Depreciation is one of the worst aspects of owning a watch. When putting big money down for a nice watch, we would hope that it would keep its value. Sadly, to a large extend, buying a watch is like buying a car. You will have maintenance costs, and the moment you drag it out of the dealership, it will have lost a lot of its value.
On average, watches will depreciate 3.6% per year. The average loss in the value of a watch is 16.3% over a period of 12 years. The study investigates more than 90 watches and 25 watch brands. The study concludes that only three watch brands appreciate on average.
To examine the depreciation (or potential appreciation), I have collected a lot of data for various watch brands to assess each brand’s depreciation and found the average depreciation value. The study has been conducted using the MSRP found at the retailers and the resale value from the grey market. If a watch has been discontinued, I have searched for the MSRP and used the known MSRP.
How Much do Watches Depreciate?
There is no reason to draw this out more than it has to be. So let’s start with the conclusions. The conclusions is both surprising and somewhat what we would expect.
The study did reveal some very interesting statistic is the average change of value over the years. The bullet list shows a clear indication that watches lose a lot of value in the first year. However, on average, with the close to 100 watches investigated, they will recover value every year starting from year 2.
One of the significant determining factors of how much the watch will drop and eventually be worth comes down to the box and papers. There is substantial benefits to keep the box and papers for future resell value.
While some watch brands lose anywhere from 20%-50% per year (Like Franck Muller), other watch brands seem to be increasing tremendously in value (like Rolex). On average most watches almost breakeven after 12 years from their original release (not accounting for inflation).
- 1 year on the market: -32,9%
- 2 years on the market: -31,6%
- 3 years on the market: -29,6%
- 4 years on the market: -29,6%
- 5 years on the market: -27,5%
- 6 years on the market: -24,5%
- 7 years on the market: -19,2%
- 8 years on the market: -15,7%
- 9 years on the market: -19,8%
- 10 years on the market: -15,2%
- 11 years on the market: 13,4%
- 12 years on the market: -2,8%
A big spoiler alert behind the statistics shown above is that popular brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, some Tudor models, and some Jaeger-LeCoultre models is the only reason why the statistic shows a recovering price.
The vast majority of watches will lose a big piece of value the first year, and then the following years, they will lose somewhere between 1%-5% per year. However, “investment” watches can increase over 100% per year for the right models, making the averages show an obscure positive recovery.
Another aspect that is not included in the study is the condition of the watch. It’s a given that a watch that is poorly maintained will also sell for a lower price. Therefore, it’s essential to learn how to threat your mechanical watches.
Furthermore, there is a big difference between mechanical and automatic watches. In the study, the popular watches investigated were mechanical in the majority of the time. Does this mean quartz watch collections aren’t worth it? Most likely not. If you enjoy the watch, it can have substantial personal value.
Conclusion #1: During the first year of ownership watches loss 32,9% of their value, on average. Comparing the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) to the early years on the grey market, a watch will only lose value.
In general, the study found that the depreciation is very similar to the depreciation found on cars. However, whereas a car “only” losses 20-30% of its purchase value, the average watch will lose 32,9% the first year.
It’s very typical for consumer items to have a high loss of value in the first years, and then slowly stabilize, until they hit a point where the value of the item is dependent on whether it functions or not.
For example, think of cars. A car will lose its value fast. However, when the car is about 10-15 years, it will stop losing value because the only value left is the actual functioning of its primary function, which is getting you from A to B.
Conclusion #2: Only a couple of watch brands turns out to be a good investment. The vast majority of watches will lose their value.
While the investigation wasn’t conducted to find the best investment watches, I now know that I should buy Rolex, Audemars Piguet, or Patek Philippe if I want to earn on owning the watch (like I had the money to buy one of those, I wish).
While I personally don’t think that watches should be bought as an investment, I wouldn’t mind my watch being worth more than when I bought it, if I was ever to sell it. Yet, watches will, in 99,9% of times, be a bad investment.
The moral of the story is, invest in something else since watches will be a bad investment. Buy a watch that you will like and enjoy rather than try to make money because you will most likely not make any money.
Conclusion #3: Some watch brands preserves their value much better in the first years compared to some of the other brands. There is a big difference in which watch brands retain their value and those who don’t not.
The statistics show that Girard Perregaux, Franck Muller, and Tag Heuer lose more than 50% on their value the first year on the market. The statistics show that even Rolex has a loss of value in the first year on the market. However, Rolex is quick to recover in the following years.
Conclusion #4: During the study, it was identified that all watches will have some ups and downs in value throughout time. Hence, if looking to find a better time to purchase a watch, it might be possible.
