Why it is prime time to invest in wristwatches
What is it that any investor wants from an investment opportunity? First and foremost, if they are planning to hold the investment for any length of time, they want something with a proven track record of holding and possibly improving its value.
The great thing about collecting high-value, top-brand wrist watches, is that not only do they (mostly) meet these two criteria, but they also offer other less tangible benefits, such as pride of ownership. Collectors enjoy looking at their watch collections and they love wearing some or all of them – though not usually all at once.
Many feel that owning and displaying a luxury watch says something about them, namely either that they have good taste or that they are rich enough to own that item – or both.
As a fashion item, the wristwatch goes back to the 1880s or 1890s, when it was seen as an alternative to the pocket watch.
By the 1920s and 1930s, luxury brands such as Rolex and Omega were gaining ground, and cheaper options were proliferating. Within two decades watch faces became more complicated, with sub-dials and other features. The Rolex Submariner watch was issued in 1953 and has appreciated noticeably in value since then.
The 1980s and 1990s saw a resurgence of interest among luxury brands in returning to mechanical movements to drive watches, rather than the quartz movements that became popular in the 1970s. By the early 2000s luxury watches could cost six or even seven figures.
The world record for a watch sale was set in November 2019, when an auction at Christies saw a Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime going for USD$31.19 million (£25.1 million).
The luxury jewellery house, Graff Diamond, displayed its Hallucination watch at the Baselworld annual watch and jewellery show in 2014. This 110-carat watch had a setting of ultra-rare coloured diamonds and was valued at USD$55 million (£44.3 million).
This is, of course, the starry upper end of the luxury watch market. At the entry level there are more affordable items from brands such as the Swatch Group or Cartier Montres. The latter offered its luxury watch at just under £4,800 in 2018.
Longines or Omega luxury watches have a similar price. If this is too steep, an investor could always look at the Swatch Tissot, which is around £614.
The Covid pandemic did not do the luxury watch sector too many favours, but according to reports in the luxury press, the market is now coming back into its own