“If you want to invest in watches, to make a profit, go for either Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin or Richard Mille.”
Shortlist of watch brands that hold their value:
- Patek Philippe
- Audemars Piguet
- Vacheron Constantin
- A. Lange & Söhne
- Richard Mille
The luxury watch industry is booming. Ever since the quartz crisis of the 1970s, mechanical watch manufacturers are thriving, and for some, customers are lining up in front of their boutiques just to get on the waiting list for one of their magnificent timepieces. Take, for example, Patek Philippe. The average waiting time for the classic PP Nautilus with the reference 5711/1A-010 and the blue dial, was almost 10 years long, and with more and more people signing in. Then, in January of this year, Patek decided to discontinue this particular model, and today, in June 2021, these watches are selling for around $130,000 on the grey market. What am I trying to say? Well, in the watch industry, there are brands and watches that hold their value, and some that don’t. To be fair, most watches out there don’t hold their value, and those who do, usually tend to be the ones that you have to wait years to get one. And today, I’m going to talk about 6 brands and some of their models, which hold their value particularly well.
And please, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that a watch that doesn’t hold its value is in any way, shape, or form a bad watch or inferior to the ones that are. In fact, I think, that this shouldn’t be the deciding factor when getting a watch. The interest and excitement you feel for a watch are far more important. But that’s not why you here today, aren’t you? This article is all about the best investments. Because, for some, when they spend a significant amount of money on a watch, it’s very important for them to know that their watch won’t be losing them any money when they decide to sell it. And if this is you, welcome to Horologisto, and to this article, in which I will go through six brands and some of their models that seem to hold, or even increase their value very well.
By the way, this list is just a recommendation, and shouldn’t be taken as a guarantee that these watches will hold or increase their value. Because as you know, the watch industry is a fast-paced industry and prone to changes. Nevertheless, I carefully conducted the research for this article and will give you the best information, that I currently have. Also, the prices and percentages shown below, are usually for unused watches, so depending on the condition of the watch, prices may vary.
But enough with the talking, let’s get started with the brands and their watches!
First up is Patek Philippe. Founded back in 1838, the Geneva-based watch company belongs to the Holy Trinity, which consists of Patek, Audemars, and Vacheron. Patek Philippe’s unparalleled approach to design and manufacturing is what has allowed the swiss manufacturer to achieve the status as one of the best watch manufacturing companies in the world.
And as mentioned earlier, when it comes to retaining value, watches from Patek Philippe are among the best of the best. Take for example the PP Nautilus. With waiting lists for the most basic models being around 5-10 years long, you can see why the Nautilus is such a great investment. The new, green dialed reference 5711/A1-014, which currently has a list price of $34,890, can be found only 5 times on Chrono24 at the moment, with the most expensive one being priced at $330,000 (!). I know, I know, this is completely nuts and won’t hold on for long, but if we look at the prices of the blue dialed 5711/A1-010, just before Patek discontinued it, you still see a $100-150% increase in value, even after a long time on the market. Besides the Nautilus, Patek Philippe also has a lot of other watches in their portfolio, that held or even increased their value in the past few years. In fact, I think Patek might be the best brand to invest in if you want to get a healthy return on your investment.
Which Patek Philippe watches hold their value? Patek Philippe Nautilus, Patek Philippe Calatrava, Patek Philippe Aquanaut
Worn by countless public figures, actors, musicians, and athletes, the name Rolex has become a byword for luxury and exclusivity. The history of Rolex starts in 1905, when Hans Wildorf founded a company in London, which specialized in distributing timepieces. In 1919, Rolex moved from London to Geneva, where they stayed until this day. And to this day, Rolex continues to produce high-end watches, which are beloved by many.
Rolex, and especially their steel sports models, are making headlines for their long waiting lists and their incredible prices on the grey market. Take for example the iconic Rolex Submariner, which probably, is Rolex’s most iconic watch. Retailing at $8,100, the new Rolex Submariner No Date with the reference 124060, is currently being sold for $13,000, on platforms like Chrono24. This $4,900 increase translates to 60%. Oh, so you think 60% is a big increase? Try 208%. Yes, 208%, you heard that right. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 with the Tiffany blue dial is currently reselling at around $17,300, which compared to its list price of $5,600, is a 208% increase. I won’t comment on what I think of a $17k price tag in a basic OP 36 model, but just know that this probably isn’t long-term. Nevertheless, this is an absolutely awesome watch, which, at its retail price, is worth every penny. So, if you can get your hands on one, do it! Besides the Submariner and the OP, the Rolex Daytona also increased tremendously in value, which just, once again, goes to show how watches from Rolex are currently perceived.
Which Rolex watches hold their value? Rolex Submariner, Rolex Oyster Pepetual 36, Rolex Daytona
The next valuable brand on this list is Audemars Piguet. AP was established by Jules Audemars and Edward Piguet, in 1875. Throughout the last part of the 19th century, AP created the first grand complication, which was a pocket watch with a built-in alarm, a perpetual calendar, and a chronograph with jumping seconds. And like Patek and Vacheron, Audemars Piguet is also part of the Holy Trinity.
