Although watches are there to be enjoyed on the wrist, the last decade or so has seen a rapid increase in people that would like to make money by investing in them. The world of luxury mechanical watches offers people the chance to make quite a good sum if you know what timepieces to invest in. But in 2022, the prices for some of the most popular investment watches came down; a good return is no longer a given. The timepieces that were hit the hardest are the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Aquanaut.
Does that mean they are no longer a good investment? In all honesty, I would refrain from investing in one of these pieces for the time being, especially if you want a fairly speedy return. If time is not a factor, you might still consider buying and seeing what happens with prices in the future. For this list, however, we have selected five watches that have gone up in value and look like good investments for 2023. If you’re looking for a selection of Omega or Rolex models, we’ve written two separate articles for those brands; this article will focus on other watches.
1. IWC Ingenieur SL “Jumbo” Ref. 1832
The first watch on this list is the third Gérald Genta creation of the famous Genta trilogy of sports watches. The IWC Ingenieur SL “Jumbo” ref. 1832 was introduced in 1976, the same year that Patek Philippe released the Nautilus. Genta’s Ingenieur was a brilliant modern take on IWC’s engineer watch that was first launched in the 1950s. Genta created a concept for the watch that fit that engineer’s profile perfectly. It features a 40-mm round case with an integrated bracelet. In the creation of his trilogy, Genta brilliantly explored shapes: octagonal for the Royal Oak, square for the Nautilus, and round for the Ingenieur. Essentially, he used all logical symmetrical shapes for these modern sports watches.
The IWC Ingenieur was not as slim as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus. The reason is that the case features an anti-magnetic construction to shield the watch from the strong magnetic fields engineers would work in. Inside the case, IWC equipped the watch with the anti-magnetic, self-winding IWC caliber 8541ES, a movement that was the perfect companion for the task at hand. More engineer’s magic can be found on the front of the watch, which came in a black or gray dial, with both having a pattern inspired by graph paper. It gives the dial a great texture and depth that tells the Ingenieur story perfectly. If you are buying an IWC Ingenieur SL “Jumbo” ref. 1832, you are buying a piece of unique watch history. While it might be nowhere near as popular as the Royal Oak and the Nautilus, it is part of the same Genta legacy. Prices for the Genta Ingenieur start at roughly $28,000 and move up to $35,000. Considering its story and legacy, it seems only logical that these prices will increase more over time.
2. Patek Philippe Ref. 5172G Chronograph
With the astronomical prices for the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Aquanaut slowly coming back down to earth, they seem like uncertain investments for now. But Patek Philippe has other models that are equally stunning as well as popular with buyers. A good example is the Patek Philippe ref. 5172G chronograph. The 5172G is celebrated among Patek enthusiasts that love the more classical side of the brand. The 5172G is a white gold chronograph with a dark blue dial and strap that was launched in 2019. Earlier this year, the brand introduced a second version that also features a white gold case but comes with a salmon dial and a brown strap. For this article, we will focus on the model that came out in 2019, and which has been performing very well.
The watch’s 41-mm white gold case is 11.45 mm thick, making it a fairly slim chronograph that is very easy to wear. The watch comes equipped with a box-shaped sapphire crystal on the front of the case and a sapphire crystal display case back that gives you a great view of the stunning manual Patek Philippe caliber CH 29-535 PS. This movement is a piece of art and is just as fascinating as the front of the watch. Speaking of which, the watch features a blue varnished dial with white gold applied Arabic numerals. A detail that I love is the style of the chronograph pushers that are inspired by the legendary Patek Philippe 1463 “Tasti Tondi” from the 1950s. The watch comes with a matching blue leather strap that creates a beautiful timepiece that is firmly rooted in the past with a modern feel thanks to its color. Prices for the 5172G have risen gradually over time, so you can expect them to land between roughly $70,000 and $85,000. I would not be surprised if especially the lower end of that range rises gradually over time.
