This is a question that we hear come up a lot. Whether or not it’s better to buy a limited edition watch generally comes down to which brand and which model is on offer.
When you hear that a brand is launching a limited edition model it usually creates a sense of urgency, since the model is of course limited and capped at a certain production quantity. This can sometimes be a simple marketing ploy with the brand attempting to build hype around the watch release and increase sales. On the other hand, it can also be an absolute godsend to those who are lucky enough to snag one of the limited editions, if for example the watch brand is well known and the specific model is sought after by collectors.
Depends on Brand
The big deciding factor here all comes down to the brand launching the limited edition, the collectibility of the model, and the frequency at which the specific brand launches limited editions.
Omega is widely known for launching plenty of limited editions, and so the they’ve watered down the exclusivity of these models because they’re so widely available and produced in large numbers making them less rare. On the other end of the spectrum we have Patek Philippe who very rarely releases a limited edition watch, and when they do it’s usually in tiny quantities making them an instant collectible watch. Patek’s limited editions are so rare and sought after that they’re essentially impossible to buy at retail price. The value of a Patek limited edition is worth much more than the retail price.
The value of an Omega limited edition will sometimes even drop in value compared the classic full production model, for example the Speedmaster Professional. Some brands like Rolex don’t even release official “limited editions” but they produce some models in limited quantities making them unofficial limited editions and some of the most collectible watches in the world, for example the stainless steel Daytona.
Limited editions from microbrands and less sought after watch companies are usually just a marketing ploy and won’t hold value or increase in value, although to the right buyer they can be a great addition to a personal collection.
Depends on Model
As we dive deeper into this subject you will also notice a trend of some specific models becoming highly collectible limited editions, while other limited models from the same brand don’t gain the same traction.
One great example of this is the Reverso from Jaeger LeCoultre. The regular production Reverso is already a highly desired watch by most enthusiasts, and when JLC decides to launch a limited run of this model is becomes an instant classic. On the other hand when JLC launches a limited run of the less desired Master Control line they aren’t nearly as popular with some models dwindling in display cases at the Authorized Dealer.
When choosing a specific Limited Edition watch keep in mind the brand of the watch, the popularity of the model and frequency at which this brand launches limited editions. These three things will assist you in deciding whether or not you should be buying that model for its exclusive collectibility, or if it’s just a fun watch that won’t gain enthusiast traction.