Every fashion brand has a watch range from the high street to haute couture and has done for many years. With pieces for every budget, from Next and Karen Millen to Chanel and Ralph Lauren it's also interesting to note whether the watch is chosen through an affiliation to the brand, an aspiration to the lifestyle or simply for the design element.
Arguably Gucci could be singled out as the most successful high fashion watch brand with strong and unique designs dating from the 1990s. Gucci was often listed in period Watches of Switzerland or Tempus magazines alongside Raymond Weil and Tissot in the entry level price bracket.
Putting aside any (whether correct or not) snobbery about the movements, the designs were excellent and certainly avantgarde and citing the Gucci 1500 alone, was one of the first integrated bangle watches achieving a popular following since the integrated bracelets of the 1970s.
It was a leap away from period Accurist and Rotary. The 3000 model used the Gucci red and green stripes and could be considered a cost effective alternative to period Cartier Must. Going further, the 1100 and 1200 had interchangeable bezels, introducing customisation well ahead of todays trend for strap alternatives.
In recent years, Chanel introduced the J12 in white or black ceramic, and was at the forefront of the colour trend, collaborating later with Superleggera to produce some highly individual and distinctive statement pieces, filtering to the high street via Michael Kors and Toy Watch.
Dior’s Christal range we like immensely and have examples for sale, as they complement any outfit from daytime sports to evening chic. Some of the most stunning designs at Salon QP 2015 came from Ralph Lauren, utilising wood to evoke a racing car’s steering wheel. It worked superbly.
The secondary market, however, has a mixed response to pre-owned fashion brand watches, which can make for some superb bargains.
If you pick wisely, some of the icons of yesteryear and even the near past can be picked up, pre-loved for the same price as a new Armani Exchange or Michael Kors. The quality will, undoubtedly, be higher, given the lion’s share were and are fully made in Switzerland, and the likelihood of seeing someone else wearing the same watch would be unusual.
Some examples would be Hermes Kelly watches, 1980s Yves Saint Laurent and as we mentioned, Gucci. Whilst a 1980s Rolex will without doubt have a value today near or in excess of the price paid by the original owner, Gucci watches can be bought for under £100 and one of the ‘90s heroes, the G watch, retailed at £775 new (according to our period catalogue) and today can be seen for under £200.
Chanel J12s are still popular new, but if you choose pre-owned, you will save almost 50% of the list price, enough to show it off, poolside or barside, in the sunshine, using the saving.
Our Dior Christals are also priced at less than half of list price. Whilst we wouldn’t press the investment route as the immediate value for money is quite clear, and there shouldn’t be a huge loss when or if you sell. If the price of vintage gilt Chanel jewellery is anything to go by, the demand is growing.
Our ladies high fashion watch brand choices for your budget would be:
£100-500: 1980s or 1990s Gucci, Hermes (also see Tiffany & Co)
£500-1000: recent Dior Christal, 1980s Chanel Premiere (also see 1980s Must De Cartier)
£1000-2000: recent Chanel J12 small, Louis Vuitton
£2000+: recent Chanel J12 large, Ralph Lauren