Giorgia Mondani interviews Romain Réa, Trusted Dealer of Mondani Web based in Paris and CEO of Antiquorum.
I met Romain Réa for the first time 13 years ago in Monaco; we both attended a watch show and at the time I used to work in the marketing department of the Swiss auction house Antiquorum and Romain was there with his company, Romain Réa Watches, for exhibiting his watches for sale… During these years, Romain and I have been collaborating and we became colleagues and friends. 13 years from our first meeting, Romain Réa Watches is one of the most renown companies for buying and selling luxury watches. Romain keeps leading his 3 Boutiques in France and is CEO of Antiquorum! I have the privilege to support his work and collaborate with both companies; I truly admire his hard work and I decided to share with all our readers some of the secrets of his success… (if he wants to tell us!)
1. The name “Antiquorum” means a lot for both of us: for me, it is the place where I learnt many things about this industry, for you, is a “mission accomplished”. You took over the reins of the World’s Premier Auctioneers of Modern and Vintage Timepieces in 2017, when Antiquorum was in the middle of its worse crisis ever, and you made it great again! How did you do that?
Thank you for the recognition, although it is important to note that there is still a lot of work to be done. However, this achievement is frst and foremost the result of a great teamwork. Work, diligence and consistency are the key words guiding our efforts to get back on the right track. We have expanded into new markets, for instance by opening a permanent office in Monaco, and by focusing our communication on the US market in order to regain this important customer base. We have adapted our offer to meet today’s expectations by developing the OOA (only online auction), the OLA (online live auction) sales and virtual valuation days.
2. How do you combine your two activities? Tell us something about “a day with Romain Réa”…
I work up to 6 days a week, even 6.5 days a week. I have made my passion my profession. That’s why it’s easy for me to devote so much time to it. Today, because my Parisian shops are very self sufficient, I devote around 80% of my time to Antiquorum and 20% to Romain Réa. My typical day: In the morning, it’s team management and management (meetings, emails, zooming). And the afternoon is generally dedicated to appraisals and meetings with collectors.
3. As a leading vintage watches expert and entrepreneur since 1994, how do you see today’s market?
The current market has changed significantly. We can distinguish two types of collectors. The purist, whose aim is to improve his collection and make it grow, and the investor who consider purchases as financial investments. Indeed, nowadays watches are a real alternative investment.
4. Based on your experience of having various boutiques in Paris (Romain Réa Watches) and offices and auctions in Monaco, Geneva and Hong Kong (Antiquorum), which is the most active country for collecting luxury watches?
The most active country remains the United States. To second place, there is Asia via Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan, which are very important marketplaces. Then Europe, where Italy, France and Germany are the leading countries.
5. How did COVID-19 change collecting watches?
The Covid pandemic that has hit the world so strongly confirms the importance of dematerialization and the progress of digitalization in the workplace. From the very first confinement, beyond the development of online sales, I decided Antiquorum would offer Virtual Valuation Days where our experts are available to “tele-valuate” timepieces, jewels and collector’s items, via Zoom. Our teams can assist the clients in English, French, Italian, German, Mandarin and Cantonese. The items are presented to the camera and valuations are given directly. Then the lots are shipped to our confirms where the experts can confirms their materialisation impression: 90% of the time their initial virtual valuation were correct.
6. How did social media change the way we buy and sell luxury watches?
Living with our time is necessary to have a successful business plan. Social networks have enabled the development of new sales circuits, more entertaining. People have been able to discover this sector via new images (Facebook, Instagram, even Tik Tok), more artistic. For instance, when people see a picture of a wristwatch worn, they are able to better visualise their own image wearing it.
7. How can a collector trust a watch dealer today and how did Mondani Web help you to strengthen the international reputation of your company?
Mainly because of its well established notoriety. Mondani Web is one of the most important social networks in the collector’s watch sector, so it has opened up new markets for us and contributes to strengthening our international position.
8. With almost 30 years of experience in this market you must have seen outstanding timepieces: tell us the 3 watches you had in your hands and that you’ll never forget…
– Patek Philippe 1518, stainless steel with Gay Frères stainless steel “grain de riz” bracelet – Blancpain Chronographe Flyback Stop Second model Air command – Rolex Paul Newman Oyster gold « La Légende »
9. Which are the best investment-watches today?
– Sportive Rolex (Submariner and GMT) – Stainless steel Chronograph (Breguet type XX, Rolex Daytona, Blancpain Air Command, Omega Speedmaster, Universal Compax) – Sports watches (Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Tudor Submariner Marine Nationale).
10. Which tips would you give to someone who is approaching the watch market today?
Buy what you like, not what you are told to buy: passion always comes first.