Rising demand and continuing scarcity will make Rolex and Cartier two of the hottest investment watch brands in 2022, according to secondary market specialist The RealReal.
Next year will be building on one of the hottest growth periods in history for the luxury watch business, leading to extreme shortages at authorised dealers and soaring prices on the grey and pre-owned markets.
In exclusive data supplied to WATCHPRO, The RealReal identifies the most profitable watches to have invested in through 2021 before making its predictions for the coming 12 months.
Not surprisingly, the Patek Philippe Nautilus, no doubt concentrating on its soon to be discontinued 5711/1A, saw the sharpest price rise this year with 61% growth.
Rolex’s Daytona and GMT Master II took the next two spots in a top four of the best investment watches, with Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak coming in fourth.
Top Four Investment Pieces for the Year (based on most significant resale value growth YoY)
3. Rolex GMT Master II (+36% YoY)
4. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (+22% YoY)
What makes a good investment watch?
Asked to identify what factors make a watch a good investment piece, The RealReal’s watch merchandising manager Matthew Clarke suggests: “The most important criteria for determining a watch’s value is its staying power — think of timepieces that have a storied history and an iconic design that has lasted through decades of re-editions. Models that are an integral part of a brand’s legacy will remain a mainstay in horology culture for years to come.
“Another factor to consider when evaluating a watch to determine its resale potential is the better the condition, the higher likelihood of it retaining its value. This means minimal wear to the metal, which includes polishing wear, and maintaining the original parts with proper servicing. The goal is to have the watch be as close to the original condition as possible.”
The RealReal’s watch offer has grown as more watch collectors and enthusiasts have started to see trading as an enjoyable and potentially profitable part of their hobby.
“We’ve seen tremendous adoption of the resale market; our customers cite sustainability, a desire for one-of-a-kind items or simply the ‘thrill of the hunt’ as reasons for selling and shopping with us,” Mr Clarke suggests.
With no sign that supply will catch up with demand for the most popular waiting list watches, the secondary market for over retail priced pieces will grow again.
“On the primary market, demand continues to outweigh supply, which will likely continue well into the new year. We have the advantage of not being affected by such issues and have a great inventory of popular styles, limited editions and vintage models. Our shoppers not only have instant access to our full library but, they are also getting an authenticity guarantee, making the buying process as seamless as ever,” Mr Clarke advises.
Best investment watches for 2022
With unicorn watches already commanding exceptional prices, there could be a risk that an overheated market could cool in 2022.
The RealReal does not see it that way. Today’s hot watches will keep their value and other brands and references could join a party that will continue to be dominated by Rolex.
“Rolex continues to be exceptionally sought after and this year we saw the Daytona re-establish itself as the leader of the pack among competing models. The Daytona is known to be one of the more challenging models to purchase on the primary market, which echoes the issues of a delayed supply chain with rising demand. This makes all renditions of the Daytona — stainless steel especially — our top investment pick for the coming year based on scarcity,” Mr Clarke proclaims.
Cartier, which has seen auction prices rising for rare 1960s and 70s pieces this year, is a new brand to watch for its investment potential.
“We’ve also seen contemporary models from Cartier surge in popularity, however the Tank Solo continues to appeal to collectors of all types,” Mr Clarke suggests.
“The Tank is widely celebrated as the most iconic design of Cartier and as more people turn to the secondhand market for watches, the Solo has proven to be a great starter for a new collection. We expect the demand to remain steadfast into the new year.”