How has Momentum dealt with the pandemic? What changes did you have to make to adapt?
Back in March when we went into lockdown, it felt like a big deal and I was expecting the worst. It was something we had never been confronted with; we did not really know what was coming. Knowing that everyone else was in the same situation made me feel hopeful. However, given the situation we still wanted to sell watches so we moved our entire communications online, revamped the website and pushed stronger on social media. We posted more and more watches from home and to our pleasant surprise; we received many enquiries.
It was different though; we noticed that people were still interested in buying watches but were a bit hesitant to pull the trigger. Others were just hunting for “Corona-Prices” people who did not have an appreciation for quality but only for the price. Funnily, some clients wanted to reserve watches and pay ‘when everything is over’ and we returned to normal. I found this approach very amusing and very far from reality. Over the two months of lockdown, we sold a good number of watches and even bought some. It was a relief to find out that the market was very much alive and things were moving, albeit a bit slower. Post the lockdown in May, things returned to a near normal and things have been going well since then. The fact is that people are still hungry for good watches, the demand for high quality is stronger than ever. Collectors now have more time to browse what’s on the market and that is also why watch auctions have done well in 2020. I wouldn’t say the market is stronger than before but it remains pretty strong
Do you think 2020 has changed the way vintage watches are sold? What impact has online sales had on the business?
Our international sales made about 50-60 percent of our total revenue before the pandemic and I am sure that this number will only go up from now on. I don’t think the traditional brick-and-mortar way of selling watches will completely go away but the way forward is to cater to a wider audience online. We launched our new website earlier this year and are working on enhancing the quality and reach of our overall communications. The reach of social media is stronger than ever now given the amount of time people spend on the phone. We had many clients who made purchases during the lockdown and even after because they needed something exciting in their life - they are bored, they can’t go on lavish vacations, and they have the money; so they spend it on watches instead.
Have you noticed any change in the buying habits of your clients?
Experienced buyers know that the market for top quality vintage watches is strong, they are still buying and nothing much has changed for them. As I mentioned earlier, the not-so-experienced buyer are a little hesitant to ‘pull the trigger’ so they are taking their time to decide. Others are looking for deals and distress sales but bargains are not easy to find on a mature and transparent vintage market. Many came in to sell their watches - mostly modern and not strong watches – because they needed financial liquidity. We did buy back watches we sold in the past; it was good to have them in store again.
What has been the hot-selling vintage models for Momentum this year?
When it comes to vintage Rolex, top quality pieces – the ones that are hard to find - are flying off the shelves. We see an increase in demand for top condition Daytona, Submariners, and GMT models, but most of the demand is for the Day-Date models, especially for rare dials (exotic, stone and “Stella” in particular). We sold more Day-Date models in 2020 than ever before. There’s no telling when these will disappear into private collections, so over the years we built a huge inventory of beautiful and rare Day-Dates. For me, personally, the vintage watch of the year was probably the Onyx dial Day-Date.