Over the many years of collecting watches, I've witnessed dozens of beautifully crafted pieces, but the ones that come with a story and rich heritage has taken my keen interest.
Words by Manish Hathiramani
Luxury watches to me, go way beyond just a style statement. They represent heritage, class, elegance and the greatest of all, an investment. Horology to me is not about an ostentatious show, but instead a deep appreciation and understanding for time. It is an exquisite display of craftsmanship that takes to create a piece of art that perfectly captures time’s essence. Watches or better yet, time-pieces are an investment in a legacy that stretches beyond the object that you see on your wrist. From a Casio in my school days to a Seiko in my college days, and now to my most prized Franck Muller, my affinity has increased through every stage. Investment in a luxury watch is a fulfilling experience for me unlike many who would prefer to invest lavishly in a property or land.
Over the many years of collecting watches, I've witnessed dozens of beautifully crafted pieces, but the ones that come with a story and rich heritage has taken my keen interest. Owning a Jaeger-LeCoultre or Rolex is not about just owning a watch but being a part of a lineage that goes as far back as the 1800s and 1900s. These heritage timepieces hold a greater value which is beyond investment. Whereas new brands like Hublot tend to fall in the category of luxury fashion. While the relatively newer brands are impeccable watchmakers, the old school timepieces have a certain level of distinguished craftsmanship that is attached to them. For example, a Rolex watch can take up to six months to make as it goes through a number of tests and temperature conditions to determine the longevity of the watch. It is the equivalent of buying a Reliance, ITC or an Infosys stock in today’s day and watching them steadily and rapidly appreciate over a period of time. I call them my blue chip investments.
Most watch enthusiasts know the holy trinity of watchmaking i.e. Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. However, there are a lot of heritage brands that go unnoticed unless you’re a horologist. These brands tend to get mistaken for a new age brand but in fact, can date back to the 18th century. One of them is Zenith, which often comes off as a new brand but in reality, precedes Rolex by almost 40 years. One of my all-time favourites is the Franck Muller, which was given the tagline “the master of complications” for its bold and revolutionary display of a Tourbillon visible from the front of the dial. My purpose as a horologist is two-fold: Investing in a long term story and investing in something that steadily appreciates over time, synonymous to blue-chip stocks in the equity markets.
From my collection, the top three watches would be the Franck Muller (2019), JLC (Jaeger-LeCoultre) (2019), Audemars Piguet (2020) and the Rolex (2020) which I weigh parallel to investing in stocks of Reliance Industries that represent the legacy of the Ambanis, Tata Steel that represents the Tata heritage and Infosys that speaks of old school IT in India. The first big investment I made for my collection was in 2019 when I bought a Franck Muller, which is also owned by its Indian brand ambassador Ranveer Singh. The next purchase was the Audemars Piguet - Royal Oak collection, similar to the one owned by Sanjay Dutt. My most recent purchase was a Rolex from the Wimbledon Series which was inaugurated by Roger Federer and the numeric inside the watch is actually written in the same green which is associated with the tennis courts. They purposely gave it that touch so that when you see the green it resonates with Roger Federer and Wimbledon. One watch that I would like to add to my collection would be a Patek Philippe. IWC and Breitling are also some of the best watchmakers in the world and a few of their pieces are what I wear as a part of my day to day attire. As far back as I can remember, my brain has always been linked to the synergy of having a watch on while I’m working, whether it is from home or at the office I will always be wearing a watch.
Being a financial trader, with my days largely governed by the Markets, I've always had an intrinsic affinity to the disciplinary aspect of time. For me, there's always been a distinct correlation between the Markets and time. It's persistent, yet finite and just like ‘time waits for no one’, neither do the Markets. Time isn’t beholden to an expensive watch, in fact it's something that your phone or even laptop can tell you. However, when it resonates with what you do to make a living, like in my case, the urge to give time the utmost credibility is natural. From that, the inclination towards an object that reads time is inevitable.