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Sunday, November 28, 2004

What makes collectors tick?

Not all watches are created equal -- and not all watches have equal value.

According to Edward Faber, co-owner of New York's Aaron Faber Gallery, which sells vintage, estate and collectible jewelry, there are general guidelines that help establish a timepiece's value.

The most important thing, he says, is the brand. "You want a historically important brand, not one that's been around five years."

Rolex and Patek Philippe, with complicated features such as moon phase calendars and minute repeaters, are usually at the top of the list. Hamilton, Breguet, Cartier and Gruen also are good investments because, while they have simpler mechanics, they often are extraordinary designs, Faber says.

It's best to have both the original box and the bill of sale to establish authenticity; it's OK -- in fact, better -- if the watch looks a slight bit worn. A watch that's been heavily polished and restored is not as valuable because its integrity might have been compromised along the way, Faber says.

As for materials, platinum is worth more than gold, even 14-karat white gold, and collectors are usually willing to pay a premium price for rose gold.

Style also matters: Unusual use of gemstones or certain aesthetics -- art deco, for example -- add to a watch's value.

Until now, the collectible market has been dominated by men's watches, but Faber says women's timepieces are the next horizon.

"If (a woman) is wearing a conservative suit, she's allowed to wear a strongly designed or even outrageous watch on her wrist. Women also are wearing 'evening' or dress watches with rubies and diamonds from the '40s with their daywear. There's a lot of options," he says.

-- AP

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