It’s mostly true that the more you can invest in a watch, the more you are likely to yield but there are some affordable models which have the potential to significantly appreciate in value over time.
Unique in its position within Rolex’s catalogue, the rather obscure Turn-O-Graph has potential as a collector’s item. Launched in 1953 and considered Rolex’s first serially produced tool watch, the Turn-O-Graph ref. 6202 was renowned for its bidirectional rotatable bezel, designed to measure and record time. The Turn-O-Graph was chosen by an elite aerobatic squadron of United States pilots called the Thunderbirds to aid in their navigational calculations, which earned it the “Thunderbird” nickname.
The Turn-O-Graph’s rotating bezel would soon become the foundation for Rolex’s other influential sports watches including the Submariner, GMT Master and many more. It is still considered a true icon in the world of fine watches with a genuine cult following, enabling it to gain value and become a sleeper among collectors. Measuring 36mm with a date complication, the ref. 116264 went from a £4000 valuation in May 2018 to a current value of around £5800, and that figure is expected to keep on increasing.
Rolex Datejust 36mm ref. 16233
While not famed for its status as an investment piece, the Datejust has appreciated well in recent years and is among the best performers for this price point. Released in 1945 to celebrate Rolex’s 40th anniversary, the Datejust was the first watch to have an automatically changing date function.
Featuring its emblematic date magnifying “Cyclops lens”, the Datejust’s vintage and neo-vintage models attract investors’ attention. Priced at around £3500 in August 2018, the Datejust ref. 16233 has now breached £5000, although there are still plenty of examples at the £4000 mark to be snapped up: a bargain with its two-tone construction, elegant 36mm case and modern sapphire crystal.
Rounding off our Rolex suggestions, we have one of the most underrated models from the world’s most famous watchmaker. Released during the Quartz Crisis when Swiss watchmakers were being run out of business by the new quartz movement from Japan, the Oysterquartz was released in 1977 and signifies Rolex’s fight for survival.
Based on the earlier cal. 5100 (Beta-21) movement, the Oysterquartz was in a league of its own. With 11 jewels, the latest in CMOS circuitry, a 32000-hertz oscillator and analogue thermocompensation to regulate the quartz crystal and keep accurate timing, the OysterQuartz was deemed equal to Rolex’s mechanical movements.
A clear step out of Rolex’s mechanical comfort zone, the Oysterquartz also featured a new design of angular case and integrated bracelet that remains unlike anything else released since. Priced at around £4000-£5500 in today’s market, the Oysterquartz has experienced a relatively significant increase in value from the £2500 – £3000 range that it traded at in the summer of 2019.
Cartier Santos 100XL AND Cartier Santos de Cartier
Both reining from the same iconic collection, these two very different watches speak to different collecting trends within the market today and represent some fantastic value within the industry.
First released in 1904, the Cartier Santos was the direct result of Louis’ friend, a Brazilian aviator named Alberto Santos-Dumont, who asked him to design a watch for him to use during flight. A wrist-mounted watch that enabled Alberto to read the time without fumbling with a pocket watch, the Santos was a hit and eventually made it to market in 1911 as the world’s first tool watch. Building on Cartier’s legendary status as a jeweller, the Santos was a precious metal timepiece and became an instant commercial success.
A revamp came in 1978 following the creation of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus. These watches turned public appreciation from round watches to more angular models so Cartier gave the Santos an integrated metal bracelet. Cartier also made a steel version which was a complete change of direction for the brand, but they also released a bi-metal steel and 18kt gold version to maintain the luxury feel.
The Santos de Cartier ref. WSSA0030
Featuring the angular design, integrated bracelet, exposed screws and Cartier’s traditional dial layout, the modern Santos de Cartier is a very stylish but heavyweight sports watch. Released in 2020, the ref. WSSA0030 is a hot prospect for investment with its stunning blue fumè dial which changes from light blue in the centre to navy along its periphery. With a market value of £4200 in July 2020 and a current market value of nearly £6000, this watch is making the most of market trends and is likely to continue in the same direction over the coming years.
The Santos 100 XL Chronograph
Released in 2004 to commemorate the Santos’ 100th anniversary, the Santos 100 takes the original design and beefs it up to modern proportions. With its leather strap, the Santos 100 continues to remind us of the famous collection’s humble beginnings while speaking to Cartier’s refined aesthetic as a jeweller.
Valued at £4000 in July 2019, the Santos 100 XL Chronograph ref. 2740 now fetches £5300 on average and it should command a reasonable return within a few years.
Danny Shahid’s flagship DWL shop is in Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade, the home of luxury boutiques. DWL has more than 12 years’ experience in sourcing big name watches and staff are often asked for their expert opinion by fellow jewellers and retailers. The luxury watch experts’ stock is constantly changing but they have immediate access to more than one hundred exquisite models, most worth between £10,000 and £40,000 but some with a value of up to £400,000.