top 10 tips for investing in watches

After more than two decades of buying, selling, and collecting watches, we have gained valuable insights on the dos and don'ts of investing your hard-earned money in timepieces.

If you are new to the world of watch investment and seeking advice, we are delighted to provide you with our top 10 tips.

While seasoned watch collectors may find these tips obvious, we all started somewhere and learned some lessons the hard way.

Our aim is to help you avoid those pitfalls if you are considering taking the leap into watch investment. However, it is important to note that this guide does not provide financial advice; it simply shares our best practices.

Research & Educate Yourself

Before immersing yourself in the realm of pre-owned watches, it is essential to equip yourself with knowledge.

Take the time to research various watch brands, models, and their historical significance.

Familiarise yourself with pricing trends, market demand, and potential warning signs. Engaging in online watch forums, reading reputable publications, and interacting with other passionate watch enthusiasts will broaden your understanding.

The more you learn, the more capable you will be in making informed investment decisions.

Determine your budget

It is essential to establish a budget that aligns with your financial situation and investment goals. Consider how much you are comfortable spending and how this purchase fits into your overall financial plan. While luxury timepieces can be a solid investment that holds its value, it is crucial to set realistic expectations and avoid overextending yourself financially.

When determining your budget, take into account not only the initial purchase price but also any additional costs that may be incurred. The watch you purchase may not be in complete working order. Servicing the movement, replacing parts and cosmetic refurbishment costs are important to factor into your budget.

Furthermore, it is advisable to consider insurance for your pre-owned watch. While some homeowners insurance policies may provide coverage, it is worth exploring specialised watch insurance options, we recommend UK insurance company TH March. An insurance policy will protect your investment from theft, damage, or loss, providing you with peace of mind.

By establishing a realistic budget and considering the associated costs, you can confidently navigate the world of pre-owned watches without compromising your financial well-being. Remember, investing in a watch should be a thoughtful decision that enhances your lifestyle and brings you joy, while also aligning with your overall financial goals.

Authenticate the Watch

Ensuring the authenticity of a pre-owned watch is a paramount consideration when making a purchase. Regrettably, the market is rife with counterfeit timepieces, making it essential to take precautions in order to minimise the risk of falling victim to a fraudulent transaction.

First and foremost, it is advisable to buy from reputable sellers, authorised dealers, or well-established platforms that specialise in pre-owned watches. These sources have a reputation to uphold and often have stringent measures in place to authenticate their products. By choosing a trusted seller, you increase the likelihood of obtaining a genuine timepiece.

When examining a pre-owned watch, look for signs of provenance and original paperwork. Authentic watches are typically accompanied by documentation that verifies their origin and history. Original receipts, warranty cards, or service records can provide valuable evidence of the watch's authenticity. Additionally, pay attention to the presence of serial numbers, as these unique identifiers help confirm a watch's legitimacy.

When seeking a completely original vintage watch, one aspect to consider is the condition of the dial. It is common for dials to undergo restoration, which may not necessarily harm the watch but could affect its appeal to serious collectors who prefer watches in their original state. However, if the dial is simply dirty, having it professionally cleaned can enhance its attractiveness to future buyers.

Careful scrutiny of the watch itself is crucial. Inspect the timepiece for any signs of tampering or inconsistencies in its design, craftsmanship, or branding. Counterfeit watches often have imperfections or inaccuracies that can be detected with a discerning eye. If you are uncertain about the authenticity of a particular watch, seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable watch expert or appraiser can offer an extra layer of assurance. These professionals possess the expertise to thoroughly examine the watch and provide an expert opinion on its authenticity.

In the UK, where the market for pre-owned watches is thriving, taking the necessary steps to ensure authenticity is vital. By purchasing from reputable sources, confirming provenance and paperwork, examining serial numbers, and seeking expert advice when needed, you can confidently navigate the world of pre-owned watches and safeguard yourself against counterfeit timepieces.

Condition & Service History

When considering a pre-owned watch, it is crucial to thoroughly evaluate its overall condition. While some scratches, dents, or signs of wear are to be expected in pre-owned timepieces, excessive damage or significant alterations may have an impact on its value.

