Investing in vintage watches

Jedde
23 November 2020

Investing in watches is a controversial subject. There are watch lovers who consider it a plague, investors drive up the price of watches, especially vintage watches. Others see it as an ideal investment; you could make a nice return while enjoying your purchase immensely. In this article, I discuss why I think watch prices have gone through the roof, and whether this trend will continue. I will also discuss the effect of investing in vintage watches on prices and highlight some vintage watches that could benefit from this trend in the future.

When discussing (vintage) watch prices that have gone through the roof, it is impossible to ignore the most famous example: Rolex. The prices of vintage Rolex watches have gone through the roof in recent years.

-Rolex Submariner ref 5512.

What is happening in the vintage watch market?

Most vintage Rolex models have recently increased in price, especially sports models such as the Rolex Submariner and GMT-Master. Sports models from other brands, especially the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, have also increased in price. I see a few reasons for these price increases and why people invest in these vintage watches. Most of these models look relatively similar to their modern counterparts, so they all have a fairly modern design. Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet have raised the prices of their new watches tremendously over the past decades, this might also have increased the value of vintage watches, as some people choose similar older models instead of the newer releases.

Another factor that may be important in the recent revival of the vintage watch market is the global macroeconomic trends. For example, interest rates are extremely low, so people want to invest money rather than deposit it in the bank, which could explain the price increase. There are more examples of this; old-timers have also seen a huge increase in prices. The prices of certain cars, such as the Jaguar E-type, have tripled or quadrupled in the last ten years. The housing market has shown a similar upturn. All this suggests that people are looking for alternative investments, such as watches, which is why prices are rising.

-A classic jaguar e-type, for sale for over €150,000 Link

The final reason for the changing market conditions is obvious. Watches produced in the last century are getting older every day and as such are becoming increasingly rare, especially the models in good condition. Original watches in good condition are even harder to find, making them exceptionally rare. Investing in these vintage watches can therefore be lucrative.

What will happen to prices in the coming years?

It is clear that the market for vintage watches has seen an upward trend in recent years. What is uncertain is how the market will behave in the coming years. Interest rates are currently low. The prices have therefore risen sharply, but could well be at their limit. Corona does not help in making a prediction either, it can either be a temporary setback for the world economy or a catastrophic event. To be honest, predicting the movement of the vintage watch market is almost impossible, yet I will try. I think that prices will certainly not rise as quickly as in recent years, they might even fall slightly. I think the extreme growth of the market has created a mature full-fledged market. There will not be such extreme increases as in recent years, but you will also not lose your money when buying a vintage watch. In the end, only time will tell what really happens.

People who invested in vintage watches a few years ago are now clearly happy with that decision. However, investing in vintage watches is a controversial subject because of its side effects. It has driven up prices significantly, as such vintage watches have become less accessible to collectors. Buying a vintage watch from a reputable brand is currently out of reach for many people. The vintage watches in circulation are taken out and may sit with their owner in a safe, waiting for their value to rise. Vintage watches are rare and the supply is limited, many people hate the idea of fine specimens lying in a vault so the prices of circulating specimens rise.

How can I predict the price of a vintage watch?

As mentioned earlier, predicting the price direction of a market is incredibly difficult. Predicting the price movements of individual watches is even more difficult, but I am going to try. There are a few things that I think are relevant when choosing vintage watches that will increase in value. The most important are:

-A watch must distinguish itself from others

-It must be from a reputable brand that built quality watches; like these watches.

-It should not be too small

-It must be rare; like these watches.

-It must have a distinctive design or technical features

-The price should not have risen too much in recent years

Applying these criteria, I see a number of watches that I think will have a price increase. These are just my predictions, if you have any suggestions for watches to come here, please let me know, you can contact me at info@smoothseconds.nl.

Our picks for vintage watches that might be worth more.

-The Omega Constellation Pie Pan stands out as one of the most iconic vintage dress watches. They are reasonably affordable and have a clear, timeless appeal. Find the watch here.
-Vintage Seiko 5’s/Seikomatic Weekdaters/Seiko Skyliners. These are vintage models with a modern look. They can often be found for less than 200€.
Universal Geneva Polerouters are watches that are clearly recognisable by their iconic Gerald Genta design, they have an interesting movement and are still relatively affordable. Find the watch here.
-Universal Geneve Tri Compax. This watch has a calendar and moon phase, and is still well under $10,000. These feature modern dimensions and timeless design from a renowned brand. This watch is also one of our favourite vintage watches.Find the source here.

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