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Legendary Heritage: Growing More Valuable Over Time

Jul 18, 2017

While the things we acquire certainly grow in personal value over time, even a fine piece of workmanship with relatively humble beginnings can capture the imagination, becoming a truly iconic object. Below, five examples, from timepieces to malt whiskies to guitars, that have grown into milestone collectibles. Rolex Cosmograph “Paul Newman” Daytona In the beginning […]

Ben Bridge Jeweler

While the things we acquire certainly grow in personal value over time, even a fine piece of workmanship with relatively humble beginnings can capture the imagination, becoming a truly iconic object. Below, five examples, from timepieces to malt whiskies to guitars, that have grown into milestone collectibles.

Rolex Cosmograph “Paul Newman” DaytonaRolex Cosmograph "Paul Newman" Daytona

In the beginning This Daytona was produced from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, with a $500 price tag in the 1960s.

The big story In the mid-1960s, Rolex decided to veer from its safe, rather staid sports watch designs and introduce a new dial variant for its Cosmograph Daytona chronograph. This “exotic” dial watch featured black-on-white or white-on-black livery with a splash of red in the minute track and, most distinctively, a looping, almost whimsical font for the chronograph registers. The watch did not sell well and was not made in large numbers. But among the few who did favor this oddball Rolex was a certain actor named Paul Newman, and the watch would go on to become a legend not only among timepieces, but in the entire realm of collectibles.

The so-called “Paul Newman” Daytona is one of the most collectible watches in history, due to its rarity and visual appeal, and bolstered by its connection to the iconic actor, who of course wore one. It is also a tantalizing case study for anyone seeking the next great collectible find.

Time warp Today, a “Paul Newman” Daytona can fetch upward of $100,000 at auction.

1937 Martin D-28 Guitar

1937 Martin D-28 Guitar

In the beginning The prewar 1937 D-28 is the most desirable of this instrument; originally, it was only $100.

The big story Among players and collectors of acoustic guitars, there is one name that evokes reverence above others – Martin. The Pennsylvania company, which traces its roots to the 1830s, started building the D-28 in 1931 and has been selling them ever since. The D in the name stands for Dreadnought, in reference to its battleship proportions compared to other, smaller guitars of the era in which it debuted. Made from combinations of carefully selected woods such as spruce, ebony, mahogany and rosewood, this large-bodied guitar’s powerful tone has drawn the favor of musicians, from bluegrass pickers to rock stars, from Johnny Cash to Neil Young. Customers in as far back as the 1950s waited up to four years for their guitars from the Martin factory.

While any Martin D-28 is a guitar to cherish, the prewar editions are particularly special. This is because the materials used to construct them are extremely rare, costly and in some cases restricted. The Brazilian rosewood that was used is nearly impossible to source due to deforestation and subsequent import and export restrictions, and the herringbone pattern present on the top of the 1930s guitars was the result of material from Germany, the source of which was interrupted during World War II.

Time warp Today, in the vintage guitar market, a primo 1937 D-28 can fetch anywhere from $75,000 to $150,000, depending on its condition.

1969 Porsche 911


In the beginning The 1969 retail price for a 911 was about $6,995 (the equivalent of about $46,000 in 2017 dollars).

The big story If there’s an automotive equal of The Macallan, Leica, or Rolex, it would be the Porsche 911. Since its debut in 1963, it has become one of the most steadfast, unimpeachable products of any kind, a gold standard for quality and timeless design. Recognizable from any angle or distance, it has been an object of desire for everyone from McQueen and Redford to every schoolboy who put car posters on his bedroom wall.

While Porsche today is a symbol of luxury and wealth, in the 1960s the Stuttgart-based brand still stood for Teutonic engineering, performance, and reliability. The 1969 catalog showed very few options for the 911, limited mainly to transmission type and paint color, and only one engine choice — the 2.2 liter flat-six. But its handling, rugged build, comfortable — if Spartan — interior and performance made it a driver’s favorite, equally capable on road or track. Porsche built only 1,300 of the standard coupe editions.

Time warp On average, a 1969 911 is worth $77,000 today, with prices quickly getting stratospheric for original concours-condition models.

Leica M2 Black Paint

Leica M2 Black Paint Camera

In the beginning The 1962 Leica M2 retailed for $250 to $400.

The big story Henri Cartier-Bresson. Alfred Eisenstaedt. Josef Koudelka. These famous photographers, among many others, used German-made Leica cameras to create some of history’s most iconic images. That’s because Leica has long enjoyed a reputation for crisp optics, bombproof durability, and superb ergonomics. The brand has been a favorite tool of not only photographers, but also camera collectors. Leica never made huge numbers of cameras, prizing quality over quantity, and the subsequent rarity, along with the durability of their materials and build, timeless design and sterling reputation means that they have become highly collectible. Some more than others.

Sometimes it’s the small things that make a difference. Like color. A standard Leica M2 with silver chrome finish is an excellent camera, one that is a fine addition to any collection and is still usable as a tool to take film photographs to this day. But if rarity is the goal — and it is among collectors — an M2 with black enamel finish is worth thousands of dollars more than its more common equivalent. That’s because of the more than 80,000 M2s built between 1957 and 1968, only 2,400 or so were painted black.

Time warp The blank-enamel version of the camera can fetch more than $20,000 today.

The Macallan 2011 Royal Marriage

The Macallan 2011 Royal Marriage whiskey

In the beginning The 2011 spirit retailed for about $225.

The big story Of the world’s greatest whiskies, one name is arguably prized above others — The Macallan. The legendary distillery in Craigellachie, Moray, has been bottling single malt scotch since 1824 and has been a favorite of everyone from the royal family to James Bond. The world of collectible spirits is, like other things, driven by rarity, and bottled malts are both consumable and limited in quantity, making them highly prized. In 2007, a bottle of 1926 Macallan hammered for $54,000 at auction, and others have fetched even higher prices in recent years. But that’s not to say that it’s only the really old vintages that command top dollar.

In 2011, The Macallan produced 1,000 bottles of Royal Marriage from two casks to commemorate the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton. There was an earlier precedent, also celebrating a royal wedding. In 1981, The Macallan bottled another Royal Marriage blend for Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

Time warp Today, a mere six years later, the 2011 Royal Marriage commands upward of $2,000 a bottle.