Benjamin Franklin once said that “time is money,” meaning that time has monetary value when it comes to running a business. However, today it could be said that time is literally money when it comes to luxury timepieces. Last month, Christie’s auctioned off over 400 fine watches for a total of $26.5 million in sales—including a rare 1949 Rolex Oyster Perpetual, which sold for $1.2 million.
As the general public is developing a greater appreciation for fine watchmaking, as well as looking for investments that hedge inflation and volatile markets, luxury timepieces have become an investment strategy that also serves as functional fine jewelry.
Factors Involved: Investment Watches
The rarity & value of a watch depends on many factors, including craftsmanship, limited production, complicated movement, and brand name. For example, the 1949 Rolex Oyster Perpetual that was recently auction at Christie’s is an 18-karat gold, automatic with automatic jeweled lever movement, sweep center seconds, enamel dial, and star numerals.
Another example is Patek Philippe’s Sky Moon Tourbillon, the Swiss watchmaker’s most complicated timepiece. This watch has front and back dials, and displays the time, retrograde date, day, month, leap year, moon phase, angular motion of the moon, the meridian passage of Sirius and the moon, chart of stars, and sidereal time.
Other investment-grade watch brands, in addition to Patek Philippe and Rolex, are A. Lange & Söhne and Audemars Piguet. Celebrity connections, such as Paul Newman’s association with the Rolex Daytona, can also add value to a timepiece. Time of production is also a factor. Being extremely complicated mechanical devices rather than mass produced electronic ones, investment-grade watches can take up to three years to craft.
How Much Will My Watch Increase in Value?
Rising global demand for rare watches has been contributing to a steady increase in the value of these fine timepieces. Rising incomes and increasing consumer aspirations in countries like China, India, Russia and Latin America have fueled the demand for valuable mechanical watches. The most recent World Watch Report states that overall global interest in watches grew 5.7 percent, with demand being highest for legendary fine watch brands, such as Rolex and Patek Philippe.
Rare investment-grade watches have traditionally increased in value 5-15% annually. That means, a watch investment could double in value in 5-10 years–depending on the particular timepiece. It’s important to keep in mind that the more rare and prestigious a watch is, the greater the potential financial return. For example, a rare 18 karat white gold Patek Philippe that was purchased for $430,000 in 1995 was for $3.47 million in 2010.
Watches as Functional Investments
Christie’s vice-president recently said that investors (dismayed by how little their money is earning in the bank) are opting to invest in watches not only because they hold their value, but can be worn and enjoyed. At Diamond Estate Jewelry Buyers, we have noticed the same investment strategy among our clients. Luxury watches can be enjoyed by both men and women and are functional, beautiful, and prestigious heirloom investments that can be sold for a profit or passed on to the next generation.
To sell or purchase a valuable fine timepiece, please contact Diamond Estate Jewelry Buyers today. Our expert staff of watch buyers are always pleased to share our decades of experience with luxury watches with you.