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Eddie Goziker talks about the art of buying High-end Timepieces

Eddie Goziker, co-founder of luxury timepiece retailer Wrist Aficionado, talked to us about purchasing/collecting high-end timepieces from the best brands on the planet.

Elijah Durojaiye 02/26/2024
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Eddie Goziker

Image: Courtesy of Wrist Aficionado

What inspired your love for wristwatches?

I started as a collector probably in my late teens, early 20s, so I started collecting watches pretty early on. Around the same time, I started working for Tourneau in New York. I worked for them for two years, really developed the passion for watches and then, it snowballed from there. I spent most of my twenties collecting watches well into my thirties. I developed a pretty large collection.

The Collection probably got up to maybe 30, 40 watches and then, it was one of those times that I never sold watches back then. Everything was a personal collection, and I had a love for these watches and passionate about every watch that I owned. Every watch had its own meaning.

A lot of sports watches, I had some classic watches, some complicated watches, gold watches. I had a wide variety. It was something that I got to wear every day, I got to enjoy them. It was something that I was passionate about, but I also got to reap the reward of them. I didn't have to just keep all these pieces in the safe, I got to really enjoy all these watches every day.

What do you mean by 'enjoying the watches'?

Wrist Aficionado

Image: Courtesy of Wrist Aficionado

For me, enjoying is being able to wear what I own and not just have it to look at. For me, putting on a watch that's in my collection, that's me actually enjoying it. I enjoy the intricacies of it, the shaping of it, the movement, the history behind some of these watches. I enjoy the complexity, just watching the tourbillons or a complicated movement on some of these pieces; that for me is enjoyable.

How much time it takes to make a single watch, the amount of craftsmanship that goes into it. I love when certain watch brands come out with some new innovation or a new movement design or a double tourbillon or a floating tourbillon, the new color styles that come out. That for me is enjoyable, it's like art almost. I grew to appreciate these things.

Which watch complication would you say is your favorite and why?

Perpetual Calendars, I do enjoy and tourbillons. My favorite watch right now for Patek, a Perpetual Calendar, white gold, 5740, that one I would wear as a daily. [It’s a] beautiful heavy watch. It has some weight to it and it's got a small complication, not too complicated. The dial, it's not too busy. I like watches where the dial is not too busy, but there's still some complication there.

Tourbillions, I have a couple of Richard Mille tourbillons that I own. I don't wear those very often just because they're centerpieces of my collection, so I try not to wear them too often but I enjoy the movement. Just looking at the pieces on a daily basis, for me, it really is like art. I can go and admire these pieces, make sure they're functioning well, winding the pieces. I would say probably those are my two favorite, Perpetual Calendar and the tourbillon would be my two favorite complications.

Wrist Aficionado

Image: Courtesy of Wrist Aficionado

Any particular kind of tourbillon?

Right now, I have my favorite watch of my collection. It's a Richard Mille Lotus tourbillon. It's a RM-50, so they made it for the F1 Lotus team. It was race car inspired, the dimensions of it, the shape of it, the crown inspired by race cars. The case is see-through, it's a crystal case, it's a skeletonized back and you could still see the tourbillon floating on it. Really a beautiful complication and it's a split second, so it's really beautiful.

Is there any complication that you don't care for?

No, I can't say there’s anything that I don't care for. For me, every brand that makes a new complication, it's ingenuity in their own right. I can't say that I don't like any complications. There are some that I wouldn't probably buy for my own personal collection. Nothing comes at the top of my head that I don't care for.

Wrist Aficionado display

Image: Courtesy of Wrist Aficionado

Do you consider yourself a collector or would you rather rotate your watches?

For me, my career started as a collector, so it was never a buy and sell. For me, it was always buy, hold, and enjoy and a lot of my watches, they would just sit in my safe and I wouldn't wear them at times. Now, I've got to the point where I've trimmed down my own personal collection quite a bit and I rotate all my watches probably daily. For me, I like having something new and different on my wrist, whether it be sporty or super dressy. I do like the rotation so I can go seven days and wear seven different watches sometimes now.

What advice do you have for a prospective buyer of a luxury watch who doesn't know much about watches?

I would tell people to buy what you love and buy what you want to wear. If you see yourself wearing it, because [it’s] a watch you can wear every day. If you see yourself wearing it, I would recommend buying it. Don't just buy it for the sake of value or investment. That's not the right reason to buy it.

I think inevitably, if it's a good brand and you buy something with a history to it and there's value there, it'll go up, but buy it because you actually love the watch and you want to wear it. I think that the financial portion of it should be secondary. Don't make that the primary. If you make the investment portion of it primary, then you're never going to love the watch. [It will] Just sit in your safe and you'll never get the enjoyment out of it. The whole point of wearing a watch is because you can have it every day. You can make a big investment to do a timepiece and you can have it on your wrist every day and get to enjoy it. I think make that the priority. Just buy what you love and buy what you wear.

Vadim Yakubov and Eddie Goziker

Image: Courtesy of Wrist Aficionado

So, this same person has taken your advice and they bought the first watch and decide to be a collector. What's the best way to proceed to being a watch collector?

