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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone, I’m sure this question has been asked a hundred times before, but I’m willing to ask it again and run the risk of being shot down.

I’m looking to buy a watch which I’ll be able to get some wear out of and eventually be able to pass on to my son and beyond.

I’ve got a budget of $20,000 and I’m looking for something special with a well finished movement. With this in mind, I’d prefer a glass case back so that I can admire the movement. I’ve been looking around the web and I’ve got the following models in mind:

ALS – Saxonina and Saxonia Thin
VC – Patrimony Contemporaine Date Automatic
Patek – I think the 5227 will be out of my reach, but I’ve seen some 5296 models around my budget.
JLC – I’ve never seen a Reverso in the flesh, so I’m going to check them out along with some of the MUT models.
FP Journe – Chronometre Bleu. This might be tough for me to locate as I’m living in the Middle East.

I’ve already checked-out the Hodinkee video review of the Saxonia, VC (albeit a different model) and the FP Journe!

I’m heading out next week to try those models on, but I just wanted to get some feedback from owners and also any suggestions that I may have overlooked.

As a second facet to the overall question, would $20,000 be better spent on a more iconic/complicated used watch? If so, can you please make some suggestions?

Cheers,
James
 

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Price of FPJ has exceeded $20k as of March 17th

What do you already have? I think that will factor heavily to what you should get.
 

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...I’m looking to buy a watch which I’ll be able to get some wear out of and eventually be able to pass on to my son and beyond.

I’ve got a budget of $20,000 and I’m looking for something special with a well finished movement. With this in mind, I’d prefer a glass case back so that I can admire the movement. I’ve been looking around the web and I’ve got the following models in mind:

ALS – Saxonina and Saxonia Thin
VC – Patrimony Contemporaine Date Automatic
Patek – I think the 5227 will be out of my reach, but I’ve seen some 5296 models around my budget.
JLC – I’ve never seen a Reverso in the flesh, so I’m going to check them out along with some of the MUT models.
FP Journe – Chronometre Bleu. This might be tough for me to locate as I’m living in the Middle East.

I’ve already checked-out the Hodinkee video review of the Saxonia, VC (albeit a different model) and the FP Journe!

I’m heading out next week to try those models on, but I just wanted to get some feedback from owners and also any suggestions that I may have overlooked.

As a second facet to the overall question, would $20,000 be better spent on a more iconic/complicated used watch? If so, can you please make some suggestions?

Cheers,
James
James,
All of them are super handsome watches. You'll just have to figure that out for yourself. All of them are nice, and all but one are very conventionally styled dress watches

FWIW, I find $20K to be a "strange" price point in fine watches. I like the choices available around $7K to $16K (give or take) or the ones availabe for $25K - $40K much better. (Piaget's Altiplano is one exception IMO, although there are a few others.) The same "strangeness" happens, IMO, with moderately priced watches priced between ~$1800 and ~$3000 (+/- $300 on either end). Sure there are plenty of nice watches in eithe price range, but everyone of them I know about make me feel like I'm paying a good bit more just because there's one tiny detail about the watch (I may not even give a damn about that detail) or that I'm having to make a compromise I'd just as soon not make.

Some thoughts:
  • Every watch costing ~$20K (even ~$15K) is "special." You need to be more specific...special from a collector's point of view, special in its versatility, special in that it does several things very well, special in that it stands apart from other similarly priced watches in one or more ways? Except for the FPJ, I think all of the watches you suggested are ordinary for their class.
  • Several of the watches you mentioned are automatics. I'd ask this: how much movement admiration are you going to do with a rotor blocking your view of half of it? With a Reverso, you won't be doing any movement admiration unless you have x-ray glasses (LOL); the case back is metal.
  • It's been a while since I was in Dubai, but I would swear I saw FPJ being sold at multiple places there. Check the FPJ website. There's just way too much money waiting to be spent in the Middle East for FPJ not to have points of sale there.
  • Patek 5227 -- Yes, it's unlikely you'll find that watch for ~$20K. The 5227 is basically an up-sized 5127 that also benefits from key parts being made from synthetics, the benefit of which is greater longevity and less need for lubrication. Taken together those features should extend the time periods between servicing.

    The 5127/5227 is a watch I never expected I would like, what with it's staid aesthetics barely whispering a word to the casual observer; it could easily be any of a good number of modestly priced dress watches. The instant it's in your hand, to say nothing of on your wrist, the weight, the feel and the simplicity of the thing just screams quality, refinement and good taste. It also has a hinged, gold cover over the case back. I don't know why PP did that, but it's cool and it's sort of "nifty" to open it to reveal the movement. I guess it's like getting a little surprise or in keeping with the overall theme of "stealth wealth" that the 5227/5127 exudes.Even the 5127 will outstrip the $20K you want to spend, but not by much.

