Acquiring a collector’s timepiece to have fun but also to earn money… Yes, provided you choose your model well and position yourself over the long term.

After a few months of panic, the watch market is coming to its senses. Between solid brands and downward trends on certain models, the time seems ideal to start hunting for bargains.

As a bonus, the pleasure of wearing a legendary timepiece on your wrist. “The watch market has experienced significant corrections, advances Artcurial expert Geoffroy Ader, mainly on a few speculative watch models, but that seems to be over today.”

Let’s quickly summarize the upheavals that have shaken this universe since 2020. At the time of the confinements linked to the Covid-19 pandemicluxury watch shops have closed, and their supplies have been cut.

But with buyers still present (particularly through online sales), secondary market prices have begun to rise. And production having only very gradually resumed thereafter, a new watch could quintuple its value in 2021… as soon as it left the shop! Phenomenon which attracted investors eager to quickly achieve a somersault.

Avoid overly speculative models

“The Nautilus of Patek Philippe, the Daytona of Rolex and the Royal Oak of Audemars Piguet quadrupled their value on average during these two years of health crisis, calculates Geoffroy Ader, and if prices have fallen, IThey have not yet returned to the initial ratings. On these three models in particular, downward corrections may take more time…

Romain Réa, expert from Antiquorum, explains: “Modern watches, which are a few months or a few years old, still have a very fluctuating price. They are of interest to investors because it is an easy market, there is little or no risk of fakes, DIY (with parts that are not original) as is the case on the vintage watch market. Our difficulty today is that auctions are anticipated four to six months in advance and within that time everything can change; sellers are sometimes disappointed with the estimate finally given to their watches…”. Good news, then, for buyers on the lookout!

The enthusiasm for Cartier

The two experts agree on a common piece of advice: it is time to take an interest in other brands or other models whose evolution will be more solid and more stable over time.

The Cartier brand is most often cited as an example. Founded in 1847, it launched into watchmaking in 1904 with the Santos imagined for the aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. It was then at the origin of several mythical models: the Tankthe Pantherthe Pasha

Most can be acquired for less than around 10,000 euros. The expert Jean-Christophe Guyon noted last summer a real craze around this watchmaker: “Cartier men’s sizes from the 1980s and 1990s are selling very quickly, and the Tank even become difficult to find.” On the second-hand market, men’s watches (around 40 mm case) are increasingly attractive, including the female public reluctant to wear “small” watches (33 mm), formerly intended for men…

James Bond wears an Omega today, and apparently it’s a good choice since the Seamaster and the Speedmaster- say “Snoopy» (nickname given to the moon watch of the brand) –, are traded from around 10,000 euros, a rating that is constantly increasing.

The complication: a safe bet

“But Rolex remains unstoppable, smiles Romain Réa, and the Daytona Where Submariner old ones that have not been affected by the speculative wave, maintain their prices or even increase them. The strength of Rolex, in addition to marketing, is also the number of mythical models created. Remember that Rolex’s first publicity stunt was the (smooth) crossing of the English Channel by a Oyster on the wrist of swimmer Mercedes Gleitze.

The brand then continued to equip adventurers: for diving, Submariner and the Sea Dweller (no less than 15,000 euros for these models today), for the pilots, the Daytona or the GMT Masterr (minimum 20,000 euros), and for the city, the Day-Date Where Oyster whose finishes (gold dial, diamonds) can drive prices up to 25,000 euros.

For larger budgets, Geoffroy Ader is betting in the future on “complication” watches (any function other than hour, minute and second indication) from Patek Philipe or Audemars Piguet: “Complication remains the essence of Swiss watchmaking. These watches are safe bets. A Annual calendar from Patek Philippe sells for around 20,000 to 25,000 euros, just like a striking watch from Piguet or a Sky Dweller

from Rolex… Even if sports watches have been marking time for six months, which is quite unprecedented. »

Betting on Lip’s rebound Jean-Christophe Guyon, for his part, defends less speculative brands: “I strongly believe in the future of Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso classics, Vacheron Constantin, Bréguet or Breitling, these watches released in the 1990s or before, which are both aesthetic and of good quality.” He cites as an example theNavigate

which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, and remains the flagship of Breitling: “I sold it for 3,000 euros in 2020, today 6,000 euros, but new is still 8,000 euros, the margin exists.” Or the Jaeger-LeCoultreGrand Complication less known than Reverso and its rotating dial: “On the secondary market, it starts at 6,000 or 7,000 euros. In store, it’s 12,000 to 15,000 euros depending on the finishes. As for Rolex, the expert is limited to Oyster

of the 1990s, for which the rating is around 10,000 euros because “the Rolex sports have become too complicated, the rating fluctuates. Moreover, several of my buyers no longer dare to wear them, because they attract too much covetousness.

