Intrinsic value

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Britannicus, Mar 24, 2017.

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  1. Britannicus

    Britannicus Registered User

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    I recently made a mistake and got a posting removed, as I indirectly made reference to an item currently up for sale. My apologies to our ever vigilant administrator who very politely, and justifiably admonished me.

    My purpose wasn't to promote that watch but to indulge in a little philosophizing about what makes a watch valuable to the collector in the first place.

    It seems to me that there are at least 4 criteria for me :

    1/ love of the craftsmanship and workmanship. It's complicated engineering but within my understanding, which modern engineering just isn't so often for me.

    2/ I don't know how to define the reason why a ticking watch is so much more attractive than a chunk of quartz, but I liken it to why Steam trains are more fun than diesel electric, they have an aspect of "being alive"

    3/ OK there's the mercenary thrill of buying something and selling it at a profit once I've done it up, which makes me feel good

    4/ Probably most important is the ownership of a piece of history - so a junk or fake watch with a background I can research and understand brings back a whole era, and watches are such personal items I feel a real connection with the past)

    What "winds your spring" about pocket watches ??
     
  2. LloydB

    LloydB Registered User

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    Besides, if I'm going to accumulate 'stuff'
    anyhow, at least it's 'interesting stuff'.
     
  3. Audemars

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    For me as a non-expert it’s knowing those little miracles were produced bit by bit by hand by magicians who made hay and milked their cows by day and drilled and filed bits of metal by night until they fitted the next bit of metal.
    To me - although I know a fair bit of the history and although I am finally beginning (thanks largely to you guys) to understand a very little of the of the intricacies – it is still magic………….

    Paul
     
  4. novicetimekeeper

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    For me much the same thing, I am in awe of the people who made the things that tick and ding around me. 2-300 year old machines still doing what they were designed to do by people who had only their hands and their wits to make them.
     
  5. stewey

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    To me, it's the historical aspect of the watches, especially if they're still running, that is significant. I find myself holding a watch that was made, for example, in the 1890's wondering about the history that it has "seen" and "experienced". Did somebody carry it with them during the Boer Wars, or WWI. Does it remember the sinking of the Titanic, the invention of the motor-car, the airplane, radio? how many people have used it to catch a bus, a train, an appointment to see a doctor, an interview for a new job? How many marriages, births, deaths has it observed? How many children have been told by its owners "Yes, it is time to go to bed; off you go." The seconds, minutes, and hours that that watch has ticked away is an unwritten, unbiased, and unemotional slice of history...Anyway, that's what I think.
     
  6. rstl99

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    Nice thoughts expressed by all, with which I agree wholeheartedly. The connection to a maker or owner who lived 100-150-200 years ago (or more) is what most thrills me. Trying to imagine the life these people led, the historical events (wars, plagues, discoveries) that these watches were built and purchased in. The vast majority of (well, at least affordable) old English or Swiss watches are either unmarked or signed by a maker about whom very little is and will ever be known, there having been hundreds if not thousands of watchmakers and dealers during the past 3 centuries. I'm fortunate to own a couple of watches by an English maker about whom I know a fair amount, from a book that was written about the clock and watchmakers that lived in his city. So that's what I seek out, affordable specimens from known makers, or people known to have been around famous watch people (for ex., some of Breguet's apprentices and shop workers).
     
  7. Audemars

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    Further to my earlier post, a Swiss cousin just sent me this link.

    http://www.rts.ch/archives/tv/culture/3474522-la-vallee-de-joux.html

    It is a b/w film made in 1968 of an interview with one of the last peasant-watchmakers (his Nickname was "Petit-Louis" and I think I knew him).
    It's in French - or the accent and dialect which passes for French in the Vallée de Joux - the synopsis is he gets up in the morning and milks his cows, goes to work at the AP factory until about 1.00 Then goes home for dinner and to get the hay ready for later on. Back to work at the factory until 5.00 then off to milk the cows.
    He is also shown at a rehearsal of the Chorale du Brassus - the village male voice choir which even still today is one of the major European choirs.

    The snow was also impressive. These days there is a lot less because of climate change.

    Paul
    www.audemars.co.uk
     
  8. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    :) The mention of climate change adds a another dimension to the whole intrinsic nature of values. My father-in-law was fond of using old catch phrases, ie: "it isn't what it is worth, it is what it costs".

