Which affordable watches will appreciate in value over the next few years?
Ah, if I had this kind of wisdom I would be very rich, my friend. However, I can make some educated guesses as to what will become fashionable again in a few years, nevermind the single models - but the trends of the business are there. I will outline three of the main trends in my answer - and you might do with me recommendations what you want. Remember that “watches” and “investment” are two terms that mix awkwardly. Do not do it unless you know what you are doing.
1 - The Millennials and vintage: What we are assisting to today is the Millennials becoming the primary cluster of customers. And Millennials have different spending habits than older generations. First of all, they look positively to experiencies and objects which have them. So, everything that is vintage is sure to become interesting for a Millennial. I can think that the vintage watch trade will be increasing very soon, especially for models and shapes which are currently a bit forgotten, that is, square and rectangular watches, which were the most hip watches during the Twenties and the Thirties. Prepare for a slew of tanks, doctor’s watches, tonneaus and cushions - and buy some just in case.
Nowadays you can have them for very cheap, especially since the brand they carry on the dials will be much less important than what it is now (Millennials give much less value to brands than Boomers do).
2 - the return of the quartz: I am not saying that the quartz watches will become fashionable again like when they were introduced, but we are assisting today at the return of the vintage quartzes. That is, the first specimens of watches featuring a quartz movement, either with analogic or digital diplays, are beginning to get a certain appreciation by the public and the collectors, again. So, if you happen to find some interesting quartz watches, just buy them and store them somewhere (without their batteries), ads they might become somewhat valuable over time. It is a very small niche, and it is forming, but since it is small, it is something you might get interested into - and jump in quickly.
3 - the unisex trend: The satellite dishes we wear for watches today are losing their steam, thankfully. The new releases are smaller, finally crossing the threshold of 40 mm to go down into the 30s. Why is it so? Because the horology business is made of trends, but trends are fueled by marketing. And China, which is today possibly the biggest single market for watches, dictates the beat. Asians in general have a smaller frame than Westerners, so the maisons have understood that what appears huge on the wrist of the typical Westerner would look definitely too much on the ones of the typical Asian. Also, that the number of women in Asia who buy men’s watches is ever increasing. So, it makes sense - in marketing terms - to reduce the watch sizes so to find more customers. This is what I personally would do, at least. This also means that old dress watches from the Fifties, which were small in diameter, will become very fashionable very soon. Hold on to them, also because of #1, above. So, in a nutshell, this is what is going to happen, in my proverbial two cents worth. Your mileage might vary, though. As for me, I am buying old Art Deco watches and refurbish them for my personal wearing. Plus, I just love their style.
See the beauty on top? It is a trench watch, possibly from 1925, with enameled dial (almost perfect) with lume applied, cathedral hands, wire lugs, no antishock feature movement, gold-plated cushion case, and it works delightfully. I have paid a ridiculous sum for it - because no-one wanted it. Same as what follows:
This one should be from 1935/1940 instead. Do they look cool? Absolutely. Will they look much better after being refurbished and cleaned? You can bet on it.
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