It’s been around four years since I wrote my last article for Wahawatches. I was delighted to hear that many of you enjoyed reading it. Your kind words made me very happy. Thanks very much!
Since I launched my online watch shop in 2022 with my best friend Bart Schoonvliet, also a passionate collector of watches, it’s been quite a busy period.
Our company, ‘Time Counts,’ was created because we wanted a watch website for every type of customer (click here to check it out).
Vintage watches are our specialty, and we’re convinced that a good timepiece doesn’t have to cost an arm or a leg. Plenty of quality watches with interesting histories are available at affordable prices. Some brands fetch higher prices than others, so we offer more expensive watches as well.
It’s important to note that we’re collectors at heart, and that’s why we’re not just flipping Rolexes (which are a bit of a minefield at the moment anyway, more on that later). With every watch we offer, we ask ourselves: is this something we want to include in our curated collection? There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a vintage watch that someone has been looking for years and selling it to an enthusiast buyer.
Anyway, enough about us. Let’s look at how the watch market has evolved over the past four years and what to expect in the future. This is merely my personal opinion and not investment advice.
Proceed at your own risk, but we can all agree that now isn’t the best time to buy new Rolexes way above retail. In the current economy, it’s not a smart move because prices could drop even further. As the saying goes, “never catch a falling knife” applies to the watch market as well.
If you can pick one up at retail by some miracle, please do. If not, wait until you can. Knowing that desperately wanting something can make you lose any sense of reason. I realize it’s easier said than done. You can certainly pay above the retail price if you intend to wear it for the rest of your life.
Wearing your grail watch every single day gives you a good feeling, I have to say. It might surprise some of you, but I wear a gold Daytona daily!
Several older models have decreased in price due to the recent price drop of Rolexes. Not too much, though, since vintage pieces still hold their value.
In today’s market, you should be able to pick up a Submariner 14060 or 16610 for 9000-10000 euros. The Explorer II 16570 is still a good bang for the buck, as they can be found for around 8000 euros. I believe the price of these won’t drop any further. They’re very cool for daily wear.
If you have a smaller wrist or prefer a 36mm case, I’d suggest the Datejust 1601 or 16014. Today, they cost around 4500 euros.
The popularity of Rolexes from the 90s and early 2000s has increased, as I predicted four years ago. There’s also a great deal of interest in the Datejust 16233.
For those who prefer to remain a bit more “under the radar,” I’d still recommend an Explorer 14270 or 114270.
Despite the price drop, the GMT 16710 remains a very popular model among collectors and is still priced between 12000 and 15000 euros.
We’ll continue with one of my favorite brands (and Bart’s, too). It’s Omega, of course! I can’t think of another brand with a richer history and with such a variety of watches.
Four years ago, I told you that you couldn’t go wrong with a vintage Omega. Prices are still rising, and almost every model is becoming more popular.
Many people are buying Omega dress watches from the 40s to the 70s. We have many returning customers who are always looking for pieces with clean original dials and unpolished cases. The 30T2 and 200 series (265, 266, 267, 268, 283, 285, 286) are the most popular mechanical calibers. The 550, 551, 552, 751, and 752 are the most popular automatic movements.
The cool thing about these dress watches is that they come with various dials and cases. It should be possible to find a cool vintage Omega for around 500-1000 euros depending on the movement and type.
In terms of dress watches, there are many other brands available on the market that are more affordable and offer very good quality.
Certina, Cyma, Doxa, Ebel, Alpina, Eterna, Movado, Zenith, and so on. It’s possible to find most of them for less than 500 euros.
Larger chronographs are also doing well, with the Speedmaster taking the lead. In most cases, when we have one in store, it doesn’t last long before it’s gone. Over time, they became increasingly more expensive until they were no longer accessible to everyone.
Original vintage 60s and 70s Speedmasters are no longer affordable, costing anywhere from 6000 Euro for an early 70s cal 861 model to over 10000 Euro for a 60s cal 321 model. Currently, I recommend an early 90s model with a tritium dial. It’s possible to find them for around 4500-5000 euros with some luck.
The Speedmaster Reduced has also become more popular (both the automatic and the MK40s). Mainly from the 90s.
Since regular Speedmasters have become quite expensive, they can be considered ‘the next best thing’. I have to say; for some people, the 39mm case is just better than the bigger 42mm Speedmaster Professional case.
Nowadays, you can find a Speedmaster Reduced for around 2500 euros. The prices of these models will continue to rise, so they’re still worth buying. The same goes for the OG Bond models from the 90s and early 2000s. At the time of writing, the full-size automatic version costs around 2500-3000 euros.
If we’re talking vintage Omega, we can’t forget those awesome 70s chronographs they produced back then! There are so many watches to choose from, and all of them are worth buying. Almost all Omega models are popular today, and the company has a huge fan base.
I believe the Omega Speedmaster Mark 2 ref. 145.014 is still the best value for money. They sell for between 2000 and 2500 euros in good condition; that’s a lot of watch for the price. You won’t have to worry about getting parts with the iconic 861 movement.
