You’ve probably heard the saying “time is money” at least a hundred times right? Maybe your boss has used it as a verbal “whip” to get you slaving working harder. Or maybe you’ve heard it from some financial planner who was trying to get you to buy into an investment or insurance policy. Either way, you get the point – time adds value.
But time can also make things less valuable. For example, that cash you’re hiding under your mattress or have parked in a savings account that pays .001-.05% actually loses 3-4% of its value every year. You can thank inflation for that (if you don’t know what that is, read this).
But some investments can be pretty inflation-resistant – especially certain watch brands. No, I’m not talking about that $20 Casio you’ve seen at Bugis Street. I’m talking about precision, quality, handmade timepieces.
And hey, looking stylish is always a bonus.
Investment Grade Watch Brands That Hold Their Value
I want you to protect and grow your cash, but let me be clear – do not put all of your savings into buying expensive timepieces! If anything, a watch should be just a small part of your investment portfolio. In fact, every reputable watch retailer will tell you that the biggest reason you should purchase a watch is because you like it, not because you want to make cash from it.
On that note, if you’re unfamiliar with investing and diversification, there’s no need to worry – just read this article on diversifying your investments and read Pt 1, Pt 2, and Pt 3 of our beginner’s guide to investing.
Now that we’re clear on that, allow me to present the watch brands that are worth investing in:
For the Average Investor (Price: 3K-15K):
The preferred watch of famous politicians, business leaders, movie stars, and athletes, Rolex is the most recognizable luxury watch brand out there. In the same way that driving a BMW says “yeah, I’m successful,” wearing this watch also makes a statement… but it doesn’t lose 10% in value every year like the BMW.
It’s no secret why Rolex watches maintain their value over time – their timeless appearance (which hasn’t changed much over the years) and quality craftsmanship have a lot to do with it. Rolex watches also typically have high resale values.
Less recognized than Rolex, but with no less a storied history, Panerai became famous for supplying the Italian Navy with high-precision, military-grade watches for officers and dive watches for frogmen. But aside from their reputation as attractive, high-quality watches, what really gives them their value is scarcity – they’re usually manufactured in limited quantities of 500-4,000 per model.
Like Rolex, Panerai watches maintain their value well.
3. International Watch Company (IWC)
I think by now you’re getting the hint that a storied history counts for a lot when it comes to watch manufacturers right? IWC is no exception, as it is a brand that has always tried to combine the latest engineering technology with classic Swiss craftsmanship – and that definitely shows in the price!
IWC watches have a more “classic” look that’s enduringly popular with working class executives.
Like Panerai, Omega became famous for manufacturing watches for the military pilots of England and the United States. Even NASA astronauts carried these high-quality watches into space! But if you’re a movie buff, you’ve probably recognized one of these guys on the wrist of James Bond over the last several films in the series.
The sea master models are particularly renowned for their attractiveness and ability to maintain their value.
5. Tag Heuer
Considered the watch of movie stars, athletes, Tag Heuer watches are built around the image of competing to be the best at your profession. But Tag Heuer watches aren’t all image and no substance – it’s a brand that earned its reputation over the last 70 years as a watch for fighter pilots and racecar drivers.
Among the brands listed, Tag Heuer presents the best value as it’s still possible to get a new one for around 3K.
For the High End Investor (Price: 15K-50K+):
1. Patek Philippe
While the brands above are good for daily wear and keep their value well, Patek Philippe watches are NOT timepieces you want to wear around Orchard Road (or in public for that matter). It’s like wearing someone’s yearly pay around your wrist, and that’s not something you want to risk damaging with daily use.
They’re insanely expensive because they’re incredibly complex works of timekeeping art. Some even take up to one year to assemble! Not only that, they’re also made from the finest materials money can buy, and they’re scarce – only 50,000 are made annually!
If you’re purely focused on the investment aspect of watch buying (15K for entry models) – this is the brand to get.
2. Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet watches similar to those made by Patek Philippe in many ways – they’re expensive (15K for entry models), they’re very complex (split-second chronographs), and they’re extremely limited (only 26,000 are made annually). Audemars Piguet watches tend to have a more futuristic, art deco style to them.
The Royal Oak Offshore series is particularly sought after by collectors as the ultimate stainless steel luxury watch.
3. Hublot (Big Bang Models)
While lacking the storied history of many of the brands listed by oh… 100 years or so (est. 1980), Hublot makes up for it with the tried-and-true method of using expensive materials, copying the style of their competitors (in this case, Audemars Piguet), and releasing a very limited amount of watches.
In fact, one of the biggest reasons why Hublot watches are so expensive is because it offers numerous limited edition models. Hublot’s “Big Bang” models are the most favored by collectors and watch aficionados.
While the pre-owned watch market can have some good steals when it comes to investment-grade watches, visiting your local pawn shop probably isn’t the best place to start. Before you think about spending several thousand dollars on a watch, you need to keep 3 important things in mind:
- Do your homework: If you’ve got a particular brand in mind, read up on it through forums and online publications. It’s especially important to learn how to distinguish a fake an authentic watch and ask if the resale watch has “papers” to certify authenticity.
- Research Resellers: Read reviews and feedback on watch resellers to see customer complaints/compliments about the shop. That way, you can distinguish the reputable shops from the Sim Lim-type establishments.
- Choose Wisely: Choose a shop that not only sells the watch brand you’re looking for, but are also authorized repair locations. That way, you know that the reseller has a legitimate relationship with the brand in question.
Brightime by Championtime is a retailer I highly recommend if you’re looking for a quality investment-grade watch. But you don’t have to take my word for it, as it has received numerous awards for excellence in Singapore. Stay tuned with us on Facebook as we look at other interesting investment opportunities to look out for.
What do you think about buying a watch as an investment? Tell us what you really think here! And to find even more useful information on everything personal finance, visit MoneySmart today!