    The watch itself is thin and dressy, but not so thin like an Altiplano that it really is only good for "dress up." I mentioned that it's very simple to look at its face, but that simplicity is what makes it such a great watch for everyday use as well as for special occasions. It's one of the few watches I've ever seen that is really suitable for everything, short of rough and rigorous sports.
  • The FPJ and ALS are watches you'll likely have to send to their makers for service and repair.
  • The Reverso is a great watch and a super one to pass on to other people, but then all of them are.
  • There are two dimensions to finishing: decoration and construction quality. As for the decorative aspects of the Reverso, it's not as elaborate as what you can expect on the other watches. As goes the construction details, I think they all are equal.

    Above, you mentioned "special." If there's going to be anything in terms of finishing that will make the watch somewhat special, I'd say it's poli noir (http://www.thehourlounge.com/thread/view/movement-finish-the-true-mark-of-haute-horlogerie_19046_19046.html just be aware that poli noir is sometimes called "black polish" and that many watchmakers use the term "mirror polished" to describe what is really just highly polishing a metal so that it's reflective the way chrome is. What most companies will describe as "mirror polished" is not he same as poli noir.). Outside of haute horology creations, it's a very uncommon finishing technique. I think VC uses the treatment on some of its non-tourbillion watches. Roger Smith's Sereies 2 will have that treatment, but I doubt you'll find that watch for anything remotely close to your targeted price range. You'll need to call/email around to find it. I think Arnold & Son may use it also.
  • As for your last question about how $20K would be better spent on a watch...well, that's up to you. The choices are pretty straightforward:
    • Buy a current model that is very unique and singular and that will probably hold its value well and possibly increase in value in the very long term. Of the ones you mentioned, the PP and FPJ are the best bets. Long term, the FPJ will probably do that best as the production is very limited and it has the cache of being closely connected with Mr. Journe. The PP would be next.
    • Buy a vintage watch that has already appreciated to $20K or so. It's not likely going to start depreciating. There are far too many such watches to just start suggesting things in that regard. Just bear in mind that in the $20K price range what you will be doing is buying a watch that intrinsically is worth far less than $20K, but as a result of a variety of intangible factors -- rarity/low production volume, cache of brand, history, or pedigree, etc. -- has gone up in value. You won't be getting a better made watch than what you can buy as a new watch today. You will be taking on more risk in the buying and ownership experience.
    • Buy a contemporary watch that's pre-owned so you can get something that were it new would cost more than $20K. That's up to you. I don't know of much that is so great that it'll cost ~$20K pre-owned and that is also better than something you can buy new for $20K. Were I of a mind to spend $20K on a pre-owned watch, I'd choose two (or more) watches. Something like a Sub and a Calatrava, a Reverso and a Royal Oak, perhaps one micro-brand and one major brand utility watch like a Sub, Daytona or Explorer I. The combo of watches doesn't matter, I'm just illustrating a concept.
Of the three approaches I mentioned, were I not buying new, I'd choose the third.

  • Other brands you may want to consider:
    • Piaget -- Altiplano or Emperador
    • Audemars Piguet - Jules Audemar or Classique
    • Arnold & Son - anything that's in your budget -- Royal Collection or Instrument Collection
    • Laurent Ferrier
    • Parmigianni Tonda or Kalpa
    • Rolex Cellini -- Cellinium -- this would get you a platinum watch below $20K. Maybe that's "special" in your mind and it's a major brand that everyone recognizes in a model that many haven't heard of. You'll definitely look like an "insider" wearing one. Use the money left over to buy a Reverso or some other nice watch that'll run you ~$6K, perhaps a GO Senator with the blue dial. A Pita Oceana would be an excellent pick for its unique movement, daily wear toughness and sleek, modern lines.
Of the watches you suggested, and that hit the desired price point, I'd choose eithe the VC or the FPJ. Do you wear a thwab? The VC would look stunning with one. I like tank watches a lot, and I think the Reverso is a great watch for anyone, regardless of how much they want to spend. If you want to go "upscale" and get a tank watch, I'd suggest the PP Gondolo or for a contemporary blend of tank and round, the PP Eclipse.

All the best.

If something isn't special, then it's ordinary.
-- Nora Roberts
 
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Of your choices:
1. ALS Saxonina: Great watch and great company, however it’s only 37mm, which IMHO is on the small side for a modern dress watch. If the watch size trend continues, it might seriously “date” this watch by the time it gets to your son. Even Patek, a stalwart of tradition, is pushing their newer Calatrava offerings to 39mm.

