I came across a website yesterday for a company in Guildford who specialise in selling pre-owned luxury watches, and among the various items available for sale I saw this 'Bamford' Monaco. Of course I've heard of Bamford before, but I thought they only really customised Rolex watches... apparently not!
Strangely enough I was looking at the Bamford website the other day and I must admit I do like some of their designs, especially because I rather like black and bright green together and there aren't that many luxury watches that offer this colour scheme. Not terribly surprising perhaps, but every single watch on the site was 'POA' and I'm pretty sure that I couldn't afford any of them even if I wanted one, but it got me thinking about this whole 'customisation' thing and more specifically 'third party' customisation.
Some of you may have seen Armin Strom's new watch range where the customer can personalise various elements of the watch, such as choosing the colour of the some of the elements of the skeletonised dial. Personally I think that's okay, albeit I can't help but think that part of what the customer pays for is the 'designer' (that chap, who knows what's supposed to look good) deciding these sort of things and making sure you don't end up with a watch that looks like a pig's ear, or a 'dramatic' design which goes off the boil quicker than a faulty kettle (and yes, I get that you could say a lime green and black Rolex might fit into this category!).
But I still think it's pretty cool...
But when it comes to third party customisation I feel a lot less certain about it. First of all, you can kiss goodbye to your warranty, but perhaps more importantly it seems to me that you are paying way over the odds for something which is probably going to shed value like a stone, and the more crazy you go with your design the worse it's going to be.
After all, how do you value one of these watches? If I have let's say, a 'Steve McQueen' Monaco, I'll look on Watchfinder or a similar site and pretty quickly I can establish a second hand value, depending on age and condition, etc. But with a Bamford (or other personalised watch) you really can't do that.
Sure you can look at the original cost, but all that really does is set the high benchmark. If you buy a £4,000 TAG Carrera, you can probably reasonably expect it to sell for £2500-3000 on the second hand market, even after quite a few years. But with a watch like this, who knows. The watch is currently for sale at £5,500, which sounds vaguely reasonable, but since we don't know the original cost it's hard to say whether it's held it's value or not, or indeed whether that price is achievable.
Like anything, I suppose, it only needs for two people to want this unique watch for the price to go up, but at the same time the possibility for one of those people to order new from the modifier limits the price to maybe 2/3 of the original value. Which is different to say, a NOS Heuer or perhaps a popular limited edition such as the 'Gulf' range.
On the other hand, if you really don't care about resale value (and some people are in that enviable position) and you really just want something 'different' to what everyone else has, then I suppose it's good that the option is available. Personally I'd much prefer it if the original manufacturer offered this kind of thing, perhaps through a 'special orders' division, possibly even a sister-company which was still part of the main group and who could provide custom products while keeping the mods in house and maintaining the warranty and using authentic parts.
As for this particular watch, I must admit that I don't dislike it. The orange and black dial is pretty cool, although I'm not sure quite about the quality of the PVD on the case edge, but that could be the photograph.
Would I spend £5500 on it though? Probably not... I just don't have the faith in its long term resale, but maybe I'm wrong, maybe in twenty years this will be coming up at auction and commanding a hefty premium. I don't know, but I doubt it somehow. Perhaps if we knew what the cost new was it would give us an indication, but I would guess the seller is aiming for 2/3 of the original value, which would make it about £8,000. Assuming Bamford took the cheapest chrono Monaco available as a base, that means they've probably doubled the price...
I'm sure there's a market for this sort of thing, after all, there's several companies out there making modified Range Rovers and those things cost (and must loose) horrendous amounts of cash, so losing a few grand on a watch may not be the end of the world for some people. But for me I think the greater worry would be, given an infinite number of dial/hands/case colours, a - would I ever be able to choose, and b - would I change my mind three weeks later.
If you'd like to see more about this watch, then you can visit Maunder Watches HERE