I say, spend within your means. Clients come in and they say, "Which watch should I buy?" I said, "First and foremost, you have to buy something that you can afford." You don't want to break the bank and say I make this purchase and have buyer's remorse later on. You want to buy something that's well within your means of buying and spending. Once you've figured out that number, whether it's $10,000 or $100,000 or $1,000,000, whatever that number is, and once you've figured out that number, then you can narrow down the playing field with quality watches.

There's plenty of watches for five or $10,000 and you can get into those brackets or you can get into brackets for a hundred thousand dollars but there's different options. I think the first thing for any collector to say when you're starting your journey is what's my realistic budget of what I'm comfortable spending on this watch that won't make me have buyer's remorse in a week or a month or a year that it's comfortable for me to spend on myself.

Once you have that number in place and you can say, "I can freely spend that number," then you can get into the brands that fall within that range.

What's the best way to manage the budget? Some of these watches can get really expensive and one can wipe out your whole budget even if it’s a large amount of money.

Wrist Aficionado Richard Mille display

Image: Courtesy of Wrist Aficionado

Same thing, you’ll have to reverse engineer. The first step is finding out the budget. Say you have $1,000,000 to spend. Do you want an everyday watch? If you want an everyday watch, you don't want to spend it just on one watch. It's not practical to have a million dollar watch as an everyday watch. If you want a watch that, you can wear to a business meeting and you can wear on trips and you could wear into the pool, you are probably looking at three different watches.

And then you say, do you want to spend all your money on the dressy watch or do you want something more conservative where you spend the majority of the money on? You have to start reverse engineering what the plan is for the client. Once you have that budget set, then you find out what your use is going to be out of it. Somebody could say that I have 20 watches, I have $1,000,000 to spend on one investment piece and that's it. You can go into a grand complication. You can go into a big Patek, you can go into something that's super limited production, maybe with a minute repeater of some sort. They may be that person that wants just one watch or they can say to you, "You know what? I need something sporty and I need something for work." You break it up there so you can custom tailor it. No different than buying a wardrobe for somebody.

If somebody says, "I need a business attire and I need something to wear to work and I need something to wear every day," I think you custom tailor it to each individual client, but you have to reverse engineer and you have to ask them what they're going to be using the watch for. Some people may say, "I just want an investment. Sell me something that's going to hold value, that's not going to drop, that maybe will appreciate in the next five years. I don't mind parking my money for the next five years and I think it's going to be a good investment", then it's a completely different search that we're doing for the client.

A lot of people consider their watches as investments. Which brands hold their value the best?

I'd say the top brands currently holding their value would be Patek. I think Rolex has always been very strong. It doesn't really drop below retail value. A lot of them are still priced over, especially the gem set pieces and the ones that are more rare. The limited edition dials, those are super rare. Richard Mille holds value very well. F.P. Journe holds value extremely well. They do very low production.

Wrist Aficionado Rolex watch display

Image: Courtesy of Wrist Aficionado

I think other than Rolex, you have to gravitate towards the brands that have low supply and high demand. A lot of these micro brands like F.P. Journe, they do very well because they limit production to, call it, 1,000 pieces a year. They're very selective with their clientele. They try to vet the clientele and they want to make sure that the clientele is loyal to their brand. They almost develop a following cult of some sort that's very loyal. With Patek, it's a forever brand. Patek, you know it's not going anywhere within the next 50 to 100 years. The quality is amazing, they stay true to their shape and they stay true to the look of their watches. Nautilus and Aquanauts have always been a staple and then, once you get deeper into your collection, you get into the Grand Complications which have superior value in and of themselves. Patek, Richard Mille, Rolex, F.P, Journe, and some APs, those would be the top ones.

When we talk about holding value, just to set expectations, does that mean that in five years’ time, it would still be worth the same amount?

It's hard to say going forward, but when the economy was good and in 2021, 2022, you had certain Pateks that were trading at four times retail. You had Rolex that was trading at three or four times retail, Richard Mille was trading at three or four times retail. Then obviously, the market came down, the economy took a little bit of a dip, interest rates went up, quantitative easing stopped, printing of the money stopped and people pulled back on the luxury.

But there was a time in '21, '22 where everything was trading at three or four times retail. You're making 300 or 400% on your money guaranteed. But then, it's hard to say what's going to happen in five years. If the economy is great, things stay great. Right now, it's a good time, certain Pateks are still trading at two times retail. It may not be three or four, but you're still making a hundred percent on your money if you could buy it at original retail price.

What trends are you currently seeing in the resale market for luxury watches?

Wrist Aficionado Rolex Patek Philippe display

Image: Courtesy of Wrist Aficionado

I think when it comes to trends, people are still very heavy on stainless steel sports Rolex. The Daytona, the Submariners are still very popular. The Oyster Perpetual is still very popular. Patek stainless steel Nautilus and stainless steel Aquanauts, extremely popular still. Rose gold Patek, Aquanaut, Nautilus, very popular. Then you get into the big Pateks that really never dip in value, the Grand Complications that sell, they retail at $2,000,000, they could still sell at five or $6,000,000. They really don't dip much in value because the ultra-wealthy really stay ultra wealthy and they always have a demand for these watches and there's so few of them that are produced every year that there's not enough sometimes of them to go around. That demand for that $5 million, $4 million price point is still very high among the ultra-wealthy.

