The value of second-hand luxury watches is hitting an all-time high, with some watches from well-known brands doubling, tripling or even more than quadrupling in value in just a few years, according to an analysis released today by pre-owned watch specialist Watchfinder & Co.

The increase in prices can largely be attributed to supply and demand – whilst interest in luxury watches has gone up significantly in recent years, supply has remained largely steady, leading to long waitlists for some new pieces, and causing second-hand prices to soar.

In order to help Brits understand if an old watch they have lying around in the back of a cupboard could be worth more than they realise, the brand is today releasing its index of the five watches that have gained significant value in just the past five years.

Many are not aware of the value of their watches. Research from Watchfinder & Co. – conducted amongst 26,000 watch owners – found that nearly half of UK respondents (47%) admitted they have no idea what their watch is worth. Meanwhile, 46% said they had a watch lying around that they do not wear.

Values on the rise

The new analysis found that some second-hand watches, such as the Patek Philippe Nautilus, have more than quadrupled in value in just five years – with current examples selling for around £90,000, compared to £19,755 just five years ago.

But it isn’t only ultra-high-end watches that have increased dramatically. The Omega Speedmaster – the first watch worn on the moon and regularly seen on the wrist of American President Joe Biden – has seen its price more than double, from around £2,300 in 2016 to just under £5,000 today.

Rolex steel sports models are also increasing in value across the board. Its Submariner ‘Kermit’ model has seen its price rise 184% from just over £5,000 in 2016 to nearly £15,000 today. Meanwhile, the black-bezelled Rolex GMT II has risen 155% during the same period, also from around £5,000 to just under £13,000 today.

Looking back slightly longer, some watches worth just a few hundred pounds not too long ago are today worth many thousands. For example, Omega’s Seamaster 300m, which commanded a second-hand price tag of £700 in 2009 is today changing hands for up to £2,900. Meanwhile, the smaller version of Cartier’s Santos could be picked up for around £1,100 less than ten years ago in 2012. However, today the market value is around £2,300.

Watchfinder & Co.’s reveals five key watches that have increased in value significantly in the past five years:

Patek Philippe Nautilus (Ref: 5711) – 350% / £70,000 increase – Ultra-luxury brand Patek Philippe is known for its tagline You never actually own a Patek Philippe – you merely look after it for the next generation. But with current values, no one would be blamed for cashing in! With most of its watches coming in precious metals, its ‘steel sports’ models are extremely sought after. Its popular Nautilus line has hugely increased in value in recent years. In 2016 its steel Nautilus 5711 model with the sought after blue dial, changed hands for an average of £20,000 but the very same model currently has a market value of £90,000. In fact, it has increased by around £25,000 since just last year.

Patek Philippe Nautilus

Patek Philippe Nautilus (Ref: 5711)

Rolex ‘Zenith’ Daytona (ref: 16520) – 220% / £17,200 increase – few watch lists are complete without mention of the Daytona. Intrinsically linked with the actor Paul Newman, a Daytona owned by the man himself sold for $17.8m at auction in 2017. Whilst that’s a lot higher than most Daytona’s go for, current prices for the 16520 model, introduced in the late ’80s and sold throughout the nineties, are averaging around £25,000 without paperwork, up from around £7,800 just five years ago. However, models in good condition and with papers can easily fetch £10,000 more than this figure.

Rolex ‘Zenith’ Daytona (ref: 16520)

Rolex ‘Zenith’ Daytona (ref: 16520)

Rolex Submariner ‘Kermit’ (ref: 16610LV) – 184% / £9,700 increase – The Submariner is the most iconic dive watch bar none and in 2003 Rolex released a 50th anniversary edition featuring a green bezel, which quickly became known as the ‘Kermit’ due to its colour bearing a similarity to the well-known frog. It also features larger hour markers which would become standard on later Submariners. The demand of the unusual green bezel submariner paired with the release of the ceramic bezel ‘Hulk’ model in 2010 fuelled its popularity and it has now become a cornerstone of many respectable collections, averaging prices of £14,950 up from around £5,250 in 2016.

Rolex Submariner ‘Kermit’ (ref: 16610LV)

Rolex Submariner ‘Kermit’ (ref: 16610LV)

Omega Speedmaster (ref: 145.022) – 114% / £2,635 increase – The ‘Speedy’ is one of the most iconic – and most affordable – watches on the list. Its place in history was secured when Neil Armstrong wore it to the moon in 1969, and it’s been known as the Moonwatch ever since. Being relatively affordable and produced in high numbers means there are sure to be a massive number of these watches hidden away in drawers. But now could be the time to cash in, with its value rocketing up from £2,315 in 2016 to £4,950 today. However, older or special models (of which there are many) can go for significantly more.

Omega Speedmaster (ref: 145.022)

Omega Speedmaster (ref: 145.022)

Cartier Santos (ref: W20010C5) – 57% / £2,375 increase – The grandfather of wristwatches, the Santos was created after Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont discussed with his friend Louis Cartier the challenges of using a pocket watch whilst operating an airplane. And the rest, as they say, is history. With some second-hand prices going up by 57% in five years, the Carter Santos continues to be desirable to collectors and those simply wanting a nice everyday watch, over 100 years since its conception.

Cartier Santos (ref: W20010C5)

Cartier Santos (ref: W20010C5)

Arjen Van de Vall, CEO of Watchfinder & Co. said: “Put simply, the second-hand watch market is thriving right now. We have seen a new generation of watch fans discover these brands and are able to afford them. As these watches are produced in limited numbers some waiting lists have increased significantly for new models, leading to second-hand prices rising hugely.

“Whether you’re a genuine watch fan, or happen to have inherited a watch and have no idea what it is worth, now is the time to find out its value. Whilst some models from the likes of Patek Philippe are making owners tens of thousands of pounds in a matter of months, we are also seeing far more affordable watches, produced in higher numbers, rising strongly too. There is every chance that a watch you purchased a few years ago could now be worth a lot more. We all know what we have in our bank account, so why not check how much money you have tied up in a watch? Once you know what it is worth, you can make an informed decision about whether to keep it, sell it – or even exchange it for something which you’d rather have on your wrist.”