LUXUO came upon an interesting thing on Quora today, “If one were to buy a Rolex today and keep it in a perfect condition for 50 years, would it be a wise investment?“. Whether your watch is merely a frou frou luxury purchase or serious investment has been a perennial question asked and answered by marketing campaigns from the various big brands, most famously, by Patek Philippe: Of course it’s an investment, you hold it for the next generation! We paraphrase of course.
Marc Montagne, Digital Manager for Vacheron Constantin (and from what I gather from friends at Vacheron Constantin, he’s also the creator of a watch app called toolwatchapp which measures the accuracy of watches) had a rather quantitative and qualitative answer on Quora.
Montagne bought his first Rolex in 2010 at the price of $3,800 (likely a 16610 Submariner, more on that in a bit) while it was retailing at $4,800. Montagne also mentions that his particular model, in a totally unworn condition is valued at around $11,000 in 2017. Mathematically, this figures out to be a compound annual growth rate of 16.40% – which is insane for a large swathe of asset classes (save some cryptocurrencies) and anecdotally, quite expected for Rolex investments especially when it comes to some vintage Rolex watches which known to fetch eye-watering bids at auctions. So according to Montage, you can invest and make money from a Rolex by following these 3 cardinal rules:
- If you want to invest and turn a profit on your Rolex, stick to Professional models: Submariner, Daytona or GMT.
- Buy steel. (In East Asia, gold watches does pretty well) but in general, two-tones steel/gold editions are dicey.
- It should be unworn and left with its protective stickers with box, papers (warranty documents, manuals, sales receipts, etc), and even the bags from the boutique
Typically, you’d want to avoid conflating what it means to be a watch collector and a watch investor as they’re not the same things. And while the 16.4% growth figure is by no means an annual figure, in Montagne’s example, it was across a 7 year period thus spread across 50 years, it might enjoy less exuberant percentage growth in real terms, and they certainly don’t all turn out to be worth £230,000, as in the case of this vintage Rolex Submariner.
Rare vintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner recently hammers for £230,000 at Lockdales Auctioneers
According to BBC, the vintage Rolex Submariner was originally estimated at £8,000 by Lockdales Auctioneers but as bidding heated up, they realised they had a bidding war on their hands when bidders had flown over from Italy, the USA, Holland and over 100 online bidders took part to take part in the auction at Martlesham Heath, Suffolk.
Though reports initially mentioned that the vintage Submariner was purchased in 1965, the patinated 3-6-9 Explorer dials tended to come from either the Rolex Submariner 5510, 5513, ref. 6200 or the ref. 6536 or 6538 and those models tended to be pre-1965 (but we could be wrong). Typically, a mint-condition Rolex Submariner ref. 6200 auctions for US$150,000 to US$250,000 easy and the model offered by Lockdales Auctioneers hammered for £230,000! It is unfortunate that no details were immediately forthcoming from the sale and images referenced by the auctioneers only show the watch, a riveted bracelet and a box, no papers were sighted. Thus, LUXUO (and colleagues at World Of Watches) are wondering as to the provenance for this piece.
In any case, this vintage Submariner sold for the highest price ever recorded at the auction house and was a record for a Rolex Submariner in Britain, definitely an investment grade (if you know how to pick them).
Disclaimer: LUXUO and World Of Watches assume no responsibility for the financial losses of readers acting upon this information. As with all investment decisions, caveat emptor applies – buyer beware.
Other Money-making Investment Grade Rolex Watches by Finalised Auction values