(Photo courtesy of: https://www.chrono24.com/rolex/rolex-rolex-daytona-ceramic-bezel-panda-white-dial-116500-ln-2021---complete--id20176417.htm)
The question of whether or not watches are a good investment has no easy answer. However, in order to get a better perspective, it would be important to look at a few different types of watch investments and what they could mean for a buyer.
The first one, is the grail watch. With similarities to the vintage car or furniture markets, the luxury timepiece industry has an increasing number of collectors looking to buy and sell watches for a profit, usually through online or in-person high-profile auctions. Watches in this category are often out of reach for most collectors unless you have deep pockets and the connections. We have all seen the headlines regarding the record setting prices achieved with vintage Paul Newman Daytonas, but this does not necessarily mean that this piece will continue to appreciate, and certainly does not mean other similar models will as well. We just have to face the fact that sometimes, there is no rationale behind what someone or the market might be willing to pay for a piece. Just as quickly as these timepieces gain value, they could go in the opposite direction without warning.
A sure shot in watches as investments are impossible, but what you can do is limit your exposure to risk with a few tips. Buying something you will wear and enjoy, at a more reasonable price range is the first step in finding a piece that could have the potential of being a “good” investment. Of course there are very few brands, and even fewer references that have shown to either hold their value or appreciate. These are watches that are increasing in value solely based on the fact that they are difficult to acquire, whether this is manufactured scarcity is a whole other debate. Currently, most stainless steel sport models from Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Rolex are these watches. They all have some iconic designs and offerings that are currently trading over their retail values. If you are one of the lucky few to be able to acquire one of these timepieces at retail, you’re in the money immediately. Some specific models are the Rolex stainless steel GMTs, Submariners, and Daytonas. Within Audemars Piguet, you will find that most Royal Oak models, with the exception of the Offshores, have held or increased in value, again due to scarcity in the market. Patek Phillipe is already on the higher end of most peoples budgets or are already considered grail pieces at retail, but many of their references are trading 2 to 3 times their retail value, and have not been showing signs of slowing.
The last category of possible “investment” watches are a little more risky, but require a relatively lower investment and possibly higher return if you’re willing to do your due diligence to understand the market trends and have the time to invest in holding for a long period of time. The best part of this category is the speculation and perhaps finding diamonds in the rough with less popular models soon becoming discontinued, or brands making huge headways with their marketing efforts, or small houses with incredible products that are not yet known by the masses.
So while it is possible that watches become good investments or stores of value, you either need to have a lot of capital, a good eye and knowledge of the industry, an amazing relationship with your authorized dealer, and more than likely you will need all three. There are absolutely no sure shots in the luxury watch industry, and anybody telling you there are is not being entirely truthful.