This week’s You Asked Us is about the most asked question since about a year or two: Is this watch [name any model or brand] a good investment? Every single day we receive this question via email, our contact form, Whatsapp, or direct messages on our Facebook and Instagram channels. I thought it might be a good idea to give a generic answer to this commonly asked question, as we roughly give the same answer to this question all the time.
Please don’t feel offended if you read your own question to us below, they aren’t bad or wrong, we just want to show the type of questions we receive concerning watches as an investment.
“What is a better investment, the Seamaster 300M or the Tudor Pelagos?”
“Is this a good investment, I found it for $450?” (picture attached to the mail of a vintage Longines)
“Will the ST2 keep its value?” and “Which Speedy Tuesday will keep better value?”
“Which watch is the best investment for $3500?”
“I can keep only one watch of [inserts entire collection], which one will keep the best value?”
“What’s a better investment: Rolex Submariner 14060 or 16610?”
You get the drill. We try to answer all questions as far as possible, but it almost boils down to the same answer in the end.
You can only spend it once, we understand. We also get that you don’t want to buy something that loses half of its value as soon as you leave the place you bought it from. But in the end, it remains an object that you should be wearing, or that was at least made for wearing and daily use. It is normal that it drop in value as soon as it is used, and it’s rather abnormal that such an item will increase in value. Only a few do, and you can probably name them just as well as we can. Any stainless steel sports Rolex, a Patek Philippe Nautilus, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ and a vintage Omega Speedmaster [Professional] and probably a few more. They are all bound to sell for more than they did 6 weeks ago.
For a lot of these watches, historical data is available via eBay, forums or the Chrono24 Collection app for example. It will give you a good understanding of selling prices in the past and today. This might give you a hint of what might happen in the future, but there are no guarantees. These tools can help you if you want to make a purchase that will retain its value or at least a large portion of it.
Although it is a comforting idea that some of the watches in my personal collection progressed well over time, I am not planning to sell them anyway. I bought them to wear them; my vintage Speedmasters, Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ and Submariner. Even my Speedmaster Professional ‘Silver Snoopy Award’. I bought most of them for a fraction of the price they list for today. When I think of it, it sometimes makes me almost uncomfortable to wear them, but I quickly recover from that thought and put it on the wrist anyway. I bought these watches to enjoy them and not to keep them in a safe to treat them as an investment. Not only that, but keep in mind that we are not talking about a unique painting or sculpture (which you also shouldn’t put in a safe). It is a (mass) produced item that was designed to be worn.
Ultimately, it kills a bit of the fun in collecting watches. A while ago we got blamed by people on a certain forum that we were partly responsible for the hype on (LE) Speedmasters and the crazy pricing. But we never ever urged you to purchase a watch over retail price, buy to invest or to flip. On the contrary. Never buy over retail and if you missed out on a limited edition, well, there will be a next one. If you really can’t stand it that you missed it, then there is always the possibility to fund the wallet of a lucky flipper or someone who regrets his purchase (or needs money).
For example, the increased demand for stainless Rolex models caused by their potential flip-value, makes it more difficult to purchase one of these watches for your own wearing pleasure. Earlier this year I was on the market for a Rolex GMT-Master II, but it was simply not there, even the new bi-colour (rose gold & steel) is simply unavailable. Well, it is, but with a pretty steep markup at grey market dealers (and douchy authorized dealers) and to me, that’s not worth it. I will keep my money in my pockets or just buy something else I do like and is available for the normal retail price.
Normally our answer is in the same direction as what I described above. Based on historical data and information, the watch might be a good or solid investment, but we don’t have a crystal ball and are not financial advisors (I left that industry a while ago). In fact, we always advise the sender of the message that he (or she) simply likes it and wants to wear it. “Buy what you like” is our motto, whether that’s a Rolex Submariner reference 5512 or a Maurice Lacroix Aikon, if the watch sings to you, you should buy it. Same with limited edition watches, be it from Grand Seiko, Audemars Piguet, TAG Heuer or Omega Speedmaster, don’t buy it just because it is a limited edition, buy it because you like the looks, story, movement or whatever is important to you. Perhaps you just want to collect them. In any case, make sure to enjoy your watch! If you buy a watch that you think will become very valuable over time, how much good is that on the wrist? Will you feel comfortable wearing such a piece? Every scratch will represent high depreciation, at least in your mind. Buying a watch that will retain its value is a nice thing, and it might play a role when you purchase one, but make sure you are comfortable wearing and using it as a watch too. It was made for that. And as always, do your homework and don’t depend on [random] people’s answers too much, nobody has the crystal ball.
Have something to add or want to share your opinion, do so below in the comments.
Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in... read more