The entry point for Richard Mille is somewhere around $200,000. They always come out with something new, something fun, something sporty, they always get a new brand ambassador that comes in. They do a good job with marketing so they always stay ahead of the game. I think that those brands will always stay elite. I think there's always going to be huge demand because as long as the rich stay rich and we try to cater to that 1% in our company, we try to cater to the people that can afford these pieces. As long as the rich stay rich, there's always going to be that demand. Whether it's a down economy or an up economy, when prices came down and interest rates went up and certain luxury sectors went down, there are certain watch models that stayed strong. There wasn't a huge dip, it corrected to where it should be. I think it's a comfortable price right now. Prices right now are where it's affordable, I think, relative to the brands. Before, they were almost unaffordable.

What's the best way to learn how to identify originals?

I think first and foremost, you have to buy from reputable distributors. If you're going to go buy a secondary watch somewhere, you have to buy from somebody reputable. I think we worked hard on building up a very good reputation, which is also why we've opened up stores, so people don't have to second-guess themselves about buying something online. They can go into one of the boutiques, they can try it on, they can feel it, they can see what a real watch actually looks like. We authenticate everything with our watchmakers. We go through the authentication process with the paperwork. It's very diligent the process that we have to go through.

I think first and foremost, it's important for clients to buy from somebody that they know is reputable. There's a lot of gray market dealers that are fly-by-night, then they can close up shop within a week or two and you may never see them again. We open up all of our locations in very affluent, high-end areas where somebody can go in, they can try the watch on. If there's an issue, they can go in, they can service it with us, they can return it if they need to. We want to make it very accessible to clients to come in and try everything on before they actually make these big purchases.

Wrist Aficionado Richard Mille display

Image: Courtesy of Wrist Aficionado

What kind of watch would you recommend for someone who likes to be on a yacht often? This person is not interested in taking the watch off. If they're jumping in the water, the watch is going in with them.

I would say either you go [with] a stainless steel, maybe a sports model Rolex, or you can go for like a Patek Aquanaut rubber strap that it doesn't tarnish, doesn't get messed up. You could wear it to the beach, you could wear it on the boat, go wear it in the ocean. When I travel, I wear an Aquanaut. It's comfortable, stays well on the wrist, I don't have to take it off. I could wear it to dinner or I could wear it to the beach. That would be my number one, I would probably wear a 5164 or a Rose Gold Aquanaut would be my perfect travel watch.

What recommendations do you have for watch winders?

Yeah, there's a lot of them. The functionality of a watch winder across the board, they really do the same thing. They just keep moving. They need to make the movement work, so it's always functioning. I think you want something with qualities. The two brands that I think we work with the most are Buben & Zorweg and Wolf, those would be the two brands that we would recommend [to] our clients. We actually sell Wolf also. They're tried and true, nothing really happens to the winders. They work very well, they're consistent, they're reliable, they don't break down. Aesthetically, if you want to go into the higher range of watch winders, you would go to Buben & Zorweg where you can get a safe built in with watch winders already, or a small 12 pack watch winder. They make very good quality.

Watch winders are fairly simple. Beyond aesthetics, is there any good reason to get a watch winder that costs thousands instead of just hundreds?

Aesthetics is a big one and you want something that's not going to really break down for you. You want something that's made with quality, but you don't need to break the bank on watch winders. I don't think it's something you need to break the bank on.

What are your thoughts on non-traditional watch manufacturers like MB&F?

I love MB&F. I think if MB&F had the same marketing dollars as a Rolex or Richard Mille, they would do amazing. But I think a lot of it comes down to marketing and how much of this watch are you putting in front of the consumer? But I think aesthetically and as far as the movement itself, the quality of the movement, I think brands like MB&F and Greubel Forsey are probably some of my favorites. I think that you can't compare it to a lot of these high mass production watches out there.

Some of these watches look very complicated. Are they durable?

They are very durable actually, and they're very wearable. You would look at it and you would think that the slightest hit on the watch and everything would collapse, but it's not the case. These brands, they really put in quality and that's a testament to how much time they put into it and how good of a watch it actually is. Because it's not something that you're going to wear every day and say, "Oh, I'm afraid to wear it because something might happen to it." It's a wearable timepiece. It's extremely complicated. A lot of work goes into these timepieces, but they're still very durable. As far as a recommendation for a watch, I would still, without a doubt, recommend somebody wear a Greubel or an MB&F.

One last question; Patek or Audemars?

Patek, all day. I like how true the Patek brand is to itself. I think Audemars got away with itself with making too much. They have too many SKUs, they went too much production and they do too many of these collaborations and it almost became gimmicky. They try to do collaborations with just regular artists and designers and I think Patek stays true to their brand. They make beautiful quality timepieces, they're elegant, they're sporty, but they stay very true to their brand. But I think long-term, it'll always be Patek, hands down.


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