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    The Price of Mechanical Marine Chronometers and Deckwatches
    From: Geoffrey Kolbe
    Date: 2012 Jan 19, 06:47 +0000

    I have been trawling the Internet recently and looking at what is
    available in the way of marine chronometers and deck watches. The one
    thing that struck me was that the prices of these clocks are much the
    same now as they were 25 years ago when I bought my Ulysses Nardin
    marine chronometer. The chronometer was made in 1920 and had probably
    spent most its life in an admiral's desk draw, but in 1987 it cost me
    $2200 and if I was to sell it today, the going price would be much the same.
    I contacted a dealer whose speciality is marine chronometers and deck
    watches, and asked him if he thought prices had remained static over
    the last 25 years. He agreed that for 'ordinary' chronometers that
    are not especially old or have historic connections, that was the case.
    But given an average inflation rate of, say, 3%, the value of the
    dollar has halved over the past 25 years and so in real terms, the
    price of chronometers and deck watches has also halved since I bought
    mine. They are obviously not a good investment.
    But will they continue to decline in value? In the entire history of
    chronometer manufacture, there were probably only 100,000 or so made.
    A sizable slice of those are probably at the bottom of an ocean
    somewhere and apart from a small continued production in Russia,
    nobody is making them any more and all the guys who know how to keep
    them going are pensioners. Now, in the depths of a depression, the
    price of a piece of navigation history of this sort will probably
    never get lower in real terms.
    So, if anybody has a hankering to own a real, live, ticking
    chronometer, now is probably the best time to buy one.
    And no, I don't want to sell mine and I don't deal in chronometers or
    deck watches. As I say, it is not a good business to be in right now,
    not for sellers anyway ;-)
    Geoffrey Kolbe

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