Written by: Luke Rottman, Founder and Executive Editor of The Watch Adviser
I don't buy a watch, I invest in one. Whether I drop a few hundred or a few thousand on a vintage timepiece, I always keep one thing in mind: Appreciation. In all honesty, it can be near-impossible to determine the future value of many wristwatches, but there are several key attributes to look for in a watch that separate the record-breakers from the junk drawer inhabitants.
What's stamped on the dial can make or break a watch's importance, especially to collectors. Patek, Vacheron, Rolex, and Omega are widely recognized for their strong results in auctions. Eberhart, Longines, Universal Geneva, and various other small manufacturers of chronographs have seen heightened interest too, though these are rare exceptions. My advice: the big brands are great 99% of the time; just don't forget about the small brands, as you never know what they'll become down the road.
When you're buying a classic sports watch, whether it's a Rolex Sub or an AP Royal Oak, steer clear of anything two-tone -- it's just a poor investment. On the other hand, two-tone can be a wise investment when it comes to Patek and Vacheron, where this metal combo is seldom seen.
Please not that the following applies to Patek's Calatrava only. When you buy a Calatrava and you're spending considerable money, get one in steel. Don't listen to the guys who say a gold watch is two investments in one. They're either unknowledgeable or they just want to make a sale. Platinum and white gold are other alternatives to steel that MAY make you a few more bucks.You don't always have to buy what everyone likes
You don't always have to buy what everyone likes
The Daytona was once Rolex's least popular sports watch; now it's arguably the most collectible watch on the market. How could this be? At the time, industry figures and consumers took a liking to other watches, leaving Rolex's Daytona sales to well, fail. Years later, collectors finally acknowledged the scarcity and unique aesthetics of the Daytona. Plus, its use by famed racer and actor, Paul Newman, couldn't hurt its appreciation either. This is why The Watch Adviser says, "You don't always have to buy what everyone likes."
I hope you found my advice to be useful, and have realized that fine watches are one of the best possible investments. It's time to sell that Palm Beach estate, get rid of that Porsche, dump your stocks, and buy yourself a good watch.
Continue to Part II of this guide where Luke covers where to buy; how to buy below retail; and the speculative nature of collecting watches.