2. ALS Saxonia Thin: Everything good about ALS and Saxonia, but in a modern-sized 40mm case. Awesome watch. Given German Silver ¾ plate, repair costs will be higher on this watch.

3. VC Patrimony Contemporaine Date Automatic: I own the VC Patrimony Contemporaine (without date and second hand) and its one of my favorite dress watches. VC is a great brand and this watch would be great to pass down. It’s directly comparable to the ALS Saxonia Thin; which would be a tough call between the two.

4. Patek 5227 or 5296: Calatravas have a large following and great history. That said, I think they are over-priced and under-sized – which might be a factor when your son comes of age.

5. FP Journe Chronometre Bleu: I own this watch and its one of my favorites. It’s not necessarily a “dress” watch per se, but the combination of FPJ movement, blue face and tantalum case makes it an extraordinary watch. Service costs will be higher for this watch, but Francois-Paul makes things to last generations which works in your favor.

6. JLC Reverso: Given its square size, this is a very different watch from the others on your list. Great company and history with this watch, but square watches can be polarizing. That said, if you want square you can’t go wrong with this watch.

Some additional choices:

7. JLC Master Ultra-Thin 1907, Jubilee and Date: All are within your price range and all would make excellent purchases. Truth be told, JLC might not be considered as “premium” as ALS, VC, Patek or FPJ – so if that’s a consideration, stick with above brands.

8. Blancpain Villeret Ultraplate: There are several watches in this line from Blancpain that incorporate the same features and styling as the ALS, VC and Patek and which might appeal to you. Price points will be slightly above JLC.

9. Girard Perreguex 1966 collection: Again, a number of watches in your price range in this collection. GP trends a bit more modern in styling and makes a solid, quality product. Only downside here is pricing – GP inflates retail chain pricing which drives significant (realized) discounts at sale. Short answer – never pay retail on GP watches. Example: I bought a brand-new white gold 1966 chronograph (blue face) 6 months ago for $$16,500 which retailed at $32,600.

Good luck in your quest.
 
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I don't think you can get a 5227 or 5296 below 25000 even with discounts.

Of your choices:
4. Patek 5227 or 5296: Calatravas have a large following and great history. That said, I think they are over-priced and under-sized – which might be a factor when your son comes of age.
 

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I don't think you can get a 5227 or 5296 below 25000 even with discounts.
I am not a big Patek buyer, so will defer to you on those. Perhaps pre-owned if he really wanted a Patek.
 

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Can't go wrong with either the ALS saxonia or Patek calatrava range. It comes down to taste.

For something more modern and sporty, perhaps the AP royal oak 15400. It has a display back now too.
 

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Movement finish is your primary concern then ALS is your best bet, though FPJ bleu gold movement can be nicer in looks. In addition, you are safer with ALS passing down the watch to your boy and girl.

JLC is inferior in movement finish (the level you ecpect from IWC or only worse), from its entry model all the way to tourbillon or perpetual (sure there are exceptions). 10k can buy a gold master 3 hander if i remember correct.

Patek and VC are conservative choices given being special is also a concern to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hey!

Firstly, thanks for your replies. They’ve certainly provided a useful insight for me.

I’m sad to say that my “collection” currently comprises of a solitary steel Baume & Mercier Capeland chronograph which was a gift back in 2006. I’m guessing it cost around £1000. I’ve worn it everywhere (literally from the office to scuba) and to be fair it’s proving to be a solid and trouble-free watch.

Clearly the purchase that I’m looking to make is a significant step-up from what I currently have, and I want to grab as much info as I can before heading-out to look at some of the timepieces.

As I’ve grown older (I’m currently 34) I think my tastes have altered slightly and I’d now like something more refined, which I can wear in the office, at formal occasions and which ultimately my son will enjoy being gifted with. Although I’d undertaken some web research, I’d used the Hodinkee video with the FP, ALS and VC as a bit of a serious starting point as the Saxonia and a version of the Patrimony were already on my list to view.

Apologies for my use of the word “special” in my first post, I can see that it allows some level of interpretation! I guess I want a meant was I’m looking for a watch which will:

  • look fantastic on the wrist
  • have a beautiful and reliable movement which garner some respect from watch enthusiasts/collectors
  • will provide decent value for money now and which will hold some/most of its value in the future
I appreciate that my description of “special” is still highly subjective, and for that I am truly sorry! Hopefully I’ll have one of those “love at first sight” moments when I try some of the watches this week.

