Watch Value Explained by Extropian

Watch value
Watch investment
Vintage watches
Mid-range watches
Bronze watches
Watch Value Explained by Extropian

The true “value” of a watch is something of a vexed question, and depends on many different factors, such as materials, level of craftsmanship, rarity, and ever-changing fashion. As ever, it’s a question of supply and demand. Some watches can command astronomical prices on the vintage market and continue to rise in value every year. But many, perhaps most, are unlikely to do so, and trying to predict which ones will is an inexact science at best. But if you’re curious about what kind of watches hold their value best, read on…

Is it worth buying watches as an investment?

This is a question that many watch enthusiasts may ask themselves, and the best answer we can offer is – maybe. It’s worth bearing in mind that, much like cars, many watches will lose a percentage of their value as soon as they leave the showroom. However, some iconic models or especially rare pieces can rise steadily in value over time.

Here at Extropian we’d always recommend that you buy a watch simply because you love it, and if it happens to turn into a collectors’ piece in the future, then all the better. Just don’t assume that buying a watch is a sure-fire way to fund your retirement!

Which watches are most likely to increase in value?

If you’re serious about buying watches as an investment, then the best option would be luxury/prestige brands such as Rolex, Patek Phillipe, Audemars Piguet, and so on, assuming you can track one down. These brands tend to retain most of their value and often increase over time (a Patek Phillipe Grandmaster Chime sold at auction in 2019 for over $30 million!). But, of course, these are among the most expensive watches you can buy, so you’ll need some serious money to invest if that’s your plan! 

 Iconic models

The most famous models by these brands (such as the Submariner or the Royal Oak) are also likely to retain their value, simply because they’re so iconic. Every watch geek knows them and would probably love to own one, so they’ll always be in demand. And, of course, rare versions of these models are even more likely to increase in value.

Do mid-range watchers retain their value?

In some cases, yes, but they are less likely to do so than luxury brands. Even brands like TAG Heuer, Omega, and Breitling can lose anywhere from 40-50% of their value in the short-term, although this can change over time if a particular model becomes collectible. As ever, if a model achieves iconic status (the Heuer Monaco for example) it’s more likely to retain its value.

What about modern micro-brands?

Most micro-brands, as the name suggests, produce watches in much smaller quantities than the larger companies. They’re often issued in very limited editions (sometimes as few as 10 examples of a specific model) and some can sell out almost instantly, which means they might command higher prices on the resale market. But it’s worth being wary, as fashion can be fickle, so prices can drop just as easily (and quickly) as they rise.


The material a watch is made from will always have an impact on its value. Gold or Platinum has an intrinsic value, so a watch made of precious metals will retain a decent percentage of its purchase price even if the particular model is not in vogue.

And, while it may not be such a valuable metal, many collectors prize bronze watches for the way they age, cherishing the unique patina they develop over time. So they can become more valuable as they get older.

What about vintage watches?

The vintage watch market is enormous and includes watches at every price-point. If luxury brands are out of your price range, you could consider something by more obscure brands such as Elgin, Cortébert, or Enicar. With a bit of research, you can find a great-looking vintage watch without paying a fortune. It might not increase in value especially quickly, but it’s unlikely to lose value either.

Is condition crucial?

The quick answer is yes, but of course it’s not quite that simple. Condition is certainly important, but serious collectors generally prefer watches in their ‘original’ condition, even if that means they have some obvious wear, scratches, patina, etc. Original workings are also essential. Restored watches (such as those which have been overly polished or had parts replaced) may look ‘newer’ but will be less desirable and not as valuable.


When it comes down to it, it’s not easy to guarantee which watches will retain (or increase) their value over time. So, buy what you like best and don’t worry too much about the resale value!

Created the 2023-05-04

Modified the 2024-02-28

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