Passion & Money: Your Best Investment 2014 Fits on Your Wrist

Passion & Money: Your Best Investment 2014 Fits on Your Wrist

Passion & Money: Your Best Investment 2014 Fits on Your Wrist


Coutts Index reveals passion investments have risen 77% since 2005, outperforming shares

The Coutts Index

Classic cars rise 257%
Classic watches up 176%
Billionaire property doubles in value
Passion investments returned 77% (local currency terms)* since 2005, outperforming shares, according to the first edition of The Coutts Index: Objects of Desire. Launched today, the new Coutts Index aims to provide the global benchmark for monitoring the performance of passion assets.


The Index, developed in conjunction with Fathom Consulting, captures the price return in local currency (net of the holding costs) of 15 passion assets across two broad categories: trophy property and alternative investments. Alternative investments can be further broken down into fine art, collectibles and precious items.


Of all the alternative investments Coutts examined for the Index, classic cars have returned the most since 2005, rising by 257%, outpacing all other investments by more than 80 percentage points over the seven and-a-half-year timeframe. Classic watches have also proved they can stand the test of time, rising by 176% from 2005 to 30 June 2013.

Jewels returned 146% in comparison, while the standout performer in the fine art space is the traditional Chinese works of arts sector, which rose by 163% between 2005 and 30 June 2013.

Over the past seven and a half years, the Coutts Index, based in US$ terms, has risen by 82% – over the same period, the MSCI All Country Equity Index has risen by 53%, based in US$ terms.

The Coutts Index incorporates a real estate component supplied by Savills World Research. Trophy property comprises ‘billionaire’ residential properties in the ten prime global city locations and ‘leisure’ properties in the world’s most desirable leisure destinations associated with these cities. Both measures lost value in the run-up to the global recession, but billionaire property values have risen strongly since, rising 100% from 2005 to 30 June 2013.

Mohammad Kamal Syed , Head of Strategic Solutions at Coutts, said: “The Coutts Index has been created to measure passion assets, or objects or desire, in terms of performance, cost of storage and currency. But while many alternatives have provided spectacular returns, there is more to investing in these assets than price appreciation. For many people, profit is furthest from their mind.”

He added that for many ultra-high-net-worth individuals, it is less about investing and more about purchasing – purchasing assets driven by their emotions.


“The benefit is more than just profit. Owners can bond with like-minded people in an elite network, with assets offering escapism and a chance to re-enact history. Indeed, there is one thing that the Coutts Index, for all its robustness, can’t measure – and that is happiness. The idea of someone paying $50m for an uncomfortable old car, with windows that don’t work and a noisy engine, seems illogical. In many ways it is. But the happiness such a car can bring is immeasurable.”

Coutts commissioned articles and interviewed experts for its first edition of the Coutts Index. They included Stanley Gibbons, the world’s leading stamp dealer, Berry Bros. & Rudd, the wine merchant and auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

Quentin Willson, broadcaster and classic car specialist, looked under the bonnet of the classic car market. He wrote: “If you had bought a 1970s Ferrari Daytona for £50,000 in 2003, it would be worth £250,000 today. A 1960s Aston Martin DB5 bought for £60,000 a decade ago would now command £350,000.”

“The question is whether the classic car market has peaked. I’ve been wondering whether the bubble will burst ever since prices started to rise in 2009. But they have kept on rising and were up 27% in the first half of 2013.”

Nick Foulkes, author, historian and watch enthusiast, revealed why he has been fascinated with watches since he was a child. He wrote: “I can still remember writing an article in the 1980s, saying that the price of an old ‘Paul Newman’ Rolex Daytona was about to overtake the price of a new one. Now you will be lucky to find one for under £70,000.”

“But not all watches will burn a hole in your pocket. Rolex recently launched some particularly attractive Day-Date models with brightly coloured dials. These recalled the original ‘Stella’ dialled Rolexes and are now creeping up in value, but these Day-Date models can still be purchased for four figures. And I still think that vintage Cartier watches are hugely undervalued.”