Obtaining information about the watch's service history is also important. Enquire whether the watch has undergone regular or recent maintenance and if there are any records or warranty period available to support this.

Additionally, it is recommended to examine the watch for any signs of unauthorized modifications or aftermarket parts. Alterations that deviate from the original specifications of the watch can potentially diminish its value and collectability.

Rarity & Limited Editions

Limited editions or discontinued models tend to increase in value as time goes on. Therefore, it is essential to conduct thorough research on the production numbers, special features, and historical significance associated with the specific watch you are interested in.

Understanding the production numbers can provide valuable insights into the scarcity of the watch. If a particular model was produced in limited quantities, it is likely to be highly sought after by collectors, thus potentially appreciating in value more rapidly. Additionally, discontinued models that are no longer in production can become increasingly rare, making them attractive options for both watch enthusiasts and investors.

Special features that distinguish a watch from others in the same line can also contribute to its collectability. Whether it's a unique dial design, a specific material used in the construction, or even a collaboration with a renowned artist or brand, these distinctive elements can elevate the desirability and value of the timepiece.

Furthermore, considering the historical significance of a watch can provide a deeper understanding of its collectability. Some watches have connections to significant events, achievements, or cultural milestones, making them sought-after pieces for collectors. Researching the historical context surrounding the watch can shed light on its story and enhance its appeal.

It is worth noting that while the primary purpose of acquiring a watch may be for personal enjoyment, the potential investment value can be an added bonus. Collectors are often willing to pay a premium for unique timepieces, especially those with limited availability or exceptional features. Therefore, carefully assessing the rarity, collectability, and historical significance of a pre-owned watch can not only provide a sense of its value but also offer potential investment opportunities.

market demand & brand reputation

Certain brands and models have a longstanding popularity that transcends trends and stands the test of time. These watches tend to hold their value well, making them attractive options for both watch enthusiasts and investors.

To gauge market demand, it is crucial to research the reputation and track record of the brand. A strong presence in the watch industry indicates the brand's ability to consistently deliver high-quality timepieces that resonate with collectors. Renowned and respected manufacturers often have a loyal customer base, which can contribute to the long-term investment potential of their watches.

Consider the brand's history, heritage, and overall standing within the industry. Has it consistently produced exceptional watches known for their craftsmanship and reliability? Does it have a dedicated following of watch connoisseurs? These factors can provide valuable insights into the brand's reputation and the likelihood of its watches maintaining or increasing in value over time.

Furthermore, examine the brand's ability to innovate and adapt to changing market trends. A manufacturer that introduces new technologies, materials, or design concepts can attract a broader customer base and potentially increase the desirability of its watches. Continual innovation demonstrates a commitment to excellence and can positively impact the long-term investment potential of a brand's timepieces.

Additionally, consider the brand's overall market presence and distribution network. Watches from manufacturers with a widespread global reach and a strong network of authorised dealers tend to have better liquidity in the market. This liquidity can be advantageous if you ever decide to sell or trade your watch.

By thoroughly researching the reputation, track record, and market presence of the watch brand you are interested in, you can make a more informed decision about its long-term investment potential.

Buy From Reputable Sellers

In addition to evaluating the market demand and reputation of the brand, it is equally important to exercise caution and choose trusted sources when considering the purchase of a pre-owned watch. Opting to buy from established watch dealers or reputable auction houses.

One advantage of purchasing from these sources is that they often have a rigorous vetting process in place. They carefully inspect and authenticate each pre-owned watch before offering it for sale. This meticulous examination ensures that the watch is genuine, free from any counterfeit elements, and in the condition as described. By choosing such sellers, you minimise the risk of inadvertently purchasing a fake or misrepresented watch.

Furthermore, established watch dealers frequently offer guarantees or warranties on the authenticity of their timepieces. These guarantees provide an additional layer of protection for your investment, assuring you that the watch you are purchasing is indeed genuine and worth its value.

To ensure a safe and satisfactory purchase, it is advisable to read reviews and seek recommendations about the seller you are considering. By gathering information from these sources, you can verify the reputation of the seller and determine whether they have a history of delivering authentic watches and providing excellent customer service.

