Are Watches a Good Investment? A Look at Returns & Our Best Picks

by Corey Philip //  January 5, 2022

If you’re looking for ways to diversify your investment portfolio and grow your wealth, then a timely purchase of a vintage watch might just be the way to go. But investing in watches is not a matter of picking a timepiece that you love and hoping for the best.

As this article explains, there are specific luxury brands that will ensure your investment matures over time and knowing the market is such an essential step if you’re serious about making money from a vintage timepiece.

Let’s begin with some of the basics of investing in watches before introducing you to some of our best picks and what returns you can expect from each.

What Do We Mean By ‘Investing’ in a Watch? 

Firstly, investing in a watch is different from merely buying a watch. When you’re buying a watch to wear on a daily or infrequent basis, your most important considerations are likely to be what it looks like, how it feels, and whether or not you like it. Period.

But when you’re buying a watch as an investment, it’s much more important to consider whether its value will increase over time, as opposed to merely whether or not it’s a comfortable fit on your wrist.

Instead of comfort and aesthetics, two of your most important considerations when investing in a watch should be:


Some brands of watches hold and increase in value much better than others. For instance, in a list of the 100 most expensive watches ever sold at auction, only seventeen of them weren’t made by Patek Phillipe.

Indeed, the most expensive watch ever sold at auction was a Patek Phillipe Grandmaster Chime 6300A-010, which commanded a price of $31.9 million at a Geneva auction in 2019.

Aside from Patek Phillipe, Rolex is the other brand that dominates the watch investment market. In 2017, Paul Newman’s ‘Exotic’ Rolex Daytona fetched a price of $17.75 million in New York, becoming the most expensive Rolex ever sold.

If you’re serious about investing in a watch, then opting for a Patek Phillipe or Rolex is your best bet.


The reason why investing in watches potentially returns a significant profit is because people are willing to pay top dollar for rare and vintage timepieces. While a Rolex bought for $5,000 this year might return a small profit in 5-10 years, signature timepieces that command a sizeable price tag ($15,000+) in the first instance are much more likely to return a big profit in the not so distant future.

A 2019 New York Times piece compared investing in a vintage timepiece with buying stock in a company like Nestle or Google. Interviewing a watch investor by the name of Shahien Hendizadeh, the article revealed that he had purchased a 1982 Rolex Submariner for $13,000 in 2017, only for it to be worth in excess of $23,000 just two years later.

Choosing the right brand and paying the price for a high-quality timepiece will ensure you have the best possible chance of seeing a decent return on your investment. But how much can you reasonably expect to make?

What Returns Can You Expect to See on Your Investment? 

Unfortunately, investing in watches isn’t like investing in the stock market, where you can offer an annual percentage of potential returns and plan your finances around this figure. The watch market is incredibly intricate, and investors need to be nimble and willing to sell when they think the value of their watch has piqued.

For instance, when Paul Newman’s ‘Exotic’ Rolex sold for $17.75 million at auction in 2017, it sparked a selling frenzy as those with Exotic timepieces decided it was time to cash in on their investments.

One investor, as reported by ABC in 2021, said that the Paul Newman Rolex that he bought for $15,000 in 2001 is now worth approximately $500,000. And likewise, if you hold any type of vintage watch that has recently sold well at auction, then you can reasonably expect to sell it for significantly more than you purchased it for.

Not every person who buys a vintage watch will make millions from their investment, but you can reasonably expect to make tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, if you hold onto your watch for long enough and sell it at the right time, with all the necessary paperwork in order.

Which Watches Are a Good Investment? Our Five Best Picks for Investors in 2022 

Now that we’ve looked at what we mean by investing in a watch and what you can expect to see by way of returns, it’s time to look at some of the watches that you might consider adding to your collection in 2022. The watches we introduce below have a reliable track record of appreciating in value in recent years and are likely to be a savvy investment if you have the funds available:

1 – Rolex Submariner – Approximate Purchase Price $9,500 

While there’s been a lot of hype about Paul Newman’s Daytona Rolex in recent times, investors surely can’t go wrong with the classic Rolex Submariner. It is the most successful diver’s watch in history and is waterproof to 300 meters. Rolex’s stainless-steel watches almost never sell for less than they originally cost and are as sure-fire an investment as you will find when it comes to the luxury watch market.

2 – Patek Phillipe Nautilus – Approximate Retail Price - $45,000 

If you’re in the market for a blue-chip watch, then look no further than Patek Phillipe. As mentioned right at the start of this piece, 83 of the most expensive 100 watches ever sold have been manufactured by Patek Phillipe. The Nautilus is one of the most famous of Gerald Genta’s designs and is much loved – and highly valued – by watch collectors all over the world.

3 – Audemars Piquet Royal Oak – Approximate Retail Price - $28,000 

One of the most alluring aspects of the Royal Oak is that it has barely changed since 1972, and the intricate details of this timepiece have seen it explode in popularity in recent times, at least from an investor’s perspective. Steel sports models from brands like Audemars typically outperform the global stock indexes and are a worthwhile investment if you’re looking to diversify your investment portfolio with a timepiece.  

4 – Omega Speedmaster – Approximate Retail Price - $5,500 

As the first Omega watch in space, the Omega Speedmaster boasts a comparatively low purchase price but has been steadily increasing in value over the past few years. From 2018-2021, the Speedmaster increased approximately 10% each year, which indicates that it’s on a steady rise towards becoming a solid choice for the medium- or long-term investor.

5 – Rolex Daytona – Approximate Retail Price - $28,000 

Just like the Submariner, you really can’t go wrong with a Rolex Daytona. For decades, the Daytona has steadily increased in price, whether brand-new, used, or vintage, making it another excellent choice for investors.

The Verdict: Are Watches a Good Investment? 

The short answer to this question is yes; watches are a good investment. If you buy a high-quality timepiece and hold it for five, ten, or twenty years, then the chances are that you can sell it for significantly more than you initially bought it for.

Hopefully, you can use this guide to help you make your first investment, and the five watches that we’ve introduced above will serve you well as you look to maximize the returns from your investment away from the stock market.

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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