About Coutts

Coutts is the wealth division of Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Coutts serves clients from over 40 offices across the world offering tailored wealth management, banking, trust and tax services. Coutts is headquartered at 440 Strand, London with offices in other key international financial centres in Zurich, Geneva, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. The division includes Adam & Company providing private banking services from Edinburgh, and RBS International, based in the Channel Islands, which provides offshore banking.For further information please visit

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The hedge fund on your wrist

The hedge fund on your wrist

Smart fashion is now a wise investment. – The hedge fund on your wrist.

Investment-quality timepieces gain popularity amid market turmoil.

The world’s economies and stock markets have come to resemble the house of horrors and roller coaster, but there is nothing amusing about the summer of 2011 for investors. Bonds yields are at record lows even after Standard and Poor’s historic downgrade of the USA’s credit rating. Precious metals have risen steeply and then nosedived. Demand for gemstones and ethical issues are causing doubt. All of this leaves you with few vehicles to protect the assets.


One shining ray of light in the darkness is the fine watch market. Unlike art and antiques, which require more expertise and carry more risk due to the volatile nature of the market, high-quality genuine watches are attracting investors interested in stability and an investment they can understand. Even those strapped for cash are benefitting from selling what was once strapped to their wrist.


Fashion is less of an issue with a timepiece because more people wear great watches than collect great art, and a beautiful timepiece is more likely than painting or sculpture to be regarded highly by future generations and become an heirloom. Experts in horology are relatively easy to find, and their value assessments are likely to be an accurate reflection of the real market value for a given timepiece.

Many news sources, finance pundits, and investment advisors are reporting that alternative investments are gaining in popularity, but investors find few categories they can trust in troubled times. Add the advantage of being able to wear an elegant timepiece that has an actual function and owning an investment-value timepiece becomes a very attractive notion.

Worldwide increased demand has made the stock prices of manufacturers and retailers high enough to be reported by numerous sources. The following articles mention the record high prices of auctioned art, antiques, and jewelry (including luxury watches), the rising stock prices of watchmakers and dealers, and the sale of watches by some who have been hit hard by the global recession:

AOL Daily Finance’s The Motley Fool – Is Fossil the Perfect Stock?

Bloomberg – Swatch First-Half Profit Rises 24%; Increases Hengdeli Stake –

Bloomberg – Packard’s Vacheron Constantin Watch Triples to $1.8 Million at Christie’s –

Bloomberg – Christie’s $5.8 Million Singing-Bird Pistols Lift Watch Sale

Boston Irish Reporter – Hangzhou store sales data: luxury half a year of links of London gold jewellery or surprising –

Chicago Sun-Times – Lou Gehrig items bring nearly $1M at Rosemont auction –

CNN Money – Pawning Rolexes to make payroll –

Yahoo! News – The Collections of Movie Icon Tony Curtis Are to be Offered at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills –


Cover image courtesy of Alon Ben Joseph

Christophe Claret’s 21 Blackjack

Christophe Claret’s 21 Blackjack

In 2009, Christophe Claret decided to mark 20 years of service to the most prestigious brands by making his first watch bearing the Christophe Claret brand name, the DualTow. He continued with the Adagio and is now introducing the brand’s third model, a fascinating creation. The 21 Blackjack is a real miniature casino with no less than three games: dice, roulette and cards. A luxury toy for those still in touch with their inner child, it opens up a whole new area of expression for Fine Watchmaking that until now has been virtually unknown: playful, interactive watches. It is this world that Christophe Claret and the experienced team in charge of the brand intend to explore, to the great delight of those with a passion for extraordinary watchmaking.

Christophe Claret’s 21 Blackjack

Never has an emerging brand offered such proof of its expertise! Following the success of the DualTow – the premiere Christophe Claret timepiece introduced for the Anniversary of the Manufacture in 2009 – and the unbelievable reception given to the Adagio – the second model presented in Geneva in January 2011 – , Christophe Claret plays another card with its third creation, the 21 Blackjack. A real miniature casino, it matches grand complications with the world of gaming, in the process creating a new watchmaking paradigm: the interactive watch. The DualTow already offered a fabulous 3D effect; with the 21 Blackjack, Christophe Claret has propelled informed enthusiasts into the fourth dimension! In addition to transparency, relief, and the passage of time, here he adds the sensory effects of blackjack, roulette and dice. An unprecedented upmarket toy for aficionados, expressing a kind of watchmaking that has cast off its inhibitions.

