Top dollar prices are being paid for rare automobiles, desirable watches, and even limited-edition sneakers — all at an unprecedented frequency suggesting economic strength. With that said, it’s not all roses when hype enters the equation, as trends can come to pass, and like all good things, hype must be enjoyed in moderation. Not too long ago, the vintage watch collectors saw a relevant case study unfold before their eyes, demonstrating the dangers of hype and collecting for the wrong reasons. If you didn’t already know, we’re talking about the boom and bust of Heuer, which is largely misinterpreted by the masses. In an attempt to set the record, let’s break down what exactly happened and why.
Prior to the surge of interest in question, there was always an extremely dedicated crowd collecting vintage Heuer’s with passion and enthusiasm. One factor that separated their focus from the offerings of other brands was the prices they commanded, which while not exactly cheap weren’t quite as sky-high as chronographs from other manufacturers. As the market for clean Daytonas developed to yield numbers out of reach for many collectors, attention began to shift to Heuer on a previously unseen scale, and for good reason. Between their racing pedigree, celebrity associations, and legendary calibers like the Valjoux 72, Heuer chronographs had it all and more. All that was missing were the right people touting them as the next big thing.
Soon enough, the scene’s big names would do exactly that, by way of getting behind the brand’s early offerings via Instagram. Shortly after, auction houses jumped on the bandwagon with a noticeable increase in the presence of Heuer’s within catalogs, eventually going as far as holding brand exclusive thematic sales. What’s important to note is that this uptick of hype took place over the span of roughly one single year, which in retrospect was far too short a period to realize what was to follow. As one might expect, the newfound exposure and auction house endorsement caused prices for nearly all Heuer chronographs to multiply, making many think the market would continue to develop for years to come
Between those who got in on the ground floor and the less fortunate that paid big money in hopes of a quick return in the coming months, investment focused types held onto examples as interest continued to grow. Had this increased interest been steady, and cultivated over several years, it might’ve been wise to get in on the action, but just as many had predicted, the market would soon take a dive fuelled largely by individuals looking to turn a profit on their Heuer collection. You see, when a desirable collectible develops an air of unattainability, but then everyone and their brother floods the market with a sea of top-notch examples, the party can’t last forever.
A correction took place, and a big one at that, but it arguably wasn’t for nothing. Despite the decline, more attention had been shifted towards the brand and its history than ever before, exposing collectors new and old to the value which can be had in a Heuer. All this begs the question, where is the market now? Simply put, it’s strong and stable. Though untouched Autavias aren’t commanding Daytona-like numbers, those adding examples to their collections are doing so because they truly respect the watches, and admire their significance in the history of horology and motorsport. Long are the days of the Heuer flipper mentality, it’s a true collector community once again, and a larger one thanks to its infamous bout of hype.
Along with going for the best example your budget will allow, collecting watches you genuinely appreciate and want to see on your wrist is the key to collecting. While it may be tempting to put add something to the stable because someone seemingly in the know deems it to be the right move, it’ll always pay off, in the long run, to opt for what your tastes desire. Whether the one for you is an Autavia, a Monaco, or the fan favorite Carrera, there’s no wrong answer, and you’re bound to enjoy whichever one fits your style. If you’ve still yet to dip your toe into the waters of Heuer, do yourself a favor and give one a shot.
Sign up for our newsletter to receive updates and exclusive offers