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Why There Is Value in Luxury Timepieces

Paul Altieri

While most things in our lives age into obsolescence or disrepair; well built, luxury watches frequently hold their value, and can last for generations when properly maintained. Most technologies are constantly evolving, with subsequent generations offering additional features that make their predecessors entirely outdated and obsolete. However, the primary function of a timepiece is the same as it was over a hundred years ago, and that function is to measure time.

Bob's Watches.
A Rolex Paul Newman Daytona actually appreciated in value.

Mechanical vs Quartz

The advent of the quartz movement effectively “perfected” the art of timekeeping. However, there has never been a stronger general interest in mechanical watches as there is today. While mechanical watches will inherently be less accurate than their quartz counterparts, there is a certain level of art and history that exists within the mechanical approach of timekeeping.

The there are benefits to both.
The majority of movements in a Rolex watch are mechanical and is not a Quartz.

Although the purchase of some watches can be akin to throwing money away, many luxury timepieces are able to retain a great deal of their value, and in some instances, even appreciate over the years. Certain watch manufacturers have cultivated prestigious reputations in the world of horology, and as a result of their notoriety and clout, their timepieces will never be entirely worthless, regardless of their age or condition.

Watch Investments on a Rolex is ideal.
A Rolex typically has an automatic movement, but this Oysterquartz is an exception, since it uses a battery.

Luxury Brands Are Watch Investments

Companies such as Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe, and Cartier have become household names; and even those who are entirely new to the world of watches associate them the with the production of some of the finest timepieces in the world. Other companies, such as Breitling, Panerai, and Tag Heuer are almost equally well known, and have risen to prominence and widespread recognition due to their bold designs and celebrity brand ambassadors. Unlike other brands which only trend for a short time, a fad depreciates the watch and does not retain value.

This Watch Investment may not be the best.
Panerai is a great watch to invest in, but there is a brand with a better return on investment.

In either instance, brand recognition and general notoriety result in resale values that are significantly higher than what one would otherwise expect to achieve from the sale of a pre-owned watch.

Additionally, many of the world’s premier timepiece manufacturers have watch lines that have existed for well over half a century. Watches such as Rolex’s Submariner, Omega’s Speedmaster, or Breitling’s Navitimer are true classics that have influenced the appearance and feature sets of countless other watches throughout the decades.

As the watch lines that first pioneered these now-iconic looks, these timepieces will always be somewhat in demand due to their relevance within the history of the luxury watch industry. While this demand is partially responsible for these watches ability to retain their value throughout the years, it also makes it easier to line up prospective buyers should the time come to sell the watch.

A watch such as this GMT is sure to grow.
This GMT-Master has increased in value over time due to its rarity, history, and dial.

While previous generations of smartphones and automobiles age into oblivion – effectively becoming outdated and worthless after just a few years – luxury timepieces are able to retain a great deal of their value due to the widespread notoriety of their manufacturers, and their basic, yet timeless function. Not all watches make for sound investments; however a true luxury timepiece will always be able to retain at least some of its value.

Paul Altieri