Popularity is also growing for the other Mark series. You can sometimes find the Mark 3 and 4 with black dials and the Mark 4.5 for under 2000 euros, depending on their condition. Blue dials, however, can sometimes fetch a premium. Think of the Speedmaster Mark 3 with the blue dial and the 176.007 Seamaster chronograph, which is also very popular.
In addition to being solid investments, Flightmaster models are also cool to wear. Although they have risen in value, they can still be found for around 4000 euros. They have this typical 70s vibe and are quite large, especially in height, so they require a larger wrist.
One of my all-time favorites is the Seamaster 600 Ploprof, a perfect example of this statement. However, weirdly, it doesn’t wear that large since the lug-to-lug distance is pretty short. Finding an all-original one is quite hard, but when you do, expect to pay around 7000-8000 euros.
Regarding chronographs, we need to focus on the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. During that period, Omega was known for cooperating with Tissot and Lemania. Their chronograph movements resulted in the famous Omega 320 and 321 watches.
There’s no question that a 321 movement in a Speedmaster is pricey, but many people may not be aware that you can still get a 321 movement in a 50s or 60s Seamaster. When I say reasonable for a 321 movement, we’re still talking about 4000-5000 euros. Take a look at a ref. 105.001, 145.005, 2451, or a 14360.
Redials, however, should be avoided, as I mentioned in my previous article. Just like an overpolished case, a refurbished dial will affect the value of a watch.
Even more chronographs
Of course, there’s more than just Omega.
Chronographs from this era are somewhat of a niche market. The asking prices are often quite high, but I don’t think many sell at those prices. When they do, it’s most likely in a specialized auction.
Generally, collectors look for a quality column wheel chronograph movement in combination with a good brand. A few examples are Gallet, Tissot, Lemania, Angelus, Heuer, Minerva, Longines (with the 13ZN and 30CH being absolute grails), GP, Baume & Mercier, Breitling, Jaeger, and Universal Genève.
The most popular movements are still the Valjoux 22, 23, 72, 72C, 88, and so on. Venus and Landeron also have some column wheel chronograph movements.
I’m a big fan of Universal Genève. The 285 movement is truly a work of art. For this type of watch, prices are all over the place. They can be found for around 4000-6000 euros, some even reaching 10000 euros.
I’ve seen jumbo cases in 37-40mm sell for a hefty premium compared to the smaller 33-36mm cases. Also, steel is more popular than gold. The waterproof versions with a screw-down case back are also more expensive than the regular models. I certainly recommend these as investment pieces. But only if they’re in good original condition.
Military timepieces are worth buying at the right price, but there’s a limited market if you want to resell them for a premium.
In today’s market, a fine example of an RAF Omega with the 30T2 movement would sell for about 3500-4000 euros. The RAF Dirty Dozen watches always make a great investment. It’s possible to find some for around 1500 euros, while others are much more expensive (think Grana, IWC, Jaeger, Longines).
I also love Hanhart Luftwaffe chronographs, which have a fantastic history and a cool wrist presence. Typically, they cost between 4000-5000 euros.
As we move towards the 70s, movements became less spectacular, with Landerons and the Valjoux 7733 or 7734 commonly used. For around 500-900 Euro, you can get a 70s chronograph in a big case with a funky dial and own a real conversation piece.
The same is true of diving watches from the 1960s and 1970s, often powered by ETA movements. They can be found for under 500 euros in most cases.
In recent years, compressors and supercompressors have become more valuable. The list includes Pontiac, Jenny, Aquastar, Longines, Technos, Hamilton, Nivada, etc. It’s not uncommon for these to be priced between 1000 and 3000 euros.
Finally, a new category of 80s and 90s watches has emerged, which we call “nouveau vintage.” These are also rising in value rapidly, so it’s best not to wait too long if you’re interested in buying one.
In light of the recent release of ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ the value of the Orfina Porsche Design has skyrocketed. A few years ago, you could find them for less than 1000 euros; now they cost more than 2500 euros.
The same goes for 80s Seikos such as the Ripley; even reissues fetch absurd prices these days, while originals are difficult to price since they’re rarely available.
This trend is also evident in the Seiko H558 “Arnie,” which has almost doubled in value in the past few years. A decent example should cost at least 800 euros.
Quartz divers from Tag Heuer from the 80s, now priced just below 1000 euros, are another excellent example.
I could go on and on.
Think about it
Let me end this article with a question you should ask yourself before buying a (vintage) watch: What will you use it for? If you’re looking for investment pieces that you won’t wear daily, I recommend looking into 40s-70s watches.
A 90s-2000s example in good condition is a good choice when you want something popular in the collector’s market you can wear in any situation. Ideally, a complete set.
It’s as reliable as a new watch if it’s serviced and tested for waterproofness. You won’t be our first customer who took his 60s Seamaster to the swimming pool because the case back said ‘waterproof.’
Even though it’s a cliché, you should wear what makes you happy!
Stay tuned for some in-depth articles on some cool pieces I find.
1 thought on “Current Trends in the Vintage Watch Market ”
Love your articles Matthias!