The most famous watch from Audemars Piguet is also the one that retains and increases its value the most. Some of you may have guessed it, I’m talking about the AP Royal Oak, which was the world’s first luxury sports watch ever released. Similar to the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the Royal Oak also enjoys a certain level of status within the watch community. And rightly so, this watch has it all, looks, heritage and on top, is a great investment. Speaking of which, let’s take a closer look at how the Royal Oak performs in retaining its value. For this example, let’s pick one of the hottest versions of the Royal Oak, the blue dialed, 41mm, Royal Oak, with the reference 15500. Retailing at $22,900, this particular model is currently worth around $55,000, according to Chrono24. Compare that to its list price, and you got yourself a 140% increase in value, just because the waiting lists are so long.
And while the Royal Oak, undoubtedly has the best value increase, watches from AP generally hold their value pretty well, independent from the model.
Which Audemars Piguet watches hold their value? Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
In 1755, 24-year-old master watchmaker, Jean-Marc Vacheron, signs on his first apprentice, thus founding a business by making clear his intention to hand down his skills. In the industry, this contract is regarded as Vacheron Constantin’s birth certificate, which makes VC the oldest watch manufacturer in continuous operation since it was founded. As the last member of the Holy Trinity, Vacheron Constantin adheres to the highest watchmaking standards in the industry.
And those high standards pay off, when we look at the increasing value of VC’s timepieces, like the Vacheron Constantin Overseas or the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony. First, let’s take a closer look at the Overseas, which through its heritage, looks, and era of creation, shares a huge chunk of DNA with the PP Nautilus and the AP Royal Oak. And like its stepsiblings, the Overseas also offers quite a nice percentage when it comes to value increase. To be precise, the Overseas is retailed at $22,500 and currently resold on grey market platforms like Chrono24, for around $35,000, which translates to a 55% increase in value. When looking at the VC Patrimony, we see that it holds its retail price quite nicely but varies quite significantly dependent on its condition.
Which Vacheron Constantin watches hold their value? Vacheron Constantin Overseas, Vacheron Constantin Patrimony
A. Lange & Söhne
The German watch manufacturer A. Lange & Söhne was founded in 1845 by Ferdinand A. Lange, and from 1845 to 1945 created highly refined pocket watches, which were among the most sought-after timepieces in the world. Then, in 1945, the Second World War forced the company into a 40-year hiatus, which ended in 1990 with the German reunification. Afterward, Walter Lange, great-grandson of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, revived the brand and brought the glory back into German watchmaking.
The German watchmaker is famously known for its high-end timepieces, like the Datograph, the Zeitwerk, or the Odysseus. And what do all of them have in common? First, they are all awesome watches with timeless designs and complicated movements, and second, almost all of them either held or increased their value in the past few years. Take for example a brand-new A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Date, which had a value increase from $109,000 to around $118,000, achieving a plus of around 8%, which in this price category, is quite a lot. But when there is a winner, there is always a loser. In this case, it’s the rose golden Lange 1, which decreased from $39,900 retail to around $34,000 on the grey markets, meaning a percentual decrease of around 15%.
Which A. Lange & Söhne watches hold their value? A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk, A. Lange & Söhne Datograph
Known for their extravagant design and astronomical prices, Richard Mille is currently among the most hyped watch brands out there, with prices skyrocketing year for year. Like F.P. Journe, RM was founded back in 1999, which makes them a relatively new watch company. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of their watches, for me, they are just too much. But independent from me liking their style, I have to admit that Richard Mille is currently one of the hottest watch brands out there. Having established a cult-like following, who adore their timepieces, Richard Mille has no problem selling 6-figure watches. In fact, they are so sought-after, that you just won’t get an RM from a boutique. And that’s where the grey market comes to play.
Let’s take for example the Richard Mille Automatic Flyback Chronograph, with the reference RM11-03. Retailing for $130,500, the RM11-03 is now being sold on Chrono24 for a whopping $480,000. In case you didn’t grasp that, let me give you the exact percentage of that increase. 267.8%. 267.8% increase of value in just a few years and on a watch that retails for $130k. That’s quite the number, isn’t it? And those crazy increases in value can be observed with other Richard Mille watches as well, like the RM 030 or the RM 67-02. Basically, you can buy almost every Richard Mille today and expect an increase in value.
Which Richard Mille watches hold their value? Richard Mille RM11-03, Richard Mille RM 030, Richard Mille RM 67-02, and many others.
Let’s be clear here. If you want to invest in watches, to make a profit, go for either Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, or Richard Mille. And be careful, not all of their watches guarantee a high return. So, what exact watches should you invest in? Try to go for the steel sports models, which are currently very hot in the market. Great examples are watches like the Rolex Submariner, the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and the Vacheron Constantin Overseas. An exception in this list is Richard Mille, which managed to build up a big hype around their watches, making almost every watch of theirs investable, with profit margins ranging from 50% all the way to 260%, which is just crazy.
Anyway, this was my complete guide on watch investments. As mentioned earlier, I personally think that a private collector shouldn’t buy a watch purely as an investment, but more because they like its heritage, looks, and beautiful mechanical movement. But hey, this decision isn’t for me to make, because, in the end, everyone can do with their hard-earned money what they want. Right?