they went into production with their in-house column-wheel chronograph with 70 hour power reserve. A great movement by all accounts, but the model pricing shot up substantially which may have rebuffed some Breitling aficianados (The stainless steel 44 mm Chronomat Evolution, which retailed for $6300 prior to the introduction of the new Chronomat with the B01 movement in 2009, jumped to an astounding almost $9000!) This, as well as some issues concerning their distribution network and models being sold to the gray market, caused many models to be offered on the gray market at heavily discounted prices, up to 50% off of retail. This may beg the question, “is a Breitling watch a bad purchase/investment?” And the answer is….”That depends”. These heavily discounted models have, for the most part, moved through the system, but lesser discounts are still available.

Breitling is one of the very few Swiss watch brands to chronometer certify all of its movements. These requirements certify that the watch, among other things, will keep time within a tolerance of +6/-4 seconds a day (Rolex certifies its chronometers to within +2/-2 seconds per day with their “Superlative Chronometer” designation). So, is a Breitling a good investment? I would argue that no watch is a good investment. A watch is a tool, meant to serve a purpose; to tell time, in all conditions and environments, and to do so with utter reliability. By nature of it’s intended use, it is by all accounts, a depreciating asset. However, most high end Swiss timepieces maintain some percentage of their retail value if kept maintained and in fair to good condition. A washer/dryer will eventually be worth zero, or close to, if kept in running condition. An automobile, similarly, will depreciate very quickly and has a much higher cost to maintain. Most, eventually, becoming cost prohibitive to keep on the road in fully functioning condition for an indefinite period of time.

What makes sense to us at Noah’s Fine Watches & Jewelry is to offer refurbished, reconditioned and New Old Stock Breitling watches. Although a watch will depreciate once worn, by buying a quality pre-owned timepiece, you are assured that your investment, although still depreciating, will depreciate from a much lower starting point. This is what makes a pre-owned, lightly used Breitling a deal you may not be able to pass up.