When it comes to investing in watches, there are a few brands that top any collector’s list.
Of course, you have your ‘Big Three’ or ‘Holy Trinity’: Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. Other watchmakers that are commonly touted as producing good investment options include A. Lange & Söhne, Cartier and Omega. But the one brand that any watch fan, fund manager or even man on the street will name is Rolex – and for good reason.
Arguably the world’s most valuable luxury brand, investing in Rolex pieces are a no-brainer. Popular models like the GMT-Master II and Cosmograph Daytona (as well as models from Rolex’s sister brand Tudor such as the Heritage Black Bay) are consistently profitable investment options thanks to their limited supply and high demand. But picking which horological horse to back when it comes to the Geneva brand isn’t as straight-forward as many would claim.
That’s why DMARGE sat down with Carol Altieri, the owner and COO of Bob’s Watches – the world’s largest online Rolex exchange and an expert on the brand – who shared some key insights about which Rolex models stand out as investment opportunities moving into 2021.
Submariners and new models remain in demand
“The models I’ve seen the biggest increase in value over the long haul – I’ve been doing this for ten years now – are definitely the Submariners,” Altieri relates.
In particular, she mentions the five-digit references, such as the 16610 or 14060 (better known as the ‘No Date’) as particular standouts, Bob’s Watches having observed a 20% increase in value for these models over 2020.
“They’re probably going up at least US$2000 USD a year in terms of value. They introduced this newer 41mm model this year… Everyone’s trying to sell the new ones and they want a ton of money for them”.
The other big reveal this year from Rolex was that their stalwart, ‘base model’ Oyster Perpetual range got a big revamp, with two new 41mm models with a silver and black dial respectively, and five new 36mm models with particularly colourful lacquer dials: candy pink, turquoise blue, yellow, coral red and green.
These new colourful 36mms have been selling at 50 to 70% over their retail price, according to Altieri – and that trend is continuing to rise. Rolex is normally quite restrained when it comes to colour choices for their watches, so these unusual models are likely to remain solid investments into the future.
The gold standard
Another big sales trend Bob’s Watches has observed this year is people buying up gold Rolexes, Altieri says.
“Anything gold has gone through the roof. I don’t know if it’s the gold prices right now, or if it’s COVID and people are investing… They treat Rolex like it’s a commodity.”
It’s quite an old-fashioned approach to watch investing – gold is a classic commodity to invest in, and weathers market changes better than other investment goods such as stocks or even real estate (although it’s not foolproof). Even if the popularity of a watch model declines – or worst-case scenario, the economy absolutely goes to shit – a solid gold watch will at least be as valuable as the gold it’s made out of, although that’s usually a fraction of their retail price, as this Montredo article reveals.
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Gold prices hit an all-time high earlier this year in August, during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. Prices have since stabilised but remain above 60 USD a gram.
Ladies’ watches are in demand
Perhaps the most unusual Rolex phenomenon Bob’s Watches has seen in 2020 is a sudden rise in popularity in small women’s models – traditionally Rolex’s least desirable models.
“Ladies’ 26mm watches – the iconic little lady’s Rolexes from the 80s and 90s – we can’t keep them in stock! I’m paying probably 30% more and they’re selling for 30% more,” Altieri shares.
“Before COVID, the ladies watches were steady, you know, we buy them and we sell them and we don’t chase them. Now we’re chasing after them because everybody seems to want them, they’re just really selling like crazy right now.”