While the rest of us haven’t been watching, Rolexes have made rich wrists much richer

As prices of investments become more and more uncertain across the board, people are investing more and more in watches.

March 22, 2019

Would you pay $18k for a watch? On its face, it seems absurd (you can get a Casio for $11!). But on the second-hand, that watch could also be worth $75k 7 years later — and now it doesn’t seem so cuckoo to buy that clock after all…

Since real estate’s a roller coaster and crypto is crazy, the market for high-end wrist candy has become one to watch.

It’s a weird new world: Old people no longer wear Rolexes to make others feel less-than in public — instead, young people share their Rolexes on Twitter and Bumble to make others feel less-than online.

The new a-wrist-ocracy

Wealthy watch owners have long collected vintage tickers to evoke retro wristwear (Paul Newman’s wristwatch recently sold for $17.8m in 12 minutes).

But thanks to watch startups like Worn and Wound, many young investors don’t see luxury watches as classy collectibles, but as gram-worthy investments.

“Buying a good vintage Rolex is just like purchasing stock in a company like Nestlé or Google,” Shahien Hendizadeh, a 25-year-old recent business school graduate, told The New York Times. “It’s the quintessential blue chip.”

Not exactly clockwork

Watch values often do fluctuate like stock prices: The price of Rolex GMT-Masters increased from $8k to $16k in 3 years, and the value of a vintage Compax watch recently rose from $2.8k to $45k before cooling back down to $30k.

Some have gone so far as to invest in vintage watches as an alternative to a 401(k) — “It was much more practical to invest regularly in watches that I know about rather than the stock market that I know absolutely nothing about,” watch-lover Matt Hranek explained to The Times.

High wrist, high reward

Like other potentially high-yield investments, watch markets have a risky time-table: Investors who wear their wealth long enough will likely see their fortunes fall by 30-40%.

But the watch world even offers investors a way to diversify their portfolios: The Watch Fund offers investors a chance to invest in vintage watches at discount prices — the company has delivered double-digit returns each year since launching in 2013.

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