One of the reasons luxury watches have gained notoriety in recent years is the impressive value retention of certain models. Part of what makes this hobby so interesting is the fact that if you buy certain luxury timepieces, their value will remain stable or perhaps even appreciate! That’s a good thing; after all, you work hard for your money.
The watches with the best value retention and appreciation tend to come from brands like Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe. That said, the most popular Rolex models will cost you upwards of $10,000, and Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet timepieces are often priced at double or triple that amount.
Considering many of these timepieces trade for up to twice their list price, it is safe to say they are unattainable grail watches for the majority of collectors.
Instead, we’ve selected three popular watches priced below $6,000 that also enjoy stable prices and none of which come from the big three brands mentioned above.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional
The Speedmaster is one of the few luxury watches with any kind of name recognition outside of the watch world. It became the first watch on the Moon in 1969, hence “Moonwatch.” This achievement gives the watch a unique and impressive historical value. Anyone who had television back in the day had the chance to see the Moonwatch in action on the wrists of astronauts on the Moon and during other NASA missions.
Its look is completely unique, distinguishing it from many other watches that mimic or emulate other iconic designs.
It should come as no surprise that the Speedmaster is a solid and robust watch, especially considering it has withstood the extreme conditions of space. That aside, it also makes a great everyday watch. Despite its 42-mm diameter, it measures just 45 mm lug to lug, making it a pleasant size overall that suits just about any wrist.
Moreover, at 14.3 mm thick, it slips smoothly under most shirt cuffs. The Speedmaster is, therefore, the perfect watch for any attire or occasion.
This watch is comfortably worn on a stainless steel bracelet, but it can also be paired with a range of straps. Regardless of whether you opt for a NATO strap or leather band, the Speedmaster always looks sharp and provides plenty of opportunities to change its look.
The watch comes with a huge package of extras that can be described as nothing short of extraordinary. In addition to a beautiful brochure about the history of the watch and NASA missions, it comes with two NATO bands, a magnifying lens, a spring bar tool, and more.
The Speedmaster is available in two different versions. The first comes with Hesalite crystal and is officially flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions. This is the watch for all the purists out there. The version with sapphire crystal, on the other hand, boasts a display case back and offers the perfect balance of history and practicality.
Despite some small weaknesses such as water resistance to just 5 bar and the need to wind the watch by hand at least every 48 hours, the Omega Seamaster Moonwatch Professional is an absolute must-have in every watch collection.
Another plus is the Speedmaster’s financial performance. It is one of the few watches out there that tends to increase in value by up to 20%, even when pre-owned. You’ll rarely find those sorts of numbers outside of the Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe lineups.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M
It’s no secret why this next watch holds its value so well. The Seamaster Diver 300M is not only enjoying a moment being praised up and down various YouTube channels, but it’s also one of the current Bond watches, which has exposed it to a wider audience.
The Seamaster Diver 300M is considered a perfect Submariner alternative. Not only is it more affordable, but it is also available immediately with no waiting lists. Plus, it’s more technologically advanced than the diving watch from Rolex. First and foremost is the integrated Co-Axial METAS-certified movement. It is both extremely accurate – with a maximum deviation of +4 seconds a day – and completely impervious to magnetic fields.
The workmanship is top quality, particularly the ceramic dial with a unique laser-cut wave pattern – a great selling point. The flawlessly finished indices are almost reminiscent of a computer-rendered graphic.
One potential downside for some buyers is the helium escape valve attached to the top left side of the case. You’ll never use it in everyday life, and it makes the watch look slightly asymmetrical. On the other hand, it’s not that noticeable and contributes to the watch’s unique look.
If you don’t mind the valve, the Seamaster Diver 300M is a great choice. At 42 mm in diameter and 50 mm lug to lug, it fits perfectly on wrists measuring 170 mm (6.7 in) and above. It is also quite slim at just 12.8 mm. Like the Speedmaster, this watch is well suited to any occasion. It makes the ideal timepiece for summer beach trips when worn on the rubber strap.
Tudor Black Bay 58
The Black Bay 58 may just have been the watch that the world was waiting for. With the release of the first Black Bay in 2012, Tudor could have hit it big. However, despite its undeniable popularity, it had – quite literally – a huge shortcoming for many potential buyers: The watch was quite thick and chunky, which discouraged some fans despite the watch’s other appealing design features.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise that the Black Bay 58 has been one of Tudor’s most popular models since its launch at Baselworld 2018. This watch looks similar to the popular Heritage model but is significantly smaller and flatter.
The diameter of the watch has shrunk from 41 to 39 mm, and the length from lug to lug has decreased to 47 mm, down from 50 mm. Rather than the former height of 14.8 mm, the Fifty-Eight measures a trim 11.8 mm, making it the slimmest Black Bay in the catalog and suitable for almost any wrist. With 200 m (656 ft) of water resistance and a 70-hour power reserve, this watch has it all.
All of that aside, the biggest argument for the Black Bay 58 is its unique character. The rose gold hands, grainy matte black dial, aluminum bezel with gold accents, and red triangle complete with a pearl come together to lend the Black Bay 58 a great deal of retro charm. Overall, the watch is reminiscent of Rolex and Tudor watches from the 1950s, but it doesn’t go over the top.
The great design and appealing overall package mean this watch is very popular. It is one of the few non-Rolex watches that trades slightly above its official list price.
What makes a watch retain its value?
Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe watches aren’t the only timepieces that tend to retain their value. Good value retention is achieved by watches that are particularly popular or well-respected within the watch world. The three watches featured here clearly show that it can go well above and beyond the brand name. A watch earns cult status through its history, achievements, innovation, or simply by pairing timeless design with great value for money.