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Enduring Elegance: The Investment Appeal of Vintage Dress Watches

Luxury vintage dress watches not only serve as a testament to exquisite craftsmanship but also stand as a solid investment choice in the dynamic world of luxury collectibles. 

A. lange & Söhne – Lange 1

  • Return potential: The Watchcharts Index for A. Lange & Söhne rose by +32.2% in 3 years.
  • Rarity: Only around 300 watches were produced.
  • A piece of history: The Lange 1 marks the rebirth of the brand and is one of the most iconic timepieces on the market.
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Understanding what makes these timepieces so special requires an appreciation of their intricate design and historical significance. But what exactly are dress watches?

What is a dress watch?

Dress watches are essentially timepieces designed for formal occasions. Their hallmark is elegance; they often feature a simple, classic design with a clean dial, devoid of the complex functionalities seen in sports or tactical watches. They are typically smaller in size, focusing on subtlety and sophistication over robust features. They are also usually adorned with a chic leather strap.

Brands like Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, A. Lange & Söhne, Cartier, F.P Journe and Omega are among the most celebrated in producing luxury dress watches. These brands have cultivated a legacy of excellence, with each watch being a work of art that encapsulates the brand’s values and craftsmanship expertise. This rich history and commitment to quality are what makes these watches so valuable over time.

Dress Watches as Investment
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Investment Value

Dress watches from prestigious brands offer a rare combination of prestige and elegance, making them an increasingly popular choice for wealthy investors. Historical sales data shows that selected models can exceed their original value at auction many times over, especially if they have the following features:

Navigating this market requires expertise and caution. One should be well-informed about the changing trends and demands within the luxury watch market. The market is rife with counterfeits, making authenticity a top priority.

Notable Auction Results for November 2023

The investment potential of these watches is exemplified by their performance at auctions. Here are some remarkable auction results, highlighting different aspects that contribute to a watch’s value, such as historical significance, rarity, design uniqueness, and association with notable personalities.

1. Rolex Ref. 6062: A coveted 1950s Rolex Ref. 6062 fetched 2.1 million CHF (approx. $2.3 million) at Phillips Auctions in November 2023. Renowned for its triple calendar with moonphase, this model’s rarity and Rolex’s esteemed legacy contributed to its high value among collectors and watch aficionados

2.Patek Philippe Ref. 2499: An esteemed Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 fetched 2.1 million CHF at Phillips Auctions in November 2023. Renowned for its intricate design and rarity, this model holds a revered place in the world of high-end timepieces.

3. A. Lange & Söhne Ref. 101.026: A prestigious A. Lange & Söhne Ref. 101.026watch from 1994 achieved a sale price of 241k CHF (approx. $267k) at Phillips Auctions in November 2023. Celebrated for its fine craftsmanship and elegant design, this stainless-steel model’s allure among high-end watch collectors significantly influenced its auction value.

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Luxury dress watches are more than just an accessory or a simple timepiece – they are an expression of style and fine craftsmanship. With their generally smaller and slimmer shape, often made from precious metals and presented on a leather strap, they make a clear statement at formal occasions and go equally well with casual outfits.

The popularity of vintage dress watches is on the rise, driven by their affordable elegance, historical relevance and increasing appreciation for slimmer watch models. Whether it’s the classic designs of Cartier, the artful simplicity of a Patek Philippe Calatrava or the rugged elegance of an Omega, each brand offers its own story.

Audemars Piguet Quantieme Perpetual 25657BC

Dress Watches as Investment

In addition, the hype of steel-sports-watches that we experienced from 2020 to Mid-2022 boosted prices for specific models, but, dress watches on leather bracelets remained mainly at their pre-Covid price-points, which makes them rather undervalued and overlooked so far. However now, as prices for previously mentioned steel-sports-watches lowers again, we can observe greater interest in dress watches that ultimately could lead to significant  long-term price increases.

The key to making the most of this investment is a thorough understanding of the market, an appreciation for the craft, and a keen eye for authenticity and good design. As the auction results demonstrate, the right vintage timepiece can prove to be a lucrative and fulfilling investment. For savvy investors who appreciate the charm and elegance of dress watches, there are currently excellent investment opportunities.