Wristwatches hold pride of place in most men's lives; it is passed down as a family heirloom but that is not the extent of their appeal. The love for watches is often inherited from male role models in the family and the gifting of a watch by father to son is a rite of passage. For those of us who remember the pocket watches with the silver chains used by our grandfathers, the timepieces take on even more significance.
It is the inter-generational bond that these wrist-borne witnesses of passing time forge that is central to their appeal. Watch-lovers and collectors need not despair because Dhaka offers more opportunities to indulge that passion than may be ordinarily thought.
To that end, Star Lifestyle focuses on this most worthy of pursuits and talks to collector Tipu Anwar for the inside track on starting a collection.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Al Pacino's Lefty character in Donnie Brasco left behind a gold Rolex in his top drawer before going to meet his doom. This gesture wasn't one made out of pure financial interest for his family, but also because a watch means much more than that. A timepiece isn't just a fashion statement; it is also an accepted universal currency and an important part of one's legacy. A vintage timepiece is the best heirloom. But many can't be satisfied with just one vintage in their collection and their need for more separate them from watch lovers and turns them into genuine collectors. However, this hobby isn't an inexpensive one. Tipu Anwar, Managing Director of Premium Securities can testify to that.
“Starting off or sustaining a collection isn't easy. There are numerous questions to answer and of course the financial side of things needs heavy comprehension,” Tipu says.
Firstly, he suggests understanding what kind of watch one wants. The three kinds are quartz, automatic and mechanical, of which quartz is the most easily procurable yet are known to have short battery lives.
The second question one must ask is whether to opt for a vintage watch or a brand new one. A new watch can be considerably less expensive, easily recognisable and more fashionable.
The crystal protecting the dial for most modern watches are made from sapphire, hence making them more durable. However, they have next to no resale value and rather tend to depreciate over time. However, options are plenty and more readily available.
Vintage watches, on the other hand, are hard to come by. The rare ones are more expensive but have a good resale value. However, the crystal is made from plastic glass and hence these watches are more susceptible to scratches. Furthermore, vintage watches are usually sold through dealers specialising in them and won't be available just about anywhere.
“A collection usually starts when one is handed a family heirloom or suddenly finds oneself in possession of a really great watch. The passion starts from then and not automatically,” Tipu explains. He also says that those really interested in vintage watches should consider three factors; the watch's age, significance and rarity. Age and rarity usually go hand in hand. Significance, however, depends on the buyer. The 1969 Omega Speedmaster is an example of a watch whose period of creation coincided with a historic event, hence boosting its value and demand, while giving it the 'moon watch' name. A watch can also be significant because of its previous owner's name and fame.
Tipu also suggests ways to spot fakes, as the second hand watch market is flooded with fakes. “Use pictures of originals and check the font type used, engravings and also ask the seller if other parts have been used and why." Tipu also advises consulting experts and using the serial numbers provided for reference as some watch collectors have records dating back a hundred years.
“Opt for Swiss movement rather than Japanese movement, as these are harder to fake. Also, most watches are triple signed, meaning that it displays three times in three different places." Finally, Tipu suggests asking for a certificate of authenticity.
Most vintage watches require repairs every five years or so. Orchid Plaza in Dhanmondi has one such shop which repairs vintage watches. However, Tipu says that vintage watches in Bangladesh are hard to come by and most collectors here wish to trade than sell outright. Online sites are also hard to trust, he adds.
Iqbal Centre in Kemal Atartuk is one place Tipu suggests for authentic watches for serious collectors. “Start off small, take care of it well and then slowly progress. Any great collection is built over decades. Watches are an asset and hence should be treated as such,” Tipu concludes.
So, if you can afford to, what should you spend on? James Bond always sported a Rolex Submariner, and you can get the brand new one in Bangladesh. There's also Rado, Caveat Emptor, Tag Heuer and the uber-expensive Patek Phillipe. Tipu himself boasts the very rare Omega Seamaster 300 and now wishes to add a Rolex Oyster Perpetual from the 50s. Try and beat him to it.
By Osama Rahman
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Product: Private collection of Hasan Imam