In certain industries, the term, 'discontinued', can imply obsolescence; however, in the world of watches, it carries a distinct connotation. Discontinued watches often command notably higher prices than their current counterparts.
So, what's behind the fascination with these discontinued watches? The answer lies in their rarity. When a sought-after watch is discontinued, it's quite common to witness a significant uptick in its market value. Those who once hoped to acquire it at retail must now turn to the secondary market, triggering intensified buyer competition and subsequently driving up prices. This element of exclusivity contributes to its charm, particularly amongst informed collectors. Read on to know about five iconic discontinued watches.
Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A-010
The discontinuation of Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 turned the stainless steel versions into six-figure marvels and its farewell announcement caused prices to nearly double. This US$30,000 gem became a collector's Holy Grail, with waitlists rivaling its production time and pre-owned prices tripling. With just 30% of Patek's steel watches made annually, retiring the 5711 was a wise choice. Its popularity as an investment risked overshadowing its design magic, yet its allure persists. Its absence only fuels collectors' desire of acquiring it, thereby turning the Nautilus into an even hotter commodity.
Rolex GMT Master II Black Bezel
In 2019, Rolex decided to discontinue both the ceramic and the non-ceramic versions of the GMT Master II Black Bezel. The introduction of the ceramic bezel in 2005 with the yellow gold GMT-Master II ref. 116718 is a milestone. Initially all-black due to technical complexities, Rolex's stance evolved with the subsequent blue/black ceramic bezel. The all-black Cerachrom bezel was later seen on the stainless steel GMT-Master II ref. 116710LN. The absence of the monochromatic black bezel (LN) is noteworthy as it had been the mainstay since the 1970s. Currently, GMT-Master II bezels feature dual-tone options: blue and red (BLRO), blue and black (BLNR), and brown and black (CHNR).
Introduced in the early 2000s, the Cartier Roadster swiftly became a standout in the brand's timepiece lineup. However, it was discontinued in 2012. Its automobile-inspired design, including the distinctive Porsche-like dial that was reminiscent of the 1950s Porsche 356 speedometer, set it apart. Notable for deviating from the traditional circular shape, the collection offered various sizes, materials, and dial configurations with a touch of nostalgia. Available for all genders, the watch featured options catering to personal preferences. The series encompassed diverse materials and limited editions. Despite its discontinuation, pre-owned pieces still circulate among enthusiasts.
Omega Speedmaster Tintin Professional Moonwatch
Omega initially marketed this watch as a "racing" model, citing its red-and-white, checkered minute track. However, its departure from previous racing dial designs raised doubts about this classification. The watch was actually inspired by Hergé's Tintin, particularly the iconic rocket from the comic books, Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon. While the collaboration didn't include the rocket dial and the special caseback, the distinctive red-and-white, checkered minute track remained. The caseback transitioned to the standard Moonwatch version, featuring red lacquer instead of black. The watch's value saw fluctuations, with a notable increase from late 2020, possibly influenced by Snoopy model price hikes.
IWC Mark XVIII
In 2016, IWC introduced the sleek Mark XVIII, a pilot-style addition. Many dubbed it the successor to the iconic IWC Mark 11 from the 1950s. The XVIII shook things up by toning things down—think discrete date window and a 40mm case that just screamed "balance". Deemed a luxury tool watch, the timepiece earned plaudits. Unexpectedly, in July 2022, IWC quietly revealed the refined Mark XX, with enhanced dial proportions, prominent date display, and in-house movement. Sadly, the Mark XVIII has been discontinued while some special editions remain; standard black-and-white dials have been phased out.