If you didn’t scoop up a $200,000 Paul Newman-model Rolex Daytona a couple of decades ago, when they were selling for a tenth of that price, you missed your chance. You can read all about how wealthy people use watches to grow wealth here.
All is not lost, however. We asked prominent dealers and experts to identify six up-and-coming vintage watches that are still reasonably priced — at least by high-end watch standards — and that stand a chance to outperform as investment assets.
Vintage Seiko diver’s models such as the 6105, the 6217 and the 6309 offer a tremendous bang-for-the-buck proposition, with prices from around $1,200 to $4,000. With classic no-nonsense tool-watch looks and tough-as-nails Japanese mechanical movements, these watches are high on style and value, as well as offering some rich history in a field dominated by their Swiss counterparts — which, of course, come with much higher price tags. The key in collecting here is to make sure you’re buying untouched, honest examples. The market is rife with refinished dials and aftermarket components. — James Lamdin, founder, Analog/Shift, New York
The Camaro had a distinctive cushion shape that seems like a perfect companion to the fashion of the late 1960s and 1970s. Designed and produced by Piquerez, a famed manufacturer of watch cases, it was introduced in 1967, and seems to be a clear predecessor of the celebrated Monaco, the famous square watch Steve McQueen wore in “Le Mans.” While other Heuer models such as the Autavia and Carrera have gotten serious attention from collectors, the Camaro remains a model that has quietly gained its own cult following. — Eric Wind, founder, Wind Vintage, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Rolex Submariner (reference 16800)
This model is underappreciated and undervalued. The 16800 is frequently referred to as a “transitional” Sub because it was the first Rolex sport model to have a sapphire crystal along with the quickset feature that allows you to change the date by just turning the crown. Personally, I prefer the earliest versions of the 16800, made from 1979 to 1983 with matte dials with luminous markers directly applied to the dial, as opposed to later versions with glossy dials with luminous white gold markers. Retail can run from a low of $8,000 to $15,000 depending on condition. — Paul Altieri, founder, Bob’s Watches, Newport Beach, Calif.
Breitling Top Time chronograph
Classic round design with contrasting black-white subsidiary dials. This model was used in the 1965 James Bond movie, “Thunderball.” It is available in steel or gold plated, but I would go for the gold-plated version. Breitling is about to focus more on their heritage and the prediction is this will drive up vintage Breitling prices across the board. Bond wore a modified reference 2002 that Christie’s auctioned for over $100,000. A regular Breitling Top Time chronograph, reference 2002, from the 1960s, should cost around $3,500 for a good example. Two-tone dials are currently more desirable. — Charles Tearle, vintage watch consultant and broker, Los Angeles
Omega Speedmaster (circa 1970 or 1971)
In 1969, the Speedmaster was the first watch worn to the moon, and it became the official watch of NASA for many other space missions. It is a highly collectible watch and sought after by major collectors around the world. The 1970-1971 is under the radar, and a great watch to buy right now for $5,000 to $6,000. It’s rarer than the 1969 model, with the same configuration, and fewer were produced than the 1969, which trades for $7,000 to $10,000. — Matthew Bain, founder, Matthew Bain Inc., Miami Beach
Rolex Datejust (reference 1600)
Datejusts have always been the bread and butter for the Rolex brand, and still are today. They made so many, however, that they kind of get overlooked in terms of being a collectible watch. The vintage Datejust, references 1600 and 1601 in steel, can be found under $4,000, and even in solid 18-karat gold with gold bracelets for under $10,000. They are timeless and iconic and have always been undervalued. — Andrew Shear, Sheartime, New York
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