Many watches will experience the price to both increase and decrease. While the clear conclusion is that watches lose value on average, most watches will slightly increase in price at some point. Whether the price increases are driven by viral Instagram videos, YouTubers, or anything else, I’m not totally sure. But it could look like most female models have a slight increase in price around December (gifts maybe?).
However, when looking at the historical price of watches, you might spot whether you are about to buy the watch at a premium or a discount (on the grey market).
Conclusion #5: Luxury brands are more likely to retain their original value. While the average luxury is losing value over time, it’s significantly less than compared to high-end, middle-end, and low-end watches.
In contrast, luxury watches is the category that losses the biggest value in the first year of their release. The average luxury watch will lose 39,8% of its value, whereas a low-end watch will only lose 19,4 of its value.
The statistics show that the first year is just as fatal to luxury watches as any other class of watches. However, over the long term, luxury watches will decrease significantly less in value. To be precise, the average change in value per year is -2% for luxury watches.
Conclusion #6: On average, watches will stop losing value after the first year. However, this statistic should be taken with a grain of salt since the statistics were gathered for many well-known and established brands. If the statistics were pulled from all watches in the entire world ever produced, I guarantee that, on average, watches would lose value every year.
The watch’s history’s largest price drop occurs during the first year the watch is on the market.
In the following table, you will see each watch brand and its price change on average per year, and the value change from retail price to the current price.
|Watch brand||Value change from MSRP to current price (in %)||Average change per year (in %)||First year depreciation (in %)|
|A. Lange & Söhne||-39,9||-4,4||-44,2|
|Bell & Ross||-40,9||-3,0||-40,2|
How Much do Rolex Depreciate?
Rolex is known as one of the only watch brands that actually isn’t losing value. The first Rolex watch that went to become a “secure” investment is the Submariner. However, more and more of Rolex’s watches are becoming “investment” watches due to their limited availability and hype around the watches.
In the first year of ownership Rolex watches lost 11.3% of their value. However, on average, Rolex is gaining 6.3% value per year rather than depreciating. Among the Rolex models that have been investigated, the average appreciation has been 91.5% over 12 years.
Rolex has been around for many years and is known as a brand that builds luxury and useability into a complete package. This has made the Rolex brand a success since it’s beginning and why people are loving the Rolex brand.
However, Rolex is limiting the number of watches they produce each year, which will create a shortage of watches at the retailers. In simple terms, this means that the people that were fortunate enough to acquire a watch can sell them at a premium.
How Much do Omega Depreciate?
Omega watches what watch enthusiasts consider the Volvo of watches. Omega produces everyday watches which is durable and is often tool watches. Omega is a producer of different types of sports watches and dress watches and is most famous for being the watch brand of James Bond.
On average, Omega watches lose 6.5% of their value per year. In the first year, they lose 23% of their retail value. The vast majority of Omega watches lose value. From their release to their current pricing, Omega watches are worth 6.8% less than at retail.
Omega is a very respected watch brand. Omega has many years in the watch industry and has made some extortionary watches. What is special about Omega is their willingness to be inventive on everyday watches. Such as the movement 8500, which is anti-magnetic up to 15,000 gauss.
This movement puts other watch brands to shame when they have made dedicated watches able to resist the magnetic field (Such as Rolex’s Milgauss, which is only to withstand 1,000 gauss).
How Much do IWC Depreciate?
The long time watch manufacturer IWC is primarily known for its Pilot watches. IWC watches is typically dressy to look at, and although IWC is focusing on al types of watches, they all look formal enough to where you can wear it for work.
IWC watches lose 40.7% of its value in the first year. On average, IWC watches lose 2.6% of their value per year. The value difference between their retail price and the current value is, on average, 35.5%.
The resell value of IWC watches seem to be quite poor and generally very unattractive when considering the depreciating.
How Much do Breitling Depreciate?
Breitling is known for the Navitimer and originally made watches for aviation is no other than Breitling. Which a big focus of precision, manufacturing chronometer-certified watches. So how does the aviation brand on the depreciation you might ask, well:
Breitling lose 35.5% of their value after 1 year. The average depreciation per year is 16%. The value of Breitling watches now, in contrast to its retail price is -30.8%.
The study’s findings revealed that Breitling is by far the watch brand with the biggest year-to-year value decrease. However, the study had to lack sufficient long term data. Therefore, the obscure year-to-year value depreciation might be, to some extent, excused.
How Much do Hublot Depreciate?
