Buying a luxury watch might be one of the most daunting purchases a person can make, and it's one that most of us only aspire to. However, if you can scrape the cash together, a luxury watch can be a solid investment, especially if you know how to navigate the market.
Sure, luxury watches can cost thousands of dollars and there are loads of brands and models to choose from, so it can be hard to know where to begin, even if you do have the money. Some choices are smarter than others, though, and you're going to want to be a discerning buyer for such a big investment—one that you’ll wear on your wrist every day.
These days, Rolexes and Omegas are not just for suited and booted city workers: they're the ultimate final addition to your outfit, and you can wear them with your brogues as well as your NMDs. To make sure your dollars are well-spent when the time comes to make a big purchase like this, we've rounded up 10 watches that’ll make great investments for years to come.
Rolex Explorer 2016
When you think about the iconic Rolex, the watches that usually come to mind are the Daytona and Submariner models—and that’s exactly why the Explorer is a great, original choice. Boasting a rich history—including the honor of being the first watch on the peak of Everest—the Explorer has a lot in the way of pedigree, and this year’s model is one of the best to be released in a long time.
The 2016 Explorer is a slick, monochrome affair, so you can wear it with pretty much anything, and it has new fully-lumed hands and numbers, so it’s even easier to read in the dark. But the best bit? Despite its good looks, it’s a day-to-day piece, and has a more low-key appeal than some of the other more showy models. Being a Rolex, it doesn't come cheap—the Explorer retails for $6,000, but it should hold much of that value in the future.
Omega Seamaster 300
Diving watches were originally made to be utilitarian, functional watches for underwater operation, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be incredibly stylish. The Omega Seamaster 300 is one of the best-looking dive watches you can buy right now, and its classic, art-deco looks came from cherry-picking details from Omega’s rich history of Seamaster watches.
Although it might look old, Omega have packed the Seamaster with cutting-edge tech, including a ceramic, metal-injected bezel and a glass caseback which shows off its co-axial movement. If you’re after a solid purchase that’ll set you apart from the crowd, the Seamaster 300 is great choice.
It looks every cent of its $6,600 price tag when coupled with the supplied metal bracelet, but throwing on a custom fabric strap provides the perfect blend of smart and casual.
Tudor Black Bay
Tudor isn’t as well-known as the other luxury brands on this list, but it comes with some serious pedigree because it’s actually owned by Rolex. Far from being a second-class brand, Tudor is becoming increasingly popular thanks to watches like the Black Bay.
Almost half the price of a similar Submariner Rolex at $3,250, the Black Bay is a more affordable entry point into the luxury watch game, and it comes with some interesting colorways that you’d never find on a Rolex.
We suggest you go for the Tudor Black Bay Black: featuring a black and gold face that could’ve been endorsed by OVO, it straddles that fine middle ground between vintage and contemporary.
IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII
If you’re after a watch that’s dressy without being too flashy, the IWC Big Pilot should be one of the first you check out. IWC has been making Pilot’s watches since 1936, and, whether it’s a cleaner model like the Automatic 36 or something busier like the gorgeous blue-faced “Le Petit Prince," every watch is a great example of less-is-more style.
As you’d expect for watches with this level of fit and finish, they aren't cheap, but they aren't the most expensive watches on the market: a new IWC Pilot watch will cost you around $4,200 new, while a watch with more additions and features could cost you upwards of $10,500.
Simply put, the Rolex Submariner is one of the most recognized watches of all time. Although its design has been tweaked throughout its illustrious history, the Submariner is still a watch that many try to imitate.
Because it’s the archetypal Rolex, Submariners are quite popular nowadays—for those who have upwards of $7,000 to spare, that is. If you want a Submariner that stands out from the crowd, go for a Sea Dweller or No Date, which varies from the standard model. You can also change the straps, too, and putting a Submariner on a fabric strap is a tried and tested look—just ask James Bond.
If you’ve got some more time on your hands (excuse the pun), digging deep for a vintage model would also be a good idea.
Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional
Known as the Man on the Moon watch, the Omega Speedmaster was one of the first watches in space, and the only watch approved by NASA to be used on the Moon. Despite featuring a detailed chronograph, the Speedmaster still looks clean, and that means you can dress it up or down, depending on your preference.
Just like the Submariner, the Speedmaster is a pretty popular watch nowadays—but, as with the Rolex, Omega has churned out a range different models and editions over the years. That means that, while a 2016 model is a great choice, you still have a serious back catalogue of pieces to choose from. You'll need upwards of $5,250.
If the Submariner is the most iconic Rolex, the Daytona comes in a close second. First introduced in 1963, the Daytona has always been known as Rolex’s racing or motorsport watch, mainly because of its bold chronograph.
Despite providing perfect accuracy, the Daytona’s dial doesn’t appear too busy, and throughout the years it has remained as crisp and stylish as ever. The Daytona has changed throughout the years, but the 2016 model might be one of the best, largely because of its new ceramic bezel that looks great and will stand the test of time. These models certainly don't come cheap, though: they start at about $12,500.
Tag Heuer Carrera
Tag Heuer has become synonymous with motorsport, and that’s partly because of pieces like the Carrera. Introduced in 1963, the Carrera is one of the ultimate racing watches due to its precise, easy-to-operate chronograph.
Although it might not have the same prestige of the Rolex Daytona, the Carrera costs roughly half the price, at around $4,200 for the most popular models. It’s available in a variety of colors, too, so you can pick one that fits your individual taste.
Bell and Ross BR03
There’s more to watches than just the classic brands, and Bell & Ross is one of the most promising newcomers on the market. If you’re after something classic, you’d be better off sticking with Submariners and Speedmasters, but if you’re after something fresh and contemporary, Bell & Ross is a great choice.
Although the company does a range of aviation-inspired models, the best has to be the BR03. Featuring the iconic square casing for which the brand has become renowned, and at just the right size at 42mm, it’s one of the best-looking contemporary watches you can buy right now, for around $3,500+.
Fitted with a swiss movement and available in a range of colors, a BR03 might not hold its value as well as a more established brand, but it will certainly look the part.
Tudor Bay 36mm
If you’re a fan of the Rolex Explorer but don’t want to shell out quite that much cash, it’s worth taking a look at the Tudor Bay 36. Measuring 36mm, it’s not as large as the 40mm Explorer, but it captures the same fresh styling.
Just like the Explorer, the Tudor is a sports watch rather than a diving watch, so it doesn't have the thick, movable bezel you’ll find in models like the Submariner, Black Bay and Seamaster 300mm. The result? It’s simple, smart and sleek—and because it’s a Tudor, you’ll get exceptional build-quality and customer support without having to pay Rolex prices: Pricing for the Tudor Black Bay 36 is $2,525 with a leather strap and $2,850 on bracelet.
While we're on the topic of Rolex, Bamford and Feld & Volk customized a series of Rolex watches.