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A client of mine recently approached me as he was thinking about the possibility of collecting vintage watches. He already owns a beautiful collection of contemporary watches, mostly complicated timepieces from Patek Philippe and A. Lange & Söhne. However, he felt it was time for him to enjoy another side of collecting watches by delving into vintage timepieces—a totally different world than what he was used to. As you can imagine, there’s a vast difference between going to a boutique to buy a new watch and buying a vintage watch from the secondary market.
First, we discussed what brand, period, style, and material he was looking for. It’s important to understand what a client wants and why he wants it. And this is only the beginning of a long journey when collecting vintage timepieces. He expressed his desire for a white gold Patek Philippe chronograph with a calendar. As you may know, Patek Philippe has an incredible selection of calendar chronograph watches including references 1518, 2499, 3970, 5020, 5004, 5970, and 5270. We narrowed down the choices and settled upon two references to explore—the ref. 2499 and the ref. 3970
In keeping with Quest tradition, we take a break from the hustle and bustle of New York City and join an exemplary group that brings a touch of added class to our host estate in Greenwich, Connecticut.
A storied town, Greenwich has a rich tradition of producing some of the best and brightest of each generation, and the young men and women who join us in the following pages are no exception.
First off, buying a vintage watch is an emotional experience. Whether it’s the brand, the design, the movement, or the story behind the watch, something speaks to you to persuade you to buy it. Never buy a timepiece if something about it bothers you, even if it’s a small detail like the style of the hands or the pattern of the dial. What may seem like a minor inconvenience in the beginning will eventually grow into a bigger nuisance in the long run. The vintage watch market is large and varied so only settle on a timepiece that you’re completely satisfied with. Be patient, do your homework, and remember the age-old saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
When I first saw the vintage Zenith Heritage, I was immediately attracted to it, which was already a great sign. Then I began my initial inspection to ensure that everything is original on the watch. In today’s vintage market, an original dial is critical to its value.
The $100,000 watch spotted on the wrist of the Thai deputy prime minister has touched off a corruption scandal — but sometimes timepieces aren’t just about money.
Thailand’s General Prawit Wongsuwan has taken heat after photographs revealed his extensive collection of luxury watches, estimated to be worth $1.2 million.
Aside from a flashy display of wealth, some watches communicate another message: power.
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But Wongsuwan’s watches aren’t as opulent as some, said Laurent Martinez, owner of Laurent Fine Watches in Greenwich, Conn. If Wongsuwan’s entire collection is 25 watches worth $1.2 million, that means the average price of each watch is roughly $48,000 — relatively small potatoes for high-end watches, Martinez said.
“I understand that people can be furious about these crazy prices, but in the world of wealth and collection, these prices of $40,000 to $60,000 are reasonable,” Martinez said. “In the world of super collectors and super rich guys, it’s not that much money. Some of my clients have collections worth $50 or $60 million.”
After an accomplished career in the energy industry, European native and a long-time resident of Greenwich, Connecticut, Laurent Martinez, is now following his passion for fine watches with the opening of his exclusive ‘Laurent Fine Watches' a highly curated selection of Vintage, Contemporary and Women’s luxury timepieces available online or by appointment.
Laurent, who has spent more than three decades studying and collecting historically important timepieces, will work with clients to source unique one-of-a kind pieces. This move from hobby to business venture underlines his commitment to horology.
To source the pieces for his collection, Laurent travels to Europe regularly in search of unique timepieces with historically significant stories. While the history of horology spans over two centuries, Laurent is particularly fond of vintage watches from the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s—which is clearly reflected in the watches he offers for sale with unavoidable brands such as: Omega, Rolex, Longines, Patek Philippe, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger Lecoultre, Audemars, Piguet, Cartier and alike de luxe timepieces.
“C’était maintenant ou jamais“. Aux portes de la cinquantaine, Laurent Martinez a fait le grand saut. Depuis le mois de janvier, cet ancien chef d’entreprise dans le domaine des énergies a décidé de vivre de sa passion : les montres de collection. Une seconde vie, après une carrière épanouie dans d’autres domaines, bien loin du “tic tac” qu’il apprécie tant.
Il y a plus de vingt ans, Laurent Martinez s’installe à Greenwich dans le Connecticut où il travaille pour une société d’information financière. En 2002, il fonde sa propre boîte, dans le domaine des services en ressources humaines, avec pour objectif de “fournir des ingénieurs dans le monde entier pour des grands projets pétroliers, soit comme chasseur de tête, soit via de l’assistance technique”, explique Laurent Martinez, qui continue à gérer cette entreprise.
Au bout d’une dizaine d’années, le spécialiste en énergies fossiles sent le vent tourner et se réoriente en partie vers le renouvelable. “En 2013, le prix du pétrole a commencé à chuter. J’ai commencé à regarder l’industrie des énergies vertes, un secteur qui est malheureusement très compliqué, qui varie selon les politiques de l’environnement, explique Laurent Martinez. Ce n’était pas exactement ce que j’espérais. Il faut constamment trouver des fonds, ce qui rend le domaine instable”.
We are delighted that due to the success of our Collector’s World series, we have extended our coverage across the globe. So it is with great pleasure that our next collector is Laurent Martinez from the United States of America. After an accomplished career in the energy industry, European native and a long-time resident of Greenwich, Connecticut, Laurent, is now following his passion for fine watches with the opening of ‘Laurent Fine Watches’ a highly curated selection of Vintage, Contemporary and Women’s luxury timepieces.
Laurent admits he has a great desire for collecting fine vintage and contemporary watches. He has collected, studied, cherished, and worn so many timepieces throughout his life that he can truly say that he has a great love and appreciation for them. We are delighted to be able to share them with you.
MWM: Where does your interest in watches originate from?
LM: My love for luxury watches began at a young age in Paris where I spent time in an auction house, where I was fortunate to have the city’s leading auctioneer as my mentor. This experience opened my eyes to an extraordinary world and instilled in me a profound appreciation of beauty, exceptional craftsmanship, and technical mastery. Amongst all the luxury products I was privileged to encounter, it was the watches that really resonated with me.
After an accomplished career in the energy industry, European native and long-time resident of Greenwich, Laurent Martinez, is following his passion for fine vintage watches.
After having spent over three decades studying and collecting historically important timepieces, Laurent has launched his company Laurent Fine Watches and accompanying website, laurentfinewatches.com
The move from hobby to business venture underlines his commitment to horology.
To source the pieces for his collection, Laurent travels to Europe regularly in search of special timepieces with historically significant stories.