The best luxury watches to collect for 2023

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With the combined push/pull factors of global lockdown regulations easing and the recent financial crisis, watch collectors have had a rollercoaster year.

First, the good news: with Watches And Wonders Geneva 2022 (formerly SIHH) replacing the cancelled Baselworld as this year’s go-to watch fair, enthusiasts and collectors alike were able to see the most talked-about new timepieces in the flesh for the first time in years. With 22,000 physical visitors and a combined global reach of more than 300 million, this was the largest watchmaking summit ever held in the city, featuring 38 leading brands.

On the other hand, the market has experienced a general slowdown, which reflects the current cost of living. ‘Things had been rocketing up, so it was always going to come down slightly,’ says Jonathan Murray of Black Label Supply, Quintessentially’s watch specialists. ‘It has thankfully calmed down, so you’ll only have lost some value if you bought at the peak of the prices.’

Concurrently, 2022 has seen a general trend for the big releases to be a little less ostentatious, with a focus on simplicity and classic elegance in design. Of course, there are always exceptions that prove the rule. With that in mind, here are seven expert-recommended watches to add to your collection.

The Rolex Daytona

Murray believes that the Rolex Daytona will always be a safe bet with collectors for those looking for a perennial favourite. ‘Daytonas are considered the ‘OGs’ of Rolex. They always sell quickly, so if a client is looking to buy a watch as an investment rather than to wear, we will often steer them towards a Daytona. They are always in demand.

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ‘Panda’ 116500LN (1), for example, has proven popular due to the colorways – a white face with black sections, or the sister piece with the colours reversed. ‘I believe they will always be in demand, and if they are discontinued, expect the price to quadruple,’ Murray adds.

GMT Master II by Rolex

The Rolex GMT Master II ‘Batman’ 126710BLNR (2, with blue and black around the dial) and the new Rolex GMT Master II ‘Sprite’ 126720VTNR (3, with the crown on the opposite side, so it’s left-handed) have both proven to be extremely popular. ‘We probably get a Batman and a Sprite request a couple of times a week,’ Murray says. If you want to make an investment.

Aquanaut and Nautilus are two Patek Philippe models.

If you want something a little more flashy, Patek Philippe’s Aquanaut 5167A (5), with its distinctive square dial and rubber strap, has proven hugely popular with high-profile customers including sports stars – particularly the black version (it also comes in red, green, and blue). A chronograph version will set you back more than £120,000.

Swatch versus Omega

For a more unusual option, consider this year’s Swatch X Omega collaboration (7). Demand has remained high due to the ‘Drop’ approach to sales, which is unusual at this end of the market. ‘You’d see people queuing outside the shop at the crack of dawn, and you could only buy one, with very limited stock, so you’d have to take a chance and hope they had stock in for that week,’ Murray says. ‘We still have a few. The entire branding and marketing strategy has been very clever; people have just jumped on the whole space theme; it’s just genius.’ Another thing to think about.

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