Being a newb to this arena (and not wanting to squander $20k), I guess I was hoping to find out if one brand/model stood above the rest at this price-point.

tony20009, you’re absolutely right, FP Journe have an outlet at the Burj Al Arab! I’ll add it to my hit-list for Tuesday! They also have another couple of outlets around town, but what could be more fun that heading to the Burj for an hour or so?!

Thanks also for your info on movement finish, the more I read about the subject, the more I fall in love with it.

As this will be my first “fine” timepiece, can you please give me an indication of the approximate costs of service, especially with regard to the FPJ and ALS which have been mentioned as being more expensive due to the movement design? Service cost isn’t a deal-breaker, but I want to do things properly and it would be good to know.

Thanks also to Westlake on the Girard Perregaux pricing; I’d intended to look at the 1966 range.

Thanks again for all your info and suggestions, I’m going to try to view as many of the pieces listed as I can on Tuesday.

Cheers,
James
 

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You asked about service costs. I'm sure you read read what the Hodinkee writers had to say about the challenges associated with the FPJ and Saxonia. If not:


Re: FPJ:
The unique architecture is going to make this a tough movement to have serviced down the road. I’m obviously not speaking from first-hand experience here, but when the CB needs work, I would imagine that it will need to go to F.P. Journe and not a typical watchmaker. That concealed gear train alone would likely prove confusing. Additionally, Journe uses proprietary screwheads on the caseback, again meaning this will have to go home for service.

Though it does offer a beautiful view through the case back, the totally modern architecture of the Journe caliber 1304, including 18k gold construction and hidden gears, is going to make the movement difficult for anyone but F.P. Journe to service.​

Re: ALS
All bridges and plates are untreated German silver, an alloy of nickel, copper, and zinc. Stronger than brass, this alloy develops a creamy, golden-hued patina over time that serves to protect the movement from further oxidation. However, working with German silver is difficult and the oils from your fingers will leave permanent marks. This means any watchmaker who services the watch must be extremely careful, or you’ll end up with a marked movement forever.

The Lange caliber L941.1 is made of German silver, meaning it cannot be touched without protection, and the three-quarter plate construction makes reassembly tough without proprietary tools.​

Re: VC
This watch is meant to be serviceable. ...I love the idea that Vacheron has made their base movement serviceable by anybody that has expertise in high-end movements. The other two calibers here require special tools and potentially even training to work on. I own watches from the 1930s and 40s, and I think anyone who is the same boat will appreciate why this matters. You simply never know what will happen in business or in life, and I want to know that if this watch stays in my family for the next 75 years, that it will at least be serviceable. With the Vacheron, I know that to be the case.​

What the statements above mean to me is that for the ALS and FPJ, the simplest way to gauge the costs is just to call the manufacturers and ask them what their fees are for full service, what their recommended frequency is, and how long it generally takes from start to finish. Also ask what specifically they do when they service the watch. The next thing to do is call or visit your favorite local high-end watchmaker and ask the same questions, along with inquiring about their experience. Doing that will give you a baseline against which you can compare the information members here and allow you to make your own decision.

FWIW, when it comes to servicing, what I've found to be beneficial is finding qualified watchmakers in the towns that I frequent most before I actually need their services. If a watchmaker can tell me about the idiosyncrasies of a given watch's movement and working with it, I know they've done it before and I feel comfortable letting them work with mine. One thing I've found to be true nearly all the time is that my local watchmaker can get the watch back to me much much sooner than the manufacturer can. Plus, not having my watch floating through the mail is mildly comforting.

One thing I learned about manufacturer's service is that while the work they perform is uniform globally, the time frames for doing it vary. Breguet's centers in the U.S. have turnaround times of about four to six weeks, but Europe's quote their service times in months. That same phenomenon could be so with other companies. VC's U.S. service centers can perform cleanings and timing adjustments, but if a part is required, they send the watch to VC's service headquarters in Europe.

All of the high-end companies charge far more than even the most experienced local watchmakers for servicing. I"m not suggesting the prices are prohibitive, but two or three hundred compared to $800+ is a noticeable difference. Repairs are one thing, but repairs are infrequent, and with reasonable care and keeping to the recommended service schedule, shouldn't be needed within the first decade of owning a watch. Servicing -- cleaning, adjusting for accuracy, lubricating, etc. -- is just not that difficult for a master watchmaker, be he/she employed by ALS, VC, PP, JLC, etc, or if they self-employed. My 2¢.

