Many people buy vintage or second-hand watches with the sole intent to resell them sometime in the future and turn a profit.

But whereas it may be true that there is money to be made on such watches, the real value of owning them comes from the joy and pleasure you get wearing them.

Even with that being said, enjoying a vintage watch and making a good investment are not mutually exclusive things. If you know what to look out for, you can buy a vintage or preowned watch that not only you will love, but that will also be a good investment for the future — even if that means passing it on to your grandkids.

Let’s take a look now at four important markers to look out for when in the market to buy a vintage or preowned watch.

1. Out of production

If you want to buy a vintage or preowned watch that will stand the test of time, you first want to consider who made the watch and if the model line is still in production.

For instance, brands that are still producing new models, such as Omega its Speedmaster, are often testament to the significance of earlier, vintage models. But this doesn’t mean models from lines and manufacturers that haven’t been around for decades are not equally, if not more, sought after and valuable.

2. Low Numbers

Although many are valued for the brand or the date in which they were produced, what makes a vintage watch particularly special is if it was only made in limited numbers.

A good example of this is unique prototype watches that were never intended for public sale. Today, though, although they’re difficult to spot without a trained eye, it’s possible to find such watches on the open market.

You can learn to spot prototypes and what is unique by getting to know typical aesthetic and technical features in the vintage watch market and looking out for deviations from the norm.

3. Personalisation

One great thing about vintage watches is that they open up a level of quality that many people wouldn’t be able to afford if they were bought new. One specific example of this is vintage watches that have been commissioned and custom made according to a buyer’s specifications.

There’s an endless amount of vintage watches that have been custom made for people of high status and capital, and so you don’t have to look too hard to find one. You may also find they come with an inscription, too, which, rather than being a downside, can actually enrich the story, provenance, and therefore value of the watch.

4. Market Dud

Just like today, if a vintage watch was originally priced too high on the market it would have failed to sell and quickly faded out of existence. This can also happen due to other reasons than price, such as poor marketing, stiff competition, using technology ahead of its time, and difficultly in producing in large numbers.

For these reasons, many watches that bombed when first produced can experience a new lease of life in the vintage market. By considering to buy a vintage or preowned watch that was originally a market reject, then, and not discounting them based on their initial failure, you can unearth vintage watches lost through time and under-appreciated.