Collecting / Investing in Luxury Watches in 2022

• 3 min read

A Damn Good Investment

For the last fifty years or so, a Rolex Sports Watch has been regarded as an extremely high-quality timepiece. Owning one signified that you were a person with a certain refined and informed taste. But in this same time period, this watch and many others have acquired another very desirable attribute: that of a damn good investment. Not just in accuracy or reliability, but in the literal, commoditised sense.

If you bought a Submariner in 1980, it was "money in the bank", figuratively. Now, it can appreciate in value faster than a high-performing equity fund. If you happen to have been a Rolex-lover for many years, bully for you!

However, if you are a newcomer when you fill in your first annual insurance quotation form, a pleasant realisation may dawn on you: You are no longer simply a watch "collector". You're now a watch "investor", (whether or not that was your original intention). And you are probably now considering which other watches to collect for investment.

Can You Prove Your Love For The Brand?

However, the aspirational nature of many watch brands can be a double-edged sword for today's budding watch nerd, keen to start collecting.

Firstly, instead of informed discussion and advice, you often have to put up with the smug, scoffing attitude of the sales assistant for daring to ask about a much sought after watch. This can be an infuriating barrier to acquisition. Rolex might make a million of the best watches a year, but in 2022 you have to "prove your love" of the company before they'll sell one to you. And other companies present similar challenges.

Sorry Sir ... This One is "Allocation Only"

Patek's Nautilus is pretty, but surely one of the most cynically derivative watches in history. Nevertheless, it is now so desirable, and one of the best watches to collect for investment, that a 2000% markup was recently achieved at auction. Vacheron has joined the game with the Overseas.

Audemars Piguet's "Royal Oaks" have the distinction of being the first true luxury sports watch. Thus the majority of this company's sales are now also "allocation only".

Even the strait-laced and understated Lange & Soehne has begun to play the same game - the "Odysseus" is aimed squarely at the aspirational "uber-collector". But hey, at least this watch is genuinely a limited production piece.

Watch and Wait ... and Wait!

The irony about most of these "allocations" and long waiting lists is that many of the pieces in question are non-limited, core collections, made of plain old stainless steel. (And while we're at it, please, please spare us the references to submarines and anti-corrosion properties. They are made of exactly the same stainless steel as your kitchen cutlery.)

A friend of mine recently received his treasured Rolex Daytona after a wait of almost four years, during which time he bought seven other old vintage Rolexes and eight more pieces from other brands. Yes, the Daytona is a very good wristwatch, and of course, he's delighted. But, he'll be seeing a lot of them around in years to come.

When he does, will he make a snap judgement of the wearer? Are they big spenders? Are they somehow well-connected with their dealer? Are they impatient and profligate, willing to pay a 200% premium on a grey or secondary deal? Or (whisper it!), might the watch be fake? There are a lot of those around too...

So Much Unnecessary Baggage!

This brings us back to the so-called "genuine" watch collector. If you're wearing your faded old GMT "Pepsi" that your father bought you when you graduated two or three decades ago, you're probably still quite happy. Nobody is taking you for a sucker or a fraud. But if you want one of those newer pieces, why does it come with so much baggage?

And even if you can get one, what is your new "Royal Oak" or "Batgirl", let alone your Tiffany-blue Nautilus, really saying about you in the coffee queue? ... Rich, maybe? Or perhaps there is some negative connotation you hadn't even considered.

Which Watch Brands & Models Are Worth Collecting?

Whether they are accurate, or not ... Whether we agree with them, or not ... We all love lists. They spark debate and at the very least they are a good starting point for further investigation.

According to the respected "Time For Diamonds" website, these are the top 7 Rolex models to aim for in 2022.

  1. The Cosmograph Daytona (Green Dial): John Mayer Edition
  2. The Daytona Stainless Steel Ceramic Bezel
  3. The Submariner
  4. The GMT-Master
  5. Explorer II
  6. Oyster Perpetual Tiffany & Cotton Candy Dials
  7. Day-Date

If you have your heart set on one of these beauties, you are probably going to have to wait a very long time.

Other than Rolex and the watches that we have already mentioned, according to Chrono24 Magazine, the best brands/models for investment this year are ...

  1. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo ref. 15202ST
  2. Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5711/1A
  3. Vacheron Constantin Overseas 4500V
  4. F.P. Journe Elegante 48
  5. Czapek Antarctique Terre Adélie