Citizen watches are well-loved by many because they are well made, and the pricing is also very affordable. However, do Citizen watches hold value?
Citizen Watches do not hold their value, as the brand is not associated with expensive watches, it does not have a large number of collectors, and it lacks hype. However, several Japanese Domestic Model (JDM) watches such as from The Citizen collection have the potential to hold value well.
We investigate what makes watches hold value, and if you own a Citizen watch, what can you do to improve the resale value of your watch.
Why Do Some Watches Hold Value?
Before we even look at how Citizen performs on their long term value, let’s first look at why some watches have positive ROI and why some do not.
In simple terms, watches appreciate and depreciate because of supply vs. demand.
If demand is high and supply is low, prices go up. Prices come down when the situation is the opposite.
Multiple factors will contribute to rising demand and dropping supplies, which we will see here.
Suppose the watch is an established model well recognized in the watch industry. In that case, you can be assured its price should appreciate in the future.
This is because there is a demand for it.
For example, a Rolex Submariner, or a Seiko SARB017 Alpinist, are well recognized within the watch community, and people will be willing to pay a premium to have them.
In fact, a Grand Seiko SBGA211 ‘Snowflake’ has a demand so high it outstripped Seiko’s ability to supply it. People have since turned to the secondary market since they cannot wait, pushing up the price.
Comes From A Strong Brand
If the watch comes from a strong, reputable brand, your likelihood of ‘scoring’ a watch that holds its value will increase.
Suppose you invested in a timepiece from the Holy Trinity of watches, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin. You will pretty much be guaranteed their watches hold value long term.
Even with specific models from mass-produced brands such as Seiko, you can get a good ROI.
But you might not be able to assume the same with microbrand or fashion watches such as Daniel Steiger or Fossil. Their brands are not solid and well-recognized enough to help their watches to retain value.
Celebrity Wears Them
Specific watch models have adorned the wrists of celebrities, public figures, and fictional characters.
These watches might also have the opportunity to retain their value well, as they become associated with the person.
For example, Steve Jobs’s Seiko Chariot 6431-6030 was so sought after by buyers, it was sold at an auction for over $42,500. Seiko even has to reissue newer models to satisfy the demand.
Watches that James Bond wears in his movies also tend to hold their value well.
Has A Community Of Collectors
Certain watches have a group of passionate collectors. If you own watches that these guys are hunting for, those watches should hold their value well.
Seiko dive watches, for example, have a large and passionate group of collectors. These collectors, in particular, hunt for Seiko Samurai, Turtle, Sumo, or SKX series dive watches.
Their demands eventually push the price of these watches up.
No Longer In Production
If the watch is no longer in production, the price will also go up.
When a watch stops production, that means the supply stops. With steady or increasing demand, then the price will go up naturally.
This is what happened to Seiko SARB033 and SARB035 – when the production stopped in 2018, their prices started going up. They are now being sold at a higher price than their original MSRP in Japan.
Unique Features/Limited Edition
If a popular watch has a unique release to it, the watch will likely hold its value.
This goes back to, again, supply vs. demand. The supply is much less since it’s a limited edition watch, and the uniqueness might drive up demand.
These features might not even be functionalities. It could be something as simple as a different bezel color or crown shape.
For example, Seiko released a limited edition Alpinist with a blue dial (SPB09) in 2020, which was snapped up quickly.
How Well Do Citizen Watches Hold Their Value?
Citizen Watches do not hold their value, as the brand is not associated with expensive watches, it does not have a large number of collectors, and it lacks hype.
Citizen Brand Itself
Citizen has some established models – their Promaster series of dive watches or Nighthawk pilot watches, for example, are well-appreciated models.
But the level of following these watches have might not be as large and as passionate as those of Rolex Submariner or Seiko dive watches.
This resulted in less demand, so prices might not hold over the long term.
Citizen is a strong brand, but its strength is producing fine, robust watches at an affordable price. This resulted in the perception that Citizen watches should be value-for-money and cheap.
This naturally placed a cap on the potential price appreciation for any of their watches.
Another issue with Citizen watches is the lack of a large, passionate community of collectors.
