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The magical word investment immediately gets many people's hearts beating faster. However, what is worthwhile with a watch investment and what is not? First of all, allow us to issue a warning here: whether stocks, wine or luxury watches – no one can predict how the global economy will develop and if the investments made will be safe.

But if you understandably prefer to invest in tangible assets such as luxury watches based on the current market situation, then our guide is intended to provide you with 5 important tips regarding watches as an investment and to support you in your decision whether and if so, which watches could be worthwhile for you as an investment.



The basics: 5 important ground rules as a starting point for your investment decision


The first thing you should do when investing in luxury watches is to follow a few essential basic rules and advice. These are obvious for some people but should be mentioned here for all others.


Rule #1: Brand and model

In principle, it can be observed that the watches of the largest manufacturers such as Rolex, Audemars Piguet or Patek Philippe in particular can achieve fantastic returns. But what is the reason for this?


Rolex Sea-Dweller 126600 watch under water
ROLEX SEA-DWELLER 126600


Among other things, this is due to the enormous demand for certain reference numbers of watches and their limited availability. Similar to wine, it depends on the year of production and the number of pieces. For example, if a watch has only been produced 100 times, it is incredibly rare and therefore highly sought after. In addition, collectors often attach great importance to the history of the manufacturer and the individual model. So if you buy a watch from a well-known brand, you can be sure that not only you, but also many other people will like it.


Rule #2: Rare models

Pay attention to the exact reference number of the respective watch! The models of one manufacturer are often very similar and can hardly be distinguished at first glance. In this case the reference number can be decisive. Manufacturing flaws or quickly discontinued designs are the key to investment success. In addition, there may be a possible, prominent previous owner. This can cause the value of a watch to skyrocket to astronomical heights. Just to mention briefly the legendary Paul Newman Daytona, which cost a few hundred dollars at the time of purchase and only recently changed hands for a few million dollars, or the McQueen Submariner. But these are extremely rare cases!


Rule #3: The Full Set

Actually quite simple: A watch alone is beautiful, but as a complete, so-called "full set", consisting of the watch, the original box and the accompanying papers, it is even more beautiful and also much more sought after by collectors. Here it is absolutely necessary that the box and papers are originals and belong to this one explicit watch.


Rule #4: Mechanical beats quartz

A general rule of thumb that should not be underestimated: Watches with mechanical movements are much more popular among collectors than those with electronic quartz movements. Of course, this is now simply put, but exceptions confirm the rule: Quartz watches produced in limited quantity by well-known brands such as the Patek Philippe Nautilus (ref. 7011/1G) enjoy a certain stability of value, if not even a small increase in value.


Rule #5: Maintenance

Do not underestimate the maintenance costs of a watch collection! If you want your watch to be a worthwhile investment in the long run, it will only be so if it is in very good condition. Good care, proper maintenance, safe storage such as a good vault or safe deposit box and regular inspections are indispensable for this. A Rolex, for example, only needs an inspection after about 6 to 7 years, but can quickly cost between 500 and 1,000 euros. So make sure you pay attention to the condition of your pets and always keep the maintenance costs in mind. If you skip an inspection or do not have one done at all, the costs of a repair can skyrocket exponentially.


Which watches are suitable for investment?


Classics from Rolex: Daytona, Submariner, GMT-Master II

Let's get to one of the most important questions: Which timepieces are actually suitable as investments and which are not? If you follow the above rules, the selection is considerably narrower. Rather, a few of the absolute investment classics can be identified.


Rolex Pepsi 126710BLRO with black background
ROLEX GMT-MASTER II 126710BLRO


Relatively young models such as the Rolex Daytona (ref. 116500LN) or the Rolex Submariner (ref. 116610LV) enjoy considerable popularity despite their "short" existence. Endlessly long waiting lists are causing prices on the grey market to skyrocket, so that even in the relatively short term there is an immense potential for value appreciation. Indeed, the same applies to all steel models of the Rolex Daytona and the Patek Philippe Nautilus (ref. 5711/1A), which, together with the GMT-Master II (ref. 126710BLRO), are currently among the most sought-after wristwatches.


The obstacle is limited availability

Perhaps the biggest obstacle with these models: the limited availability at list price. The waiting lists already mentioned drastically reduce the chance of a high, short-term return. Instead, one can continue to expect a long-term, slow increase in grey market prices, especially for the Rolex Daytona. Even if you buy an already pre-owned model.


Rolex sports models: Submariner, Sea-Dweller, Deepsea

A further indication of a possibly worthwhile investment would generally be the sports models from Rolex. The Submariner Date ref. 116610LN and No-Date ref. 114060, watches of the GMT-Master II, the Sea-Dweller and the Deepsea series are already demanding amounts well above the list price on the grey market. On the other hand, the Air-King or Explorer models might not be a good investment. Although these watches are still excellent timepieces that live up to the name of the manufacturer in every respect, they enjoy much smaller popularity on the second-hand market.


Close-up of a Rolex GMT-Master 116710LN watch dial
ROLEX GMT-MASTER II 116710LN


Audemars Piguet and A. Lange & Söhne

Not only Rolex or Patek Philippe offer models with a significant increase in value. Audemars Piguet with the steel models of the Royal Oak series is also worth considering. Just as the German manufacturer A. Lange & Söhne designed a Dresswatch with the Lange 1 model, which has been unrivalled ever since. With the latter, a slow but steady increase in value has been observed since 1994, which can also be expected in the future.

However, you should be cautious if you only consider the materials used. Of course, gold or platinum always retains a certain value, but a golden wristwatch has a gold value of around 5,000 to 6,000 euros, while the model can cost over 30,000 euros. Therefore, do not necessarily be tempted by the material of the watch to buy it.


Watches as a worthwhile investment?


Our answer to this question is decisive: "It depends". If you are interested in watches anyway, if you are familiar with the subject and if you could have fun collecting various models, then it is definitely worth it. On the other hand, if you are simply looking for a quick investment opportunity to achieve high returns in the short term, we advise against it. Nevertheless, you could be successful with it. The probability is however lower. In addition, you would first have to work for hours through various price catalogues, guides and websites to get a well-founded overview and who likes to work on something that doesn't interest you at all?

Nevertheless, in our opinion, we are supporters of investing in tangible assets such as luxury watches, as they retain their value for the most part and yet are much more fascinating than a virtual savings account. And even if it's only "a few hundred euros" over the years, it's comforting to know that by investing in a luxury watch you have at least not burned your money, but instead invested it safely and even increased it a little.