    It would seem rather ironic that the mass production of things is what has stripped the intrinsic values and most likely also the most recent cause of the effect of climate change.
     
  9. Tom McIntyre

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    Your father-in-law's catch phrase has two meanings. To a buyer it means can I afford it, or can I not afford it. However, to the supply side it means how much margin can we get with a cost that will still let it sell. They are depending on either need or value perception to ensure sales. Of course, if there is competition it gets much more involved. That is why Patek, Rolex and maybe Vacheron feel they have no competition. By believing that, they can put all their effort into building demand.
     
  10. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    It is all about supply and demand. In fact this is also a bit like breathing in and out.
     
  11. kurtnz

    kurtnz Registered User

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    This brings back memories when I as a teen went for my holidays to Jura mountains.
    Now I'm living in New Zealand and all this is like dream.
    Next time I go back to Switzerland I have to go back to the Jura in winter
     
  12. Dr. Jon

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    For me there are several ways I find value in a watch. One of the most rewarding is finding the circumstances for the presentation referred to on the inscription on the watch. These often give me an insight into a historical event of era. One example is a watch given to an employee for enjoining the New York Attorney General from enforcing the New York margarine laws in an episode called "The Margarine Wars". Another was given to the minister who led the donor to finance the US abolition movement. Another was owned by the man who arranged the financing to bring the Statue of Liberty to the US and given to one of his gransons on a 21st birthday.

    One I wrote a bulletin article about led me to learn about watches the marine Insurers gave to young ship captains who saved their ships.

    Most of these are also very fine watches.

    I find value in having the watch and even more in learning about these owners and the events around them.
     
  13. Mindless

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    I agree with the values that have been listed already and to add one, there is just something comforting about the tick of a watch.
     
  14. Audemars

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    FWIW, I did a bit of research on the man in that 1968 video clip:
    He was definitely the last ever watchmaker-peasant in the Vallee de Joux. His name was Louis Audemars-Rochat. (No, not one of my forebears). He was my godfather's maternal uncle.

    If anyone has a passing interest in the Le Brassus male voice choir (featured in the clip, and which still flourishes today) they can be found at www.choraledubrassus.ch

    Paul

     
  15. musicguy

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    Just watched the, "La Vallée de Joux" video.
    I do not speak French, but it still was very interesting.
    They had a lot of snow there.

    Rob
     
  16. Accutronica

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    Volcanos belch out more than we ever could. I think climate changer's need to pass a law making it illegal for a volcano to erupt. lol

    Robert
     
  17. musicguy

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    I have to relearn this lesson on a regular basis.

    I could buy a watch or clock that is currently in great working order for $150.00
    but I choose to buy the broken one for $20 and
    put $400 of work into it, and it still isn't as nice. :p


    Rob
     
  18. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    At the same time, there are watches sold as broken that are nice watches and can be fixed for $20.
     
  19. novicetimekeeper

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    I stick to weight driven clocks usually, at least I know the spring doesn't need replacing!
     
  20. Tom McIntyre

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    When I was working in the oil patch just before I retired, I would have felt obliged to support this view. However, there is pretty good evidence against it. This article in Scientific American lays it out pretty well. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earthtalks-volcanoes-or-humans/

    A salient quote is:
     
  21. Lychnobius

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    Among Britannicus's original four points, I think it is the first and last which weigh most heavily with me. I would add another, which is that a working object which is still able to perform its original function after hundreds of years is probably the nearest approach I can make to time-travel – a means of escaping from the shadow of a very disconcerting world and inserting myself into another kind of continuity altogether. Even static objects like books or paintings can do this, but clocks and watches are in a class of their own because they have both sound and motion. These are things which remain even if the item is not in its original state. My James McCabe duplex watch (circa 1810) is outwardly very far from its original form, both case and hands being utterly wrong; but still, if I put it to my ear and close my eyes, I can legitimately tell myself that if I could travel back to a time when Abraham Lincoln and Felix Mendelssohn were babies, and if the watch were restored to the 18-carat gold pair-case which would almost certainly have clothed it at that time, I would still be hearing exactly the same sound. And I like to imagine that, if I could only focus my thought single-mindedly enough, I would actually make that journey.

    Oliver Mundy.
     
