Do Luxury Watches Appreciate In Value?

Article Summary:

Luxury watches can appreciate in value, but usually, this only applies to mechanical watches. Rolex, TAG Heuer, Omega, and Breitling watches lead the pack as far as value appreciation goes. When choosing an investment watch, make sure to research the model and materials.

Ah, the elegant look and sparkle of a luxury watch! Regardless of whether it’s a Rolex or a Swatch, we often hear that a good watch is an “investment piece.” Fashion-wise, it’s a good move. But, financially, do luxury watches really appreciate in value as time progresses? Could these really turn into alternative investment pieces?

Is a luxury watch a good investment?

Depending on the watch brand or the story behind a particular watch, buying a luxury watch could be a good investment. However, it’s important to realize that you have to do your research and also keep an eye out for the watch’s resale value.

An expensive watch doesn’t mean you are going to be able to get it to hold its value. Watch collectors tend to have a keen eye for specific makes and models. If you want to get a nice watch for yourself, that’s fine. For an investment piece, you have to look at specific watch models to maximize your success.

Can watches appreciate in value?

Watches absolutely can appreciate in value, especially if you choose a mechanical watch with a rather famous history. Ultra-luxury brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, or Breitling tend to be the best for appreciation.

Obviously, it’s important to recognize that the initial price tag and the limited release of a watch plays an important factor in its resale value as time passes. Many studies note that watches that are worth over $100,000 tend to be the ones that bode the best.

The table below displays the average appreciation of five luxury watches over a 15 year period. These are examples of luxury watches that have proven to be good investments. Of course, this DOES NOT apply to all luxury watches.

Watch NameValue 2003 (USD)Value 2017 (USD)Estimated ROI
Omega Moonwatch Ch

Omega Moonwatch Professional Chronograph

$2,500$4,910196%
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

$6,560$12,903197%
Breitling Navitimer 01

Breitling Navitimer 1

$3,720$7,965214%
Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Chronograph

Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Chronograph

$2,214$3,882175%
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date

$5,937$9,249156%

*These are just estimated average values for illustrative purposes. The actual value of these watches could vary dramatically depending on the time and location they were sold or auctioned.

It’s worth noting that a 200% growth over a 15-year period is 13.33% a year. The S&P 500 index, a benchmark of the performance of the U.S. stock market overall, has a historic annualized average return of around 10.5% since it started in 1957.

How much will luxury watches appreciate in value?

Between 2015 and 2025, most luxury watches over $100,000 are expected to have a value appreciation rate of 69 percent on average. Vintage watches are expected to have a value appreciation by 487 percent thanks to an uptick in interest from people in Asia and the Middle East.

With that said, other market research suggests that only 20 percent of all luxury watches will experience an uptick in value. So once again, it’s important to keep an eye on which watch you want to get.

Do luxury watches hold their value?

Much like value appreciation, luxury watches can hold their value as long as they are well-cared for. With that said, every single watch has to be treated lie a gamble, even if it’s a “sure thing.” You never know whether that pricey watch will lose value for one reason or another.

It’s important to realize that luxury watches that are digital will not hold their value. Only mechanical watches have the staying power to last for generations. So if you were hoping to sell watches with a digital interface (like an Apple watch), you’re out of luck.

Which luxury watch holds its value best?

The jury is still out on this, but there are a couple of things that have become very notable. Generally speaking, if you have an authentic yellow gold watch that has a high-end make from Rolex, it’s safe to say that your watch will hold its value at the very least.

Rolex is one of the only watch brands that has a complete collection that holds value at the very least, and appreciates in value at best. You are not going to be able to find a used or vintage Rolex that doesn’t sell for its market value.

Which luxury watch brands hold their value best?

Rolex

Rolex watches are one of the most famous luxury watch brands in the world, and it’s not surprising to see that this company makes the list. Almost any vintage Rolex will hold its value, though some will appreciate faster than others.

