Watches are similar to luxury cars, as soon as you drive them out of the lot, they immediately drop in value. Lesser-known brands such as Hublot, MB&F, and Ressence will experience drastic depreciation. Meanwhile, some watches either depreciate very little, or even appreciate.
Rolex, for example, is a well-known brand whose resale value is very high. Models such as the Submariner, where there is a huge supply, depreciate very little. Some models even appreciate. The Sea Dweller “Double Red”, for example, has exponentially increased in value. Put simply, the longer you keep your watch, the fewer there will be and the more valuable it will get. An average Rolex, given the way the company controls prices, will regain market value in 6-8 years. After that, it will be only profit. At Baselworld last year, we saw the re-introduction of the Cellini models. Simple finishes and designs set them apart from other watches found on the market today. MSRP starts at about $15,000 USD, so while it is not an entry-level Rolex, there is not a large gap in price. For added complications, the prices will obviously increase. Let’s talk about something for a second. If we buy an odd-looking watch, or one with a design that will not appeal to a large market, you will make less. With the Cellini, Submariner, or Daytona, all of which have designs that will appeal to a large consumer market. The Submariner is the iconic Rolex. The design is timeless and has undergone only minimal changes over the years. If you go to any pre-owned watch retailer, they will have a Submariner for sale. Despite the large supply, they are still priced close to retail if not at it. If you are truly looking for a watch that will appreciate, you should buy a Daytona. Not one of the gold (or more recently, platinum versions), but the stainless steel variation, which is highly coveted by collectors and watch buyers worldwide. While they are more readily available than they once were, they are still scarce and even models a mere two years old are still being sold for their original retail price. Given more time, these watches could exhibit a healthy appreciation. While not all models will appreciate over time, well-known brands such as Rolex are nearly guaranteed not to depreciate. Browsing pre-owned watch websites will reveal that nearly all Rolex watches are being sold for at least their retail price. If you are looking to make a profit, buy a used Patek or Rolex for less than MSRP, or go to an authorized dealer who is willing to negotiate with you. Most of the time if you look around or go to a local shop, you will find a better deal than you might at a boutique. Keep the box and papers and when it comes time to sell it, get it serviced so it looks new. Limited editions, if you buy new, are highly recommended.
An average Rolex, given the way the company controls prices, will regain market value in 6-8 years."
This article was sponsored by Blowers Jewelers', a pre-owned watch dealer. If you have time, I recommend you go look at their site.
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Jake Fogarty is the founder of It's All About Watches and writer for most of what you will read here. If you want to contact me you can visit the contact and advertising page.