July 8, 2020


In the world of vintage watches, provenance is a critical component of the value of a given watch.

What is provenance?

Here’s a good description from Timepiece Chronicle:

When discussing vintage watches, especially those claimed to have been owned by notable figures, the notion of provenance should always be kept at the forefront of your mind. Far more important than condition or value, provenance is the term used to describe the legitimacy of recorded ownership for a particular item. Whilst for many vintage watch purchases it is condition and value that are of primary concern when considering watches that are claimed to have belonged to an important figure, provenance is the most important factor.

So... provenance is kinda like the backstory of a watch.

For example...

A 1930s era 14k gold Longines tonneau-shaped wristwatch sells for about $1000.

A 1930s era 14k gold Longines tonneau-shaped wristwatch owned by Albert Einstein sold for $596,000.

Almost 600 times more money for the same watch!

But is it really same watch? Sure, the materials and construction and design are all the same. But one is a direct physical connection to one of the greatest scientific minds who ever lived, and the other... well, it tells the time (and probably pretty badly, at that).

Here’s the thing...

The value of a product or service often comes from intangible things like provenance or status or brand or morale or peace of mind.

This is not irrational buying behavior. You prove it every time you buy a Coke or shop at Target or splurge on a pair of Nikes and tell yourself that “this one is worth more because of $reasons”.

Value is not an inherent property of a thing. It’s a perception in the mind of the buyer.

The question is, what does your ideal buyer value?