Most Rolex sports watches will, at the very least, hold their value. A Rolex Submariner, on the other hand, will usually increase. So will a Rolex Daytona, or any of the “status symbol” watches that are currently in high demand. The rarer the watch, the more likely it will increase in value.

Because this luxury brand is so well-known and highly esteemed, you never have to worry about it being a problematic investment. They’re the gold standard of gold watches.

Jaeger-Le Coultre

If you cannot afford a Rolex watch, then Jaeger-Le Coultre might still be within your price point. You can get a typical watch from this brand for $5,000 to $10,000. Unlike most other watch brands at their price point, Jaeger tends to retain their value or turn into investment watches as they age.

The pre-owned watches that belong to their high-end lines often have a great resale value. So, it’s a great investment if you want to have a watch piece.

Audemars Piguet

Another popular watch brand to take a look at is Audemars Piguet. They tend to be more affordable, yet still carry the kind of pedigree that luxury watches should. Their most illustrious models are the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak line. They offer up a resale value that can make most Patek Philippe watches look shoddy in comparison.

Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe has several flagship models that are known for being able to hold their value fairly well. Vintage models of the Patek Philippe Nautilus, for example, tend to have a better resale value than others.

With this brand, you are going to have to look for models that have a good future value. Not all of these high end watches will, so extra hard work on finding the right one will make a huge difference. If you cannot afford a Rolex, a Patek Philippe might be a good pick.

Omega

Omega watches are definitely more of a “hit or miss” brand when it comes to holding value. The vast majority of Omega watches will decline in value if you buy them at full retail price. This makes them the riskiest investment of all brands on here.

However, certain watches can be bought at a good price. These watches can increase in value, but only if the conditions for their appreciation is right. They’re nowhere near Rolex level, but it’s still a potential offer. When Omega watches increase in value, they skyrocket. That’s why it’s the second most popular watch type for investments next to Rolex.

TAG Heuer

TAG Heuer is another sporty watch brand that is popular in the luxury watch circuit but has a hard time appreciating in value. Like Omega, TAG Heuer is more of a sports brand and a widespread one at that. It’s possible to find pre-owned watches for pennies on the dollar.

If you want to get an investment watch from TAG Heuer, be careful. This watch is very commonly targeted by counterfeiters. This can make it difficult for you to sell your watch and is the very reason why it is so difficult for these watches to increase in value.

Breitling

Breitling might be the only other major luxury watch brand that happens to hold value without being a Rolex. This watch brand has a lot of watches that are fairly low price, but has a potential to increase in value as years pass. It’s currently one of the best watch brands for investment purposes behind Rolex and Omega.

While these will keep their value better than many Patek Philippe models, the truth is that you have to be particularly picky with Breitling watch models. When in doubt, choose a model that is praised by watch enthusiasts. The Breitling Navitimer is one of the most popular watches of this brand as an investment piece.

Is investing in luxury watches a good idea?

It can be, but it all depends on how well-acquainted you are with watch enthusiasts, the watch models that work, as well as how much you are willing to lose. For the most part, investment watches carry quite a bit of risk associated with them.

With that said, you should remember that these watch brands can make $300 the next day and tank their resale value overnight. Investing in Rolex watches (or any other watch brand) will always carry the risk that the watch market might suddenly drop off. It’s true with all commodities, even real estate.

If you want some kind of stable predictability, opting for stocks and bonds is often a better option. However, if you are open to high-risk, high-reward investments, it may make sense to get some Rolex watches.

Key takeaways

  • Luxury watches can increase by value, often by over 69 percent every decade.
  • Rolex watches remain the most reliable brand in terms of value appreciation and holding value.
  • Mechanical watches with a high level of rarity tend to do best as investment pieces.
  • Always research the watches that you want to buy as investments, and keep them in good condition.
View Article Sources
  1. Value gain of watches – Time Rating
  2. White paper on fine watchmaking – FHH Journal
  3. Watches as investments – Gentleman’s Gazette