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Luxury watches worth investing in

Ben Smith
Ben Smith

Time is money people! And never has that been a truer word than today, for the returns on investments on luxury watches have recently risen like billy-o.

According to Art Market Research, which has been tracking auction sales and prices of art and other collectibles since the 1970s, prices for luxury watches grew by 5.1% in the first half of last year alone.

Over the past 10 years, they’ve seen an increase of 86% in their value. That’s outperforming art, luxury handbags and even jewellery.

So what are the brands to look out for?

Rolex

For many, this is considered the king of all watch manufacturers and it has a price to match. In fact, while all luxury watches enjoyed an increase in value of 5.1% in the first half of last year, Rolex surged ahead with a 15% increase.

Seen on the wrists of the rich and famous, royalty and sport stars and of course, James Bond. Or at least Sean Connery’s incarnation of 007 - it’s no wonder these watches have a high price tag. Designs by this Swiss manufacturer continue to be highly desirable and it’s a reasonable assumption that a watch of this calibre will hold its value. Their vintage Sports models, particularly the Submariners, have really increased in value recently but that desirability has trickled down to their more modest watches helping to boost the value of all Rolex watches. A 1950s Submariner sold at auction recently for $100,000, excluding fees.

Omega

Another Swiss giant of the watch industry and another that’s graced the wrist of James Bond. Since Pierce Brosnan took on the role of James Bond, Omega has been the watch of choice for the British secret agent. Omega has been a prestigious maker of watches for generations and has even been into space. When Buzz Aldrin wore a Speedmaster on the Apollo 11 mission, the watch inevitably became known as the Moonwatch. Consequently, Speedmasters, and other Omega made watches are highly desirable. Vintage and rare versions can be extremely hard to find, further pushing up the price but making the investment all the more worthwhile.

Cartier

According to Art Market Research, Cartier watches from between 1950s to the 1970s have enjoyed a huge increase in value, particularly their more unusual shaped watch faces. The only non-Swiss manufacturer on this list and perhaps more usually associated with jewellery – it is often known as the king of jewellers – Cartier watches don’t necessarily have the immediate recognition of an Omega or Rolex but can still be highly desirable, nonetheless. Kim Kardashian certainly thought so when she shelled out a reported $379,500 for a Cartier Tank watch, originally owned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Patek Philippe

Yet another prestigious Swiss maker of watches, Patek Philippe has been in operation since 1839. It is a very popular brand for investors, offering excellent returns but their prices are consequently extremely high. The world’s most expensive watch sold at auction was a Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime which fetched an eye-watering £31m. In fact, of the top 10 most expensive watches ever sold at auction, only one isn’t a Patek Philippe. Look out for their Nautilus and Aquanaut models for the really desirable pieces.

Tudor

Tudor was founded by one of the same chaps who launched Rolex in the early 20th Century. He wanted to make a more affordable watch but without compromising on quality. Today, the company is owned by Rolex so although you’ll be getting a slightly more modestly priced watch with a Tudor, you’re still getting the reliability and craftsmanship of a Rolex. Look for the vintage or vintage-inspired models such as the Heritage Black Bay or the Heritage Advisors.

Longines

The last big Swiss watchmaker on the list. Longines are the official timekeeper for some major sporting events, including the French Open, so you know you’re getting accuracy with a Longines on your wrist.

Independents

There are plenty of independent watchmakers out there who also create beautiful timepieces that could make a sound investment. British horologist (watchmaker) Roger Smith has, according to the New York Times, made 100 watches in his 20-year career. The average waiting time for a new watch from RW Smith Watches is about five years. That keeps investors happy because it also keeps prices of used watches very high – one of Mr Smith’s watches recently sold at auction in Geneva for almost £400,000.

So there you have it, a brief overview of some of the finest luxury watches out there.

Do you want new or vintage? Desirable vintage watches often come up in our auctions and can work harder for you as an investment than buying brand new. 

Have a look at our current watch auctions and see what you could be bidding on today.