Hublot is the brand famous for its “incarnation” by the famous watch mogul Jean-Claude Biver. Mr. Biver has made several watch brands come forth in the fight for customers. Being the man who revived Blancpain after going out of business, getting Omega back in the game after losing revenue, Mr. Biver changed to Hublot to give them the success he thought they needed.
Hublot loses 39.7% of its value in the first year. On average, Hublot watches lose 2.9% of its value per year. Likewise, their current value to their retail value is down on average, with 30.6%.
While Biver continued his success at Hublot and was a part of 5-doubling their sales, Hublot watches don’t do good in terms of depreciation compared to other watch brands.
How Much do Panerai Depreciate?
The depreciation is not substantially more significant than on other watch brands. As a matter of fact, Panerai is one of the watch brands that lose less of their value when compared to other watch brands.
Panerai watches lose 37.7% of its value in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 0.9%. The retail price, in contrast to its current value, is, on average, 20.6% lower.
Panerai is a watch brand known among the enthusiast for their corporation with Rolex during world war 2. The brand is manufacturing in-house movement and uses ETA movements in some of their watches. Panerai is a watch brand that divides the waters between enthusiasts and collects due to their similar styled watches.
How Much do Tag Heuer Depreciate?
Tag Heuer is a brand that struggles with a high depreciation in all aspects. Both the first year, retail price to current price, and the average yearly depreciation is all in the higher end between all the watch brands. Tag Heuer is another brand Jean-Claude Biver has been involved with. Maybe he has made some history to the brand that will make the watches preserve their value better in the future.
Tag Heuer watches lose 51% of its value in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 3.2%. The average price on the grey market is 40.5% lower compared to their original retail price.
Tag Heuer is not a watch brand that one would expect to bring a big depreciation as there is plenty of heritage in their watches. Tag Heuer has been very involved with motorsports. Putting the TAG name to a Porsche engine used by McLaren back in 1983, having brand ambassadors such as David Guetta, Matrix Gatrix, One Republic, and others.
Tag Heuer is in the category of “buy the watch if you like it, cuz you ain’t gonna make money on it” category.
How Much do Cartier Depreciate?
Cartier is known for many things. They are prominent within the fashion industry with jewelry, watches, leather products, fragrances, and more. Therefore, you could think that Cartier has made some smart marketing or heritage that would make their watches keep their value. However, the story is different, although not amongst the worst in the watch brands investigated.
Cartier watches lose 35.5% of their value in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 0.5%. Cartier watches can be found 24.6% cheaper with their current price compared to their original retail price.
Although Cartier is a giant brand, the depreciation is still a thing that occurs to their watches. One of the reasons could be that Cartier is not making any in-house movements but rather sourcing them from Valfleurier, ETA, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi. This doesn’t make Cartier attractive to collectors.
How Much do Zenith Depreciate?
Although Zenith has a deep and rich history, Zenith is still depreciating like any other watch brand. Zenith is an “under the radar” type of watch brand. However, Zenith gained some attention when releasing the Zenith El Primero Defy 21, with a 1/100 second chronograph.
Zenith watches depreciate 24.4% in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 5.2%. On average, Zenith watches have lost 29.2% of their original retail price compared to what they are sold for on the grey market.
Zenith is an interesting brand. Since Zenith is a part of the LVMH group, Jean-Claude Biver has been around to support their development of watches. Zenith got known for its chronograph movement that was used in some Rolex Daytona models. The Zenith movement was applied in the Rolex Daytona models from 1988 to 2000.
How Much do Patek Philippe Depreciate?
Known as the watch brand that doesn’t lose value, Patek Philippe is one of the most recognized watch brands in the world. Patek Philippe has gotten a lot of hype in recent years. A combination of random attraction from rich rappers, heritage, quality, innovation, unique design, and limited availability have made Patek Philippe attractive.
Patek Philippe watches lose 26.4% of its value in the first year. However, the yearly change in value is 10.6%. In addition, Patek Philippe watches are, on average, sold for 115.2% above their original retail price on the grey market.
Patek Philippe watches have the potential to be a good investment. While you might purchase the watch because it’s a good looking watch, in the end, you might end up making money.
How Much do Audemars Piguet Depreciate?
Audemars Piguet is a name everyone who has an interest in watches has heard about. Audemars Piguet is a very unique watch brand making special watches. They have gained a lot of attention in the last couple of years.
Audemars Piguet watches lose 27.6% of their value in the first year. However, the year-to-year value is appreciating with 4.6%. Furthermore, on average, Audemars Piguet watches are sold for 35.9% above their original retail value.
