What Makes a Watch a Collectible?

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In the last few years, there has been an upswing in the trend of collecting high-end watches. In fact, Christie’s of New York reported in 2007 that they sold collectible watches worth more than $55 million in 2006 alone! That’s approximately R606, 000,000! So why this renewed interest in collectible watches and how do you know if a watch is a collectible? Read on to find out...

Why Collectible Watches?

People collect watches for many reasons. Some see it as an investment piece so they can sell it later when it appreciates in value. Others see watches as a family heirloom. Whatever the reason, it is good to understand what makes a watch a collectible…


As with any other collectible (stamps, antiques, comic books etc.), the rarer the item, the more its value. For example, the Breguet Marie Antoinette is such a rare watch that Breguet refuses to put a price tag on it. It was designed by Breguet himself and took almost 45 years to make! Marie Antoinette did not live to see the completion of the watch. The watch was stolen from a Jerusalem museum in 1983 but eventually recovered in 2007.

Worn by Celebrities

Be it a diamond encrusted Chopard worn by Marion Cotillard, an Omega DeVille worn by Henry Cavill (AKA Superman), a Hamilton worn by Elvis Presley or the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M worn by Daniel Craig as James Bond, celebrity-worn watches are in great demand!


Watches can have great historical significance. Just think of pocket watches worn by Napoleon or Abraham Lincoln! Or Queen Victoria's Patek Philippe, Einstein’s Longines watch, JFK’s Rolex or Buzz Aldrin's Omega Speedmaster that went to the moon!

Collectible Watches

Vintage Patek Philippe watches from the 1940s or 50s are probably the most sought after collectible watches due to their iconic designs and brilliant attention to detail. In 2008, a 1942 Patek Philippe watch crafted with 18 karat gold auctioned for more than R26, 000,000! Watch makers such as Ulysse Nardin, Cartier, Rolex, Richard Mille, Vacheron Constantin, Breguet and Jaeger-Lecoultre are particularly known for crafting some of the finest and most expensive timepieces in the world. As a result, a lot of their watches hold their value and even appreciate over time. Some experts contend that these watches are “recession-proof”!

Of course, one might wonder why a watch should cost hundreds of thousands or even millions in some cases! After all, it’s only a time piece. But collectible watches are not just about telling time. They are about art and craftsmanship, precision and perfection. Above all, collectible watches are about keeping a time-honoured tradition alive and having a piece of history and heritage on your person!

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