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Five pre-owned watches to invest in right now

If ever you needed another reason to buy a special timepiece, some pre-owned options have better gains than any ISA.

As a pre-owned luxury watch dealer we’re often writing about investment watches as they are a huge source of interest for our clients. Indeed many lines have been published lauding the pre-owned watch market and the increasingly stratospheric prices achieved by rare and interesting watches at international watch auctions. So we compiled the sales data for over 1,000 luxury watches over the past four years and created a tool mapping out price rises for each model, and were very intrigued to see the results.

Nowadays of course nearly all pre-owned Rolex and Patek Philippe watches appreciate on a yearly basis. The typical amount is about 5-15% but it all depends on the model. In recent years some early sports models have increased at a much higher rate and a handful of new models have been in such demand that their pre-owned prices have nearly doubled their new prices, such as the ceramic Daytona 116500LN and the GMT-Master II BLNR. These outliers aside, we were surprised to see some of the top performers in our data coming from other brands.

All other luxury watches depreciate when leaving the store, typically by around 20% but it can be more in some cases. However, given the tendency of timepieces from industry-leading brands to last for decades, many popular pieces don’t depreciate any further and indeed many rise at rates you would be happy with from any investment portfolio. Anyway, with that explanation behind us, here are our five picks from the bunch. To see more go check out the tool where you can search a huge range of watches by model and brand and see each price history.

TAG Heuer Carrera CV2113

Vintage Heuers, especially the chronographs from the sixties and seventies, are the latest craze at international watch auctions and this is having a knock-on effect through some of the more recent models, which is why two have appeared in our list. The “Grand” Carrera concept was for an upscale version of the iconic race watch from the sixties. It was first released in 2007 and it had a level of finishing far superior to the standard models and high for TAG Heuer in general. Amongst its best features are the dashboard-style disc gauges instead of traditional chronograph sub-dials. Flip the watch over and you’ll see the TAG Heuer Calibre 17 self-winding COSC-certified movement. This watch will undoubtedly be popular for years to come and it’s no surprise to see its pre-owned value has risen an impressive 32% since 2013.

Tag Heuer Grand Carrera - Pre-owned Investment watches

TAG Heuer Carrera CV2113

This might not have the best return rate so far, its average pre-owned price having risen ‘only’ 18% over the last four years, but it’s one of the best-looking modern remakes of the classic Carrera. It’s minimal, tastefully vintage-inspired and a good size at 39 mm. This one for us is a solid contender for riding the latest TAG Heuer wave and will likely see those numbers increase of the coming years.

Tag Heuer Carrera - Pre-owned Investment watches

Cartier Panthère 1120

This is the only vintage watch on our list, coming as it does from the ‘80s and ‘90s, but we spoke about this earlier this year as after a hiatus the Panthère was rereleased in almost exactly the same form. Subsequently this watch is hot again and has seen a jump in price this year alone, rising 20% over the past 12 months. It still looks as sharp as ever and that brick-link bracelet never gets old. Check out our in-depth review of the Cartier Panthère 1120 here.

Cartier Panthere - Pre-owned Investment watches

Rolex Explorer II 216570

The Explorer II was released in 2011 forty years after the original was first unveiled. In homage to its roots it brought back the orange 24-hour hand which collectors nicknamed the “Freccione” (“big arrow”). The updated version comes with the new 3187 movement, a larger 42 mm case and “maxi” hour markers and hands. It has been touted as an important Explorer II model that will be sought after in the years to come and indeed its its average pre-owned price on Xupes has risen by 28% since 2014.

Rolex Explorer - Pre-owned Investment watches

 Breitling Navitimer World A24322

This GMT remake of the Navitimer was introduced in 2006. The recommended retail price at the time was around £3700 including VAT, today it’s at just over £5,000 and the pre-owned price has climbed steadily at just over 5% per year since 2013 to around £3,800. This model with the Breitling 24 calibre and 46 mm is an all-round stellar example of the original slide-rule bezel watch that first launched Breitling into the big time.

Breitling Navitimer - Pre-owned Investment watches

For more on pre-owned watch prices follow our magazine or check out our pre-owned luxury watch boutique, which has all the above models and more.