Dewitt's Academia Mathematical

April 29, 2016 09:00 AM

Luxury timepieces are a combination of beauty, artistry, technology and exclusivity. In some cases they also offer an extraordinary private investment opportunity.

A vibrant secondary market exists for limited-edition, second-hand watches, and some astute collectors have been rewarded with extraordinary investment returns thanks to private sales and auction outcomes. 

In 2014, Christie’s Auction House sold a 1949 Rolex Oyster Perpetual model with an enamel dial for $1,242,040. The deal attracted many new luxury timepiece investors, predominantly from mainland China and the Middle East. Just a decade earlier, in 2005, that same watch had sold for $83,237.

An increase in awareness and demand is expected to continue. 

Knight Frank’s Luxury Investment Index expects luxury watches to appreciate by 68% during the next 10 years. But, in the absence of an investable index, timepiece selection is tricky and portfolio diversification is expensive. Many experts suggest sticking with the bellwethers like Patek Philippe and Rolex—time-tested luxury watch manufacturers with a reputation for quality. But the volume of interest in those names has likely peaked. Experienced collectors advocate looking at the other luxury watchmakers that are issuing very limited editions.

Geneva-based luxury watchmaker Montres DeWitt is one of those names.

In 2004, DeWitt made only five Pressy Grande Complication watches (right). The initial retail price of each was $700,000, but the last one sold in 2007 for $900,000. Today, collector/investors are willing to pay more than $1 million for it. Recently, one was seen on the wrist of Vladimir Resin, the deputy mayor of Moscow responsible for the city’s construction sector. 

Who knew that construction was such a booming business in Moscow when crude oil prices are so low?

Late last year, DeWitt introduced its latest achievement—the Academia Mathematical Concept Watch No. 4 (below). This self-winding beauty comprises of 384 pieces and operates at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour. All of the movement’s finishes are hand-crafted, fitted in a round case in 18-carat rose gold. The watch has no hands, but rather, totally autonomous jumping numerals that come to life by lighting up within a centered aperture positioned in the top half of the smoked sapphire crystal.

The Mathematical is a one-of-a-kind in the industry.  DeWitt will produce only four or five a year as it takes six months to make just one watch. Only 28 watches will be made, and it will retail for $218,750. 

The No. 4 checks many of the boxes of investors in luxury timepieces.

Considering the watchmaker’s pedigree (the founder is a descendant of Emperor Napoléon and King Leopold II), its reputation among collectors, the past performance of the Pressy and the Mathematical’s very limited issue, DeWitt’s latest edition may warrant addition to a collector’s portfolio.

About the Author

Yesenia Duran is Managing Editor at Futures magazine. She has covered the financial industry for more than 5 years. She originally joined Futures in 2002 after graduating from Northwestern University where she majored in journalism. In her free time Yesenia trains and prepares for the eventual zombie apocalypse. E-mail her at yduran@futuresmag.com, and follow her on Twitter at @yesifutures.