More than any other possession a man can own, watches are status symbols. These days, most people are content with just checking the time on their phone or wearing a smartwatch – which is fine. The primary purpose of a watch is to keep track of time, of course.
But watches are more than just instruments. They are examples of the finest achievements in human engineering and science. Incredibly precise, beautifully crafted and oozing with history, class and style… Owning a BMW might impress some people but an original Grand Seiko? That’s a sign of a man with taste who’s also tasted success.
Another key difference between cars and watches is that while most luxury automobiles are a terrible investment – cars losing thousands of dollars in depreciation as soon as they leave the dealership – luxury watches are one of the more stable, dependable investments you can make. Timepieces from brands like ‘the holy trinity’ (Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin) or other famous watchmakers like A. Lange & Söhne, Breitling, OMEGA or Rolex tend to not only hold their value but become quite profitable little investments, particularly if there’s a story behind a model or they’re a limited release.
Watches are looking like an ever more desirable investment opportunity in 2021, while stock markets are so unpredictable and other investment opportunities are drying up. Rather than gambling your money on risky trades, the smart move to make is to invest in fine timepieces.
DMARGE spoke exclusively to Tim Stracke, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Chrono24 who notes that the demand for luxury watches has never been higher, in part thanks to the COVID-19 crisis.
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“After a temporary dip in sales at the beginning of the crisis, Chrono24’s numbers have since recovered and are now 13% higher than they were before the coronavirus. Many customers have come to view mechanical luxury watches as an exciting and highly personal form of investment. Both steady value appreciation and current opportunities to enter the market have played a major role in this. Our users’ own reported interests have confirmed as much: Since the start of the crisis, we have seen 40% more visits from users interested in finance and investments.”
Chrono24 is the world’s biggest online marketplace for luxury watches, with over 475,000 watches from over 33,000 dealers and private sellers in more than 100 countries on sale every month. It’s inarguably one of the best places to find investment-worthy watches, and the Chrono24 team’s diligent data crunching provides of the best analysis of the watch aftermarket available.
Online marketplaces like Chrono24 will become increasingly more relevant as The Spicy Cough remains a feature of daily life. With boutiques and dealers having to close their doors and limit customer numbers, online watch trading will continue to cement itself as a pillar of the luxury goods space.
“We sell luxury watches on a level we did never before,” Stracke relates.
“I think during lockdown even the more offline-orientated buyers realized that buying luxury watches online just works and now they stick to it.”
With more and more watches available online and collecting Hublots looking to be a far less stressful exercise than buying Tesla stocks, we consulted the experts at Chrono24 who shared some exclusive insights about what brands and models to consider for your next watch investment.
The ‘rapper brands’ continue to reign supreme
Hip-hop artists love name-dropping luxury brands in their lyrics, with some watchmakers cropping up more than any others: Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Rolex. They continue to be solid investments thanks to their high desirability, experiencing consistent growth in recent years: naturally, Chrono24 sells hundreds of these prestigious timepieces every year. 2020 was no exception.
“I think the value increase of brands like Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet or Rolex are just incredible and bring them into focus,” Stracke communicates.
Prices for the ten bestselling Audemars Piguet models went up by 73% between July 2015 and July 2020, according to Chrono24.
When it comes to Patek Philippe, their ten most popular models on Chrono24 saw even more impressive appreciation, with prices increasing by an average of 105% over the last five years.
Rolexes of all sizes and shapes continue to sell like hotcakes. In August last year, an 18ct gold Rolex Daytona John Player Special (ref. 6264) sold for over 1.2 million GBP (~2.2 million AUD), breaking not only Sotheby’s own record for a watch sold in an online auction but making a new record price for a Daytona John Player Special, as well as breaking the record for a wristwatch auctioned in the UK.
Watches increasing in value
- The special-edition OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch “First OMEGA in Space” (ref. 3220.127.116.11.01.001), currently the sixth most popular OMEGA watch on Chrono24 in terms of sales, has appreciated in value by 12% over the last three years. With a million and one different ‘Speedy’ references out there, it’s important to invest in one that’s actually desirable beyond the short-term hype of a new release.
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- Stainless steel Rolexes enjoy widespread popularity, and the Datejust (ref. 126334) is no exception. The Datejust is currently number ten on the list of bestselling Rolex watches on Chrono24. Of the various Datejust models, the version with a steel case and blue dial is particularly highly coveted (blue dials are always in vogue, with 2020 really ‘the year of the blue dial’). Steadily increasing prices is the name of the game with these bad boys: in the last three years, they’ve gained about 25% in value, currently selling for around 17,000 AUD on Chrono24.
- Tudor, Rolex’s sister brand, has made a particularly concerted effort over the last few years to expand its portfolio to differentiate themselves from their parent company. It’s paid off: they struck gold with the release of the retro Black Bay Fifty-Eight (ref. 79030), one of the most hyped watches of 2020. Currently the third most popular Tudor on Chrono24, its price has increased by 12% over the last 12 months up to 6,000 AUD (a nice little return on investment).
Watches worth investing in
- Omega recently redesigned the legendary Seamaster Diver 300M (ref. 18.104.22.168.01.001). When it comes to Omega sales on Chrono24, this model takes the top spot among watch enthusiasts in the United States (one of the world’s biggest and most influential markets for luxury watches). It remains a high-end entry point into the world of luxury watches.
- The Rolex GMT-Master collection has a long history to look back on. Today, the modern GMT-Master II “Batman” (ref. 126710BLNR) takes third place in terms of Rolex sales on Chrono24, placing it ahead of the iconic “Pepsi” (one of the most famous cult Rolexes). This model has seen some ups and downs over the last twelve months. Even though a correction caused its price to drop by 24%, at 23,000 AUD the GMT-Master II still demands well over its list price and is, thus, a safe investment according to Chrono24’s experts.
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- Tudor also offers an attractive timepiece with a second time zone, namely the Black Bay GMT “Pepsi” (ref. 79830RB). The “Pepsi” is the bestselling Tudor on Chrono24, especially the version on a steel bracelet. Prices for this model have sunk by about 5% in the last twelve months. However, it is still a fantastic entry point into the world of luxury watches with prices around 6,500 AUD – with Tudor going from strength to strength this year, now might be just the right time to buy.
Other things to consider
Much like any investment, making money shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all when it comes to luxury watches. There’s a risk involved with any investment no matter how safe people purport it to be. You don’t want to be left with a bunch of timepieces you’d never wear in a million years.
“Apart from the plain numbers, I would recommend buying watches, that matter to you and have an emotional impact when checking the time – every time,” Tim Stracke says.
DMARGE founder and publisher Luc Wiesman agrees: “how many other things in your investment portfolio can you wear on your wrist?”
Data from July 2020.