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Watches as an investment (part 3)

A couple of years ago we wrote about the undervalued Rolex’s to collect (with an eye on the future value) which included the Air King and Explorer 2 amongst others. These two references have increased even beyond our anticipations, in the case of the latter, an increase that is virtually double 2018’s average listed price for pre-owned. The market in 2021 is very different, with every Rolex watch being in demand, a demand far exceeding supply in many cases. The reasons are varied.

A brief visit to a high street located Rolex authorised dealer in September 2021 may yield some surprises. There are only a few watches to be viewed in person, as production was interrupted through the international lockdowns, with demand from buyers increasing at the same time. Once upon a time, a choice of Rolex Datejust in steel, steel and gold (yellow or rose) would be on display along with one or two sports models and a smattering of gold Day-Dates. This is no longer the case, with some large dealers reporting total stock held of under ten Rolex items.

Whilst a logical approach may be that supply will increase, this won’t be the case, as Rolex hand makes watches, and would need to significantly change their manufacturing methodology. It would also be disingenuous to erode the hard won investment status of their range by over-supplying.

Just over a decade ago, the only watches that would need a registration or waiting list would be a Daytona or Submariner. Following the ceramic age, and the popularisation of collector nick names (Batman, Pepsi, Batgirl, Hulk, Starbucks, Camerons etc) which firmly planted the value and investment of Rolex in the mainstream, with examples trading privately and in pre-owned outlets such as our’s, at over the original window price. Discontinuation of references fuels the demand, as once they are ceased, the value will certainly rise, and perceived rarities, such as coloured dials on Oyster Perpetuals ignites further desire to acquire.

Traditionally, the vintage market would lead by investment potential, but with modern ‘classical’ references trading over list price, accordingly, all preowned values have increased. The adage, ‘the best time to buy a Rolex is when you can afford it’ never rang truer, and we cite some instantly recognisable references as one’s to consider today, to expect to see the value increase steadily over time:

The Rolex Datejust 36: vintage or neo-vintage, these can be found from under £5000 for a good one, and always the key to an earlier watch: condition. The case size appeals to both genders, giving a global resale audience ; when the time is right to move it on to its next custodian.

The Rolex Lady Datejust: for forty years, 26mm was the lady sized Rolex, although this is no longer the default choice, these are ideal daily wearers with elegance for any evening event. Currently pre-2004 (before the case/ bracelet change) can be acquired around £4000 for an excellent condition example, around £400 less than a new entry Oyster Perpetual (if you can find one / see above).

The Rolex Submariner (pre-ceramic): Instantly recognisable, the Sub, whether with Date or non Date, is the James Bond Rolex, and clearly age, completeness and condition will steer the pricing. We see these as undervalued today, given they were far more desirable than a GMT Master at one stage and are now trailing behind by a few £1000s. A gap that we feel will soon be narrower.

The Rolex Datejust 41: Larger, meaner and more obvious, it would be easy to dismiss the desirability of the stunning 41mm case as a trend, a fashion statement. Unlikely, given there are widely reported waiting lists for these over the past few months, we see the very slight increase over RRP (in the secondary market) worthwhile. It only takes a modest Rolex RRP price increase (usually annual) to eradicate the extra you’ve paid in the secondary market, and the subsequent rise when you resell.

For further information about these observations or to acquire / source similar, please contact us on 02080 700 800 info@vintageandprestige.com