When you think of an expertly crafted luxury watch, what words come to mind?
“Elegant.” “Refined.” “Exquisite.” “Cool.” And so on, right?
Luxury watches are all those things and more. And, for fashionable dudes like us, they’re essential accessories. But many watches are something else too: valuable.
Not valuable like a shiny new car is valuable. With rare exceptions, cars are never worth more than when they roll off the dealer lot for the first time.
Used watches — at least, used luxury watches — are different. Many are legitimately investment grade: they’re likely to appreciate in value over time. That’s great news for discerning men seeking to diversify their investment portfolios — whether they’re looking to retirement decades hence, building equity in their kids’ college funds, or simply trying to save up for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
Not all investment opportunities are created equal, of course. (Tell that to the folks who bought real estate in Las Vegas circa 2006.) As you evaluate luxury watches for investment potential, here’s what you need to look for:
Storied Brand Name
Investment grade watches don’t have to be household names. Most households haven’t heard of Patek Philippe, for instance, and yet it’s among the most investable watch brands out there.
However, as a general rule, watches with recognizable nomenclatures and long-running pedigrees — your Rolexes and Omegas — hold up better on the resale market than newer entrants or niche-oriented pieces. They also tend to have more buyers, which ties in nicely with our next point . . .
Plenty of Resale Potential
The market for used luxury watches isn’t quite as liquid as the stock market — but it’s close, and getting closer all the time. Secondhand marketplaces make it easy to find willing buyers for well-known timepieces, and typically charge a fraction of the traditional broker/dealer commission to boot. If you’re serious about investing in a luxury watch, you want a piece for which there’s a robust and relatively liquid resale market, so that you can offload it quickly if and when circumstances require.
Though you certainly want to preserve it for the next generation, you don’t necessarily want to keep your investment grade luxury watch on a pedestal (or, more likely, under lock and key) for years at a time. Look for comfortable, stylish pieces — watches you don’t mind showing off from time to time, or wearing every day to work.
This should go without saying: if your watch won’t stand up to the elements, it’s not likely to stand the test of time. Look for water-resistant (or actually waterproof) timepieces with athletic appeal, as this is a huge selling point for younger, active buyers looking to make a statement on the squash court (or, you know, the treadmill).
Cultural Touchstone Status
This last criteria is also the most elusive, because it requires some future-casting.
Before you buy your investment grade luxury watch, think about how it’ll age. How will potential buyers view it 20 or 30 years down the line? It’s no accident that some of the most popular timepieces of the mid-20th century remain in high demand today. See what you can glean from their success, and buy accordingly.
Are you looking to diversify your investment portfolio (and up your style game) with an investment grade luxury watch?