Lastly, I know you mentioned you find 37mm to small. Have you tried on the 37mm 5127? I just ask because two of the watches that interest you are 38mm. Among thin dress watches, I haven't found that one millimeter makes enough of a difference that I can a discernible difference in looks on my wrist. You can get a really good sense of this if you can try on PP's 5120 (35mm), 5119/5116 (36mm). Another group of PPs that with have the same basic case design but one millimeter size differences is 5227 (39mm), 5196/5127 (37mm) and 5123 (38mm). Omega also has several DeVille models that vary by one millimeter, and you may find it beneficial to try them on to get a perspective on the same concept, albeit with a very different case aesthetic than the three you are considering. It should be helpful to you going forward, even though you aren't seeking an Omega right now. I usually can tell a 2mm difference, but not a 1mm one.

All the best.

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.
-- Alexander Pope
 

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Hi Everyone, I’m sure this question has been asked a hundred times before, but I’m willing to ask it again and run the risk of being shot down.

I’m looking to buy a watch which I’ll be able to get some wear out of and eventually be able to pass on to my son and beyond.

I’ve got a budget of $20,000 and I’m looking for something special with a well finished movement. With this in mind, I’d prefer a glass case back so that I can admire the movement. I’ve been looking around the web and I’ve got the following models in mind:

ALS – Saxonina and Saxonia Thin
VC – Patrimony Contemporaine Date Automatic
Patek – I think the 5227 will be out of my reach, but I’ve seen some 5296 models around my budget.
JLC – I’ve never seen a Reverso in the flesh, so I’m going to check them out along with some of the MUT models.
FP Journe – Chronometre Bleu. This might be tough for me to locate as I’m living in the Middle East.

I’ve already checked-out the Hodinkee video review of the Saxonia, VC (albeit a different model) and the FP Journe!

I’m heading out next week to try those models on, but I just wanted to get some feedback from owners and also any suggestions that I may have overlooked.

As a second facet to the overall question, would $20,000 be better spent on a more iconic/complicated used watch? If so, can you please make some suggestions?

Cheers,
James
Of the ones you listed, I'd get the FP Journe. It's drop dead gorgeous. It's versatile. And it's very very rare. Can't do much better than that for $20,000.
 

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Hey!

Firstly, thanks for your replies. They’ve certainly provided a useful insight for me.

I’m sad to say that my “collection” currently comprises of a solitary steel Baume & Mercier Capeland chronograph which was a gift back in 2006. I’m guessing it cost around £1000. I’ve worn it everywhere (literally from the office to scuba) and to be fair it’s proving to be a solid and trouble-free watch.

Clearly the purchase that I’m looking to make is a significant step-up from what I currently have, and I want to grab as much info as I can before heading-out to look at some of the timepieces.

As I’ve grown older (I’m currently 34) I think my tastes have altered slightly and I’d now like something more refined, which I can wear in the office, at formal occasions and which ultimately my son will enjoy being gifted with. Although I’d undertaken some web research, I’d used the Hodinkee video with the FP, ALS and VC as a bit of a serious starting point as the Saxonia and a version of the Patrimony were already on my list to view.

Apologies for my use of the word “special” in my first post, I can see that it allows some level of interpretation! I guess I want a meant was I’m looking for a watch which will:

  • look fantastic on the wrist
  • have a beautiful and reliable movement which garner some respect from watch enthusiasts/collectors
  • will provide decent value for money now and which will hold some/most of its value in the future
I appreciate that my description of “special” is still highly subjective, and for that I am truly sorry! Hopefully I’ll have one of those “love at first sight” moments when I try some of the watches this week.

Being a newb to this arena (and not wanting to squander $20k), I guess I was hoping to find out if one brand/model stood above the rest at this price-point.

tony20009, you’re absolutely right, FP Journe have an outlet at the Burj Al Arab! I’ll add it to my hit-list for Tuesday! They also have another couple of outlets around town, but what could be more fun that heading to the Burj for an hour or so?!

Thanks also for your info on movement finish, the more I read about the subject, the more I fall in love with it.

As this will be my first “fine” timepiece, can you please give me an indication of the approximate costs of service, especially with regard to the FPJ and ALS which have been mentioned as being more expensive due to the movement design? Service cost isn’t a deal-breaker, but I want to do things properly and it would be good to know.

Thanks also to Westlake on the Girard Perregaux pricing; I’d intended to look at the 1966 range.

Thanks again for all your info and suggestions, I’m going to try to view as many of the pieces listed as I can on Tuesday.

Cheers,
James
James there should be a lot of good buys floating around in Dubai. Personally I would talk to the people at the ALS or Patek boutique and see what they know maybe available In used. With the pressure in Dubai to upgrade, I think you'll be surprised as to what you can find available.
 
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