Here is something that me and the watch collectors friends have discussed in much detail and often. In general the consensus between all of us is that vintage watch prices are going up and many of them are good investments. If you read in the news and on these major sites they all sat that watches are a good investment but the people reporting on this are most likely not watch collectors or only deal in specifics and as with most things go only these “big increases” are reported the fall in prices of past investments are not..
I do agree that many vintage watches are going up in value and in the last decade or so some have gone up probably faster then buying stocks. I have even met collectors that have dumped their entire savings into watches instead of the stock market or their retirement funds in the hopes that in 10 years it would have doubled or more. Some brands for example have been going up like crazy such as Omega and Rolex, you literally cant get a deal on these brands of watches anymore unless its from an estate sale or garage sale where an unknowing seller has let it slip by. Anything these days in good shape are going for double or more then what they did even just a couple years ago.
Lets take a look at the past of watches that I have seen trends on, be it that I have only been collecting watches for little over 10 years some of the old timers have seen even bigger trends. When I first started collecting watches back in the early 2000’s Tag Heuer was one of the more sought after brands, even the quartz model watches where fetching high dollars but now, they have averaged out. On the other hand the rare vintage models like the Heuer Autavia have skyrocketed. This is the same with Omega Speedmaster which has always been a popular collectors watch but has over the years gone into the very high thousands of dollars numbers (im talking about the vintage Moon or Pre-Moon not these newer stuff).
One of the common trends I have witnessed has been the old Kids watches from the 50-70’s, you know the ones im talking about with pictures of Hopalong Cassidy, The watches with Moving arms or eyes etc… these where going for hundreds of dollars for what they labeled as “rare” models and where considered highly collectible. Alas these watches have taken a huge dive in price and can now be purchased for $20-60 (there might be some that are still expensive but for the most part they have tanked. And who cant remember the Swatch watch craze of the 90’s? those watches where flying off the shelf with the prices skyrocketing when sold out.. it would be hard pressed to find swatches commanding a high price these days however there are still a few that do.
Here is a picture of watch prices I pulled out of a Japanese magazine called Power Watch they track the sold prices of watches (this is from 2014). Check out the huge climb for the Submariner and the Milgauss (but since then has been about the same price singe 2014) but then a huge drop for the Submariner Green Hulk Edition.
Finally for my last example (there are many more examples of this in the higher end watch market but since im in the “value zone”) was the Bulova Accutron. Yes these days they still fetch a decent price for some models but 5 years ago for a 214 or even some of the 218’s (especially the space view) they where selling for an astronomical price. These days you can now get a running Space view for $250-350. I remember I was selling 214 Coils “untested” for upwards of $60-80 each.
In general though I think good watches will go up in price and rare watches in most cases will go up in price as well but you have to be careful on what people consider rare at that time and really do some research on how many where made, where they where made and how many you can guess are still out there the economy will also have a play in watch prices. My prediction of 2017 is vintage higher end movements and anything with a complication such as chronographs will increase in value or anything with a history such as Millitary watches, Aviation, Space etc.. which have always been in high demand.
Here are some more Price history for “New watches” from Pricespy.com good information on trending.