There are, of course, collectors of Citizen watches out there. But their presence is not as significant or noticeable as, say, collectors of Seiko dive watches or vintage Omegas.
Lack of collectors market means demand is lesser for Citizen watches, especially on the secondary market.
Lack of Hype
Another issue that causes CItizen watches to not hold value well is that it lacks hype.
Different companies generate hype in their own way – watches like Rolex or Omega would sponsor events and place their watches on the wrists of celebrities and movie actors.
Some would use social media to hype their watches. Millennial brands such as Daniel Wellington or Vincero are great examples.
Some models were well-reviewed on Youtube, and watch influencers such as Tristan Veneto (The Urban Gentry), Jory Goodman (The Time Teller), or Hodinkee hyped them. These resulted in higher secondary prices.
Some Seiko models, such as the SARB033 or SARB017, benefited immensely from being hyped up by influencers.
Citizen watches do not seem to be able to ride the waves these guys generated. As a result, they do not hold value well long term.
Are Citizen Watches Good Investment?
Citizen watches should not be seen as an investment. The best way to approach Citizen is as a watch that you buy and enjoy. When it is time to let the watch go, just sell them at a loss and move on.
This should be ok with many since Citizen watches are not expensive. This means your losses will not be too big.
However, suppose you are really keen to discover Citizen watches of value. Some JDM (Japanese Domestic Models) watches might hold value better in the long term.
There are not many JDM watches outside Japan, and they are often very well made compared to the international releases.
If you know about your JDM, you will know Japanese companies have a habit of keeping the best things for themselves – cars, electronics, watches as well.
There are no guarantees here, but feel free to check out JDM models such as from The Citizen or the Campanola collection.
How To Improve Citizen Watches’ Resale Value?
To improve the resale value of Citizen watches, consider to:
- Not modify the watch
- Keep all documents and boxes protected
- Service your watch only with Citizen
- Take care of it the best you can.
Do Not Modify
Always keep your watch in its original condition. That means do not change the bezel, crystal, or movement.
If you change the watchband, always keep the original watchband and links for the next buyer.
Modified watches lose their value fast, as they no longer have the same aesthetic value that made buyers want them in the first place.
Keep All Documents & Parts Sealed
The moment you receive your watch, make sure you keep all the documents, boxes, and parts of the watch together and protect it.
This serves several purposes. It helps to prove that you are the genuine owner of the watch. Any future buyers would have more confidence to proceed and purchase the watch from you.
You might even fetch a higher price at a pawn shop just because you have all the documents with the watch.
Secondly, it helps you be ‘competitive’ in the secondary market. When everybody is selling the same thing, buyers might just purchase it from you if you can offer additional value.
You can do so by offering not just the box but the original box, packaging, receipt, even the paper bag if you want to.
These documents and packaging could be protected through lamination or a simple cling wrap.
Only Service At Citizen
Keeping watch servicing at Citizen or Citizen certified reseller helps to ensure that only proper watchmaker serviced the watch.
This also means only genuine parts and consumables are used. Buyers would have more confidence in the reliability and performance of the watch.
You can do this by keeping all the servicing receipts from the Citizen and handing them over to the buyer when you sell it.
Take Care Of It
A Citizen with a few scratches here and there will always fetch a higher price than a banged-up Citizen watch with cracked crystal. This means you should take care of your watch.
Be gentle with it, and do not use your watch in the wrong condition – a Citizen Corso with a leather strap is not meant to be worn for a hiking trip.
Get your watch serviced at the correct interval, and keep it in a proper watch box. With good care, your Citizen watch will fetch a higher reselling price.
Wrapping Up: How Well Do Citizen Watches Hold Their Value?
To summarize this matter, Citizen watches do not hold value well. Citizen watches do not have the brand prestige, collectors market, or hype to help push demand higher than supply.
However, you can at least minimize the depreciation from your purchase of Citizen watches with the proper steps.
If you are interested to know about Citizen watches in further detail, you can check out our full review of Citizen watches.
We also discussed if Seiko watches hold their value better. If this is something you are keen to know, feel free to check out the article instead.