Luxury menswear e-tailer, Mr Porter is getting in on the vintage watch market and, quite frankly, we are surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. Global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Co. says sales of pre-owned watches reached $19 billion in 2019 and are forecasted to grow to more than $30 billion by 2025.
Pre-owned, of course, includes newer timepieces. For a breakdown, vintage is generally accepted to mean watches created before the 1970s (the era when the quartz crisis hit), neo-vintage often refers to pieces created from the 90s to early or mid-2000s, but pre-owned can also include any piece that has, as the name suggests, already been owned at least once even if it was fresh-to-market in 2022. Nevertheless, those figures suggest clients are clamoring for rarity or, at least, pieces they can’t find at retail as demand continues to eclipse supply. Mr Porter has already been dealing in the pre-owned market, so the vintage and neo-vintage timepieces offer something “new” for clients looking for rarer historical pieces.
To get in on the frenzy, Mr Porter enlisted Eric Wind of Wind Vintage to help curate the initial offering, which will, at debut, only be available for the US market with a plan to expand globally throughout the rest of the year. Wind is a notable dealer in the US, who honed his expertise while he was a senior watch specialist at Christie’s, and has a roster of high-profile clients who seek out his vault of rare timepieces, as well as his knowledge to help refine their collections.
Highlights from Mr Porter and Wind Vintage’s new lineup include a Rolex “Pepsi” GMT-Master Ref. 16750 and a Submariner Ref. 5513 “Meters First,” named for its water-resistance dial stamp which reads “Meters First” rather than “Feet First,” which became the standard from 1969. Both of these coveted Rollie references, however, have already sold.
In addition to rare Rolexes, Wind is known for his passion for Heuer timepieces (watches that pre-date the TAG Heuer era of the brand), and a late-1960s Heuer Camarao Ref. 7220NT housing a Valjoux 72 movement—a manual-wind chronograph caliber prized by collectors. That model has also already been snapped up, suggesting you better act quickly if you want to get your hands on Mr Porter and Wind Vintage’s wares…half of the just-released inventory has already gone.
“For me, it was just about finding a mix of cool watches,” Wind told Robb Report. “You always want to have a Datejust, a Speedmaster and other cornerstone staples that are very reliable for someone to dip their toe into vintage.” He added that his demarcation for vintage is 20 years or older.
In total, there are just 12 watches available for purchase at the start of Mr Porter’s new venture and they range in price from $1,900 to $19,800. In terms of watches still up for grabs at the time of publication, Wind says he thinks the steel 36 mm Rolex Datejust might fly fast because it is new old stock from 1997. It also comes outfitted with an attractive white tapestry dial. “The [Vulcain] Cricket is also a really excellent example and is an inexpensive piece, so I’m hoping someone will grab that too,” says Wind. “The Zenith [1970 El Primero Ref. A384] is also phenomenal and that’s a very attractive price for its beautiful condition—it’s unpolished, it’s unwrapped, so it’s nice.”
The new venture from Mr Porter will also include the introduction of a vintage watch procurement program, where customers can enlist the company’s watch experts to hunt down specific vintage timepieces for those looking for more elusive timekeepers.