Coming from a humble background has made me very astute when it comes to investing. From an early age I was eager to hunt out a deal. As my various business ventures began to grow it gave me the funds to invest in my passion for Antiques, Art and Vintage Watches.
Obviously I have made the odd mistake over the years, but onwards and upwards as they say!
For many years, I have been dealing in rare and vintage watches and clocks. I have had the pleasure of handling some very rare timepieces, and on some occasions wish I had kept the little beauties for myself; however running a business means that you can’t always do this. Sometimes it’s better to put food on the table!
It is not as easy as one might think when it comes to buying a watch for an investment. These things are mass-produced, and even when released in a limited run, this is merely a marketing ploy and the serious collector knows this. Don’t be under any illusions – the watch industry is like any other and is here to make money.
Unless you have serious funds at your disposal to buy a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar or anything from Greubel Forsey, then you need to look at smaller independent brands, or the vintage watch market to grow your portfolio. Forget your money sitting in the bank earning peanuts. Do as I do, and buy something you can look at and enjoy every day, knowing it will never decrease in value.
Although I am a firm believer that you should buy a watch because you love it and want to enjoy it, it is a sad fact that many collectors now have to watch their wallets, as they simply can’t afford to indulge in their passion as they once did. Because of this, many people are now looking for a watch as an investment, rather than a luxury item.
My top 5 investment watches are my own personal choice, and based on many years of sales experience.
Below, you will find my top five picks for all budgets (in no particular order). Some may rise dramatically over the next few years and some very slowly, but one thing is certain – they will not lose money.
1. The Vintage Omega Cosmic Moonphase
Omega has the biggest collectors market on the planet. They have a huge range of watches which appeal to almost everyone, and, for this reason, it will never diminish. Collectors are obsessive, and as any watch dealer will tell you, vintage Omega’s don’t sit on the shelf for long.
The vintage Omega Cosmic Moonphase was first released in 1948. At the time, it was a seriously complicated timepiece, displaying the month, day and date and used the manual wind 381 in-house movement. Any watch collector will be more than familiar with the design, as it has been copied many times since by various brands using other concurrent calendar movements.
If you hunt around, you can pick up one of these beauties up for as little as 2.5k, but you must make sure that the complications are working correctly. Most collectors prefer these in their original state, and so do not buy something that is over-restored. Do not worry about the state of the Acrylic Crystal. This can easily be replaced.
Most of the calendars on this watch were not in English, so hunt out the English version if you can. The box and papers don’t really matter, but if you manage to find one that is “complete,” then you really have something unique.
This is a great watch to start you on your way and is well within the reach of any budding collector or investor. A good model will sell for as much as £5000 (gbp) and they rise every single year. You won’t become a millionaire from buying this, but it will give you a nice return over the coming years.
2. The Rolex Tudor Big Block Chronograph
Some people call this the poor mans Daytona, but I disagree. It is a beautiful watch in its own right, and unlike the Rolex Daytona, it has the date function.
The Tudor Chronograph comes in many variations. Some feature an original Rolex crown and pushers along with Rolex caseback, while others do not. The watch uses an ETA movement heavily modified by Rolex. Okay, if you can’t afford a Vintage Daytona, then this is the watch for you, (hence it being labelled as a poor man’s version of the original); however, its a great investment piece, which you can still pick up at a fairly decent price.
Right now, Tudor is enjoying a huge resurgence and is releasing some stunning watches. You don’t have to be a member of MENSA to realise that this has brought about a huge interest in their vintage models. These watches rise in value every single year without fail.
The most collectable models right now are the 79160 and 94300, and as with the original Rolex Daytona, the preferred model features the “Panda” dial (white dial with black subs).
The following are a few things to check before you make your purchase:
Make sure the pushers haven’t been replaced. Collectors want these watches “original” in every detail and quite a few of these have gone back to Rolex service centers, where they have been perhaps over-serviced and the original parts replaced for new. This is never a good idea on any vintage watch.
You can pick these up right now from £3000 to £5000 gbp depending on the watch’s condition, but they sell for as high as 8k. Try to pick one up complete with box and papers, but hurry because a good version is getting very rare, indeed!
3. Rolex Daytona Cosmograph 6263
The 6263 is a serious investment piece. Over the years, I have had a few of these watches, and can say from first-hand experience the price just gets higher and higher.
Some people will wonder why I didn’t pick the “Paul Newman” 6239, but there is an obvious reason for this. After all, you simply can’t find a good one at a decent price.
I actually own a 6239 myself, and picked it up some years ago for an incredibly low price, but sadly, those days are long gone.
The Rolex Daytona 6263 is a beautiful watch, and although I am not a huge fan of modern Rolex Watches, there is no denying the fact that their iconic designs have had a huge impact and influence on most watches we see today. The Daytona is truly a iconic timepiece in every respect and appeals to almost all collectors. This is why it will never fail to rise in value.
Any auctioneer will tell you right now that they love the Daytona. It is guaranteed to pull in a crowd at any auction, and is also guaranteed to go way beyond the estimate.
Although not as rare as the 6239, it is still difficult to find a 6263 that has not been tampered with. A fact many people might not realise is that over the years, many of these watches have gone into “dodgy” service centers and had original parts removed and replaced for fakes whereupon the original parts are then used in fake models, which make huge money. This is also the case on all vintage Daytona’s. You need to be very careful and buy from a reputable dealer.
