The right watch can be an essential part of your life. You wear it, you use it, you admire it, and you would certainly notice if you forget to put it on one day. However, there is another dimension to possessing a watch that some may not consider – and that is holding it as an investment. As many of us know, not all timepieces increase in value as they age. However, there are some renowned watchmakers, like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Tag Heuer, and Omega, that promise to provide the best investment watches you could ever manage to find.
For this guide, we will be taking a closer look at 15 of the best investment watches that money can buy. Before we get to that, however, let us clarify: just what qualities make a timepiece a proper investment watch?
Best Watches to Collect for Investment
Not just any watch can be considered a good investment. Apart from the brand it came from, there are a few other factors you should consider before making your first watch investment. Indeed, you want to be cautious about where you purchase the watch from as it ensures that any model you buy has gone through proper servicing and care.
Most of the best investment watches contain a mechanical movement as opposed to a quartz one. Although quartz movements prove to be more accurate in the long run, mechanical movements showcase a watchmaker’s expertise and use materials of much higher quality. They also take longer to deteriorate. That said, the caliber must come in good condition and not be worn out. While the watch is in your hands, it is also imperative that you have the timepiece regularly serviced, to make sure it retains its value and continues to tick. While you’re at it, you will also want to research different brands so you can pinpoint the best investment watches for you to collect.
Of course, the rarity of the watch is something you would want to consider as well. Furthermore, if you come across a model that the likes of celebrities, athletes, and historical figures use, the value of your investment watch could possibly skyrocket to a price you would not otherwise expect. Finally, you can also take into account the heritage of the timepiece. Any wristwatch that comes with a rich story would make for an excellent collectible.
15 Best Investment Watches to Add to Your Collection
Without further ado, here is a lineup of the top 15 investment watches on the market. Keep in mind that the listing is in no particular order: any one of these timekeepers would make for an incredible investment piece.
1. Rolex Submariner
This one is pretty obvious. There is no denying that anyone who collects watches looks forward to owning a Rolex Submariner. Who can blame them? It is an excellent timepiece made with brilliant craftsmanship. With its timeless and nearly indestructible design, this Rolex timepiece is the perfect companion for diving expeditions as well as lavish events. As an investment, the Rolex Submariner is something you cannot go wrong with either, as the value of this timepiece increases by approximately 10% each year.
If that is not convincing enough for you, let us not forget that the Rolex Submariner is the original iconic James Bond watch. Before Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig brought in their Omega Seamasters, the late and great sir Sean Connery stirred the audience with his emblematic Rolex Submariner Ref. 6538. His trusty Rolex stuck with him throughout all of his action-packed operations, from Dr. No (1962) to Thunderball (1965). Without a doubt, the Submariner is one of the best investment watches ever made. It is classy, high-quality, ages well, and has a reputation that is close to being unmatched.
2. Omega Seamaster
If I could choose one watch that can compare to the epoch-defining qualities of the Rolex Submariner, I would have to go for the Omega Seamaster. The Seamaster is the longest-running line of watches in Omega’s tenure as a watchmaker. To this day, the brand shows no sign of slowing this archetypal series. And why should they? The Omega Seamaster has a large and lively audience that continues to grow as we speak.
Most recently, the Omega Seamaster is known as the current go-to watch of 007. Not only are Seamaster watches made with impeccable craftsmanship, but they also contain one of the most ingenious and sophisticated movements the watch community has ever known. While the Seamaster does not retain its value as much as a Rolex Submariner does, this Omega timepiece is actually relatively easier to purchase since it is usually worth around ⅓ of the Submariner’s price. Furthermore, the Seamaster collection is home to an immense number of unique watches. From the classic and traditional Professional Diver to the modern and stylish Planet Ocean, the selection showcases a diverse range of subcategories that guarantee that there is a Seamaster just for you.
3. Patek Philippe Nautilus
One of the oldest Swiss manufacturers still producing watches to this day, Patek Philippe has delivered all kinds of remarkable and memorable models. Of course, none of their luxurious timepieces have had as ground-breaking an impact on the industry as the Nautilus. Since its release in 1976, the Patek Philippe Nautilus, with its distinctive rounded octagonal case, has remained a top luxury choice for watch enthusiasts all around the globe. Designed by Gerald Genta himself, the Nautilus has been a classic and distinguished timepiece for over 50 years. Rumor has it that it only took Genta five minutes to sketch the timeless design of the Nautilus on a paper napkin.
