Stigmas and Shedding my Prejudices
When I was contacted to write a piece about Sutton’s and Robertson’s, I was initially sceptical. This is, after all, a luxury blog, and I was unsure as to how a pawn brokers would fit in with my ‘niche’.
Never the less, I was intrigued. I’d never been to a pawn brokers before. I confess that, like many of you, I imagine, that you look at them as a sort of last resort for those that have fallen on hard times.
I can reassure you that whilst this may be the case with Cash Converters, it certainly isn’t so with Suttons and Robertsons. They’ve been lending against some of the finest jewellery, art and antiquities for nearly two centuries.
Walking into their store in South Kensington, I was immediately surprised. Expecting to be confronted by shelves of forgotten and lost items, sitting as memorials to those people who could not afford to redeem their treasures; I was sorely mistaken.
No, the store is modern and plush. More like a high-end jewellers.
I head to the private office at the back to talk about their process, their customers, and generally to try and understand a bit more about how pawn broking works.
How Does it Work?
It’s quite simple, really. You take along a possession, and it gets valued based on its worst-case auction price. Typically you will be then leant up to 50% of that value for a period of six months. Interest rates sit at between 3 and 7 percent, at to redeem the item, all you do is pay back the loan plus the accrued interest.
In the worst case, and you can’t redeem your item, it goes to auction. There was me thinking that the auction proceeds go to the pawnbroker. Nope. No, the pawnbroker only aims to recover the value of their loan, plus the accrued interest and any auction fees. If the item sells for more than that, the difference goes to the owner.
I honestly had no idea it was so transparent and reasonable. I had brought with me my prejudices and stigma, and by the time I left, had completely changed the way that I thought.
So anyway, why am I writing about a pawn brokers? Well, other than lending, Sutton’s and Robertson’s also sell high-end, pre-owned jewellery and watches.
Before you regurgitate your finest Earl Grey tea, hear me out. The savings you can make on these pieces is huge. For a start, pre-owned items aren’t subject to VAT. There’s a massive saving right there.
Plus, the pieces that you’ll find are often rare, unique, and stunningly beautiful. So, like my mind was changed, I’m going to change yours and show you just what you can get.
In this episode: watches. I adore watches, and unlike some people, I’m oddly not too precious about the idea of having a pre-owned watch. If they’re well looked after, genuine, have all the certificates… why wouldn’t you want to grab a bargain?
Owning a watch, for me, is not about the price tag. It’s about the heritage, the craftsmanship, the sheer mechanical beauty and the knowledge that each component has been hand-fettled and polished to achieve the perfect balance and time-keeping. The price, is a side-effect of all this. Unfortunately, to get the craftsmanship, you have to pay for it.
Take this Patek Philippe, for example. This one’s for the lady in your life. A crown adorned with diamonds, mother of pearl face and white gold case.
The details lie within, however – it’s an annual calendar, so can differentiate between thirty and thirty-one day months, and has a moon phase, so you know when to avoid town on a full-moon.
I’m not entirely sure what the RRP was/is on the watch – Patek are one of those brands where typically, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Equally, this particular collection came out in 2006, and after ten years, there’s every risk that it will have appreciated somewhat.
That being said, I would estimate that this watch would retail for somewhere around £35,000 (don’t quote me on that, and I’d welcome anyone to correct me!), but I’m pretty confident you won’t find one sat in the jewellers even if you did want to pay full price. No, if you want this for the special lady in your life, you’ll either have to pay a huge premium to coax a brand new one from a collector, or go pre-owned.
So why wouldn’t you invest (and watches like this are an investment) in this piece from Sutton’s and Robertson’s – yours for a mere £25,500.
Or how about this statement piece from IWC Schaffhausen – the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar, first launched in 1985. A perpetual calendar, you say? Well, yes. While the Patek above knows whether it’s a 30 or a 31 day month, this piece knows if it’s a leap year, thirty day or thirty-one day month, and even what year it is… provided you keep it wound, of course.
It is, for me, a truly special piece – I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the design of the case, but the sheer elegance of the mechanism just appeals to me. You can’t buy it new any more, and this is just the reason why Sutton’s and Robertson’s or buying pre-owned watches in general is such an attractive proposition as a collector. You stand the chance of finding something really special. This particular piece is £8,100, and yes, I’d absolutely buy it if I had the money.
Next week – engagement rings. We’re coming up to Christmas, and I proposed at Christmas… so, no pressure chaps.
This two-part series is sponsored by Sutton’s and Robertson’s – but all words, views and witticisms are my own.