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Gold prices have increased substantially since 2018 autumn, cumulatively up 72 percent, and hit US $2000 an ounce for the first time this year. I now disguise as an expert in finance, and try to explain with my common knowledge why gold prices had a such surge. Because of Brexit, COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety of US dollar depreciation and long-term low interest rate, capital flows into the gold market for hedging, resulting in a great momentum to push up the gold price.

When mentioning gold, I automatically think of watches. High-end watches cannot escape from gold because gold is always used to make watch cases, buckles, and even rotors inside movements. I still remember when I was in the watch industry, whenever gold price went up, watch brands would use it as an excuse to adjust the retail price of their watches upwards; conversely, at that time I did not see any reversing action from watch brands when gold price dropped.

Although the relationship between gold and high-end watches is very close, there is little chance that high-end watches could use 24k gold to make watches. The reason is quite simple: pure gold is a very stable precious metal, but it does not have a high degree of durability. This explains why 18k gold is commonly utilized in the watch industry. The 18k gold usually comprises 75% gold mixed with 25% other metals such as copper, silver, and other alloys. The colour of 18k gold can be easily modified subject to its composition. With the addition of other metals, it will enhance the durability of 18k gold.  

Is it possible to employ gold ranging between 24k and 18k to make watches? Of course, it is possible. In order to make watches more creative and playful, at the beginning of the 20th century, some watch brands already made gold coin watch by choosing the discontinued $10 American Eagle or $20 American Double Eagle. In the early stage, a coin watch comprised a watch embedded inside a coin. The button to open it to show time is masterfully installed in the rim of the coin.

A Coin Watch by Patek Philippe
Photo source:Christie's

In 1964, Corum made a breakthrough in design. The brand decided to expose the time-telling function, rather than concealing it. Since then the Corum coin watch has become an icon.

Corum, of course, cannot be claimed as a century-old brand or is as sizeable as Rolex or Cartier. However, its unique design is very popular in the watch market. For example, the eye-catching Golden Bridge watch and the perfectly round and exaggerated Bubble. It is not easy for other brands to follow this style or design from Corum because the look is so “corum”. Similarly, when talking about a coin watch, people will naturally think of the Corum coin watch. 

Photo source:Masterhorologer

At the first glance, the construction of the Corum coin watch looks simple. But it is not. First of all, the gold coin has to be sliced into two disks, the one with the eagle motif will be used as the watch dial, the other side featuring a lady Liberty as the case back. Secondly, an ultra-thin movement will be placed between the two faces. These are all hand-made processes. As 22k gold is not as hard as 18k gold, a minute mistake will ruin the whole watch. Because the success rate is not high, it makes the watch even more rare.

Photo source:Corum

Up to this point, you might be confused as to what “Double Eagle” or “Half Eagle” is, because there is no “Double or Half Eagle” motif on the coin but only a “Single Eagle”. Initially, I was also confused. 

Back at the beginning of the 19th century, in order to meet trading needs, the US Government started minting gold coins. The face value of the coins was US $10 with a single eagle in relief. Therefore, the single eagle gold coin was nicknamed as “Eagle”. If the face value of the coin was US $20, people would call it “Double Eagle”, and similarly, the “Half Eagle” for a US $5 coin. It became a convention then.

It is obvious that making a Corum coin watch is not that easy. Firstly, you have to source antique eagle coins with good qualities. Those coins have been discontinued.  Hence, theoretically each single piece of Corum coin watch is a limited edition. Secondly, the processes are all hand-made. A minor mistake will damage the entire watch. Because of the high failure rate, the watch is even more valuable.

It is pity that the second hand value of the coin watches is a bit disappointing. In the pre-own market, the value of a Corum Double Eagle coin watch is around HK$ 70,000, subject to the condition of the watch, quite a distance from its retail price. Heartbreaking! However, if you really like the watch, and if you buy it from the second hand market at this price, I will say it is value for money. At the end of the day, the value of the watch is closely related to the fame of the brand. Hang in there Corum!