Why Vintage Watches May Appreciate Over Time?

Last updated on: February 23, 2019

It is common for people to talk about investing in stocks, real estate and gold, but with rising prices the trend to invest in watches is also on the rise.

Don’t get me wrong. Most watches do not qualify as investments, unless it is a vintage watch. In order to understand more about the topic, you will have to understand what an investment is.

Are vintage watches a good investment?

In simple words, a purchase qualifies as a good investment when it increases in value over time. However, generally speaking, watches lose their worth with time. If you buy a new $500 Hamilton, wear it for a week and put it up on eBay, you’ll struggle to sell it for half the price. There are some exceptions to this rule though, for example Rolex watches are known to hold their value rather well. And then there are some rare, vintage gems that can fetch way more than the original MSRP.

Rolex Daytona
One of the most legendary vintage watches, and it’s a Rolex! Ref 6262 Daytona / Source: bobswatches.com

Pretty much all technological items that come with an expiry date are a bad financial investment. This is why experts are pessimistic about buying expensive Apple watches. For most of them, dropping thousands of dollars on these gadgets is not a wise option. It will be outdated in no time as more advanced options hit the market.

But what about traditional, mechanical watches? The ones that do not require electricity to work and are immune from the changing technology? Since people don’t buy these watches for high-end technology, the changing technological scenario has no impact on them. They don’t run the risk of going obsolete in a few months.

This is why you will find a big market for vintage watches. However, in order to make some money out of this, you will have to invest a lot of time in research.

Indeed, knowing everything about the product and its market is your only chance to buy low and sell high.

Or – but this is less likely – you may get lucky and predict the market. If you follow the industry, you must be aware of the boom Rolex saw when Sean Connery’s wrist sported one in Dr. No. Instances like these prove how difficult it is to predict the market.

Hence, a watch in general is not the most suitable investment but a vintage watch has the potential to give you good returns. And when I talk about a vintage watch, I don’t necessarily mean an expensive watch.

For example, there are some excellent Seiko watches from the 1970’s that are available for less than $1,000. Do I think that their value will increase over time? Definitely. Am I sure? Of course not.

Seiko 7018-7000
This Seiko 7018-7000 will not be available for less than $1,000 forever

You may want to diversify and add some Swiss brands to your collection, such as Heuer, Omega, Tudor and Breitling: all of these have highly sought-after vintage models. Or be even more adventurous and consider Soviet timepieces: chronographs such as Strela 3017 or Poljot 3133/31659 are not likely to lose value over time.

Whatever you choose, make sure you actually like the watch you purchase. Don’t consider it purely as an investment but try to get some non-material value out of it by wearing it from time to time.

When does a watch turn vintage?

You will not find a one-word answer to this question and the line appears quite blurry.

Most watches become vintage after about 30 years of release or when a new version comes and the company stops producing the old version. However, not all watches end up gaining value over time.

It largely depends on how popular the model was when it came out and what kind of value it holds in today’s industry.

What to remember when buying vintage watches?

If you are making a purchase with the intention to sell it later on, you must keep the following things in mind:

The Right Seller

This is the most important factor, especially since counterfeit products are very common, as are “frankenwatches”. Check out reviews and see the seller’s other products: if you see something shady, stay away.

The Right Product

There are a lot of buying guides available online, so make sure you document your purchase correctly and pay attention to the condition of the watch, as well as its service history. For a buying guide example, refer to this article about the Seiko 6138-00XX “UFO”.

The Right Price

The problem with vintage watches is that they have no ‘fixed’ price. Sellers quote an amount that they feel is just. You need to make sure to pick the item at the right value if you want it to appreciate over the years.

Research the market and pick a watch that comes at a decent price. Don’t expect it to give you much benefit if you buy it too expensive.

When will it gain in value?

It’s hard to answer this question. If you get a good deal, you may be able to sell it at a small profit the next day. However, generally, watches can take years to increase in value. The good thing is that during those years you can enjoy it on your wrist.

Dennis is the founder and editor of Vintage Watch Inc. Passionate about Soviet and Japanese vintage timepieces and a finance professional by day, he proudly wears a Seiko Pogue with his suit.

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