Are Watches a Good Investment? Exploring the Surge in Demand for Luxury Vintage Watches


Over the last few years, the popularity of investment in luxury vintage watches has been on the rise. Think of watches like a Rolex GMT Master or an Omega Speedmaster.

There’s something exciting about having hold of a tangible asset that’s worth a lot of money.

Watches like the Rolex and Omega are timepieces that have been painstakingly made to be intricately detailed. They are historically and aesthetically valuable and are on every watch collector’s “must-have” list.

A beautiful watch is something that’s passed down as a family heirloom through generations.

Does this make them a good investment to make? Many people seem to think so.

In this post, we’ll look at how this interest has come about, the features of a good investment piece and what potential investors should look for when they’re thinking of buying.

The Interest In Watch Collecting Is Bigger Than Ever

There’s a level of class and luxury with vintage watches that cannot be matched by a modern alternative. They’re a testament to the skill and dedication of horologists who trained for years to be experts in their field.

The problem (and equally, the benefit) with this, however, is that there are too many people who all have the same opinion. It’s caused somewhat of a supply and demand issue. Online watch auctions are seeing record-high numbers of bidders.

There’s only a finite number of vintage watches available which is part of what makes them so desirable. Manufacturers are finding themselves in a position where they are struggling to cope with the demand and can’t source popular pieces quick enough.

This has helped to see the prices steadily increase and if investors can get a hold of what they’re looking for, they’re desperate to buy it. This is because they know they’re going to get their money back – and more – when it comes to selling it later down the line.

Are Luxury Watches a Good Investment?

Vintage luxury watches are a good investment. After all, people are always going to want to know what time it is. The best way to think of it is more like a piece of jewellery than simply a watch.

So long as the piece is looked after, it’s not something that’s going to depreciate in value over time. Just like time is a constant, so is the value of a luxury watch.

There’s something so appealing about having a beautiful wristwatch in your possession.

It’s an item that people love to collect and they enjoy the feeling of finally finding a particular piece.

Interest rates at the bank are at an all-time low. There’s very little return on investment in keeping your money sitting in a savings account. If it’s accruing anything, it’s cobwebs. This has caused people to look at other ways of investing their money, with some methods being more high-risk than others.

In comparison to these other investments, it’s likely that the value of a watch is going to have a more consistent and reliable rate of growth than some other options. It’s certainly much less risky than putting your money into volatile markets such as stocks or crypto.

Why Do People Invest In Watches?

Not everyone is out to make a fortune. Instead, some people are looking for that special something they can treasure forever. So, why watches?

Or, more specifically, why a luxury vintage watch?

1.   To Make Money

As mentioned above, it’s a case of supply and demand. The interest in vintage watches and some pieces in particular far outweighs their availability. This makes them valuable.

For example, some models of Rolex have waitlists that are years long before avid collectors can get their hands on them. People are willing to pay over the odds for the timepiece they want which pushes the prices up. And that’s great news for investors.

2.   To Leave a Legacy

We all want something special that we can pass down to our children as part of our legacy.

Jewellery and watches are perfect for this because they’re something that doesn’t spoil and won’t go out of fashion. They have a real sentimental value to them and remind us of the people we loved who wore them.

Luxury watches are built to last a lifetime and often have a story to tell behind them. This makes them wonderful pieces to hold on to.

3.   As a Celebration Piece

Big birthday? New Job? Getting married? There are a million reasons why it’s a good idea to invest in a new watch in celebration of a life event. They help to mark the occasion and they’re a goal to strive towards. That’s how much the thought of owning a luxury watch means to people.

4.   To Wear!

Crazy, right? Watches are made to be worn and the people who buy them do so because they love them and want to wear them every day.

A luxury vintage watch is a true conversation piece and has an air of sophistication and class. Every time you check the time you get to look at the beautiful piece of art on your wrist. Collectors and admirers alike will compliment a wearer when they see a beautiful watch sitting on their wrist.

Luxury Vintage Watch Brands to Look Out For

When you think of luxury watch brands, which ones come to mind? The most obvious answer is likely to be Rolex.

Some other vintage luxury watch brands and models to look out for are:

  • Breitling
  • TAG Heuer
  • Audemars Piguet
  • Breguet
  • Cartier
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre
  • Lange & Söhne
  • Seiko
  • Tissot
  • Omega

These brands all vary in style, cost, and availability.

