Are Tudor Watches a Good Investment?

Are Tudor Watches a Good Investment?

The question of what makes for a strong watch investment is frequently posed to the experts. Despite knowing it is never too far away from their ears, most experts struggle to assemble a simple, solid answer that satisfies the questioner. Why? Because, as with all investments, nothing is certain. However, there are some brands that most men and women associated with the watch industry feel relatively confident in long-term. One of those brands is Tudor.

A Strange Beginning

Even as recent as thirty years ago, the idea of “collecting” watches was a pretty niche thing. It didn’t really exist en masse until Swatch (ironically) birthed the second age of mechanical watchmaking with its foundation in 1983 and subsequent rapid growth. Swatch, a predominantly quartz-powered brand (especially in the early days), saved mechanical watchmaking. Additionally, it established watch-collecting as a habit (or crippling addiction depending on how deep you’ve traveled down the rabbit hole) by reshaping the public perception of what a watch could be.

Thanks to Swatch’s philosophy and joyful approach to design, watches ceased being functional tools one simply relied upon to tell the time. Suddenly, they were seen as accessories, affordable enough to own multiple, and vibrant enough to necessitate a broader collection than ever before.

This injection of vitality gave a boost to an industry that had seemed dead in the water. It also gave rise to a weird phenomenon that can never again be repeated: the birth of the Sock Drawer Millionaire.

No More Sock Drawer Millionaires

Chances are, if you’re asking a question about the watch investment strategy, you’ve heard some of the remarkable tales. For example, the 85-year-old farmer that found an old Rolex he bought in 1965 sitting in his sock drawer, basically untouched for five and a half decades because he simply “forgot” he had it. Or the nephew who was bequeathed an unworn Omega from an uncle who bought it randomly while abroad on business. Perhaps you know of the little old lady that turned up to an antique store clutching her long-dead husband’s first edition GMT Master, wondering if she could get more than fifty bucks for his “old watch”?

These stories were not, in the early days of watch collecting, that uncommon. Nowadays, however, they are as rare as the watches that star as the heroes of those unbelievable tales themselves. Worse still, for those of us hoping to become overnight millionaires after visiting the right garage sale at the right time, these stories will not be recreated all that often at all. Why? Because the cat’s out of the bag.

Now everyone knows that if you buy a Rolex professional model, you can sell it the next day for a healthy profit. While that sounds similar, we will never see the same level of value appreciation among known commodities as we've seen among pieces that had been bought innocently, or those that were bought for their function, and not expected to survive in such condition (or at all) until this day.

Where does Tudor fit in all of this?

Tudor is the sister brand of Rolex. While we don’t expect any Tudor model to quadruple in value overnight, the associated cachet it enjoys as being a branch of the Crown means the models are likely to hold their value handsomely over the long run. And while you might not see actual appreciation against inflation on all models, you might not be surprised to sell a Tudor watch for more than you paid for it (in real terms) if you buy now and hold it for a few years beyond price increases and model discontinuations.

In fact, it is the last point that is perhaps the most salient when it comes to buying watches as investments in general. In the past, it has been suddenly discontinued models that met with little enthusiasm at their time of releases that have gone on to garner the greatest returns. For example, the “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona was far from well-received when it debuted. It hung around for a brief time before being unceremoniously dropped from the Rolex catalog. It was only after that it became indelibly associated with one of the 20th century's greatest actors that it gained new traction.

That is not advising you to buy categorically bad watches. However, it does suggest it is wise to ponder more divisive, less commercially appealing (for whatever reason) prospects. The current collection contains, for example, the Tudor P1, which is never going to perform at the same level commercially as the Black Bay or Pelagos. Could this be a future classic? It is not beyond the realms of possibility. So if you like that model but have been put off because of the generally negative sentiments toward it, it might be wise to ignore the crowd and go with your gut.

Make emotional investments first!

As with everything in watchmaking, it is crucial to shop within your means. Never spend what you cannot afford to lose on a watch because there are no guarantees when it comes to reselling or investment appreciation. In fact, the only way you can guarantee satisfaction long term is to buy for yourself and not the current or projected market.

Buying and selling watches is not a surefire way to make a quick buck. The whims of collectors and the perception of pieces change regularly. It is always better to follow your heart and to make emotional investments in watchmaking. Therefore, at least you feel the benefit of your purchase personally. That feels much better than waiting on a piece you were not too sure about, to appreciate to the point that you make money. Or, let's be realistic, in most cases, simply recoup your investment.

Which Tudor to buy

If you’ve decided to pull the trigger on a new or pre-loved Tudor watch on, the best place to start is with the mechanical models. Quartz pieces from brands like Tudor and Rolex may well become a “collectible”, but they are unlikely to skyrocket in value.

The Black Bay and Pelagos range (especially the particularly attractive and unusual Pelagos LHD) are solid buys. Particularly, the Tudor Black Bay 36 (similar to the Rolex Explorer) offers a very strong value proposition and a versatile aesthetic. Originally, these models were fitted with ETA movements. More recently, Tudor has switched to Sellita as a caliber supplier for this line. It seems probable that the Sellita movements will one day be usurped by a Tudor in-house movement. If you can find the original ETA-powered version of the pre-loved market it might make an interesting investment, but no one knows how long this Sellita era will last. If it is a brief affair, then it could be this transitional model that becomes the most desirable in the long term.

Regardless, if you shop with your eyes open, buy for yourself and on one else, and wear and enjoy your purchase, you cannot go wrong with a brand like Tudor. Tudor offers close-to-Rolex quality at an unbeatable price, making it a great buy anyway you look at it. Happy shopping!