The unique style of watches that Audemars Piguet is producing is special to the degree that attracts people who can afford them, mixed with the limited availability the prices of the watches is raising.
How Much do Jaeger-LeCoultre Depreciate?
Jaeger-LeCoultre is a watch manufacturer that everybody wants to own at some point. Whether it be from the well-known Reverso collection or the highly advanced and innovative Master collection might vary. However, most watch enthusiasts start to drool with the thought of owning a Jaeger-LeCoultre based on their history and heritage.
Jaeger-LeCoultre watches lose 21% of its value in the first year. The yearly change in value is 1.4%. Jaeger-LeCoultre watches are, on average, sold for 12.7% below their original retail price.
Among other things, Jaeger-LeCoultre is known for being innovative and supply Patek Philippe with movements. Furthermore, Jaeger-LeCoultre is known as one of the few watch brands that almost hasn’t used any suppliers of movements and made them solely inhouse.
How Much do A. Lange & Söhne Depreciate?
German-based watch brands have started to raise awareness of themselves. For a long time, Switzerland was the only place where quality watches could be produced, according to watch snobs. However, that has changed with watch brands placed in Glashütte, Germany.
A. Lange & Söhne watches lose 44.2% in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 4.4%. A. Lange & Söhne watches can be found 39.9% below their original retail price on the grey market.
Although the German-based watch manufacturer A. Lange & Söhne is depreciating just like any other watch brand, the name of Glashütte Germany has gotten a lot of media time. Many watch enthusiasts have begun to realize that the German-based watch brands are becoming competitors to the Switch based brands.
How Much do Tudor Depreciate?
Rolex’s little brother Tudor has a very strong customer community. Much like other well reputable brands such as Omega and Rolex, Tudor is another watch brand that has taken the essential aspects of a luxury watch and made it affordable to the average watch enthusiasts. Tudor was created by Rolex with the idea of making an affordable, high-end brand.
Tudor watches is losing 6.6% in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 0.7%. Tudor watches can be bought for 5.1% less than their original retail price on the grey market.
Although Tudor doesn’t appreciate it like its founder, Tudor is not depreciating much. As a matter of fact, Tudor is the watch brand that losses the least value in the first year in the entire study of depreciation.
How Much do Longines Depreciate?
Being one of the smaller brands price-wise, Longines is very similar to the average watch brand in terms of depreciation. Longines is a brand with a lot of class and functionality. Longines I making watches that appeal to the dressy type of people.
Longines watches lose 35.5% of their initial value in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 7.3%. A Longines watch can be bought 34.6% below its original retail price at the grey market.
Longines is making very good looking watches. However, their movements is, in general, not anything interesting as they are mostly using ETA movements that have been slightly modified. From a collector’s standpoint doesn’t make Longines watch very attractive, and hence the watch does depreciate a fair bit like the rest of the watch brands.
How Much do Sinn Depreciate?
Sinn makes real tool watches. Chronographs, dual time zones, diver watches, dress watches, anything you might think of. Sinn is the typical entry-level watch manufacturer, which means that Sinn uses ETA and SW movements to deliver a reliable quality at an affordable price.
Sinn watches lose 20.3% of its value in the first year. The average depreciation per year is 0.4%. Sinn watches will, on average, only lose 5.1% of their original retail value when comparing the original retail value to the current grey market price.
Sinn is an interesting brand based on the availability of watches. Furthermore, Sinn is in the “better” end of the spectrum in terms of depreciation.
How Much do Chopard Depreciate?
Chopard is a watch brand that isn’t very well-known in most parts of the world. Chopard is making watch at both ends of the design spectrum. The watches made by Chopard can be very classical, and very experimenting and blingy.
Chopard watches will, on average, lose 42.8% of its value in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 3.8%. Comparing the original retail price to the grey market’s current price, Chopard watches have lost 44.9%.
To be frank, Chopard is one of the worst brands when it comes to the depreciation of watches. Out of the 25 brands, Chopard is placed 21 in terms of depreciation from the original retail price to the current price on the grey market.
How Much do Blancpain Depreciate?
The first watch brand to release a watch that is considered a dive watch is Blancpain. Furthermore, Blancpain is the world’s oldest surviving watch manufacturer. Do they depreciate a lot of do they actually appreciate? Well, actually, Blancpain was very close to going out of business when Mr. Biver bought the rights for Blancpain for 20,000 CHF.
Blancpain watches will, on average, lose 38.3% of their value in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 2.2%. Blancpain watches can, on average, be bought on the grey market for 29.6% below their original retail price.
