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Car park peddler watches

by Michael Weare
27 October, 2011
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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Yesterday we featured an ultra rare Patek Philippe timepiece that could potentially cost its new owner up to US$1m. It is the veritable grail of watchmaking, but for all its superlative craftsmanship, its perceived value is far greater than the sum of its parts.

Today, we are looking at watch brands that could relieve you of up to $1000 or more, and like their haute horology counterparts, their perceived value, induced by intense pressure from a dodgy looking car park peddler, are far greater than the sum of their parts.

From London to Latvia

Freiderick Stein Neptune

A typical case in point is Freiderick Stein. They sell their watches on dozens of internet outlets, and despite the recommended retail price on their official site quoting prices of £500 or more, do not be fooled, just Google the model, any model, and somewhere on the web, be it London or Latvia, you can grab yourself the exact same watch for considerably less.

‘The Freiderick Stein brand was formed in 2004 with a mission to offer a collection of exquisite watches to the discerning collector. ‘At least that’s their description.

Imaginary watchmakers

Louis Bolle watch

The truth is Freiderick Stein falls into the same category of watches as Claude Valentini, Jacques Cantani, Louis Bolle and many other watchmakers whose pedigree is impossible to research. It’s not to say that the watches don’t function, the Japanese quartz watch movement should ensure that they keep accurate time – but don’t expect the gold plate to last more than a year of regular wear.

These watch brands may sound upmarket, but in reality many of them probably come from low-level manufacturers in Asia – more specifically China – and are sold under exotic sounding names in their home market. Market traders and ‘Del Boy’ types buy them wholesale at knock down prices and sell them for – well basically for however much they can get from a passing punter.

The job of the website is to maintain an aura of respectability, but search as you may, you won’t find an address or contact details for this type of watch brand, and if you do, as in the case of Claude Valentini, it’s going to be a non existent address. Another favoured strategy is to place an ad for the watches in a prestigious magazine and show it to the customer – ‘look this really is an upmarket watch – it”s in this top magazine!’

A true assessment

Claude Valentini

A reputable London watchmaker was asked to inspect a Claude Valentini watch, and these were his comments:

“This is a basic quartz movement which I see day in, and day out, the type of thing which would have been made up for a few pence. It is nothing special at all but it would work perfectly well. I’ve just noticed a price tag – recommended £400 – that’s a bit of a joke really. This watch is worth between £30 and £50.”

The bidding for the Patek Philippe Ref 3448 is going to be intense on November 14th. And the winning bidder will own a watch that glitters and is most definitely certifiable pure gold.

But in the car park peddler watch world, all that glitters is decidedly not a precious metal.

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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