The myth that the value of all luxury watches appreciates is one that has been circulating for decades. True, some watches maintain their value and others sell way above retail prices in the secondhand market.
Take the Swiss luxury brand, Maurice Lacroix, as an example. While it doesn’t equal names like Rolex and Patek Philippe, you would look upon them with higher regard for holding value in the long term. They are known for offering a wide range of reliable everyday watches that outperforms the brand’s competitors under any price range.
However, this trend does not apply to all luxury watches. Similar to cars, the value of several luxury watches depreciates the moment they leave the store, and several factors influence that phenomenon.
The Factors that Cause Luxury Watches to Depreciate
No set rules determine exactly how much a luxury watch drops in value once it becomes pre-owned. But, what is established is that factors like the brand, specific model, and of course, the supply and existing demand for that watch can all influence its value. On some occasions, when a manufacturing brand releases a new edition of a watch model, that can also depreciate the value of the older version.
Brand & Model
Rolex is the undisputed champion to keep value on its models. Much of it is because the brand is the most sought-after in the world, particularly for its Daytona, Submariner, and the GMT. Its runner-up, Patek Philippe also retains its value for two reasons: one, it’s hard to acquire and two, it’s recognized for manufacturing the world’s highest quality watches. In fact, only 50,000 Patek Philippe watches are produced every year due to the highly-detailed manufacturing process. Most of its clients are royalties and nobilities across the world.
If you’re looking to own a luxury watch that either holds its value or doesn’t decrease too much in price, opting for a famous watch brand and model is a safe bet. This increases the likelihood of selling them at the price you bought them, if not higher.
Supply & Demand
Luxury brands restrict supply to maintain high prices, quality, and brand status.
Occasionally, different watch manufacturers also release limited edition watches which are sold at a higher value than the standard version of that model. Omega, for example, releases at least a few different limited edition watches every year to commemorate certain events like a space mission or sports or as a collaboration such as James Bond.
These go to show that the current supply and existing demand for a watch, and whether or not the watch is a limited edition, are all factors that can influence its value.
Trends can also influence how fast or slow a watch depreciates. For example, oversized watches were a popular choice among men for years, but today, we’re seeing a shift towards smaller, minimalist timepieces. It’s safe to assume that we’ll be seeing a significant drop in demand for overly large luxury watches in the next few years.
Association with celebrities, top athletes, and other famous personalities can also influence the value of watches. There’s quite a history of certain watches selling better in the secondhand market because they are associated with or previously owned by the likes of Paul Newman, James Dean, Elvis Presley, Christiano Ronaldo, etc.
Aside from these variables, other factors that can influence the value of a luxury watch include the following:
- Precious metal versions of watches depreciate faster compared to the stainless steel ones. This is due to the significant price difference between gold and platinum and stainless steel watches.
- Watches that are heavy on patterns, gems, colors, and eccentric designs can look dated in a short time, and thus are harder to sell down the line.
- A well-maintained timepiece—one that’s optimally working, regularly serviced, and complete with the original box and documentation—would naturally command a better price than a similar model that’s been neglected.
- Any customization works such as gem settings, personalized engravings, etc. can also depreciate the value of watches as the market highly favors watches that are as close to their original design as possible.
How much a watch can depreciate depends on several things, but at its core are the supply and demand. A particular watch may not sell at a higher value now in the secondhand market, but if there’s a demand for it in the future, then you can expect to make a profit out of it, even after years of use. It means that a particular model from a brand that rarely holds its value very well may shoot up in price if the demand for it is there in the future. Of course, we’re talking short term and there’s no way to tell.
When investing in luxury watches, your safe bet is to look for watches that appeal to your style preferences. That way, you will own something functional, beautiful, and well-made, even if the market wouldn’t pay much for it.
What are your thoughts about luxury watches and the factors that influence their value? Let us know in the comment section below!