How To Assess The Long-Term Value Of Your Watch

Whether you’ve inherited a family heirloom or you’re an enthusiast adding to your collection, understanding the potential long-term value of a watch is important. This article will guide you through the factors that affect a watch’s value, how to assess its long-term value, and how to protect and enhance that value.

Understanding the Factors that Affect Watch Value


The manufacturer of your watch plays a significant role in determining its value. Premium brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Omega, among others, are known for their craftsmanship, quality of materials, and consistency in maintaining value over time. These brands have established a rich heritage and reputation in the market, often resulting in their products appreciating in value over time.


Just as brands have reputations, specific models within each brand carry their own weight in terms of value. Some models, like the Rolex Submariner or Patek Philippe Calatrava, are perennial favourites amongst collectors and tend to hold their value well. Collectors often pay a premium for iconic or limited edition models.

Age and Rarity

Age and rarity often go hand in hand when assessing a watch’s value. Vintage pieces or those that are no longer in production can command higher prices due to their scarcity. However, not all old watches are valuable. The watch’s desirability amongst collectors, combined with its rarity, will determine its value in the market.


A watch’s condition significantly influences its value. Watches in excellent condition, showing minimal signs of wear and retaining original parts, fetch higher prices. On the other hand, watches with significant damage or that have had major restorations may not hold their value as well.


The provenance of a watch refers to its history of ownership. A watch owned by a notable person or one involved in an important event can significantly increase its value. Documentation that verifies the watch’s history can add to its desirability and, therefore, its value.

How to Assess the Long-Term Value of Your Watch

Conduct Market Research

To get a sense of your watch’s potential long-term value, you’ll need to conduct thorough market research. Look for similar pieces sold in recent auctions or watch retail websites. This will give you a sense of how much people are willing to pay for your specific brand and model.

Get a Professional Appraisal

An appraisal by a professional watch expert can provide a more accurate estimate of your watch’s value. These professionals have deep knowledge of current market trends and prices, as well as the intricate details that can influence a watch’s value.

Monitor Market Trends

The watch market is not static. It evolves with changing tastes, economic conditions, and fashion trends. Keeping an eye on these trends can help you understand how the value of your watch might fluctuate over time.

Understand Depreciation Rates

Just like cars, watches can depreciate in value. Understanding the depreciation rates of different brands and models can help you estimate the potential long-term value of your watch. Some brands and models depreciate slower than others, making them a safer bet for long-term value.

Protecting and Enhancing Your Watch’s Value

When it comes to preserving the value of your watch, you must consider several key points – regular maintenance, safekeeping of documentation and original components, and avoidance of unnecessary alterations. 

Regular Maintenance

Just like a fine automobile, a quality timepiece requires regular servicing to keep it operating at its best. This involves not only internal maintenance but also cleaning and polishing to keep the exterior looking pristine.

  • Servicing a mechanical watch usually involves disassembling the movement, cleaning each component, replacing any worn parts, reassembling the movement, lubricating it, and then regulating it for accurate timekeeping. This process requires specialist knowledge and should only be performed by a qualified watchmaker.
  • For quartz watches, maintenance typically involves replacing the battery every 2-3 years, or as soon as the watch starts losing time, as a depleted battery can leak and damage the movement. Other components, such as the gaskets that ensure water resistance, should also be replaced during servicing.
  • It’s also crucial to keep your watch clean. Sweat, dirt, and oils from your skin can accumulate over time and may cause corrosion. A soft cloth can be used for regular cleaning, while a toothbrush and soapy water can be used for a more thorough clean – just ensure the watch is water-resistant and the crown is fully pushed in or screwed down before cleaning.

Keeping Documentation and Original Components

Original documentation not only provides a sense of authenticity but also adds considerable value to your watch. This includes the original receipt, warranty card, user manual, and any service records. They provide a timeline of the watch’s history and demonstrate that it has been well maintained, which can be very appealing to collectors.

In addition to paperwork, the original box and any additional components that came with the watch (like extra links for the bracelet) can also add value. Again, these contribute to the watch’s provenance and show that it has been well cared for.

