The Top 5 Luxury Watch Brands To Invest In


The Top 5 Luxury Watch Brands To Invest In

The luxury watch market is ruled by established horological brands – and certain names are perennially positioned on top. Flavia Galeotti reveals the top five brands worth investing in, and tells you which models should have the honour of gracing your wrist.

Published on 14 July 2017

A luxury watch is a marriage of form and function that has captivated the desires of the well-heeled for ages. From the stunningly designed haute joaillerie watches to the utilitarian stainless steel models, luxury watches cater to a great variety of discerning tastes and budgets.

Beyond merely serving as a fashion accessory, watches are viewed by many as a viable alternative investment vehicle. The luxury watch market has grown by 66% over the past 10 years, according to the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index. Recent years have seen collectors moving away from dress watches towards more functional models such as sports and military chronographs. Timepieces from established brands have proven to be a solid investment – with top names Rolex and Patek Philippe boasting growth between 30% and 60% respectively over the last 10 years – there have been some astonishing returns. In 2016, for example, a rare stainless steel 1941 Patek Philippe went for US$11 million at Phillips Geneva, setting the record as the most expensive wristwatch sold at auction.

And while it seems that these days the most popular watches at auction are the ones that have had famous previous owners (like Jackie Kennedy Onasis’s 18-karat gold Cartier Tank watch or Paul Newman’s Daytona Rolex heading to the block at Phillips’s inaugural New York auction in October), there are certain coveted brands that chronically top collectors’ lists.

Here are the top five luxury watch brands that you should consider if you are building a watch investment portfolio:

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona in Platinum


No list of the top luxury watch brands would be complete without Rolex. The Swiss watchmaker’s sturdy, masculine designs are popular entries at auction houses and are well-known for holding their value (and even appreciating in some cases) as time passes – thanks in large part to the fact that Rolex has keep their product line small. Models like the Submariner, Daytona, and the Deepsea are household names and typically retain a high resale value.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 40MM 18K Rose Gold

Patek Philippe

Whoever thought up the brand’s advertising slogan “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation” hit the nail on the head, as Patek has created some of the most valuable watches on the market that have consistently demonstrated high return on investment – either preowned or brand new. Exclusivity is the name of the game here, and the Calatrava and the Nautilus are perennial favourites.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duo


The almost 200 year-old Swiss manufacturers have created distinct timepieces that regularly appear at auctions around the globe, especially vintage and antique models. The Reverso design (first created in the 1930s) is widely admired by collectors and enthusiasts for its elegant European style. Keep an eye on the Deep Sea Chronograph, a design revived from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s historical archives that has garnered a considerable following since it launched.

Cartier Tank Solo Automatic W5200027 Mens


A market leader in both fine jewellery and watches, Cartier has been associated with royal families in one shape or another for more than a century – and this has greatly influenced the heritage of the brand. Models like the Tank (which is 100 years old this year) and the Ballon Bleu have been enduring designs for the brand, and are regular features on the auction scene. The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index reported over 50% growth in Cartier investments over the past 10 years, and the brand’s watches in particular have proven to hold their value.

Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Ceramica


With limited production runs between 500 and 4,000 units, Panerai watches can be scarce and as a result are in high demand – particularly in the US. If you are able to get your hands on one of their special edition timepieces, you are very lucky indeed as these can deliver solid return on investment. The Luminor Marina is a favourite, and the new Radiomir 1940 is turning a lot of heads.

The bottom line

As is the case with other alternative assets such as cars, art, and even handbags, aspects like brand recognition, heritage, exclusivity, and availability determine how luxury watches appreciate over time – limited edition collections and even commemorative watches can dramatically increase the selling price down the line.

Ultimately you should buy a luxury timepiece that you like, as a passion investment should really be about what excites and inspires you. That way, even if you end up not selling your luxury timepiece, it will be something you enjoy and cherish as time goes by.

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