Moreover, it is crucial to exercise due diligence when buying a pre-owned watch. Carefully examine the seller's return policy, warranty terms, and any additional services they offer, such as professional cleaning or maintenance. Understanding these details will help you make an informed decision and help you build a relationship with the dealer.

approach authorised dealers with caution: A less than transparent Purchase Experience

When it comes to purchasing an iconic watch from a renowned brand, the process may not be as straightforward as you imagine. Authorised watch dealers, who have the exclusive rights to supply these sought-after timepieces, often have their own set of rules and practices that can leave buyers feeling frustrated and uncertain.

Picture this: You walk into an authorised watch dealer, excited to finally acquire that prized watch you've been dreaming of. But instead of a simple transaction, you find yourself facing unexpected obstacles. This scenario is not uncommon, as many buyers have experienced similar challenges.

Authorised dealers, particularly those associated with top luxury brands, often control the supply of highly coveted watches. They have the power to influence and shape buyers' journeys, sometimes leading them to purchase watches that were not initially on their wish lists. This strategy is commonly employed by dealers as a means of building a purchasing portfolio, where customers are encouraged to buy less-desired models before being granted access to the watch they truly desire.

Furthermore, dealers may incentivise buyers to take on financing options for their watch purchases. By doing so, customers unknowingly enhance their purchasing portfolios and inadvertently help dealers meet their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This practice can create a sense of manipulation and leave buyers questioning the authenticity of their desired purchase.

If you choose to play by the dealers' rules and follow their suggested path, eventually, you may receive the watch you initially set your heart on but this may come at a hefty price and leave you with a collection of watches you don't desire. However, if you decide to deviate from their prescribed process or voice your dissatisfaction with their tactics, you run the risk of being overlooked or ignored. Unfortunately, this can lead to disappointment and a lingering sense of uncertainty as to why your desired timepiece remains out of reach.

To navigate this complex landscape and ensure a transparent purchase experience, there are steps you can take:

1. Research and Educate Yourself: Before approaching an authorised watch dealer, thoroughly research the specific watch model, brand, and features you desire. This knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions and reduce the likelihood of being swayed by alternative options.

2. Maintain Open Communication: When engaging with authorised watch dealers, clearly communicate your preferences and expectations. Be assertive about the specific watch model you desire and any customisation requirements you may have. By being transparent from the start, you can minimise the chances of being guided towards unwanted purchases.

3. Explore Alternatives: Don't limit yourself to a single authorised dealer. Visit multiple retailers to explore a wider range of options, compare prices, and assess the level of customer service provided. This approach allows you to make a more informed decision and find a dealer who understands and respects your preferences.

4. Explore Grey Market Watches: A grey market watch refers to a watch that is sold through unauthorised channels, outside of the manufacturer's approved distribution network. These watches are usually obtained directly from authorised dealers in regions where prices are lower, from overstock or discontinued inventory, or even from individuals who have purchased the watch and decided to sell it.

The most concealed secret of the watch industry is that numerous authorised dealers selling some of the leading brands have targets to achieve with the brand in order to retain it, and thus they are content to sell watches to a third party dealer or an individual at a reduced price to meet these targets. Whilst this is not strictly in line with the rules of engagement with the brand, it is a fantastic opportunity to purchase a watch immediately at the recommended retail price or at a discounted price that you would be unlikely to find at an authorised dealer.

The cost of a grey market watch is influenced by the popularity and demand for the specific model. It is not uncommon for highly desirable watches to be sold at prices higher than the recommended retail price offered by authorised dealers. This additional cost represents the premium paid for bypassing the traditional purchasing process and obtaining the watch sooner.

It's important to note that grey market watches are not counterfeit or fake but merely their sale is not sanctioned by the brand or within the brand's authorised distribution network. We consider them a low risk purchase but it is always best to do your own due diligence before buying.

In the grand scheme of things, it becomes evident that your chances of obtaining coveted watches are ultimately determined by the store manager. Their discretion plays a significant role in allocating these sought-after timepieces to their preferred customers. Unfortunately, this critical information is often withheld during the initial enquiry or even when you find yourself purchasing watches that may not align with your preferences or desires.

