The best under-the-radar watches to invest in now

Including pieces by Romain Gauthier and Chopard, these are the insider designs with true value

One word that is typically overused in the watch industry is ‘investment’. To me, all watches are an investment because they bring joy on an almost daily basis and they have this inbuilt sustainability to them, as they can be serviced and worked on to ensure that they are around for generations to come. But the notion of investment tends to be best left – at least for me – to the world of finance. It’s not that watches don't yield decent financial returns if bought and sold effectively – I say it more because the market is so volatile, and the barriers to entry are so high for the models that tend to bring about high returns, that investment is not often the focus of conversation for me, either publicly or privately.

That said, it is sometimes a nice thing to know that you have a watch that will hold its value – despite what I have just argued, I have to confess it's an exciting topic to explore. From creations by an independent venture to those by larger names, below is a considered edit of what to buy now – and, although I do not own any of them, they all speak to me personally and make my heart sing.

First up is Romain Gauthier and his first sports watch, the C. Gauthier is a watchmaker who was born in Switzerland and still operates there, with part of his business now owned by Chanel (he has designed movements for the brand, and he sits in the stable alongside Bell & Ross and FP Journe). That said, he is still very much independent and produces some of the most extraordinarily beautiful movements in the world.

Though his standard models run into the hundreds of thousands, the C was developed as a sports watch that could be more approachable from a price perspective and more wearable on a daily basis. The C retails for a lot of money still, and it's important to note that – but at £40,000 plus, it's a lux sports watch that collectors worldwide are lusting after. Gauthier developed a new calibre for the watch itself, it has a unique dial layout and case, and I've heard it's one of the most comfortable timepieces that can be worn.

Next up, we’ve got a model from Piaget, known as either the Andy Warhol watch or the Black Tie. It is the quintessential definition of what Piaget is, with its audacious, elegant case with tiers that have been polished to accentuate the shape. It is a case unlike anything else in the watch world and it was a creation that Andy Warhol himself loved to wear.

Piaget is known for stone dials and no brand does them better, and variations of the model have been made with myriad different stones, mostly in bespoke orders. It is pure refinement, something you'll never see on the wrist at even the most hardcore watch get-together, and though it’s a dress watch, it can still be worn in many scenarios. It is also worth noting that 2024 is Piaget’s 150th anniversary, so there has never been a better time to buy one.

Then we have a sports watch with haute horology at its core – Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin. Vacheron has had a mighty few years having leapt a number of manufacturers in the performance tables for market share, a happening that owes to its ability to honour the past while squarely looking to the future, as well as its sheer watchmaking know-how (and that's without saying that it is the oldest watch manufacturer in consistent production since 1755, which is quite the feat).

The Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin has been remarkably successful, becoming the go-to sports watch for the insider, but what I really wanted to highlight here was the incredibly thin design in a 41mm frame that includes a perpetual calendar. These tend to trade for well over retail price still, and it speaks to the purist because Vacheron has been producing QP – or perpetual calendars – for decades.

Finally, we look to Chopard, a brand that, in the mid-1990s, caused a real stir by developing an in-house calibre, with a micro rotor, to fit into its dress watch, the 1860. And, again, much like Piaget in the last year or two, it has gained momentum by delivering watches that are proportionally elegant and don’t scream and shout about it – and the product it launched last year at Watches and Wonders 2023, the 1860 without date and at 36mm, was a showstopper.

Let's not forget that these movements are finished by hand, and that the beautiful, large dials are made in the same factory in which the Simplicity from Philippe Dufour is produced, so it really doesn't get better than this. If you're in the market for a dress watch, this has to be on your shortlist – I can't talk more highly of Chopard.

Want more watch content? Blancpain reveals its new Fifty Fathoms Automatique models…

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