If you are thinking about watches as an investment, think very carefully. In recent years there has been an inordinate amount of hype about luxury watches and their value. And while it is true that many famous models have risen considerably, as with most investments there can be no guarantees – and quite a few pitfalls to boot.
But if you are wondering how to invest in watches in 2023, we can share a few ideas to build up your knowledge.
Soaring prices – A one way bet?
As a brand, Rolex makes many of the headlines when it comes to a watch to invest in. Second-hand values have soared because, quite simply, demand massively outstrips supply. There are multi-year waiting lists for most models, so a brand-new watch that sells for about £8,000 one day may be sold on the secondary market the next for approximately double.
Because of this, official sellers have become very discerning about who they sell to, conscious that they don’t want someone to simply buy the best Rolex watch for investment and then flog it the next day at a huge profit.
The mythology around Rolex watches increases when unique examples owned by celebrities are sold at auction. Most famously, a Daytona Rolex owned by Paul Newman went for $17.57 million in 2017.
Other brands of watch for men and women carry even more of a premium, with Patek Phillipe and Audemars Piguet watches often starting at tens of thousands of pounds in the UK. Again, because of their scarcity, and also technical quality, they can still realise a significant profit.
Pitfalls of investing in watches
However, there is no written rule that says that an investment watch will go up in value. Perhaps the biggest danger (in an investment sense) is that you pay an inflated price for an in-demand watch and the market suddenly crashes, or at least recedes. In this scenario, you could lose a serious amount of money.
You are more likely to be shielded from this if you are lucky enough to get hold of a brand new watch at retail price. This would give you a considerable buffer against a secondary market crash.
Another danger of investing in the secondary market is ensuring the authenticity of your timepieces. Particularly with Rolex watches, replicas are becoming evermore convincing, and they are a common target for thieves. Seeking out reputable sellers is an important defence against this, as well as following the old adage: if something is too good to be true, it probably is!
While you own the watch, one of the joys is being able to wear it – you could say it is an unquantifiable dividend. While you are wearing it though consider wear and tear and the risks of theft or loss. For the former, a service at the recommended intervals would be advisable to help the watch hold value. And for the latter, watch insurance would be a good idea.
If you are buying a watch for investment purposes, you’ll need to sell it eventually. Be careful at this point of the spread between the buying and selling price. Any retailer you sell it to will want their cut – both to cover their risk and expenses, and make a profit too.
A balanced approach – The best watch to buy for investment
If you want to start a collection of watches as an investment, go in with your eyes open. It will be very difficult to make money if you overpay significantly to begin with.
The best watches for investment may prove to be vintage ones, especially if they are good but currently unfashionable brands. Think also of new brands that are still building up kudos, and so have lower price tags – like Christopher Ward watches. These may be affordable watches that appreciate in value.
It will help, too, if you can temper your expectations, look beyond the headlines and hope for slow steady growth – with anything more a bonus. The best men’s watches for investment (or women’s) should be excellent quality so that they will stand the test of time. Manufacturers will inevitably raise their prices as time progresses, and their may well be a pegging of second-hand prices to those of newer models.
Don’t forget watch insurance
If you have bought the best Omega watch for investment, or any other brand, don’t forget luxury watch insurance. You’ll need to protect your assets!
Are watches a good investment – frequently asked questions
What are the best watches to buy for investment?
The best watches to buy for investment are ones which you can get for a good price now, have good build quality, you are sure are authentic, and will be desirable in the future. If you can get a Rolex at a good price these appear to be perennial favourites, but you may also find value in other brands, for example looking at the best Tudor watch to buy for investment, or best Breitling watch for investment.
What is the best Rolex watch for investment?
If you can find a dealer who will put you on the waiting list for a new Rolex, this may currently be the best option for buying a Rolex for investment.
How much will my Rolex be worth in 10 years?
It is impossible to tell how much an asset like a watch will be worth in ten years. Historically, Rolexes have held their value and shown strong growth over many years but past performance cannot always be relied upon to predict the future.
Which brand of watch is best for investment?
Rolex has always been a strong brand for investment but other brands have good potential. You could look for a new brand on the scene which may gain a cult following or look at vintage models such as the best Cartier watch for investment.
Which ladies’ watch is best for investment?
A classic Rolex or Cartier timepiece may be a good choice for a ladies’ watch for investment. Consider whether it features precious metals or stones as these are a natural store of value, as well as the overall aesthetics of a watch. As with a man’s watch, the initial price you pay will also be a crucial factor as to whether you get any investment return.
What watches go up in value?
Because the most prestigious watch houses limit their production, scarcity, supply and demand are a major driver of watch values. If they are desirable and durable but there are not enough to go round, watch values will likely go up. Rolex, Patek Phillipe and Audemars Piguet are classic examples of these.