June 19, 2024

Patek Philippe NautilusIt’s a question watch collectors — especially new ones — always want answered: What brands offer watches that tend to increase in value over time? In this week’s Fratello Friday, I’ll attempt to provide guidance on this, not so much from facts and figures but based on experience, and on opinions that I have heard through the years.

There are two answers here, of course, the short version and the long version. The short version is simple: Rolex and Patek Philippe.

The longer version is a bit more complicated, as there are a number of aspects that play an important role. I am not talking about the annual price increases that many brands are carrying through with, using all sorts of lame excuses. Aspects such as brand recognition, heritage, exclusivity, availability, and – perhaps the most influential of all – demand are important when it comes to the development of a watch’s value over time.

Patek Philippe Nautilus

Patek Philippe Nautilus

Rolex is, of course, one of those brands that is highly in demand (by both watch enthusiasts and non-watch enthusiasts); has a wonderful heritage, including an impressive list of celebrities and VIPs that wear and have worn Rolex watches; has a high level of recognition; and is widely available. It seems that the right mixture of these ingredients make most Rolex watches increase in value over time. The same is more or less true of Patek Philippe, although the accessibility of new Patek Philippe watches is more restrained due to their higher price tags compared to Rolexes. Exclusivity is the ingredient that weighs more with Patek collectors than some of the other aspects.

Steve McQueen with Rolex

Steve McQueen wearing Rolex

Aside from Rolex and Patek Philippe, luxury watch brands with a high demand (in the United States) include Breitling, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Cartier, Panerai, Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC (in no particular order). This doesn’t mean that every watch these brands produce will automatically increase in value. We would have to look more closely into which specific models from such brands are most in demand. This is not rocket science, fortunately. Such watch models include popular classics like (for example) the Rolex Submariner, Rolex Daytona, Patek Philippe Calatrava, Omega Speedmaster, Breitling Navitimer, Panerai Luminor Marina, TAG Heuer Carrera, Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and so on — what a watch enthusiasts would call the usual suspects.

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