In order to keep my stock at Laurent Fine Watches fresh and exciting, I’m always on the lookout for new watches to add to the collection. As you can imagine, this endeavor takes me all over the world. Following my last newsletter about my trip to London, I would now like to share with you my recent visit to some exhibitions I attended in Miami, Florida. Along with some details about my experience, I would also like to share with you some tips on how to optimize your visit should you ever find yourself visiting some trade shows.
As you probably already know, Miami is one of the biggest and best locations for buying and selling luxury goods including big-ticket items like boats, planes, and other very expensive toys. Naturally, the high-end watch industry is also very strong in Miami and as a result, there are plenty of trade shows dedicated to them there.
In February, I visited three shows in Miami: The Miami Beach Jewelry & Watch Show (February 1 – 4, 2018), the International Watch & Jewelry Guild “IWJG” Show (February 5 – 6, 2018), and the Miami Beach Antique Show (February 9 – 12, 2018).
I found the Miami Beach Jewelry & Watch Show to be quite small despite the attendance of top watch dealers. Plus, the prices of the watches were much too high to be of any interest to me. On the other hand, since the IWJC Show caters to professionals in the industry and is only open to members of the guild, I won’t go into the details of that particular exhibition.
The most noteworthy of the three shows I attended was the Miami Beach Antique Show. This was, in fact, my second time there since I decided to return after my successful visit last year. The event is open to the public and the entrance fee is priced at a very affordable $20. Although the space is huge, it is well organized with dedicated spaces for antique furniture, art, jewelry, watches, and so on. Again, most of the leading vintage watch dealers were there, but this time, they were accompanied by a variety of other companies too. As a result, the choice of watches was varied, ranging from low-end antique timepieces to ultra luxurious vintage watches.
Exhibitors at the booths took the time to chat and were much more flexible negotiating prices. While sticker prices leaned towards retail prices given that the show was open to the public, the flexibility of the vendors meant that there was room to negotiate once they learned that I too was a professional.
I had the chance to see some solid vintage watches like a gold Zenith El Primero-based Movado Datron HS 360 and a gold Jaeger-LeCoultre Memodate. Naturally, coveted vintage Rolex watches such as Submariner 5513, vintage Daytona, and vintage GMT-Master watches were also on display. Plus, I saw some contemporary models from Tudor, as well as, Patek Philippe.
Because attending tradeshows is an integral part of being a watch dealer, I have a couple of strategies I stick to when I go to make my visits as efficient as possible. As always, it’s a good idea to be careful when dealing with strangers, especially when we’re talking big amounts of money. For instance, there was one exhibitor that I was uncomfortable with since not only was I suspicious about some of his pieces, but he was also reluctant to share his contact information. That’s a big red flag and you should avoid dealing with vendors like this because in our business, transparency is key.
Furthermore, I like to bring a good amount of cash with me, which helps tremendously when negotiating prices. As they say, cash is king. I always take a few minutes to map out the location to determine the places I’d like to visit within the venue. Then I diligently go from aisle to aisle, browsing the watches available while talking to the people manning the booths about the provenance and prices of the watches. I also like to take pictures and write down notes. Once I’ve collected the data, I sit down to review my notes. I also do some online research and call my watchmaker to discuss my finds. This helps me decide how much I’m willing to pay for the watches I’m interested in.
My philosophy of buying watches at a show is the same one I have about buying at auctions—I determine beforehand what I’m willing to pay for a watch and typically never go over that amount. I am happy to report that I bought a couple of watches at the Miami Beach Antique Show and I am very pleased with my purchases. I highly recommend this event due to its friendly atmosphere, large inventory of timepieces, and fair prices.
Maybe I’ll see you there next year.
Laurent Fine Watches