Erik Boneta of Boneta Inc Comments on Booming Demand for Pre-Owned Luxury Watches

The owner of New York City-based fine watches distributor Boneta Inc., Erik Boneta notes the new life that is injected into the high-end watch market as timepieces become means of artistic expression and investment options.

Even industry participants have started using adjectives such as “insane” to describe the surge in demand for pre-owned luxury watches. Brands and analysts have various explanations for this avid interest, but the consensus opinion seems to point to rising appreciation for vintage or rare luxury items along with the widespread focus on certification and authentication. Additionally, the internet allows watch buyers to stay informed and educated, enabling them to monitor availability and track down timepieces that are no longer in production. A Rolex, Audemars Piguet, or Patek Philippe will always be a symbol of status and style, but high-end watches are increasingly sought after for investment purposes and are becoming vehicles of artistic expression, which is injecting new life into the market, notes Erik Boneta, the owner of New York City-based fine watches distributor Boneta Inc.

Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona has become a timepiece of legend, fetching $17.8 million at an auction held in 2017. This staggering price tag confirmed what industry players and collectors had started realizing about a decade earlier: luxury watches can be an investment with excellent returns. The secondary market has been growing briskly in recent years, partly due to the interest of buyers motivated by investment gains. As a collector himself and an expert with more than 15 years of experience, Erik Boneta is quick to note that not every high-end watch is guaranteed to appreciate in value. Provenance is one of the most important factors determining the price of pre-owned timepieces, but very few are associated with celebrities like Paul Newman or Jackie Kennedy and thus likely to sell for heady amounts, as Christie’s senior vice-president John Reardon told WatchPro. Timepieces with the potential to appreciate are special models produced in limited numbers, and when properly selected, pre-owned luxury watches can deliver better investment returns than stocks or certain types of bonds, according to Erik Boneta.

Thanks to the Millennial generation, the secondary market is booming for another reason: a preference for luxury products that are unique. This includes high-end watches that are no longer produced but also timepieces that fuse craftsmanship and art. Actor Aldis Hodge recently told the Hollywood Reporter: "I think what makes a watch collectible is when it has artistic and aesthetic value, pedigree, uniqueness, and rarity in terms of composition and functionality." Several brands have partnered with artists to create innovative models, one example being the red ceramic Classic Fusion Chronograph designed by Hublot in tandem with pop artist Richard Orlinski. Hublot also worked with London-based tattoo artist Maxime Buchi on the Big Bang Sang Blue watch in 2016, while Swiss watch brand Richard Mille teamed up with French graffiti artist Cyril Phan (aka Kongo) for the RM 68-01 Tourbillon Kongo, of which only 30 pieces have been made. While these collaborations feel like a way to keep brands energized in the 21st century, art and luxury have always intersected, providing designers with inspiration through the ages and resulting in items cherished for their uniqueness. “Art and luxury have a long history of influencing each other to create timeless, aspirational experiences: from creative and editorial collaborations with artists like Salvador Dali, Cindy Sherman, Ed Ruscha and Takashi Murakami, to brand and creative directors increasingly drawing on trends and philosophy of art in their work,” according to Federica Carlotto of Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

Erik Boneta established his company in 2003, building it into a market-leading distributor of fine watches. Boneta Inc operates from headquarters in New York City and multiple locations worldwide, dealing directly with brands and buying aging stock from retail stores to help with inventory management. Since its launch, the business has generated more than $500 million in sales, driven by Erik Boneta’s unrelenting focus on quality and authenticity.

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Name: Erik Boneta
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