If you have your watch serviced or repaired, always ask to keep any components that are replaced. Even if a part is no longer functional, it could still be of interest to collectors, and having the original parts can add to the value.

Minimise Unnecessary Alterations

The maxim ‘original is best’ rings true when it comes to maintaining the value of your watch. While you may be tempted to customise your watch to suit your personal style, any alterations, especially those that can’t be easily reversed, are likely to reduce its value.

This includes anything from replacing the original dial or hands to adding aftermarket diamonds. While such changes may enhance the watch’s appearance to your eye, they can detract from its originality and thus its appeal to collectors.

In some cases, minor, reversible changes, like replacing a worn strap, may not negatively impact the value – especially if you keep the original strap. However, for major alterations, it’s always wise to consider the potential impact on the watch’s long-term value. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of maintaining the watch in its original condition.


The world of watches is complex and ever-changing, with various factors influencing the long-term value of a piece. By understanding these factors, conducting thorough research, and taking steps to protect and enhance your watch’s value, you can ensure that your timepiece retains – or even appreciates in – value over time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Can I Increase the Value of My Watch?

Increasing the value of your watch depends largely on maintaining its condition, preserving its originality, and ensuring its relevance in the current market. 

Regular servicing is critical for maintaining the mechanical integrity of your watch. It’s recommended to have your watch serviced every three to five years by a professional watchmaker or a certified service centre. This ensures your watch remains in good working order and can prevent potential damage which might devalue your watch.

Preserving the watch’s originality is also crucial. Original components, even down to the strap or bracelet, can significantly affect the value. Keep any spare parts from repairs or servicing, as original parts, even if damaged or worn, contribute to the overall originality of the piece.

The market relevance of your watch is determined by trends in the watch industry. Limited edition pieces or models tied to significant events or persons are often highly sought after. If you own such a piece, keeping abreast of industry trends and news can help you gauge when might be the best time to sell your watch for maximum value.

How Does the Brand of My Watch Affect Its Value?

The brand of a watch can have a considerable impact on its value. Certain brands, like Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet, have built a reputation for superior craftsmanship, innovation, and longevity, which is reflected in their resale value.

These premium brands often invest heavily in marketing and brand building, which in turn fosters a high level of desirability among consumers. Their watches are not just viewed as timekeeping devices but as status symbols, works of art, and investments.

However, brand value doesn’t just depend on prestige. The brand’s commitment to servicing and maintaining its watches also plays a part. Brands that offer comprehensive service and parts availability for older models can enhance the long-term value of their watches, as owners can keep their timepieces in top condition.

What Role Does Age Play in the Value of My Watch?

The age of a watch can contribute significantly to its value, particularly if it’s considered a vintage or antique piece. Typically, for a watch to be considered vintage, it needs to be at least 20 to 30 years old. Antique watches are generally over 100 years old.

However, age alone doesn’t necessarily make a watch valuable. Many factors can influence this, including the condition of the watch, its brand and model, and the current market demand for that particular piece. A rare vintage model in excellent condition from a coveted brand will likely hold significant value. Conversely, an old watch from an unknown brand in poor condition may not be valuable, despite its age.

What Are Some Watches That Generally Appreciate in Value?

Certain brands and models are known to appreciate value over time, often due to their iconic status, rarity, or ties to notable events or people.

For instance, the Rolex Daytona, particularly vintage models, has seen significant appreciation in recent years, with some pieces selling for hundreds of thousands, even millions, at auction. The Patek Philippe Nautilus, especially the now-discontinued 5711 model, is also highly coveted and has seen substantial increases in value.

Vintage Omega Speedmasters, often associated with the Apollo moon landings, have appreciated in value, driven by their historical significance.

However, it’s important to remember that watches should not be viewed solely as financial investments. Market trends can be unpredictable, and what appreciates in value today might not do so tomorrow. The true value of a watch often lies in its craftsmanship, history, and the joy it brings to its owner.