Cameron Barr, founder and managing director of Craft & Tailored, a vintage watch retailer in Los Angeles, said the “bump of interest” among some long-forgotten manufacturers was a reflection of their timeless designs as well as their affordability, both in terms of price and availability.
As an example, he referenced the Swiss brand Nivada Grenchen: “They have this classic sports watch design from the late 60s to 70s that is still relevant,” Mr. Barr said. “Most of these watches are between $3,500 and $6,500, depending on the movement. They aren’t cheap, but they don’t cost $25,000 either. You can have fun with it, not be so serious.
Now, in part due to their popularity on Instagram, some vintage models from obscure brands have the potential to “catch fire and soar, like lesser stock on the Nasdaq,” said Eric Wind, a vintage watch dealer. based in Palm Beach, Fla. .
“With Universal Geneva, there were watches that were trading at $3,800, but three years later they were trading at $40,000,” he added.
Even ZRC, the little-known brand Mr. Heileson started collecting, saw its vintage watches rise in value: For example, an early 1960s ZRC Securicode model that probably sold for less than $100 sold for a total of 35,750 euros ($40,575), including fees, at an online auction in November 2020.
A common misconception among potential buyers of older brands is that watches are difficult to maintain. “But actually a lot of these watches use the exact same chronograph movements as in the Rolex Daytona, the Valjoux 72, so it’s just as easy to maintain,” Wind said.