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TrueFacet's Fine Jewelry and Watch Guide

How to Determine What’s a Worthy Watch Investment—and What’s Not

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Full disclosure: we would never recommend treating watches like a traditional “buy low, sell high” investment opportunity. The fickle market makes it difficult to guarantee you can sell your old watch for a premium.

But what you can determine is if a watch you’re gearing up to purchase will at least retain a healthy resale value. This, ultimately, makes it a worthwhile investment in that you can easily resell your watch or trade it up in the future. Here are the four crucial questions to ask yourself to determine if a particular watch style is a worthy investment.

1. Does it have “style longevity”?
Select a brand and model with unwavering popularity so, when you’re ready to resell it down the line, you won’t be hard-pressed to find an interested buyer and can recoup more of (if not a premium on) your initial investment.

The two brands with an ironclad demand: Rolex and Patek Philippe. These two Swiss watch brands reign supreme in the desirability category along with these essential collectors’ models:

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Breitling Navitimer
Omega Speedmaster
Panerai Luminor Marina
Patek Philippe Nautilus
Patek Philippe Calatrava
Rolex Daytona
Rolex Submariner
TAG Heuer Carrera

Rolex Submariner with Black Dial and Two-Tone Bracelet2. Does the watch have all its original parts?
Traditional collectors will value a watch with all its original parts more than a watch with after-market parts—even if the original parts are slightly worn. In fact, depending on the age of your watch, some natural antiquing (like a tropical or crazed dial) will increase the watch’s resale value; for more on that, read our post “How to Start a Vintage Watch Collection” here.

If the watch you’re interested in has been repaired, confirm what repairs were made and ensure they were done by the original manufacturer. The exceptions to the “all-original” rule are after-market bracelets and crystals. Because these components are easily and frequently damaged and heavily worn, collectors are willing to compromise here for after-market pieces.

As for watches made-over with after-market diamond bezels or blacked-out dials, these custom-made styles depreciate very quickly, even if the materials (like diamonds) used to outfit the watch will inflate the price tag.

3. Is this a pre-owned watch?
The smartest way to turn a watch purchase into an investment is to go the pre-owned route. Like driving a new car off the lot, opting for a pre-owned watch will save you that immediate and staggering depreciation that comes with taking a new watch out of the store. This ultimately will improve your ROI when it comes time to resell.

Also, look for pre-owned listings that include a box and papers to keep the resale value high.

4. Would the resale value be attractive to other shoppers?
The $4,000 – $9,000 range is a sweet spot for purchasing and reselling watches; this price tag marks a desirable watch worthy of reselling but also keeps it just accessible enough for future buyers.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak OffshoreSo, even if you can afford to spend more on your watch, consider that the pool of interested buyers drastically shrinks as you go into more expensive watch models and it will ultimately be harder for you to resell your ultra-luxe watch in the future. Therefore, we suggest looking for models worth between $4,000 – $9,000 to make reselling easier.

If you have more questions about the resale value of your watch, our team of watch experts is here to help. Feel free to email us at or call 1-800-690-3736.