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The Savvy Watch Collector: Timepieces that Make Good First Investments

Build a collection of watches that will retain, or rise in, value.

Let’s be upfront: Generally speaking, watches don’t make good investments, with the value of most new wristwatches dropping once you leave a boutique with them. For the most, when it comes to timepiece purchases, we advocate being guided by passion, not the profit motive. However, for horology enthusiasts who want the best of both worlds, there are certain brands, and within them, certain models, that are more likely than others to retain, or rise in, value. If you’re prepared to get brutal with your watch stash, here are some of our recommendations.

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    01: Rolex

    For watches that practically pay for themselves, Rolex is the numero uno. Buy one today, then sit back and watch as its inflation-proof resale price soars ever higher. It's like investing in prime property, except the real estate is on your wrist.

    Most Rolex models are safe purchases but the most lucrative are the sports models, which include the Submariner, Daytona, Sea-Dweller, GMT-Master II, Explorer I, and Explorer II. These models are perennially sought after and therefore preserve their value the most. Others like the Sky-Dweller and Yacht-Master are not as hot – no doubt about their beauty but lower demand equals lower value.

    Don't forget vintage Rolex, which is a whole new world unto itself with its own vernacular. Insiders bandy around terms like tropical dial, bubble back, Paul Newman, and Oyster Sotto like a distinct second language. Rule of thumb: The rarer it is, the better an investment it will make.
Celine Yap has a decade of experience in luxury watch journalism, and has served in senior positions at specialist horology magazines such as World of Watches and Revolution.