The world of watch collecting looks vastly different than it did ten years ago. We all know that some watch brands and specific models have become downright unaffordable. Trying to find a stainless steel Rolex sports watch for a reasonable price seems impossible. Have you set your sights on an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or a Patek Philippe Nautilus? You might need to sell your house first, because prices for these classics have gone through the roof. Although the steep rise in prices for these iconic pieces has come to a halt over the last couple of months, the current market prices are certainly still sky-high.
Additionally, the world of vintage watches has been reserved for serious ballers these past couple of years. When it comes to iconic vintage pieces from a wide array of brands, prices here have also gone up gradually, with some of the classics going for ridiculous prices at auction. In short, if you are into watches as an investment, you’ll need plenty of money. But today, let’s take a look at some alternative ways to find watches that will possibly increase in value over time.
Investment Tip # 1: Start Collecting Tomorrow’s Watch Icons
Granted, this is one of the most difficult approaches to building a collection that will grow in value over time, but it is probably also the most fun. Can you imagine the smile on your face the day you realize you’ve stumbled upon one of the classics of tomorrow? Or maybe it’s a newer version of a classic from the past? What exactly does it mean to start collecting the favorites of yesteryear?
By now, everyone knows that Rolex is hot property. But are there still hidden gems that might see an increase in value? Sure! There are still some sleepers that have increased in price and are still obtainable, especially when it comes to vintage or neo-vintage Rolex models. A perfect example is the Rolex Submariner ref. 14060. While prices for this watch have definitely gone up, you might still be able to find one right around the $10,000 mark. If you do, it will definitely hold, and most likely increase, in value. There are quite a few Rolex models that will see an increase in price if you look for them; keep an eye out in the space between the latest generations and iconic vintage pieces.
Another great way to find a watch that will grow in value is to look at modern versions of classics from the past. A good example is the Omega Seamaster Ploprof. The original Ploprof came out in 1970 and has become one of the great iconic diving watches in the industry. In 2009, Omega released a modern version of this classic. While reissues of iconic timepieces are seldom better than the original, this one was. The Omega Seamaster Professional Ploprof 1200M is new and improved, and better in every way, except perhaps in terms of the original story attached to the watch. When it comes to design, movement, materials, and overall quality, however, the reissue beats the classic. It was discontinued in 2019, and as people are slowly starting to recognize, prices for this heavy, oversized timepiece will continue to go up.
The third approach is the hardest one: trying to predict which watch models will become future classics. In order to predict this, you have to know which watch brands are popular, and what models are the most appreciated among watch enthusiasts. Be prepared to take a deep dive into the world of watches, and even become a watch “psychic.” The downside is obviously that you have to invest a lot of time and effort, and the chances of not succeeding are substantial. But the potential return could be glorious if you get there first and are able to get your hands on classics before everyone else does. Remember, this doesn’t happen overnight, and patience is key.
Investment Tip # 2: Start Collecting Watches From Small Independent Brands
There is growing appreciation for small independent watch brands these days. Whether small affordable brands that have conquered the hearts of watch enthusiasts or niche high-end brands that are hot property, small brands are popular across the board. What is the key to their success? First off, people are always looking for the latest and greatest thing out there, and the watch industry is no different. Watches offer the perfect way to distinguish yourself from the masses of people who wear established brands. The excitement of being there first is contagious.
Additionally, smaller brands almost without exception produce watches in small or limited numbers. This means that you are always buying something exclusive, and if that exclusive watch becomes sought-after, you are sitting on a potentially great investment. Let’s take a look at some of the smaller independent brands that have increased tremendously in popularity over the last couple of years. Good examples of popular high-end brands include F.P. Journe, Laurent Ferrier, H. Moser & Cie, and Czapek Genève. All of these brands produce incredible haute horlogerie timepieces that stand out in terms of watchmaking craftsmanship, design, materials, and finishing. Additionally, they also produce almost all of their watches in limited numbers. A rise in their popularity has seen massive rises in prices for some models like the F.P. Journe Élégante, the Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto, the H. Moser & Cie Streamliner, and the Czapek Antarctique.
When it comes to the more affordable realm, there are a ton of new, young, and exciting brands that you should keep an eye on. Very popular brands in the price bracket up to $5,000 are Laventure and MING. Timepieces here go for significantly more on Chrono24 than their list prices. If you are looking for something more affordable, have a look at UNIMATIC, Studio Underd0g, HALIOS, and Autodromo. All of them produce watches in limited numbers, and quite a few have seen a rise in prices. I would advise you to dive in and find watches that you love. There’s nothing more exciting than discovering a new brand, supporting it with your purchase, and enjoying your new timepiece.
Investment Tip # 3: Start Collecting Full Gold or Steel & Gold Watches
Our last tip for collecting watches and getting a return on your investment is very simple: gold or gold and steel two-tone watches. Let’s first take a look at Rolex’s iconic vintage full gold Day-Date models, which have been going for a lot less money than some of their popular stainless steel sports brethren. This is total blasphemy if you ask me, because a full gold Rolex Day-Date is an exit watch that could be your one and final watch for the rest of your life. Prices for a gold Rolex Day-Date are currently around $21,000 for some vintage and neo-vintage pieces. Although there has been a recent increase in price, they still remain nowhere near as expensive as popular Rolex sports models.
Additionally, there has also been a rise in popularity of two-tone timepieces. Rolex produces the king of all two-tone watches: the Rolex Datejust. We have also seen an appreciation in stainless steel and gold combinations across the board. Just look at Tudor introducing the Black Bay GMT S&G, and the iconic Rolex GMT-Master Root Beer. Tissot has released a two-tone version of their popular PRX model as well. You may have to search the entire Rolex universe to find a two-tone watch that will increase in value. There are, however, still a few great sleeper Rolexes out there that may see an increase in value over time.
That’s what it’s all about when it comes to collecting and making money with watches: time. There is no such thing as a “quick win” in the world of watches. So search for those unique timepieces, wear them, and find out what makes them so special. That will make collecting and investing so much more fun. Happy hunting!