For many watch enthusiasts, timepieces are more than just mechanical devices that sit on a wrist and tell time. They are investments. As with any good investment, the buyer will want that watch to hold its value over time. After all, men’s luxury watches cost a lot of money.
Related: Top 10 men’s luxury watches for 2020
The question of which watches hold their value the best is a complicated one. There are no black and white answers, just shades of grey. You don’t invest in one because a celebrity might also own the same brand. People that love watches don’t buy them not to lose money. They buy a Rolex or an Audemars Piguet because they love them. So it’s complex. That said, here is my take on the Top 5:
Men’s luxury watches: Rolex
It tells time. And in a pinch you could sell, barter, or negotiate your way out of almost anything, using your Rolex as collateral. Why? Because it doesn’t matter where you go. Your Rolex will be recognized as something of value. In modern times, double-down with a steel sports model like a Submariner or GMT Master II or Sky-Dweller (if you can get one of them!). Its rarity will allow you to flip it for a profit the day you buy it.
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Men’s luxury watches: The Holy Trinity
Yes, there is a watch brand “Holy Trinity” and Rolex isn’t a member. For the uninitiated, the “Holy Trinity” in the men’s luxury watches world is comprised of Audemars Piquet, Vacheron Constantin, and Patek Philippe.
Just like Rolex, the steel sport watches are currently the hot commodity, with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Vacheron Constantin Offshore, and Patek Philippe Nautilus showing great returns and seemingly endless appreciating value. So much so that many speculate a correction must lie somewhere in the future, as pricing can only continue to rise for so long, or at least this is what collectors who want one, and do not yet own one, are hoping.
Men’s luxury watches: Spot No. 5 (trickier)
In retrospect, to make my life easier, this should have been about the four men’s luxury watches that best hold their value, and not five. Because now the job becomes a bit more difficult. However let’s start with some contenders.
Jaeger Le-Coultre, Omega, IWC, Breitling, TAG Heuer and the list could go on and on. But if I had to pick one, I’d take Jaeger-LeCoultre as my 5 pick here. My reason is that from a brand perspective I think Jaeger LeCoultre has value staying power across its lines. Not just the famous Reverso, but also the Master Control line and the sports Polaris, third in line.
What about Omega?
I can hear the moans from collectors already – what about the other brands? Omega, for example? I think that a brand like Omega is very highly regarded. And I would never suggest that the Omega Speedmaster (although not personally a favourite) would not hold its value. In fact I think it might be impossible to go wrong with an Omega Speedmaster.
I just question the staying power of the brand as a whole as opposed to a very great watch model. There are many watch models among other brands that also have the potential to hold their value very well, but only in specific models.
A Breitling Navitimer would also fall into this category – an iconic watch which will hold its value. But stray from the Navitimer and you might be disappointed in what your Breitling is worth in 10 years.
What about all the other brands?
Are there other brands that potentially hold their value better in the niche markets they serve? Of course there are. These brands are usually made by small bespoke watchmakers (and sometimes, although now rare, a single watchmaker) who produce either extremely limited quantities. Or they create pieces on a per order basis.
These one-of-a-kind objects are worth MORE than their weight in gold. But they are not manufactured in a production environment like larger brands, where multiple craftsman across specialties create fine timepieces. For this reason I have left that particular rabbit hole alone. By and large a hard-crafted timepiece by a reputable watchmaker will never depreciate in value.
The question of value
Again, when discussing value of men’s luxury watches I think one final point needs to be mentioned – that its purpose is to make you feel good. Although I think that it is wise to consider how your luxury piece will depreciate, maintain or increase in value over the years, if you don’t love it, what it is worth (should you decide to sell it one day) might not mean a thing.