Although Blancpain has so much heritage and innovation, collectors and watch enthusiasts are not engaged enough to make the watches appreciate.
How Much do Franck Muller Depreciate?
Franck Muller has some interesting looking watches. Just as exciting as their watches is to look at, just as enjoyable is the statistics about their depreciation. Before reviling my findings, I wish to say I’m sorry to the owners of a Franck Muller watch if you ever attempt to sell the watch.
Franck Muller watches will, on average, lose 58.2% of their value in the first year. Franck Muller watches will depreciate with 9.8% per year on average. Franck Muller watches can be bought 59.8% below their original sales price on the grey market.
Franck Muller is the brand of watches that is found to be the second-worst in terms of depreciation. I sincerely hope the executives of Franck Muller has developed a business model that has Franck Muller making money because the customers might not be satisfied by the large depreciation when customers want to have something else and attempt to sell their Franck Muller only to find out that it’s below half the original retail price.
How Much do Glashütte Original Depreciate?
Another sharp German-based brand is Glashütte Original. Glashütte Original is a younger brand founded in 1994, from Glashütte (obviously), which is also where A. Lange & Söhne, NOMOS, Moritz Grossman, and other brands are from.
Glashütte Original watches will, on average, depreciate 34.3% in the first year. On average, Glashütte Original watches will depreciate with 6.8% per year. Glashütte Original watches can be bought 36.2% below their original retail price on the grey market.
Depreciation is expected to be rather large for newer brands that is not very well established, especially when the marketing is trying to make Glashütte comparable with the center of the watchmaking history of Switzerland.
How Much do Bell & Ross Depreciate?
Bell & Ross is a brand many knows. The general perception of Bell & Ross is that you either like them or you don’t. Their watches look like the clocks you find in old airplanes, which is very true to the heritage of the design made by Bell & Ross. However, looking at depreciation, something tells me that people are not that much into the lack of design variation.
On average, Bell & Ross watches will lose 40.2% of their value in the first year. On average, Bell & Ross watches will depreciate with 3% yearly. Bell & Ross watches can be bought 40.9% below their original retail value on the grey market.
Bell & Ross is placed in the bottom 5 with the highest depreciation value over time. While their watches change minimal to each generation, they are also huge, which is not likable by everyone.
How Much do Girard Perregaux Depreciate?
Girard Perregaux is the watch brand that depreciates the absolute most of all the watch brands investigated. While making some obscure watches, Girard Perregaux is just a watch brand that isn’t using a lot of budget on marketing (have you ever seen them anywhere other than watch stores?).
Girard Perregaux watches will, on average, lose 58.8% of its value in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 8.1%. Girard Perregaux watches can be bought for 60.9% below their original retail price on the grey market.
While Girard Perregaux makes some watches that look unique, they are not good at positioning themselves in the right places. This means that it seems they are only trying to rely on physical stores in a digital era.
How Much do Maurice Lacroix Depreciate?
Another watch brand at the bottom of the depreciation list is the Maurice Lacroix. Maurice Lacroix is a good entry-level brand that has made some good looking watches with reliable swish made movements, they seem to be difficult to sell at a good value.
Maurice Lacroix watches will, on average, lose 49.4% of its value in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 10.3%. Maurice Lacroix watches can be bought 55.5% of their original retail price.
Despite their poor resell value, Maurice Lacroix is a brand that been around for a longer period and is using some solid movements for everyday use.
How Much do Oris Depreciate?
Oris is the entry-level watches for people with different types of styles. Although Oris has a lot of focus on dive watches, there is a watch for every style. Even some of their dive watches are made pretty enough to be dress watches.
Oris watches will, on average, lose 24.8% of its value in the first year. The average yearly depreciation is 6.9%. Oris watches can, on average, be bought 26.2% off their original retail price on the grey market.
Oris in the upper half of the depreciation list seen at the start of the post. I hypothesize the main reason is that they have such a big focus on one thing, the dive watches. Their dive watches is done to such perfection, in both price and exterior finish, that you don’t mind that the inside houses ETA’s and SW’s movements, which is rather standard.
How Much do Hamilton Depreciate?
As expected with Hamilton is depreciating a lot, just like other entry-level brands. Hamilton also has watches for most people’s tastes, with the most popular being the pilot model “Khaki.”
Hamilton watches will, on average, lose 32.4% of its value in the first year. The average depreciation per year on Hamilton watches is 7.2%. Also, Hamilton watches can, on average, be bought 31.1% off their original retail price on the grey market.
Buying a Hamilton watch on the grey market could be an excellent opportunity to get a good quality watch for a very reasonable price.
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