HAUTE DUBAI Magazine / Style /
Talking time with Tariq Malik,
Co-Founder of Momentum Dubai
With an encyclopedic knowledge for vintage timepieces and his own vintage watch shop based out of DIFC to prove it, Tariq Malik, Co-Founder of Momentum Dubai, talks to Haute Dubai about what makes him tick…
How was your passion for vintage watches kindled?
I started trading Swatch Watches in the early 90s and very quickly got into mechanical watches since I had opened a store for watches with a watchmaking workshop in Germany. Over time a lot of vintage pieces were coming in for maintenance… they started to grow on me. I saw a good demand on iconic vintage pieces and I developed a passion. I started buying and selling vintage watches and slowly but steady I also started a personal collection. The vintage watch market in the 90s was not that strong but it was there. As proven on international watch auctions, vintage watches have gained a lot of attraction especially in the last 20 years. Values have gone up tremendously. It is not only about the value of a watch; the rarity, provenance and engineering behind it can contribute a lot to collecting vintage. I learned that Vintage watches represent different eras, lifestyles, events and personalities. There Is a big number of great contemporary watches on the market, but why not go back in time and appreciate the pieces which it all started with? It gives you the chance to wear an outstanding piece of the brand everyone knows but not everyone can have. In my opinion, vintage watches have a different character, which makes them unique pieces. Two vintage watches are never the same. It is important to build a strong connection with your watch, it will reflect your personality, your character. That’s how my love for vintage watches was triggered. I am happy that I run a business where I can live my passion.
Why is it do you think people should buy vintage watches instead of current models?
Watch collecting might be one of the most expensive hobbies in the world but it is most likely also one of the most rewarding. Being in the industry for more than 25 years now I have observed that prices for precious timepieces are going up and the peak is still far away.
Watch auctioneers like Christies and Phillips have shown that more and more buyers are putting big money into the ticking gems, especially into vintage pieces and what’s most important is the quality. If you buy only the best quality you can never go wrong, you will always be safe.
But it is important to understand that not every ‘luxury’ watch increases in value. It makes a big difference if a watch is expensive because it is manufactured in a precious material with a diamond setting or because of the craftsmanship, the important points to consider are brand, model, provenance and history, not to forget condition.
For example, iconic watches like the Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or Rolex Daytona in steel have been on the market for decades and increased in value over time, so you will be on the safe side with those.
Would you say you make your purchases based on looks, period or movement characteristics?
The look of a watch is very important, the watch has to appeal to you aesthetically. There is no point to buy a watch if you don’t like it. On certain brands like Rolex, where the movements are work horses, it is taken for granted that the movements are good, of course if well maintained, but the movement will not be the USP. The look of the dial and case will be most important. Again, the quality is a key. The case, dial, hands, everything should be correct period. In the evolution of certain models, you will see a development, in quality as well as improvements on the design.
Does any watch in your current collection at Momentum hold special significance for you?
We have a lot of watches in our store and most of them have a story behind them. Especially in this region of the world, the logo dials on Rolexes are very popular, these were watches gifted by Middle Eastern leaders and personalities, mainly with a governmental background. These watches have become very rare and even Asian collectors have been building up collections of so-called GCC Rolexes. I am happy to have a nice variety of those including dials from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and the UAE. A very rare and special Rolex Day Date in pink gold just came in which has the name of the UAE President on the dial, ‘Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’. It has original papers and box. I guess this one is the most special one we have today.
You have amassed a large and diverse collection of Rolex watches; what is it that draws you to this brand in particular?
I think Rolex is the best brand in the world and not only speaking of watches. Rolex is the Number One when it comes to quality watches. If you look at the clientele of Rolex, you will see names like Martin Luther King, Dalai Lama, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Eric Clapton, only to mention a few. These were people who changed the world, iconic personalities who are living in us today.
Rolex is like a currency, whenever and wherever you are you can sell the watch and get a fair return, the brand identity is just so strong. Customers know that their watch will never lose value in the long run. Rolex watches are very often heirlooms and passed down for generations, something very emotional. Apart from the value factor, I think Rolex offers something for everyone. The collection today and vintage is so rich that collecting Rolex watches just becomes a never-ending learning curve. If you look at recent auctions, you will see that most of the world records are being held by Rolex, not Patek Philippe.
Besides Rolex, are there any other brands that speak to you - and why?
There are lots of other brands which I like, e.g. Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Omega and Longines, to mention a few. Though the price ranges for these differ, these brands have something in common, a rich history and strong presence on the market. I guess some models of these brands qualify as historically important watches, watches with a story.
What do you consider eminently collectible these days?
I like Omega, it is a brand with a great history, apart from sending a watch to the moon they have made some great work in the past. I am not really a fan of the very modern models but the old ones are very classy. I can see 1940s-1950s Omega Chronos as well as special Speedmasters going up in value. Similar with Longines and Universal Geneve, especially Chronos. Collectors are looking for alternatives to Rolex and Patek Philippe and these ones have a rich history and at the moment, are very hot on the market.
What should buyers consider when purchasing a vintage timepiece?
Make up your mind what kind of watch you want to buy, an elegant dress watch, a sports watch, a piece you want to store in the safe or wear on the wrist.
When spending serious money make sure you buy a watch with a good re-sell value, brands which have been around for a while like Patek Philippe, Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger LeCoultre, Omega, Longines.
Not all models of these brands are interesting, so take your time to select the right piece since you want to enjoy your investment on your wrist. For example, iconic watches like the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or Rolex Daytona in steel have been on the market for decades and increased in value over time, so you will be on the safe side. An investment-worthy watch should be in original condition, so be on the lookout for irregularities that indicate it's been played with. Your vintage watch should reflect the age. If it looks like it just came from the factory (only in very few cases), it is not necessarily because someone took great care of it – it is because probably something is not right. The watch you want will have its original finish, scratches and all, not be polished until all signs of age have been buffed out. The patina on the dial and hands should match and the overall condition should be indicating the age. Use the serial number to check the watch's age, and make sure that the movement number matches.
The internet is a good source of information if you're familiar with the product, but you're better off buying it from a physical store. That way you will have a peace of mind. It is very important that the seller is someone who can provide a warranty and maintenance if needed. Rule number one is ‘Buy the seller first’.
If you want to invest your hard-earned money in a watch then vintage is a great option. Especially in Dubai it is difficult to buy something exceptionally special, because a lot of people are able to spend serious cash. If you want to stand out with a watch without missing out on the big brands, even models, then do look at their vintage range. High-end vintage watches are considered as top investments gaining more and more popularity. The number of collectible vintage watches is limited and becoming smaller over time, that’s why the prices of vintage watches have been going up significantly over the past years, due to demand. It’s important to know that part of what makes a vintage watch desirable – apart from being rare – is being in its original condition and well-aged.
The rise of the vintage watch market, and all the attention it has enjoyed, brought about a rather peculiar aspect: ‘fake’ vintage watches. This doesn’t mean that there is a mass production for such watches, like in the case of contemporary fakes, but that vintage watches are re-built of genuine and also fake components. Hence, a careful inspection of each vintage watch is a must. We start by verifying the model. A Rolex Daytona with a green dial might look cool and unique, you might think, but what if it doesn’t exist in the Rolex collection? It is important to check the manufacturer’s catalogues and consult with other collectors. The part most likely to be replaced and counterfeited in a watch is the dial, so you should always scrutinize it, from the first glance.