The Best Pre-Owned Luxury Watches To Buy Now
These coveted timepieces from Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Omega are the top used watches to invest in, according to an expert.
Collecting luxury watches is no longer merely an exercise in elevating your sartorial status–it’s also a savvy financial investment. A recent report from Rolex re-seller Bob’s Watches trumpeted that pre-owned Rollies–in particular the Submariner and GMT Master–have appreciated better than gold, real estate, and stocks over the past decade.
Well-preserved watches from legacy timepiece brands including Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Omega are also proving to be smart investments for the horologically-obsessed, while the notorious scarcity of new watches available at boutiques can make it difficult to actually strap on that grail-worthy Daytona or Royal Oak. Sometimes the only way to obtain the watch of your dreams is to buy it from a reputable secondary market dealer.
With that in mind, we tapped Eugene Tutunikov, founder of pre-owned luxury watch emporium SwissWatchExpo, for his top investment-worthy watches to buy now.
“This watch is the direct descendant of the first-ever Patek Phillipe Nautilus watch (ref 3700), but with modern proportions,” Tutunikov says. “The stainless steel finish and gradient blue dial can be worn for any occasion, and many collectors would agree that if you can own just one watch, it should be this one.
“The Nautilus 5711 has reached mythical status, with a wait list as long as ten years, and collectors willing to pay double the retail price on the secondary market. The price has been on an upward trajectory since its introduction, and when its discontinuation was announced in January 2021, its market price rose sharply, from $29,000 to as high as $180,000. Now you can find them for around $135,000. Given that they will never produce more and how much the prices have retrenched, it’s a good time to buy.”
“This Rolex Cosmograph Daytona was the most talked about watch of 2016, and one of the most sought-after models in the entire Daytona collection,” Tutunikov says. “It was the first Daytona to blend the classic look of stainless steel with Rolex’s patented scuff-and fade-resistant Cerachrom bezel insert.
“Striking, contemporary, and sporty, this ultra-popular sports watch remains very difficult to find at retail, especially the high-contrast white dial edition. Retail prices start at $13,500, but collectors were willing to pay up to $47,000 on the secondary market. Now you can find them for about $35,000.
“The waitlist from Rolex typically runs five years-plus for this watch. It is one of most requested models at SwissWatchExpo, and has one of the most consistent demands. When a client is looking for this watch, they are fixated. And that will keep the prices on this model strong or even drive them higher.”
“The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400ST is one of the most requested references from our inventory,” Tutunikov says. “This reference bridges the iconic angular design, Grand Tapisserie dial, and double baton indexes of the original vintage Royal Oak with a contemporary 41mm size and modern AP Caliber 3120 movement.
“With all these elements, this model is faithful to the original Gerald Genta design, while having tomorrow in mind. I prefer the subtleness of Silver Dial variation on this model. The price peaked in March around $53,000, and now you can find them for around $40,000.”
“You really can’t go wrong with the iconic Rolex GMT-Master Pepsi, but why not take it a step further and get one of their most enduring models–the ref 1675?” Tutunikov suggests.
“This model is one of Rolex’s biggest hits, having introduced crown guards and aluminum inserts to the GMT-Master line. Produced from 1959 to 1980, there is a wide variation in dials, hands, and other features within this reference, making the 1675 a model that’s fun to get lost in, especially if you’re into vintage watches.
“Unlike most other watch models, the price has continued to go up and didn’t peak before the financial markets began their descent. This time last year you could pick one up for around $17,000. Now it will cost you around $19,000 for one in very good condition. This watch seems to have the vintage rareness and collectability factor to continue going up in price.”
“The ruggedly handsome Rolex Submariner is a staple in every luxury watch collection, but if you want to make yours extra special, the prized Rolex ‘Red’ Submariner 1680 is the one to get,” Tutunikov says.
“Rolex introduced the 1680 in the late 1960s, and was the first Submariner to feature a date function. The ‘Red’ Submariners come with a single line of red Submariner text above six o’clock, which were produced only in the first six years of the 1680, making them harder to find.
“The single red text has never been seen again in the Submariner’s history, and the aging of these watches often result in a gorgeous dark yellow lume, making it a truly desirable and exceptional watch.”
“The price peaked in May around $22,000 and you can still find them in the $20,000-$23,000 range. There are usually only a handful for sale in the U.S. in good condition. As with any vintage piece, the condition and whether it has the original box and papers are a game changer when it comes to price appreciation potential.”
“Not all collectible watches have to be older or vintage. Sometimes you just know when you have a modern classic on your hands,” Tutunikov says. “The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Master Chronometer, launched in 2021, is a modern version of the Moonwatch with its first new motor in decades.
“The aesthetics are faithful to the fourth generation Speedmaster worn on the moon, which features an asymmetrical dial, a dot-over-90 bezel, and a black step dial with the applied Omega logo. The big change is under the hood–the Co-Axial Caliber 3861–a Master Chronometer-certified movement which makes this Moonwatch a thoroughly modern timepiece.
“Right now you can pick one up around $6,500 on the preowned market and it doesn’t look likely to fall in price from here.”