If you’re one who tunes in to every latest news from Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) and/or Baselworld, then you probably know that a luxury watch (vintage or otherwise, priced upwards of $8,000) is today’s quintessential blue-chip if you’re looking to buff up your investment portfolio. Especially so, if stock trading is something you simply can’t seem to wrap your head around.
While many may think that watch collecting is a hobby exclusive to the 1%, it’s becoming more apparent today that the watch collector hides in plain sight. From Instagram KOLs, tattooed bros, John Mayer — whose collection of Rolexes and WWII-era Luftwaffe watches is supposedly worth tens of millions, to perhaps your older cousin and next-door neighbour — even the people you least expect might own a luxury timepiece.
Similar to the stock market, the value of your most flex-worthy wrist candy will likely rise and fall, but many sought-after classic models from labels like Patek Philippe, Omega, and Rolex have been proven to be almost a sure thing when it comes to appreciation — that is to have its price double in value or more in just 2 to 3 years, due to their rarity in the market and influence in the horology industry as well as pop culture (James Bond anyone?). And those you can turn to if you need to make a failsafe decision for where your money is really going.
Watch snobs may take a step further to insist that only the vintage editions of the aforementioned watches will make for substantial returns. However, for the newbie watch collector, purchasing vintage watches can be a minefield too far off and frankly risky to thread if you don’t know nearly everything to look out for with vintage models.
Can’t tell the difference between a naturally aged patina from an artificially painted patina on a watch’s dial? Do you know what are the fonts or serial numbers you should look out for on an authentic vintage bezel insert in a 1957 Rolex Submariner? If you’ve answered no to either of these questions, then go ahead and get the new models instead to be safe. They are after all, arguably better in almost every way compared to their vintage counterparts anyway.
1. OMEGA SEAMSTER DIVER 300M CO-AXIAL 42MM MASTER CHRONOMETER, $11,250
2. PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS 7010/1R ROSE GOLD AND DIAMOND WATCH, $59,500
3. ROLEX SUBMARINER DATE 40MM OYSTERSTEEL AND YELLOW GOLD WATCH, $18,910
4. Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-vous Night & Day 34mm Medium Stainless Steel, Alligator And Diamond Watch, USD 22,358.17
5. Audemars Piguet Millenary 39.5mm 18-Karat Frosted Pink Gold and Opal Watch, USD 55,145
6. IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN – Da Vinci Automatic 40mm Stainless Steel And Alligator Watch , USD 6,298
Need some evidence? Vintage luxury timepieces more often than not feature acrylic (AKA plastic) crystals prone to cracks and scratches, hollow-steel bracelets that will naturally stretch like an accordion, and painted bezels that could fade over a span of time. Modern variations of the same models, however, feature virtually indestructible sapphire crystals, solid-steel bracelets not unlike those used in military tanks, and high-tech ceramic bezels conceived by technological innovation and guaranteed not to tarnish no matter how you abuse them.
So whatever modern luxury timepieces may lack in provenance and prestige, they more than make up for everything else if we dare say it. Following trend patterns from auctions as of late, labels like Audemars Piguet, TAG Heuer, and Jaeger-LeCoultre are now coming up on top when it comes to market demand. Which is why we’ve curated the pieces here for your perusal and musings.
1. Vacheron Constantin Egérie Automatic 35mm 18-Karat Pink Gold and Diamond Watch, USD 31,350
2. Piaget Limelight Gala 32mm 18-Karat White Gold and Diamond Watch, USD 44,100
3. Chopard Happy Sport Automatic 36mm Stainless Steel, Satin, and Diamond Watch, USD 17,150
4. Hermès Timepieces Heure H Double Jeu 21mm Small Stainless Steel, Lacquer, Leather, and Diamond Watch, USD 10,360
5. Cartier Panthère de Cartier Manchette 22mm 18-Karat Gold Watch, USD 40,435
6. Piaget Possession 29mm 18-Karat Rose Gold, Alligator, and Diamond Watch, USD 15,710
Admittedly, there’s no telling how sweeping economic repercussions like trade wars, Brexit, global health pandemics, or a recession will affect the demand for five- or six-figure watches, but at the end of the day their artisanship, precious materials, brand value, and overall scarcity hold a stable tidy return if well taken care of. Stocks, on the other hand, may financially face-plant and bankrupt you in the event of global catastrophes.
So while past performance is no guarantee of future results (you can still expect a tidy, if not jaw-droppingly impressive returns), we can all leave it to time elegantly monitored to eventually tell. Or you can just purchase whatever looks cool to you and leave it at that. C’est la vie.