Interactive Fine Watchmaking

The secret of the Christophe Claret brand’s knowhow lies in the master watchmaker’s extensive experience. For over 20 years, the Christophe Claret company has been designing, developing and producing fine watch movements for the most prestigious brands. Of course, the founder will continue this activity, but now at the head of a company renamed La Manufacture Claret for enhanced clarity. “My vault is full of watchmaking projects that are only waiting to materialise,” says the inventor. The Christophe Claret brand itself is gathering an experienced and dynamic team dedicated entirely to its strategy’s success: to go where no one has ever ventured before, into the territory of playful and complex Fine Watchmaking.

This first revelation, the 21 Blackjack, is undeniably a winner! Connoisseurs of fine mechanics are thoroughly impressed, and certainly not by vain promises. If they are speechless, it is in the face of Christophe Claret’s acknowledged inventiveness in offering them no less than three casino games. To start there is Dice. This game features a pair of miniature dice, 1.5 mm on each side – and incidentally, perfectly legible – which are located in a cage at the 4 o’clock position on the side of the case and, visible through a sapphire crystal, offering the oldest game of chance. When shaken in their tiny capsule, the dice can be used by one or more players, for a game of craps, for example.

Christophe Claret’s 21 Blackjack

“No more bets!”

Next, roulette: on the back of the watch the winding rotor, which is visible through a glareproofed sapphire crystal, serves as the roulette wheel. Once set in motion by one or two undulatory movements, the wheel turns for a few moments before stopping. “Place your bets! The bets are down! No more bets!” Here there is no ball, however, but an arrow inlaid into the winding rotor that stops at one of the 37 numbers (from 0 to 36) applied to an internal flange. “Eight, black, even and low!” Your lucky number? If it were, a special key would have been used to place it opposite a green emerald set into the back – a rather extraordinary custom feature for those who believe in their lucky number. Superstition has its reasons that Reason cannot know…

But these games are only a playful warm-up for the king of all card games, Blackjack. Blackjack appeared in France in the 18th century under the name of “21,” and consists of drawing cards to equal or to come as close as possible to 21 points. If the player goes over 21, he “busts” (loses). Across the table, the dealer follows the same rules. The winner takes the stakes. Introduced later in the United States, “21” did not initially see much success there. To make the game more attractive, bonuses were invented. For example, the black jack paid 10 to 1! Today, the bonus has disappeared, but the name remains.

The dealer deals one card face up to the player; then draws a card, face up; then deals a second card face up to the player. The player then decides to either ask for a third card (“hit”) or stop (“stand”). He can ask for as many cards as he likes before stopping, but of course he risks going over 21. Once the player’s cards have been dealt, the dealer plays, using one simple codified rule: “Dealer must draw on 16 and stand on 17.” Of course, the dealer also runs the risk of going over 21.

A casino watch

Until now, no one has ever had the idea and the ability to adapt this complex Blackjack card game to an automaton watch. On the lower part of the dial, between 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, the player’s four cards appear in windows. Two are visible, the other two hidden by shutters. On the upper part of the dial are three additional windows for the dealer’s cards, one of which is visible, the other two also hidden by shutters.

Christophe Claret’s 21 Blackjack

Playing could not be easier! A pushpiece at 9 o’clock arms a spring that triggers, all at once, the seven discs on which the cards are printed. Made of solid gold to impart the ideal weight and inertia, these discs each rest on a double set of ceramic ball bearings. After a few seconds, they are randomly stopped by a jumper-spring. The extremely delicate symbols and numbers on each card are made with successive transfers, requiring that they be fired in a dedicated oven once for each colour.

