3) Buy the best example of the less-expensive watch than the worst example of the more-expensive watch.
Says Bacs, “Collectors sometimes make the mistake of chasing the dream to the extent they buy a compromised or imperfect example of a Paul Newman Daytona or military Submariner, for example. I would suggest to instead invest in something else, like a Reverso or even a Breitling chronograph, but get the very best example you can, because in the long term, quality is going to go for a premium. I define this as a watch with excellent patrimony and in immaculate, original condition.”
Right after making this statement to me, Bacs places an unusual Breitling on the table between us and continues, “Consider this 1958 Breitling Super Ocean: To me it has a very particular meaning, simply because this is the first and the only Breitling Super Ocean I have ever touched in my entire life. And keep in mind that I am probably looking at up to 10,000 watches every year, for the last 30 years – you do the math.
The Breitling Super Ocean is a watch I have only researched in full extent once I had it in my hands, because prior to this I had never encountered one. So when it came across our team for the Start-Stop-Reset auctions, I looked at it and asked myself ‘OK what is this actually?’ Well it’s a nice chronograph – steel case, with a black dial, white subsidiary dial, black bezel. The through deeper research I came to realize two incredible things, firstly that this unknown watch here was the world’s first chronograph where the subsidiary dials were executed in an opposing color to the main dial. Next, this was the first chronograph with a revolving dive bezel. Think about it, this watch has such an incredibly prominent position in horological history and we’ve never really knew of it!
Now look at these shark teeth, here on either side of the bracelet that are absolutely picking up the theme on the dial indexes. Those faceted indexes that go over the dots and it’s all here, in unpolished condition — I think that’s just absolutely cool.
What was this worth 5-10 years ago? I can’t say for sure – probably $3,000 – $5,000. We offered it for $15,000. It made 50 +/- premium, still cheaper than the comparable Daytona but so rare! And I believe at times a regular ref. 6421 Daytona won’t be able to give you this feeling of “I-am-special”, as special as the watch may be. In that instance — with a bit of self-confidence, with the Breitling Super Ocean on your wrist, you can tell all the Daytona guys that they are all wearing commodities. What you have on your wrist, you are wearing history. I think it was one of my favorites from day one – with its bracelet, with its style, design, and this bezel.”
With prices of vintage Rolexes reaching nosebleed altitudes, as a collector, I’m compelled to look at other watches. Recently, I’ve become captivated by Italian military chronographs, certainly the Cairelli Zenith CP2s, and also the Breitling, or even more accessible in price is the Leonidas CP1 chronograph — and in accordance with Bacs’s advice, I’m trying to find one in the best, completely original condition.