Like with many other iconic watches, there are modern and vintage versions of the Nautilus. Modern variants of this Philippe Patek timepiece command prices upwards of $30,000 USD, while vintage models can easily reach six digits. Similar to the Rolex Submariner, the Nautilus increases in value by around 10% each year. Indeed, the Patek Philippe Nautilus is one of the most sensational watches you will ever get to see. Heck, the watch is so exceedingly cool that even celebrities like Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, Ellen Degeneres, Jonah Hill, Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, and Drake all just had to get their own pieces.
4. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Here’s another iconic diver watch for the list. A few years before Gerald Genta worked on the Patek Philippe Nautilus, he first collaborated with Audemars Piguet. The story for this watch is quite interesting, especially if you put yourself in the shoes of Genta. As the story goes, the managing director of Audemars Piguet once called Genta in the afternoon, and told Genta that he wanted him to create a steel sports timepiece, the likes of which no one has ever seen before. The director also added that the timepiece had to showcase brand-new diver watch technology. And to top it all off, he wanted the concept by the next morning. With less than a day to work on it, this never-before-seen timepiece may have been the most ambitious challenge in Genta’s entire career.
The result? One of the most recognized divers watches ever created, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. You know a design is stellar when other brands try to imitate or pay homage to it, and indeed, many other brands have tried coming up with their own variations on the Royal Oak, although nothing has come close to matching the recognition and timelessness of the original. Anytime you see a watch with the quintessential octagonal case paired with a Clous de Paris dial, you automatically think “Royal Oak.” Talk about a timepiece that never leaves your mind. But this exemplary Audemars Piguet watch is not just about style. The Royal Oak is remarkably durable, reliable, and has a whole lot of sophistication going on under its guilloche dial. And yes, the Royal Oak ages like fine wine, so it would do you well to keep it in good condition. To add to its reputation, some celebrities who have sported this iconic watch include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay-Z, LeBron James, Patrick Dempsey, and Usher, to name a few.
5. Omega Speedmaster
While we are on the topic of reputable icons, let us talk about the first watch to ever be brought to the moon – the Omega Speedmaster. Worn by famous names like Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, and George Clooney, the Speedmaster is a NASA-approved luxury watch that exudes ruggedness, reliability, and sheer class. Among all of Omega’s models, the Speedmaster is a marvelous work of art that will always be in demand.
Since the Speedmaster has a pretty large cult following, its value will likely also increase over time, and all the more if Omega ever ceases production of this watch. That makes the Speedmasters pretty great choices as investment watches. Right now, Omega also offers re-editions of their iconic moon watch, known as the Speedmaster Moonwatch. Bearing the distinct look we all know and love, the contemporary Speedmasters possess everything the world admired about the original, accompanied by modern innovations and refinements. With its undying fandom, you will definitely want to get your hands on this Omega timepiece before stocks run out.
6. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
The most fitting word to describe this timepiece is legendary. Whether it is a modern model, a vintage one, or a pre-owned piece, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is an investment that excels. Though it had a bumpy start, the Daytona eventually became one of the most sought-after watches to have ever come to life. This coveted timepiece comes in various forms: Oystersteel, Everose gold, platinum, Rolesor, and yellow gold. While bearing the appearance and aura of a true statement watch, the Daytona also comes with a ton of handy complications and a high-quality Superlative Chronometer movement.
If the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is the watch you are looking for, you will have to be quite patient. Due to its excessive demand, the waiting list for this watch can span up to years. Your best bet for getting a Rolex Daytona as soon as possible is to look at the pre-owned market. That said, even second-hand Daytonas can and will fetch premium prices. But once you do get your hands on it, this Rolex watch could very well be the be-all, end-all of your horological desires, making it one of the best investment watches ever made.
7. Vacheron Constantin Overseas
The final member of the holy trinity of watches, Vacheron Constantin, also has their own reputable, one-of-a-kind diver watch – and that is the Vacheron Constantin Overseas. Immaculate in design, the Overseas looks astounding no matter what angle you view it from. Unlike the Nautilus and Royal Oak, Gerald Genta had no hand in conceptualizing the Vacheron Constantin Overseas.
When you obtain your own Overseas model, you are not just investing in a watch. Instead, you are also investing in a durable yet sleek horological work of art. With such a diverse lineup, ranging from self-winding models to artisanal perpetual calendars, tourbillons, and world timers, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas collection is a sight to behold. As a watch from the horological holy trinity, you can rest assured that the Overseas will only appreciate in value as it ages.
8. Panerai Luminor
The best thing about Panerai timepieces is that they are built to last, making them excellent choices for investment watches. Worn by famous names such as Bill Clinton, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Mayer, and Tom Cruise, the Panerai Luminor is a statement of both luxury and greatness. Like the Omega Seamaster, the Panerai Luminor has a vast and diverse catalog. This collection showcases 20 unique in-house movements and over 200 individual models. These watches can come in stainless steel, titanium, bronze, gold, platinum, and even brand-exclusive case materials such as BMG-Tech, Carbotech, and Panerai Composite.