What Features Make a Watch a Good Investment?

If you’re new to the world of watches, it’s hard to know exactly what to look for when buying an investment piece. Some tips include:

  • Classic styles hold their value more than fashion pieces do
  • Pieces with an interesting backstory or historical significance are likely to be more interesting to potential buyers
  • Limited edition or rare pieces will attract more attention and may be worth more given that there are fewer in circulation
  • The condition of the watch should be commensurate with how much you’re paying for it. Don’t overpay simply because you like the look of a piece
  • Look carefully at the watch’s movement and the use of materials. Does it look like it’s supposed to or has it been altered?
  • Research popular pieces and look for what collectors are trying to find. There are plenty of resources online that have this information.

As with anything, the more you do something, the better you become at doing it. When you have some experience in researching and buying watches, you’ll become accustomed to looking for characteristics that make them a good investment.

Until you reach this point, it’s a good idea to instruct an expert to help you in sourcing pieces or to lean on if you’re unsure about something you’re thinking of buying.

Protect Yourself Against Fakes

With any high value purchase you make, there’s a risk that you’ll be sold something that isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Watches are no different. There are some incredibly good fakes on the market. While to some this might be exactly what they’re looking for, it’s a nightmare for investors.

Having said that, how do you protect yourself against spending your money on a dud? Here are some tips on protecting yourself against accidentally buying a fake.

1.   Buy The Seller

What does this mean?

Put simply it means making sure you know the person (or company) you’re buying from inside out. While you can never be completely certain that someone is bona fide, you can do as much due diligence as possible and get a good feel for who you’re buying from.

Some ways you can investigate the seller are:

  • Checking out past reviews from previous buyers. If you’re buying from a company online, they might have reviews on
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. It’s your money that you’re spending so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you can. If the seller gets irritated with answering, this is probably a red flag.
  • Always ask to see lots of pictures of the watch from varying angles.
  • Speaking to the seller on the phone will help you to get a better determination of their legitimacy than just speaking via email. If you can meet them in person, even better.
  • If the piece is being sold by an auction house, don’t rest on your laurels that it means it’s legitimate. Always do your own research.
  • Ask for the box and papers always. It might not be available, especially if the watch is particularly old, but it’s a good factor in authenticating the watch.
2.   If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is

If someone is selling a “genuine vintage Rolex” for a few hundred pounds, it’s probably best to run in the other direction. It might be an old adage but if something sounds too good to be true, it’s usually because it is.

Being aware of how much watches usually go for will help you to spot possible fakes a mile off. This also helps you to determine whether you’re likely to receive a good return on your investment when it comes to selling it. Having a strict budget in mind can help you to avoid being tempted to buy pieces on a whim simply because they sound like a good deal.

3.   Research, Research, Research

The most important thing you can do is to take your research seriously. Learn about the different brands of watches and their signature pieces. Read as much as you can so you know exactly what to look out for, both good and bad.

Think of a watch as a piece of ID. Certain watches will have determinative features to look out for that prove their authenticity. Looking for these will be a clear indication that the watch is either the real deal or a valueless fake.

Knowing exactly what the watch should look like will also help you to identify whether it has had significant work done to it that will reduce its value. For example, it should have a gold strap rather than a leather one.

Compare what you’re buying to what the watch should look like. There are so many pictures online that this is really easy to do.

Last, but probably the most important point is, to trust your gut. If something feels off, it’s usually a good indication it’s not the right piece for you.

Where Can You Buy Luxury Vintage Watches?

Some of the places you can source watches from include:

  • Online – there are lots of websites selling watches out there. Some of them are more reputable than others so do your research before you decide to buy.
  • Auction houses – both in person and online.
  • Jewellers – either online or a brick-and-mortar store.
  • From connections you make through your network – if you’ve instructed an expert or a friend to help you, they may know someone who’s got pieces they’re looking to sell.

How Do You Protect Your Investment?

Luxury vintage watches can set you back tens of thousands of pounds. Having something of that value lying around your home leaves you at risk and it’s important that you make sure you’re protecting yourself and your assets.

At TH March we offer specialist watch insurance that gives you cover in the event of accidental damage, loss and theft of your items. With over 130 years of experience in jewellery insurance, we offer affordable cover and a hassle-free claims process that helps you to make sure your investment is looked after.

Why not fill in this form and we can offer you an instant quote?