How to Spot a Watch Worth Investing in

Are you looking to make an investment in something beyond your usual stocks and shares? Then it might be the right moment to sink your teeth into the luxury watch market.

In this article, Michael Ayres, from watch and jewellery specialists Est.1897, shares some of his 27 years’ experience in the field to help you start a collection with your first investment timepiece.

Though they might not be the most obvious investment for an entrepreneur, a carefully chosen wristwatch can steadily increase its worth over time. And, even if it doesn’t, many models will hold onto their value, presenting themselves as a smart choice to guard against the likes of inflation.

Here in the UK, interest in quality timepieces has seen a steady rise in recent years: the latest figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry show that the value of imports to the country have risen by 6.4% since 2016. And, with this rising demand comes more opportunity for an eagle-eyed collector to kick start their own watch investment portfolio.

With this in mind, I’ve put together a few key points that you should consider when it comes to choosing an investment watch.

You need to do your homework

If you’re new to the world of luxury watches, it’s important to know you can’t just pick something from one of the top brands and expect its value to grow. Like any market, there are trends you have to learn before jumping in.

Some brands will be on an upward spike, others will find themselves on a slope, and even within a watchmaker’s range, there are lines that are a safer bet than others. Take the time to track who the movers and shakers are and you’re likely to make a better decision.

Know which brands are safe bets

It’s likely that you’ll want your first investment watch to be a solid bet that isn’t in danger of depreciating. There are two go-to watchmakers for this: Rolex and Patek Phillipe. Both have a long and storied history in making fine timepieces and both brands have regularly been seen on the wrists of the rich and famous, which makes them highly desirable.

Rolex is far and away the most popular investment watch brand: their Daytona and Submariner lines are iconic and a great choice for the first-time collector. Patek Phillipe have a higher price point than Rolexes, but you’re paying the cost of their incredible exclusivity and investment potential. Which brand you choose will probably depend on your budget, but you can really bank on these brands.

There are also other Swiss brands that represent a fairly low-risk investment, such as Omega, TAG Heuer, and Breitling, though it’s best to do some research into particular designs to find the one that can deliver the best return for your price point.

Recognise the features that make a watch special

When you’re starting your watch collection, it pays to develop a real eye for detail. Often, a model with unique features, such as a special dial or one-off movement, will become highly sought after in the future. A famous example, as reported by Haute Time, was the Rolex Daytona Reference 16520 that featured a Patrizzi dial that became discoloured over time. This unique feature made the model highly sought after among collectors and incredibly valuable.

So, as you’re looking to expand your portfolio, it’s well worth staying on top of the news within the watch industry and talk among the collector community. You might just pick up on a particular special edition being released or discover a model with a story worth investing in.

Buy from a trusted second-hand dealer

If you’re looking for the perfect timepiece, you don’t need to confine yourself to the new watch market. As we’ve mentioned, many watches hold their value, which makes a second-hand purchase a viable option too. However, there is a huge global demand for replica watches that are good enough to fool all but the most trained eye, so it’s vital that you shop through a reputable dealer.

There are even premium watches out there that started out life as the genuine article, but may have had their parts removed or replaced with non-official components. You should be able to ask a trusted dealer about the history of a watch, but if they can’t supply sufficient details, you should think twice about investing.

Take my advice on board and you’ll be in a great position to get your investment watch portfolio off the ground. However, remember to always keep your own personal taste in mind too, especially if you plan on wearing any of your timepieces. Then, even if a watch does depreciate, you’ll still have something that you will love to wear in your collection.