  22. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    Absolutely, I live in a modern bungalow surrounded by bits of machinery made before the industrial revolution really got going, before mechanisation and mass production. Hand made in basic workshops often by people who could not read but here we are 300 years later and they still tell the time as they were designed to do.
     
  23. roughbarked

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    You certainly took me there.
     
  24. musicguy

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    I know that is is WAY off topic, but there is a book Time and Again from 1970
    which is a great read. The quote above really reminded me of this book.
    If you have the time find it, and read it.


    Rob
     
  25. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    #25 roughbarked, Apr 7, 2017
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    I really doubt it is all that far off topic at all. Thanks. :)

    There is something intrinsically valuable about things that were made to take to war that somehow survived to be in my possession. Maybe it is that inner glow?
     
  26. Audemars

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    Off topic doesn't matter.
    Sometimes this site hosts a thread which rambles away from - and around - and over and under - the original concept.
    It is always a delight.
    Paul
     
  27. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    I am so glad to hear you confirm that.
     
  28. Tom McIntyre

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    My thought is that too often we restrict our discussion to particular aspects of time and lose opportunities to explore interesting ideas.

    When we had the Symposium in Pasadena a couple of years ago the theme was intentionally broad and covered everything from historical timekeepers and the development of time systems to the age of the universe and the search for the best possible frequency standard. There were excursions into biological time and rapidly evolving life forms as well as perceptual time and the near death experience. For me, that is what makes this hobby so fascinating. The wonder at these things is an essential part of being human.
     
  29. stewey

    stewey Registered User

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    To be a bit of a pedant, we are actually discussing 'extrinsic' not 'intrinsic' values, aren't we? The intrinsic value of something actually refers to its monetary value.
     
  30. Tom McIntyre

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    We are discussing the extrinsic or collateral value associated with an object. However, I do not believe the intrinsic value is the monetary value. That value is also distinct. The intrinsic value is its real worth that might not be expressed in monetary terms. If intrinsic and monetary were the same all identical examples would trade for the same price, in the same place, at the same time.

    If intrinsic value and monetary value were the same, why would anyone buy anything they were not going to apply to a productive task?
     
  31. John Matthews

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    My view of intrinsic value of any object is as the sum of its tangible and intangible value, many people might agree on a similar tangible value, but the intangible value is likely vary significantly from one person to another. As collectors we appreciate the intangible element which others consign to the melting pot!

    John
     
  32. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    John
    Could you translate your post into simple English that the rest of us can undestand please
     
  33. John Matthews

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    Les - sorry it was not my intent to be unclear, I was simply trying to express how I personally view intrinsic value. Tangible = having physical existence. In the case of a watch, this would include the value of the metal content of the case and the workmanship of the movement, accuracy etc. Intangible = without physical existence (not able to be touched). For a watch this would include characteristics which might be important to many individuals such as, its history, its place in the development of timekeeping or it might be something very personal, e.g. my Father's Waltham Traveler has relatively low tangible value, but to me very high intangible value and hence to me personally, it has very high intrinsic value.

    John
     
  34. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    Thanks John
    I was struggling with it and thought that people whose first language is not English would have even more trouble
     
  35. musicguy

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    In the end everyone collects watches /clocks for different reasons.
    For some, it's for the Historical value of the clock, some for the beauty, some
    for the utilitarian value, some because they want to show off something
    of value to others, some for their rarity, and some for their $$$ value.

    For some it's a mixture of all of the above. And it evolves
    the longer you collect, to the point that you appreciate them
    in more and more ways.



    Rob
     
  36. MartyR

    MartyR Super Moderator
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    This is basically correct, I believe.

    The intrinsic values of a watch are its value as a watch, its accuracy as a timepiece, the value of its materials. The extrinsic values relate to its attractiveness, the name of the maker, the identity of past owners, the history it has survived.

    As John has said, there will tend to be general agreement amongst users and collectors on its intrinsic value, but extrinsic value is far more a matter of subjective opinion, and will tend to vary over time with fashion.
     
  37. Audemars

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    #37 Audemars, Apr 8, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
    It's a well-worn cliché, but I guess it boils down to which posessions you grab when escaping from your burning house........
    P
     
  38. stewey

    stewey Registered User

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    And of course some items can have an intrinsic and extrinsic value which are both monetary in nature. For example, some rare examples of the 1973 "Mountie" quarter have an intrinsic value of 25 cents; however, they also have a collectors' , or extrinsic value, in the hundreds of dollars depending upon their condition.
     