A bell rings with each hit

At this stage of the game, three cards are face up: two of the player’s cards and one of the dealer’s. The next step is delightful. If the player is going to hit, he presses the pushpiece at 8 o’clock, engraved with the word “player.” One of the shutters then opens, revealing his card, and at the same time, in a supremely refined touch, a bell rings to indicate “hit.” Each time a shutter opens, whether for the player or the dealer, the note will sound. The striking mechanism’s hammer and bell are visible through a side window at 2 o’clock.

When the player’s turn is over, the dealer can take a turn, always following the strict rule “Dealer must draw on 16 and stand on 17” – a rule which is even written out on a small plaque affixed to the dial in one version of the 21 Blackjack! The dealer operates the pushpiece marked “dealer” at 10 o’clock to open one of the two shutters. Now all that remains is to count up the points and determine the winner. The dealer has some 216 different card combinations; the player no less than 4096; for a total of 884,736 ways to win or lose.

Such a complex automaton watch was bound to house an exceptional movement. This Manufacture Calibre BLJ08 is a self-winding COSC chronometer-certified movement comprising 501 parts and two barrels ensuring a power reserve of about 72 hours. In addition to the casino games and chime, it displays hours and minutes. To ensure extreme accuracy, it operates at a frequency of 4 hertz, or 28,800 vibrations per hour.

A promising future

Christophe Claret’s 21 Blackjack

The titanium or titanium/gold crown, which is at 3 o’clock between the two side windows, is topped with a ceramic or ruby cabochon engraved with Christophe Claret’s new logo. The dial is in black onyx or titanium and grey sapphire, depending on the version, with a plaque decorated in casino-themed motifs (card games, Las Vegas or Joker) serving as a setting for the black PVD/ruby or gold/ceramic hands. The black alligator strap is attached by a two- screw system developed by Christophe Claret’s teams, which avoids damage to the case during handling. The case is watertight to 3 atmospheres of pressure (30-metre depth), and is also available in several versions: white gold and grade 5 black PVD titanium; pink gold and grade 5 black PVD titanium; platinum and grade 5 black PVD titanium; grade 5 black PVD titanium, or grade 5 grey titanium. Each version will be limited to a maximum of 21 pieces.

Reserved for a clientele of sophisticated enthusiasts and collectors, the 21 Blackjack heralds a promising future. Building on its independence, the watchmaking developer intends to surprise us again by offering other four-dimensional watches in the future. Far from being anecdotal, this concept opens up a whole new world of expression that so far is practically unexplored. In this world, Fine Watchmaking will not be content to be passively admired; rather, it will offer as-yet unknown sensations and emotions that will be actively evoked by playful and exceptional mechanics. Christophe Claret watches promise to be real “toys for boys”!

About Christophe Claret

Christophe Claret

A native of the Lyons area of France, Christophe Claret studied watchmaking in Geneva before beginning a career as an antique watch restorer. At the 1987 Basel show, the owner of a large Swiss watchmaking company asked him to develop an exclusive movement for a minute repeater. To fulfil this order, in 1989 Christophe Claret founded a company with two other talented watchmakers, Giulio Papi and Dominique Renaud. In 1991, driven by his need for independence, he bought out his associates’ shares and founded the company that bears his name, in La Chaux-de-Fonds. He spent the next decade gaining recognition and developing a high-end clientele.

In 1999, motivated by his excellent reputation, he acquired an old manor house perched on the heights of Le Locle. It was the beginning of a new era: in just years, the number of clients exploded and his staff grew from 17 employees to 62. Short on space, Christophe Claret completed the Manufacture’s first addition of 500 m2 built in 2002, a space which he doubled again in 2008. Equipped with a substantial state-of-the-art equipment base, his Manufacture now produces virtually all of the components in his movements in addition to all of the case elements. In 2009, the 20th anniversary of his company, Christophe Claret introduced the DualTow, an extraordinary mechanical showcase of his skill. This first complete watch led to a second, the Adagio, and now a third – the 21 Blackjack.

Press Release – Christophe Claret