Earlier this year, Breitling was purchased by a hedge fund. Despite losing their independence, Breitling’s watchmaking prowess could be due for an interesting upsurge. Exactly what is going to happen to Breitling’s ownership in the future is anyone’s guess (this author believes one of the groups, or maybe even Rolex in the wake of Tudor’s recent use of Breitling’s movements, could very well line-up a bid). In the meantime, though, we should take a look at pieces past and present that might stand the test of time making Breitling watches a good investment.
The Classics are King
For me, and many collectors, the true heyday of Breitling was the 1970s. That decade saw several stonewall classics released in the Navitimer line. These industry icons are a great pick-up if you can find one with original dial and hands that has aged well and not been ravaged by water ingress, which was frustratingly common before the improvement of the water tight seals in the slide rule bezel.
The modern output is a little more hit and miss. Breitling deserve kudos for their experimentation with new materials, but it seems unlikely that these space age cases will appreciate in value. As intriguing and comfortable as these lightweight polymers can be, the pieces that stick close to a tried and tested formula are the pieces that make Breitling watches a good investment and that keep luxury watchmaking afloat even during this electronic age.
Breitling’s in-house calibres are not to be sniffed at, and whenever a certain movement is exclusive to a brand you can kind of imagine it doing well on the resale market, simply because you cannot get that specific technology anywhere else.
But then again it depends entirely what you want from your investment. Watch collectors collect for many reasons, and it’s a shallow hobby indeed if all you care about is the bottom line. Watch collecting should be an emotional pursuit first and foremost, and if variety within your own collection is what you’re after, there’s nothing wrong with picking up something quintessentially Breitling like the new Hurricane.
Some may baulk at the price tag (north of $8,000) but I was actually surprised they retailed it so low. Sure, it looks like a weapon, its case is a futuristic whimsy, and its size is borderline unwearable unless you can commit to two hours a day in the gym, but it’s lightweight, in-house, and totally unlike anything else out there. It also comes in a cool military version, which is definitely worth a look.
The simple upshot of this is that the old school models that you can pick-up on the pre-loved market have the most potential to accrue value, but the new stuff is a lot of fun. So, are Breitling watches a good investment? Yes. If you’ve got the money and like a conversation starter you’ve reason enough to add a Breitling to your stable of beaters.
If you have an investment worthy Breitling, learn about your options for borrowing against it.
About the Author: Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.