However, amidst these potential obstacles, there is a silver lining. Should you happen to secure a highly desirable watch at its recommended retail price, you may have just struck gold on a truly exceptional investment. These timepieces often hold their value or even appreciate over time, making them not only a stylish accessory but also a wise financial decision.

buy a little of what you like

Over time, it's common for collectors to lose sight of the initial passion that sparked their interest in watch collecting. As the financial aspect takes centre stage, the true joy of owning and appreciating these timepieces can fade into the background. To prevent this from happening, it is essential to maintain a genuine interest in the watches you acquire and to prioritise wearing and enjoying them.

Watches, like any fashion accessory, should evoke a sense of desire and personal connection. It's crucial to purchase timepieces that resonate with your tastes and preferences, rather than solely focusing on their potential financial returns. By buying watches that you genuinely like and are excited to wear, you can reignite the passion and ensure that your collection continues to bring you joy and fulfilment.

If you find yourself losing interest in watches, it may be a sign that you've strayed from the core principle of appreciating and enjoying what you buy. It's important to re-evaluate your approach and rekindle your love for these timepieces. Take the time to research and explore different styles, brands, and designs that capture your attention. Engage with the watch community, seek out forums or events where enthusiasts gather, and share your passion with like-minded individuals.

Remember, the financial aspect of watch collecting should be viewed as a bonus rather than the sole motivation. While it's true that certain watches can appreciate in value over time, the true value lies in the personal connection and enjoyment derived from wearing and appreciating these timepieces. By focusing on your genuine appreciation for watches, you can maintain a fulfilling and meaningful watch collection.

find a trusted route to market

Watch collectors often overlook the fact that collecting watches also involves the eventual selling of those timepieces. While the excitement of acquiring new additions to their collection is thrilling, it is equally important to consider the process of selling and finding a reliable route to market.

As a private individual, selling watches can be a daunting task. There are numerous risks involved, ranging from the possibility of being robbed at your home or having the watch stolen whilst meeting the buyer, to the more subtle risk of someone unknowingly exchanging your valuable timepiece for a counterfeit. These risks highlight the need for caution and careful consideration when navigating the selling process.

It is crucial to find a safe and secure route to market that will provide a worry-free selling experience, even if it means not receiving the absolute maximum value for your watch. The peace of mind that comes from knowing your transaction is secure and that you will be protected from potential scams or fraudulent activities is invaluable.

When exploring different avenues for selling watches, it is important to exercise caution with websites that require you to post your watch to them. While some platforms may seem legitimate, it is essential to thoroughly research and verify their credibility before entrusting them with your valuable timepiece. Similarly, online auction sites should be approached with caution, as they may not always offer the same level of security and protection.

Choosing a jeweller who has expertise and specialisation in this specific area is more likely to offer you an easy and transparent selling process. By focusing on watches, they have honed their knowledge and skills in evaluating different brands, models, and conditions, allowing for a smoother transaction.

To ensure that you are dealing with a trustworthy jeweller, it is important to look for signs that they are vetted as members of legitimate associations. These associations often have strict membership requirements and codes of conduct that members must adhere to. Being a member of such an association not only adds credibility to the jeweller's reputation but also provides you with a certain level of protection.

Legitimate associations typically require their members to meet certain standards of professionalism, ethics, and expertise. They may also require ongoing education and training to ensure that members stay updated with the latest industry trends and practices. 

Moreover, being a member of a legitimate association signifies that the jeweller is committed to providing high-quality products and services. It shows that they are dedicated to maintaining a positive reputation and building long-term relationships with their customers. By associating themselves with credible organisations, these jewellers demonstrate their commitment to transparency, honesty, and fair business practices.

In conclusion, selling watches as a collector can be a complex and risky process. To ensure a secure and worry-free selling experience, it is important to find a reliable route to market that offers protection against potential scams or fraudulent activities. Choosing a jeweller who specialises in watches and is a member of legitimate associations can provide the peace of mind and credibility needed to navigate the selling process successfully. By considering these factors and exercising caution, collectors can confidently sell their timepieces while protecting their investments and ensuring a transparent transaction.