  39. MartyR

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    Stewey, I think that extrinsic value almost always exceeds (by a margin) the intrinsic.

    A famous recent example is the "diamond skull" created by Damien Hirst. It contains, according to a well-reputed diamond expert, about £7-10million in diamonds, so that is its intrinsic value. The Damien Hirst name added some £30million to that to make its alleged sale price of £38million, and that £30million is its extrinsic value.

    A similar example would be that alleged Monet painting which was sold for (I think) £25million, declared a fake, and then resold for some tens of thousands.

    And in our own market sphere, I handled a late 19th century pocket watch which had a broken balance staff, unknown maker, battered silver case, worth less than £50 ... and it sold at auction for £1250 because its inscription proved it was worn by a British officer who led part of the expeditionary force sent to rescue General Gordon from the siege of khartoum.
     
  40. roughbarked

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    #40 roughbarked, Apr 8, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
    More and more people are finding this out as the incidence of whole towns being wiped out in busfires increases.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrinsic_and_extrinsic_properties

    I have no idea why people seem to think that making the letters bold or using capslock, actually emphasises anything other than the inability to use language.
     
  41. stewey

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    This has turned out to be a very interesting thread: Numerous opinions, interpretations, and examples.
     
  42. MartyR

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    The words, together with their meanings, themselves are intrinsic to the statement being made,

    The bold and capitalletters add extrinsic emphasis to some of those words.

    :D
     
  43. roughbarked

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    :) If you say so.
     
  44. rstl99

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    #44 rstl99, Apr 9, 2017
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    Now now, everyone has a personal feeling or opinion on this, there is no right and no wrong, let's not get hung up on semantics or style, or dictionary definition of what the word "intrinsic" officially means. Obviously the value each of us assign to our cherished ticking objects (or non-ticking in some cases) goes beyond that. For me, one big source of pride of acquisition and ownership is the provenance, which could be the previous owners if known and of significance, but mostly of the maker, his reputation as a person and craftsman, his position in the history of watchmaking evolution, or proximity to some notable figureheads (for ex, a recently acquired Oudin verge fusée watch, due to him having been a close collaborator of Breguet).
    I suppose I look for timepieces that are reasonably affordable to acquire yet possess (to me anyway, and maybe only to me) great significance and value.
     
  45. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    and yes, this would go along with what you see on Antiques Roadshow.. Provenance adds everything to the possible collectible value at auction but on any particular day in any particular market.

    In the eye of the beholder also means, in the eye of who is paying.
    Mostly cherish the maker. It is indeed craftsmanship that catches my eye. Provenance matters in that it proves age in use. Interesting that someone owned it. Well someone did, even if it hadn't been noted.
     
  46. Accutronica

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    I don't particularly care much for collecting. I just love taking something that isn't working and restoring it to it's former glory.

    Robert
     
  47. roughbarked

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    #47 roughbarked, Apr 13, 2017
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    I'm much awaiting your accotronica video.
    The only reason things collect here is that people don't come back to pick them up. I am happy to restore whatever they want.
    Just today I replaced the weight post and weight for an FHF908. Though I knew the watchmaker who must have simply removed the weight and told him to wind it manually, decades past as there was only his repair number in the back. It was brought to me and the customer told me the story I could easily read when I opened the back. Peter was a capable watchmaker in his day. At three months into my apprenticeship I was passed off onto him while my master took three months with his new wife. Dementia made him forget to replace weights or at least return them to the customer. I'm seeing this watch probably forty years after he had the initial problem. Probably because I have fixed several of this customer's watches and he does need to have mechanical watch he can see. His eyes are failing and he uses a spot welder a lot. So he also needs a mechanical watch.
     
  48. Accutronica

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    I'm not planning on making any videos.
    Maybe if you make customers pay in advance of the repair you won't have so many not coming to get their watches. I have a Seiko automatic to service after I catch up on my Accutron's. I have my 214 apart as far as the manual shows. It doesn't show removing the wheels. I think I'll remove the wheels tonight and get it all cleaned up and ready to put back together and then see if the coils are good.
     
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