Rolex and Patek are two of the most recognizable names in fine watch making, but are they really comparable? For years, Rolex has been known for producing diver’s watches, sports watches, and racing watches, but not complicated dress watches. On the other hand, Patek Philippe has been known for their outstanding horological feats and complicated movements. Are they of the same (Investment) caliber? This is one for the experts: Patek Philippe holds the world record for the second most expensive timepiece sold at auction: The Graves Supercomplication pocket watch which sold for 11 million USD. Rolex’s most expensive watch ever sold was a stainless steel early Rolex 4113 chronograph. This watch sold for a little bit over one million USD (this amount would only cover a fraction of the buyer’s premium for the Patek). Auctions have shown that the watches produced by these companies have tremendously appreciated over the past fifty years; in some cases over 100,000%. In my opinion, Patek Philippe has always been a better brand for investors. If you look at even the most basic vintage Patek dress watch or calatrava, the minimum asking price is around $5,000. This may not seem like much, but it is considering the watch was purchased for only $500. Rolex is a completely different story. A standard 1970's Rolex Oyster bought for $400 at the time is worth a small sum: $700-$900. A Rolex Red Submariner bought for $600 at the time is worth anywhere from $10,000-$20,000. A buyer has to be extremely careful when selecting his or her Rolex watch. The watch could turn out to be a "holy grail" timepiece or a "junk drawer" beater. I have to say, if you want an investment go with a Patek. When you select a Patek Philippe, the piece is almost guaranteed to appreciate over the next twenty years. When it comes to Rolex, well it's a risk.
Luke Rottman (Executive Editor: thewatchadviser.com)