How do you tell if a luxury watch is a good investment? While there is no specific method to predict the luxury watch market, you can’t likely lose with these 6 luxury watch brands. The values of famous models from these brands have held up or increased significantly in the last few decades.
Rolex's are some of the most sought-after watches out there by investors looking to store value or diversify their portfolios, and here’s why their value rarely falls in the resale market:
Model, Innovation & Technical Upgrade
Rolex's exceptional craftsmanship is the force behind the success of almost all of its famous models.
Notable models known for holding their value are the Daytona and Submariner GMT series, two beautiful pieces with excellent value in today’s resale market.
Rolex Submariner, for example, keeps increasing in value along with continuous technical improvements the brand has faithfully kept since 1954. Submariner was intended for scuba divers but ended up in the hands of those with a soft spot for fine pieces, who turned it into a fashion accessory, thanks to its exquisite Ceramics and quality steel construction.
Expensive Base Materials
Like other luxury watchmakers, Rolex has a list of signature materials it uses to construct outstanding watches. Some of these one-of-a-kind materials are Oystersteel, Cerachrome, Everose gold, and what Rolex calls “Chromalight," a sophisticated photo-luminescent material for dials
These materials contribute to the superior value and aesthetics of the timepiece. A good example is when Rolex Explorer 36 was upgraded to Oystersteel from the original steel and saw a 60% jump in price from $9,300. Oystersteel is harder to make and can only be produced from 904L steel, whereas standard steel is made from 316L steel.
Another thing about Oystersteel is its enhanced anti-corrosion properties, which keep the watch looking fresh. Platinum is now being incorporated into the alloy used to produce Everose gold. This development has distinguished Everose pieces from the rest, causing their prices to increase, especially among the members of the GMT series.
Rolex likes to regulate the supply of their watches by keeping the numbers low, but other factors, such as COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions, have made it even harder to get a piece. Regulations help increase the demand prices of a few coveted pieces. Low availability of some of the most sought-after watches in the retail store means you can fetch more dollars on your piece in the resale market.
Reference Number & Inner Working of the Timepiece
Your Rolex's quality and unique reference number can set it apart in the competitive vintage watch market where uniqueness is highly-priced. A highly competitive piece based on those two factors would be worth more than other competitors in the market, which might influence the prospects of your piece increasing in value over the years.
Take GMT Master II, for example; the watch has seen a 117% increase in resale value because it comes with caliber 3285 movements (for changing local time without stopping the watch) and allows pilots to reference a third-time zone.
Another example is a Rolex bearing the word "Submariner" in red across the base. Since the lettering has been changed to White recently, only the vintage Submariner – nicknamed "Red Sub" – still has the red lettering. The price of Submariner 1680s has skyrocketed as a result of this change. The watch's dial (more so its current condition) and rarity greatly influence the value of the Rolex timepiece.
Influence by Celebrities
Sean Connery turned a then-average Rolex watch (Submariner 6538 “Big Crown”) into a hot commodity after wearing it in a famous 1963 film – Dr. No. Increased interest in the watch caused the value to rise with it.
This model fetched between $81,180 and $250,615 in an auction in 2012. Popular culture relies on celebrity endorsements and the influence of a famous person who may be wearing a Rolex.
John Mayer endorsed Rolex Daytona Rolex, causing the model's value to shoot up the pre-owned market and sending everyone into a frenzy to get one.
Jay-Z, Ed Sheeran, and Michael Jordan could be seen with their pieces soon after that.
The innovation and quality of Richard Mille timepieces helps them add value. Like most other luxury watchmakers, the brand regulates the supply of their watches, helping keep their value level high.
A good example is the famous RM 52-05 – only thirty pieces of this masterpiece exist. As a result, this model’s value appreciates at an annual rate of about 10%. The scarcity and exclusivity of pre-owned Richard Mille timepieces make them worth keeping.
Another reason Richard Mille holds its value for a long time is that it is a young brand, having been around for only two decades. Their pieces are still considered exclusive by the elites. The brand doesn't disappoint in quality and craftsmanship either – their watches are impressively accurate, shock-resistant, and come in unique designs.
Unlike Rolex, Richard Mille shies away from adding expensive signature materials in the alloys that make their pieces.
But you might ask, why are Richard Mille watches so pricey and valuable for so long? It’s mainly because they prioritize marketing their pieces to the 1% of the world, which drives up the value by scrambling for the few available pieces and tightly holding them close to their chests for a long time.
No doubt Cartier watches are similar to Rolexes in popularity and quality, but do they retain their value as their competitors? Don’t worry if you already own one because Cartier pieces have been performing impressively in resale markets for years. Here’s why you should count on your piece to hold its value in the future:
Signature Designs Backed with History of Excellence
Cartier timepieces stand out from the increasingly crowded luxury watch market with their distinctive rectangular designs, Roman numerals, and white dials. They have kept this design for over a century.
More recent models are embellished with sparkling diamonds and other precious stones to add class and sophistication. It is not uncommon for Cartier to add value by using rare material. A good example is the Tank Louis Cartier which is made from 18K Rose Gold.
Scarcity is a value determiner in luxury products, and Cartier timepieces are no exception. The brand keeps its watches exclusive by producing a small number of watches over a long period, which causes collectors to scramble for them. Cartier is stricter than Rolex when it comes to quantity regulation both in retail and resale markets. The limited production, alongside their impeccable craftsmanship and exquisite design, helps keep their value steady for years.
The problem with Patek Phillippe watches is not their resale value but whether you can get one in the first place. Since its founding in 1839, Patek Phillippe has produced less than one million watches! This is important because Rolex takes just two years to release about the same number of pieces into the market.
If there has ever been a sincere marketing tagline, it must be Patek Phillippe’s: ‘You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.'
The patterns and design keep Audemars Piguet's resale value high, and the brand’s watches are still handmade. Handmade watches are higher-quality, cost more to acquire, and hold their value for a long time, a good example is an Audemars Pig set watch.
Audemars Piguet watches keep increasing in popularity and demand, thanks to their innovative designs and clever marketing. The brand is putting more focus on innovation. Looking at their history, the brand has taken radical shapes, from the traditional round, the rectangle, and the square, to unconventional geometrical shapes such as the trapezoid and the octagon. These case designs, made from numerous precious materials, are now complemented with different expressive dials.
Did you know Vacheron Constantin is the planet's oldest operating watchmaker? The driver behind the lasting value of their pieces is their design, a rich heritage from 1755, and the fine detailing methods employed in the production process.
A Vacheron Constantin timepiece is valued well compared to most luxury brands today. However, on average, Patek Phillippe and Rolex usually fetch more than Constantine in resale markets. So, if you are divided between the industry's big names (Rolex, Patek Phillippe, and Cartier) and Vacheron Constantin, settling for one of the former makes sense.
Although there is no specific method to predict whether the value or price of a given model of a luxury watch will increase, stay level, or drop, you can't lose with these 6 big names, such as Rolex, Cartier, and Patek Phillippe.
Reach out to G&G for any questions you may have about luxury watches.