Proof there’s never been a better time to invest in watches

By Rose Adams | 03 Apr 2018 | Wealth

Barnebys reports a spike in young buyers investing in million pound timepieces

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* Omega Speed Master

It may seem a given that young entrepreneurs would seek out the most contemporary watch models on the market, but in fact leading auction search engine Barnebys has reported a surge in young buyers purchasing valuable, million-pound vintage watches at auction to add to their collections – resulting in the accessory becoming one of the most popular collectable categories along with wine, cars, art and antiques.

The website, which hosts 3,000 auction houses worldwide, has revealed the most searched for luxury watch brand is Rolex, closely followed by Omega and Patek Philippe, with an overwhelming majority of these searches – more than 90% – made by men between 18 and 34 years old. 

"At Barnebys we see a clear pattern emerging of a younger generation of men, with money to spend. First, they buy watch brands like Rolex, Omega and Patek Philippe, then they buy a Porsche or Ferrari at auction while they fill the wine cellar with rare vintage wines and last but not least, the walls are filled with contemporary art,” said Pontus Silfverstolpe, auction expert and Barnebys founder.

Related: The Farnese Blue diamond sent to auction for the first time

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* Patek Phillipe sold for a record £9million

"The leading watch brands like Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Breitling and Rolex are dependent on a prosperous secondary auction market. The auction market serves as a quality stamp, raising awareness and underpinning the history and marketing of the brands. Spending a million dollars on a wristwatch in a store feels undoubtedly more justified as a good investment if the secondary market is full of collectors who are prepared to put big sums on the perfect watch.”

In October last year, Phillips auction house sold Paul Newman's Rolex Daytona for £12.6 million setting a new world record for timepieces at auction while, in that same week, Scandinavian auctioneer Bukowskis sold an Omega Speedmaster 2915-1 from 1958 for £213,000 – another world record at auction for the brand.