4 minutes

Three Discontinued Watch Models and Their Remarkable Price Performance

By Sebastian Swart

Year after year, it begins again: the wild speculation about which luxury watch manufacturer will announce the end of production for which of its outdated models. Real and self-proclaimed experts appear in forums and trade publications to predict whether the beloved Rolex Submariner or Omega Speedmaster will still exist in its current form in a few weeks. Watch enthusiasts are also preoccupied with the question of what outrageous price they’ll have to pay for the object of their desire if these predictions do come true.

Sarcasm aside, it’s a fact that the prices of some discontinued luxury watches skyrocketed shortly after the announcement of their retirement. One of the most well-known examples of this is the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711, whose price quadrupled after production was halted in 2021. In this article, we’ll look at three discontinued watches whose prices increased significantly after they were discontinued and remain high to this day.

1. Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch

Our first example is a universally popular classic, the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch ref. 311. with a Hesalite crystal. The Biel-based manufacturer produced this well-known Speedmaster variant in more or less the same form from 1968 to 2021. It’s the immediate successor to the Speedmaster Professional ref. 105.012 that astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore on July 21, 1969, when he became one of the first humans to set foot on the moon. The biggest difference between the two watches is their calibers. While Buzz Aldrin’s Speedmaster had a caliber 321 with a column-wheel chronograph, its successor used a caliber 861 or 1881 with a cam switch. All three movements are based on the Lemania 2310.

Einer der weltweit gefragtesten Chronographen – die Omega Speedmaster Professional 310.
One of the most sought-after chronographs in the world: the Omega Speedmaster Professional 310.

Omega discontinued the Speedmaster ref. 311. in January 2021 and replaced it with the 310. As a result, market prices for the former watch skyrocketed. This development was particularly interesting given that the model is available in millions and is thus anything but rare. The price performance of this Moonwatch simply serves to underline its iconic status as one of the most popular chronographs in the world.

To put it in terms of numbers: A mint-condition 311. cost around $4700 in January 2021. By January 2022 prices had climbed to over $5700. In January 2023 the price went up to $6900. That’s about a 47% increase since 2021. So whoever was able to secure an old Moonwatch before production ended can now enjoy an incredible return on their investment.

2. Rolex Submariner Date 116610LN

Without question, the Rolex Submariner – with or without date – is the undisputed queen of the classic dive watch. Since its introduction in 1954, the Submariner has remained popular and its iconic design has become a blueprint for watchmakers of all price classes. Rolex is known for being very cautious when it comes to updating its collections, often changing only the smallest of details. The Submariner benefits from this approach and is always recognizable. In addition, despite or perhaps because of its sporty look, the watch is suitable for almost any occasion.

Rolex produced the Submariner Date ref. 116610LN between 2010 and 2020. It was the first Submariner with a ceramic rather than aluminum bezel. It also saw Rolex switch to their proprietary Chromalight material on the indices – the luminous material glows blue and replaced the Superluminova used on previous references. Inside the watch ticks the Rolex in-house caliber 3135 with a power reserve of 48 hours.

Die erste Rolex Submariner Date mit Keramiklünette – Ref. 116610LN
The first Rolex Submariner Date with a ceramic bezel: ref. 116610LN

When Rolex discontinued the Submariner Date 116610LN in September 2020, prices immediately increased. Whereas the model cost just about $12,000 in August 2020, by October 2020 it had increased to $13,400. In January 2023, buyers were prepared to part with around $15,100 for a mint-condition model. Prices reached a peak in April 2022 at almost $17,900. Since then, they’ve stabilized at around $15,000. All told, this discontinued Rolex Submariner Date has seen a 25% increase in value since 2020.

3. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202ST “Jumbo”

Our last discontinued watch that’s significantly increased in value is a particularly impressive example of how watch prices can rise. The history of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202ST “Jumbo” is very similar to that of the discontinued Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711. No wonder, as for many people the Royal Oak has always been THE alternative to the Patek sports model. What the two watches have in common is their designer Gérald Genta, who created the Royal Oak design in 1972. The watch is known for its timeless octagonal bezel with eight screws, integrated bracelet, and “porthole” look. The Royal Oak 15202ST “Jumbo” in stainless steel naturally shares this look. The model is powered by the ultra-thin in-house caliber 2121, just 3.05 mm thick. The movement is based on the Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 920 and has a power reserve of 40 hours.

When François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet at the time, announced in March 2021 that the reference 15202ST would be discontinued and replaced by another model, the price frenzy began. In February 2021 the watch was available for “only” $39,000. In April 2021, collectors and fans of the watch were already paying $65,000 for it in mint-condition. But that was just the beginning – prices reached their peak the following March, when mint-condition pieces cost an incredible $121,000. As is so often the case with over-speculated luxury watches, prices soon began to fall. In January 2024 the 15202ST cost around $105,000 – still a remarkable price.

Let’s take a look at percentage performance here as well: Anyone who bought a Royal Oak for around $39,000 in February 2021 could sell it just a year later at a 210% profit. Even late buyers who got their Royal Oak for $65,000 could sell it in early 2024 at a 60% profit. The 15202ST shows that it can worthwhile for speculators to trade in discontinued watch models.

Eingestellt und plötzlich unglaublich teuer – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202ST „Jumbo”
Discontinued and suddenly very expensive: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202ST “Jumbo”

Those are just three examples of discontinued watches that rose in value. Keep in mind, however, that such price spikes are only to be expected from a few top-class manufacturers, and then only for certain models. Nevertheless, the market performance of these watches is truly remarkable.

About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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