How to Buy an Investment Watch

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How to Buy an Investment Watch

Watches are often designed as pieces of quality jewellery. They are sought after by collectors and investors for their fine craftsmanship, valuable materials, and visual appeal, and a large secondary market has developed as a result. Investing in vintage watches is especially common, though speculation on new products can also result in a profit.

There are many things to consider while shopping for an investment watch, including brand and materials. For example, some brands tend to increase in value more than others, and this information can be used to guess the future value of an item. Materials like gold and platinum are more desirable, and therefore more likely to cause a watch to appreciate in value. Buyers should also consider the age and condition of a watch. In some cases, the specific history and previous owners of an individual item can greatly affect its value, while even a few slight scratches can cause depreciation.

High-end watches are available from jewellery stores and online retailers. A good number of watches can also be purchased from sellers on marketplaces like eBay, and these sites are an excellent way to find rare and vintage products. Careful buyers can unearth watches that are likely to appreciate in value over time, and potentially resell them for thousands over retail price, so learn about watches and speculation to find the best items.

Choose Investment Watches

Buyers who are new to watches may encounter some terms they are not familiar with. Before considering the different types of watches available, take a moment to brush up on some common terminology. The following table includes brief descriptions of language and design elements related to watches.




A type of watch built with a transparent case. Allows the wearer to see the mechanics of the piece.


A feature in a timepiece not related to the display and keeping of time, specifically seconds, minutes, and hours. More complications increase a watch's value.


Includes a second timekeeper that functions as a stopwatch.


A type of crystal used to power the watch. More accurate than mechanical timepieces.

Other features and details about a watch can also affect its value in the secondary market. As buyers gain experience buying and selling, the value of these details can become more apparent.

Mechanical vs. Quartz

One of the biggest decisions buyers need to make is between mechanical and quartz components. Although quartz watches are the most commonly used timepieces, they are not as desirable as their mechanical counterparts in the secondary market. The intricacies and fine tuning of a quality mechanical watch allows it to fetch much higher prices during resale than quartz units, so buyers should focus on mechanical watches for investment.


Some brands hold their value better than others. In general, products from manufacturers that are widely known hold their value more than others. For example, Rolex and Cartier are well-known, desirable brands, and their products tend to at least maintain their value. These manufacturers have produced high-quality, respectable watches for many years, and are considered staples of the secondary watch market.

It is also worth considering whether a watch has controlled distribution or not. This can usually be determined by comparing prices on a new watch between sellers. A watch that sells for significantly more at one retailer than another does not have controlled distribution, and is more likely to depreciate over time.


The metal used in the creation of a watch can determine its visual appeal, longevity, and value. Platinum is typically the most valuable. Gold is second, and has three different forms, including white gold, rose gold and yellow gold. Of these, white is the most valuable, and yellow the least. Silver is also frequently used in watch production, though it is a distant third in terms of value.

Investment watches may feature bands made from metals or high-quality leather. If a metal band is purchased, be sure it is made from the same material as the case. Some watches use inexpensive metals for the band that are meant to mimic the look of the case.


As with nearly all products sold in the secondary market, the condition of a watch largely determines its selling price. A watch that is scratched, worn, or missing components is less desirable than the same model that is in excellent condition. For this reason, many serious speculators keep their watches stored safely away, and do not wear them.

Age and History

The age and history of a watch can also have a significant effect on its resale value. However, it is important to remember that age by itself does not increase the value of a watch. Instead, it is part of supply. As time passes, the number of watches from a particular year and product line is diminished. They are lost, stolen, or damaged, and consequently, the remaining watches can increase in value. Like all aspects of supply, however, demand must be present for age to increase the resale price of a watch. For this reason, watches produced in small numbers by popular manufacturers are the most likely to appreciate.

Previous Owners

The past owners of a watch can also play a role in its value. For example, a watch owned by a famous musician or actor can become highly sought after. Not only can this type of situation affect a specific item, but all watches of the same model, as well. This is particularly true of watches used in movies, such as the Omega watches associated with James Bond films.

Vintage vs. Modern

The future value of vintage watches can be easier to judge than new items. In general, a watch that has increased in value since its creation is likely to continue appreciating. However, obtaining these items also costs more money.

Other Considerations

As with all types of speculation, purchasing an investment watch can result in a loss of money. Only a select few watches appreciate in value over time, and it is not uncommon for buyers to find they cannot resell a watch for the same price they bought it. In general, the best way to ensure a positive buying experience is to find watches that are attractive to the buyer for their craftsmanship, design, and appearance. This way, if a watch loses value over time, the owner can still be content with owning a fine timepiece.

How to Buy Investment Watches on eBay

A high number of new and vintage watches can be purchased on eBay. To shop for these items, you may enter keywords on the eBay homepage, or use category links. An easy way to begin a broad search is to enter the name of a watch or watch brand into the search field. For example, to see listings for all watches made by Rolex, type "rolex watch" into the search field. The search results can then be narrowed by adding other keywords, such as a material type, or model name and number. You may also use the category links on each page to shop for watches. These can be used to browse by brand, item condition, price, materials, and other options.

Take the time to read item listings before committing to a purchase. Read the description provided by the seller, and check for any information from the manufacturer. Be clear on the price of the watch, and remember to add shipping charges to the total cost. If you have any questions about a listing, contact the seller.

Once you have found the items you'd like, click on sellers' names to view their full profile. There, you can read comments left by previous buyers about their experience with the seller. Average ratings on shipping speeds, communication, and accuracy of item descriptions are also available. For a quick assessment of a seller's experience and reliability, consider the positive feedback rating and number of completed transactions.


The popularity of fine watches has lead to a large secondary market. Vintage watches can sell for thousands of dollars, and many buyers choose new watches hoping they appreciate in value over time. Although there is no set formula for predicting the potential value of a watch, there are some things to keep in mind that can improve a buyer's odds of success. Among these are the materials, manufacturer, age, condition, and history.

Platinum and gold are more valuable than silver or other materials, and mechanical watches are prized for their high levels of craftsmanship. Some brands, such as Rolex, are more likely to increase in value than others, as their name recognition increases the number of potential buyers. Age and condition are also important to consider. Keep in mind that although age can increase a watch's value, it still requires demand. In some cases, a watch's history can increase demand, and therefore its value. Famous past owners, or use in popular culture can have this effect on an item. Watches that are in excellent condition almost always sell for more than the same model in poorer condition, so it is worth keeping an investment watch safely stored away.

Watches can be purchased from jewellery stores, department stores, and online retailers. Marketplaces like eBay are an excellent means for obtaining rare and vintage timepieces. Shop around to compare prices between sellers, and research brands to judge the current and future value of an item. With a little patience and careful shopping, it is possible to obtain a fine watch that can be resold for a large profit.

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