It is tempting to buy these watches online, but unless you actually know the dealer or are prepared to travel and see it, then I really wouldn’t take the gamble.
Again the most-sought after model is the “panda” dial, but the rarest of them all is the “tropical” dial, which is white with brown subs. I have never seen on in the flesh myself.
If you hunt around hard enough, you can still find a good Rolex Daytona 6263 for around £22000 (gbp), but as stated above, you need to be very careful.
This watch is guaranteed to rise higher than a weather balloon!
4. The Speake-Marin Resilience
As most will agree, this watch is simply stunning. You might think it is easy to make an elegant and simple looking watch, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This watch simply tells the time, and yet it is a thing of utter beauty. No added complications here or fancy guilloche dial, and yet it draws attention from everyone who sees it.
The dial is a tribute to the old pocket watches worked on by Peter Speake-Marin in his early days of watchmaking in Piccadilly London. It is made of copper and enameled on both sides, and unlike painted dials, it will never change colour and will remain vibrant for the life of the watch.
The watch features the Eros-2 automatic movement with 5 day power reserve.
Peter Speake-Marin is an accomplished and revered watchmaker, and you can see his passion in every watch that comes out of his workshop.
You really have to see one of these watches with your own eyes to appreciate its beauty. From the highly polished case right down to the stunning grained movement with signature Speake-Marin “mystery” rotor, this is one of those watches that the proud owner would never want to sell; in fact, it’s almost a pity to wear it. You just want to sit it on the table and stare at it.
So, why pick this one from his entire range? Well as I said above, it is not easy to create such a simple design that differs from the norm and appeals to all. This is a true classic, and a collectible for the future, and the best part is the astonishing price! 13,350 chf (swiss francs).
This won’t make you any money over the next few years (god forbid you ever wanted to sell it), but in the future, it will be a guaranteed investment. You may see the odd fool sell one here and there for half the price, but in 20 years time, they will live to regret it.
5. The Peter Roberts Grand Complication 5 Concentrique
Well, what can I say about this watch that hasn’t already been said many times now? Everyone who has ever laid eyes on it falls in love. Before we speak about the watch itself, we must briefly delve into the history of Peter Roberts and his remarkable 5-handed watch.
Peter Roberts was the first Englishman to attend and graduate from the WOSTEP school in Switzerland. He later became a lecturer at Hackney Technical College in the UK, where he taught many illustrious students such as, Peter Speake-Marin and Stepehen Forsey; however this is not his claim to fame.
At the age of 19, Peter Roberts was the first person ever to build a watch with 5 hands running coaxially from the center, which was part of his graduation project at WOSTEP. He presented the lecturer with a diagram he had found in a book, which showed a 5 handed watch. Peter was told by the lecturer that it was only “theoretical” and that it had never been built before and that, indeed, would never be built. Desperate to prove him wrong, Peter went away and assembled it, using various parts from defunct Rolex watches and a modified Valjoux 72 movement.
The original WOSTEP 5-handed watch is now a legendary timepiece, which Peter wears on his wrist on a daily basis, but it had been a dream of his for over 40 years to actually put the watch into production.
After working for many years as chief watchmaker and Lecturer at Rolex and then Technical Director Bremont, Peter decided to make his dream a reality with a new take on the original design. The new concept was first shown to a very excited audience at SalonQP in 2012, and since then, Peter has been busy putting it into production.
It is hard to believe that still to this day, the Concentrique is the only watch of this type currently in production; however it is no easy task to mount the 5 hands on the cebtral stack.
Now considered part of the Peter Roberts team, some may say I am a little biased towards this watch, but this is not the case at all. As a serious watch enthusiast, I contacted Peter the very minute I first heard about it. I was already aware of Peter and his achievements, and just had to get my hands on the Concentrique. It was after this that we became friends.
Peter Roberts Watches is not a huge watch-making company. It is a family run enterprise with a limited budget. Peter Roberts has invested his own savings into this watch, as well as lots of blood, sweat and tears, along the way. It has been a huge struggle to get this watch to the market without a dedicated PR team, but in any industry, a good product will sell itself, and this is a case in point.
Anyone with a passion for horology will know that it is not often something so unique in history comes to the market, especially at a price within grasp of most serious collectors.
Only forty-four watches will ever be made. Forty in stainless steel and four in gold, and now here is the best bit: the price, which is £18,000 (gbp) for the stainless steel and £28,000 (gbp) for the gold. I said from the start that this watch was astonishingly cheap for what it is, but for Peter Roberts, it’s not about the money.
Everything about this watch shouts quality. The cases are manufactured by the finest case maker in the industry and then hand polished for many hours.
The crystal has a new form or anti-reflective coating, which renders it virtually invisible to the eye.
The movement is a heavily modified base Valjoux 88 movement, hand finished and burnished by Peter Roberts himself. It features his own balance cock which he calls the Sablier.
For those of you not familiar with the watch, the five hands point to the hours, minutes, chronograph seconds and date. The fifth hand points to the GMT 24-hour scale on the outer bezel, which is made from a material called beryllium bronze and is unique to the Concentrique.
This is, by far, my favourite watch of the last few years, and as a proud owner, I would never, ever think of selling it. Consider this, though – once every single watch has been sold, there will never be another. It has a unique place in history as the worlds first watch with five hands from the same axis and if that isn’t good enough, its made by a now-legendary watch maker who just so happens to be a rather nice chap to boot!
I hope you enjoyed my top 5 investment watches.