3. Breitling Navitimer 806 1959 Re-Edition
The next watch on our list is the Breitling Navitimer 806 1959 Re-Edition. This modern remake of the classic Navitimer 806 is a brilliant timepiece that was met with plenty of praise when it was released back in 2019. Most of you will know the Navitimer as the watch with the slide rule and the reverse panda dial. But for the first decade, the watch featured a fully black dial with black subdials and only a white ring around the periphery. This is why these timepieces are known as the “All Black” models. Breitling decided to re-issue this classic model from 1959 with almost the exact same specs as the original watch.
The watch features a 40-mm stainless steel case that is 12.86 mm thick and has a 22-mm lug width, the same dimensions as the vintage classic from 1959. On top of that, the designers at Breitling made sure the bezel of the watch has 94 bezel beads, again just like the original. The biggest difference comes with the use of the modern Breitling B09 movement. It’s a welcome modern substitute for the iconic Venus 178 that powered the original watch. Breitling produced a total of 1,959 pieces of this brilliant, limited-edition remake. Needless to say, they sold out very quickly. Prices for one of these watches shot up in late 2021 and only dropped slightly during 2022. I expect that because it’s a limited release, and a brilliant one at that, we will see it increase in price even further.
4. Girard-Perregaux Laureato 42 Infinity Edition
If you’re familiar with the history of modern sports watches with integrated bracelets, you’ve most likely heard of the Girard-Perregaux Laureato. The Laureato name first popped up in 1975, a year before Genta’s Nautilus and Ingenieur arrived on the scene. The Laureato was a modern sports watch with a very slim case, raised octagonal bezel, and integrated bracelet. The biggest difference from Genta’s trilogy was that it was powered by a quartz movement, making it very popular among watch fans back then. In the 1970s, quartz watches were all the rage, meaning the Girard-Perregaux Laureato quickly made a name for itself. The current Laureato collection was introduced in 2016 and clearly takes inspiration from the original model.
The Girard-Perregaux Laureato 42 Infinity Edition is limited to 188 pieces, and was created for the German jewelry retailer Wempe. The watch comes with a 42-mm case that is only 10.7 mm thick, making it nice and trim. Inside the case, the brand equipped the watch with the automatic in-house GP01800-1404. The thing that makes this Laureato stand out compared to the other models is that it features a stunning black onyx dial. While the regular models feature a “Clou de Paris” motif on their dials, this deep black dial is simply stunning. As Girard-Perregaux only produced 188 of these timepieces, they have all sold out. The retail price at introduction in 2020 was $14,000, and prices currently run between roughly $17,000 and $20,000. Considering its limited edition status and beautiful aesthetic, I imagine this will slowly increase over time.
5. Vacheron Constantin Overseas 4500V Brown Dial
By now, you’ve probably come across the Vacheron Constantin Overseas. I featured it in last year’s list of watches to invest in. While prices were going up for quite a while, we have also seen a dip for the Overseas 4500V. If you are not familiar with the brand and the watch, here’s a quick reminder: Together with Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin forms the”Holy Trinity” of Swiss watchmaking. As such, who better to turn to for a brilliant modern stainless steel luxury sports watch? The brand’s Overseas is inspired by the Vacheron Constantin 222 from the 1970s that made a glorious return earlier this year in a modern, full-gold version. While that is of course a watch to look out for, the Overseas is the brand’s modern take on a sports watch.
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas 4500V is a direct competitor to the Nautilus and Royal Oak, and has been growing in popularity over the last few years. Prices for this watch are nowhere near the levels of its legendary competitors. Having said that, the currently available versions of the Overseas have come down in price, just like its great competitors. There is, however, one special version that is still expensive and will probably remain so because it is out of production: the brown dial version of the Overseas 4500V that was produced for only one year from 2016 to 2017. The dark brown dial adds an extra dimension to the watch that creates a different beast altogether. The watch gets an extra injection of classy appeal that in my book is unmatched within the category of modern stainless steel sports watches with integrated bracelets. Prices for the brown dial version start just north of $40,000 and move up to just over $65,000. As there aren’t that many for sale, and the brown dial is discontinued, this version of the beautiful Overseas 4500V will potentially appreciate significantly.
That concludes our list of five luxury watches that could be a great investment in 2023. That leaves me with nothing left to say but: grab your credit card, and happy hunting!