9. Tudor Submariner
If you were taken by the Rolex Submariner but you do not have the budget for it, Tudor may have the best alternative for you. Made by Rolex’s sister company itself, the Tudor Submariner is essentially a watch with similar features and aesthetics to the Rolex Submariner but with a less expensive price tag. While it does not have the reputation and prestige of a Rolex, the Tudor Submariner is still quite iconic amongst fanatics and collectors. Let us also not forget that Tudor discontinued the production of the Submariner, which in turn, has elevated the price and value of this watch by quite a bit.
10. Grand Seiko Spring Drive
Grand Seiko watches are highly underrated when it comes to luxury and investment value. You would be surprised to find out that a Grand Seiko watch can easily outshine numerous other Swiss luxury watches in terms of quality. One of their best timepieces is the Grand Seiko Spring Drive. And that is not just limited to the gorgeous and highly-acclaimed Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake, either. Although the choice of model in the Spring Drive collection is pretty limited compared to most of the other watches on this list, each Spring Drive timepiece comes with stylish aesthetics and state-of-the-art mechanisms. This watch is sure to meet your expectations while only costing you approximately the same price as an entry-level Rolex.
11. Breitling Navitimer
Breitling is a watchmaker that is known by pilots all over the globe, and their handy and nifty Navitimer is especially loved. It has a range of practical features and is wonderfully made with top-notch craftsmanship. Breitling Navitimer watches keep their value even as they age, which is why vintage models remain especially popular to this day. You can rest assured that Breitling Navitimer is an amazing watch to invest your money in. Although it is not as high-end as Patek Philippe, Rolex, or Audemars Piguet, the Breitling Navitimer is incredibly accurate, awfully reliable, and exceptionally stylish, making it a suitable choice as an investment piece.
12. A. Lange & Sohne Datograph
The Datograph is an especial favorite among watch collectors. Apart from looking dapper and glossy, the Datograph also comes with a very sophisticated caliber. A. Lange & Sohne is known to be quite the master craftsman when it comes to watch movements. While all their timepieces are of a high quality, the movement for the Datograph is on an entirely different level. If you are looking for excellent investment watches, then the Datograph is more or less a safe and sure-fire choice.
13. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
Perhaps the most iconic wristwatch from the brand, the Reverso is, and always will be, an exceptional timekeeper. The timepiece features a mechanism that allows the wearer to turn the case around and protect the watch face in games such as polo. There truthfully is not much to say against investing in a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. It has the story, the looks, the creativity, the value, the brand prestige, and, of course, the reputation. To this day, we have seen the Reverso on the wrists of Christian Bale, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and a whole lot more celebrities and icons. Without a doubt, the Reverso is one of the most celebrated Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces ever conceived, and it certainly makes for a worthwhile investment.
14. Longines Flagship
As one of the oldest Swiss watchmakers still in operation, Longines has an incredibly vast and diverse number of unique models. In a way, there are simply too many watches to choose from in the Longines catalog, but since you are looking specifically at investment watches, allow us to narrow down your options. Usually, you would want to get your hands on something memorable, such as a flagship model. As such, the aptly-named Longines Flagship is an ideal investment for you to make. It has the versatile looks of both a classy dress watch and a casual everyday timekeeper. Expensive to build and delicately crafted, the Longines Flagship retains considerable value and remains in high demand with all kinds of watch enthusiasts and collectors.
15. Tag Heuer Carrera
Named after the Carrera Panamericana Auto Race, the Tag Heuer Carrera is a timepiece that adopts a connection to high-octane action. Today’s Carrera models vary in looks and sizes. They are simple yet elegant to the eyes. With all their features and complications, the Carrera makes for a lovely dress watch as well as an impressive tool watch. Denzel Washington, Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Terence Howard, and Lewis Hamilton, are just a few of the many famous names that own a Tag Heuer Carrera, adding to the reputation and prestige of this stylish timepiece.
Truthfully, there is so much for you to consider when looking for the right watch to invest in. Rest assured, however, that once you acquire that perfect timepiece, you will then be in possession of a sound investment for your future. It does not just stop there, either. If properly cared for and maintained, a good investment watch can be an investment for your sons’ and daughters’ futures as well. Indeed, in many ways, the right watch can sometimes seem like an essential part of you. If you want to leave something to be remembered by, these investment watches are some of the most exceptional choices you can get.
Need a great cycling watch? Check out our article on the 10 Best Cycling Watches from High-End to Affordable.