47 0 0 0 13 6. There’s a tendency for people to refer to expensive purchases as investments. Yet televisions hold their value buying a rolex as an investment as well as a Cosmo Kramer business idea holds oil. Clearly, pretty much anything with a technological expiration date is a bad financial investment.
You know, the ones that don’t use electricity and are technologically static, immune from cutting-edge developments? People don’t buy mechanical watches for hi-tech features, so they’re not at risk of becoming obsolete. And yet it would be silly to view a watch, or a collection of watches, as a core component of your investment portfolio. Buying low and selling high doesn’t typically work so well in the watch world.
A large part of the reason, Adams says, is the fickle and emotional nature of the watch market. A single collector alone has the power to influence the tastes, trends, and values of the entire market. Pop culture plays a role too: There’s no doubt that James Bond propelled Rolex even higher when it debuted on Sean Connery’s wrist in Dr. If you’re looking for an easy, safe, blue-chip investment, put your money into a mutual fund. Part of this is because the ultra-high-rolling watch world may also be in the midst of a bit of a bubble, according to Adams, who points to the huge watch auctions that are reminiscent of the art world. Paul Altieri, a watch expert and CEO of leading pre-owned and vintage Rolex dealer Bob’s Watches.
So what watches best hold their value? Interestingly, they’re almost all made by Rolex. Everybody seems to agree on this. Rolex has spent decades creating the marketing image that a Rolex watch is a sign of success—it also happens to be a good watch.
Rolex’s dominance on the second-hand market is the reason why Altieri structures his whole business around a single brand. They’ve held their value the best. They dominate the new market and the old market. Not all Rolexes mature equally, however. Altieri, who chalks this up to the more casual nature of a watch designed for a job or use, not a formal occasion. One of the reasons for Rolex’s success in value retention, according to Adams, is that it has kept the product line small, enabling many of these watches to become household names.
Omega, in comparison, does okay on the second-hand market, but has hurt itself by peppering the field with so many different models over the years. While you shouldn’t count on a watch to produce a solid ROI, you can do a few things besides just getting a Rolex to give yourself the best chance at making a profit in 10 or 20 years. After 20 or 30 years it starts to appreciate gradually in value—that’s what’s happened to almost all Rolex watches. So we’re starting to see the 16800 become collectible. That’s the last Submariner made before the current one now. As for why vintage models are most likely to keep going up in value, well, the limited supply is key.
They’ve only made so many 5512s, one of the first Submariners with a crown guard, and there’s a finite amount of those left and every year more and more die off. The other advantage of vintage, says Adams, is increased visibility of the market. You already know everything which happens with that product, you know the demand, how well they’ve aged, the competition. You can look back on a watch and see its complete history and make a conclusion. You know generally how it’s held up.