John Reardon

What I Have Learned by John Reardon

The first five months of dealing vintage Patek Philippe watches as an independent

I have been buying and selling Patek Philippe watches non-stop for over 20 years, but I have learned more about the realities of the market in the last five months than I ever imagined possible. I don’t have the global auction machine supplying my inventory, or a factory pumping out new inventory on the supply side. I don’t have a massive marketing budget, or a large marketing team to let the world know I am buying and selling Patek Philippe. More importantly, I engage personally and professionally 24/7 with a community of like-minded people all around the world who buy, sell and trade their treasures in a constant march to own the best and rarest Pateks they can find. This is the machine that I am now at the core of — and I love it! It has been a period of intense highs and lows, incredible discoveries, constant travel (well, until now), and deeper, new and old friendships. Every day is a new episode of a reality show that brings unexpected twists and turns. There is no script – just a passion for all things Patek Philippe and the adventures that this brings.

John Reardon

Below are the top 10 things I have learned – so far:

  1. Buyers often think they are paying too much and sellers often think they are getting too little. It’s my job to find the magic number in the middle. Even in difficult times, transactions continue to occur as the market evolves and needs and wants take a very different meaning.
  2. Fresh to market is everything in vintage. As soon as something is over shopped, it loses value.
  3. Condition, condition, condition. This is all that matters to collectors.
  4. Act fast. I lost the opportunity to buy an exceptional Beta 21 by taking the time to ask the seller if he had the extract from the Archives. Another dealer bought the watch in the seconds I asked this simple question.
  5. There is a true fear of buying vintage. Many modern Patek Philippe collectors truly want to diversify into vintage Patek but they are afraid of taking the first step for fear of making mistakes. That is why I started Collectability: to guide the journey with absolute transparency and to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
  6. The realities of running a small business are time consuming. For all the entrepreneurs out there, you know that is an understatement – I never imagined how much time packing and shipping can involve!
  7. Trust and communication. With buyers and sellers, this is all we have at the end of the day.
  8. People often buy for entertainment and many collectors are more engaged than ever before if they have spare time on their hands. The community aspect of collecting cannot be underestimated, and now the digital watch community is growing faster than ever before on social media as we all temporarily transition to a digital life.
  9. It is often just as much work to buy or sell a $5,000 watch as a $500,000 watch. The best part is the learning never stops and research into all Patek Philippe watches and clocks across all price points is consistently engaging and fascinating.
  10. I have heard dealers say this over and over again, and now I truly understand, especially in these crazy times: cash is king. Liquidity is everything and you need the ability to pounce on a great discovery and pay for it immediately. Some amazing watches are trading hands now and buying opportunities for grail watches are a daily occurrence.

Launching and branding Collectability has taught me so much about myself and the industry as a whole. I now wear many hats: a vintage and pre-owned wholesaler, retailer, advisor, curator, broker, merchant, teacher, academic, even shrink! However, it is the Patek Philippe timepieces that I am buying and selling that is at the core and I truly feel a bit sad when each one of these pieces leaves my hands. But when I see a Collectability Patek Philippe on someone’s wrist on IG, a table clock in their office, or pocket watch proudly displayed in a study, I know I have done the right thing and all the research and time that goes into each piece truly matters. I have had a great start these first five months and I want to personally thank all of you for being part of it.

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