Finally, he remains a staunch supporter of the small French brand Lip, even if the prices do not seem to want to take off for the moment: the pretty chronos of the 1970s are still exchanged for less than 1,000 euros… Maybe a good idea: isn’t fashion cyclical?

Buy a revised timepiece

The expert also stresses the need to buy parts that have been completely overhauled by a specialized watchmaker: “The brands don’t do the job very well, their deadlines for overhauling or repairing a watch are endless, and their high estimates, it is better to buy watches that have already been appraised.”It should be noted that on the second-hand market, watches called “full set

“, that is to say provided with their purchase documents, their original box and the invoices of revision, if necessary, always benefit from a premium.

Romain Réa, for his part, offers another advice to collectors: “Except in the case of Cartier or Rolex, where everything is good, you have to focus on iconic models, there are some in all the major watch factories, and this are the only ones to increase in value over time…”.


An annual calendar watch is a watch equipped with a mechanism that displays the day of the week, the date and the month, taking into account the number of days in the month.  These indications are generally made via date windows or small dials. Focus on 5 good dealssteel rolex submariner watch

+ 118%Price increase in five years rolexSubmariner
in steel with date reference 16610

, with box and original papers. (black dial black bezel)

Sold in 2017 at 6,350 euros vs 13,880 euros in September 2022, representing a growth of 118%.
(source: Collector Square)

+ 229%

Price increase in five years Audemars Piguet watches Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
tantalum

(very resistant gray blue metal) with original box and papers.

sold in 2017 for 8,750 euros vs 28,850 euros in September 2022, i.e. a growth of 229%.

(source: Collector Square)
cartier watch
+ 86%

Price increase in five years cartier American tank
big model

in yellow gold on a leather strap Reference: 1735.

sold for 5,880 euros in 2017 vs 10,980 euros in 2022, i.e. a growth of 86%.

(source: Collector Square)
+ 264%

Patek Nautilus Watch Price increase in five years Patek-Philippe Nautilus
in steel

on steel bracelet reference: 3800

sold in 2017 for 18,250 euros vs 66,550 euros in 2022, i.e. a growth of 264%.

(source: Collector Square) Jaeger LeCoulture Reverso watch

+ 48% Price increase in five years Jaeger Lecoultre Reverso
in steel

on leather strap, reference: 252.8.47, quartz movement


sold for 2,880 euros in 2017 vs 4,280 euros in 2022, i.e. a growth of 48%.

(source: Collector Square)
Rolex madness in three stages
– The brand was created in 1908 by Hans Wilsdorf. Its name comes from the contraction of “exquisite watchmaking”, “orl” and “ex” become Rolex. – From the 1930s, these watches accompanied sportsmen and extreme adventurers: swimming across the English Channel, climbing Everest, etc. – The Rolex
Daytona

by actor Paul Newman became the most expensive in the world in 2017: it was sold for 15.3 million euros in New York. The potential of independent watchmakers Alongside the major watch brands, a few independent watchmakers are doing brilliantly on the second-hand market. François-Paul Journe, but also Philippe Dufour, Genta Gérald (who also designed the Nautilus of Patek Philippe or the


Royal Oak

of Audemars Piguet).  The prices of their sophisticated and limited edition creations are very high, like this 2002 platinum resonance chrono by Journe, sold for 456,300 euros last summer in Monaco (Antiquorum)!Limited editions that increase in value

Audemars Piguet watch Sure values ​​of auctions: limited editions designed by major brands. This Audemars PiguetSuperbell

of 2020 of which there are only five examples, reached 708,480 euros at Artcurial this summer, largely thanks to its enamel dial designed by Anita Porchet. The artist imagined five different dials for this series, including three with gold spangles

present on this watch.It was initially estimated between 150,000 and 250,000 euros.

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