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An Investment on Your Wrist

Rolex watches span the gamut from affordable to exclusive, starting at less than $6,000 and soaring to limited-edition models that cost more than $300,000. It’s like the range of Mercedes cars between a basic C Class sedan, which has no rarity value, and a more coveted AMG Cabriolet that tops $300,000.

“Rolex has become a cultural symbol and a status symbol,” said Benjamin Clymer, founder and chief executive of Hodinkee. “The quality you receive in a Rolex is above most other watches at that price point.”

Patek has invested heavily in marketing campaigns that focus on its watches as heirlooms. But Mr. Clymer said the brand does not translate immediately into appreciation.

He said that the company’s signature watch, the Calatrava, which costs about $20,000, is like any new car. “If you bought it and tried to sell it the next day, you’d take a bath,” he said.

“They’re not always great investments, but there is a track record for them becoming great investments,” he said of the Patek Philippe timepieces.


“We’re monetizing a wristwatch as if it’s an asset,” said Danny Govberg, the chief executive of WatchBox.

Mark Makela for The New York Times

Discerning the investment potential of watches can be as complex as the intricate machinery that runs them.

“Things can change very rapidly in the watch world, the way they can with other investments,” said Daryn Schnipper, chairwoman of Sotheby’s international watch division. “One of the things I suspect people should be tuned into is production quantities and trends of a company — is it a solid company or a new company?”

As with most investments, she said, supply drives watch prices. For instance, new Rolex Daytonas are not easy to find, so the price for vintage ones has ticked up.

Watches that are known beyond aficionados have a tendency to increase in value, Mr. Clymer said. Mr. Newman’s Rolex Daytona is one. The Omega Speedmaster, which astronauts wore on the Apollo 11 moon mission, is another.

“That Speedmaster has a place in world history,” he said.

But sometimes the high prices that watches fetch have as much to do with luck as anything else.

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News credit : Nytimes