The watch market is full of opportunities if one knows what to look for. It takes a good eye to know the difference between a smart investment and a poor investment.
If you are looking to invest in a watch, then rarity and condition should be your top priority. I would encourage buyers to look for the best quality watch(es) within their price range.
You should also look at complexity and, naturally, the brand. Even with contemporary watches, a good, established name will hold its value.
Oftentimes, a name becomes renowned with the help of pop culture.
The Rolex Daytona, for example, has been produced since 1963, but it was only after being worn by Paul Newman in 1972 that collectors acknowledged its scarcity and unique aesthetics. Since then, it has become arguably the most collected watch on the market.
James Bond is another great example: In the 1962 movie Dr. No, Bond wears a Rolex Submariner, in line with the book series (he was often described wearing a Rolex in the beginning). A 1958 Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner can now sell for up to £45,000.
About a decade later, Live and Let Die is released, and this time Bond wears a 1972 Rolex Oyster 5513 (the one equipped with a special magnet to help him unzip dresses). The watch from the movie sold for a grand total of £147,000 in 2011.
Now Bond wears an Omega Seamaster that might cost as much as £3,500 new.
Another example is the world’s first commercial digital wristwatch: the Pulsar LED made by Hamilton Watch Company in 1970 and sold widely in 1972. It was coated in 18-carat gold and had a red LED display, inspired by a clock the company made for the 1968 science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It cost £1,300 new — but it now fetches more than £7,000.
As you can see, the notoriety of the name on the dial can make or break a watch’s commercial value and collector viability.
With that in mind, here are some names to keep on your radar:
Big, high performing luxury brands offer the best investment opportunities … Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Rolex, Breitling and Omega perform strongly at auction.
However, even though the market is dominated by these highly regarded brands, you should not forget about the smaller retailers. You never know what potential they may demonstrate further down the line. Minor manufacturers, such as Raymond Weil, Longines and Corum, have seen increased interest recently, though these are rare exceptions.
And exclusive watch manufactures, such as Richard Mille and Greubel Forsey, are already showing real potential to become classics of the future. Including one of their watches may prove to be a profitable and wise addition to your portfolio.
You may also want to search for particular styles, such as diver's or aviator's watches. Even though those are mainly used by professionals, they are also collected by enthusiasts.
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