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Pre-owned luxury watches are seeing a surge in falling prices

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Image: Rolex

Watchfinder & Co, the online destination for pre-owned luxury timepieces, is lowering prices by 15 percent, as a reflection of the luxury watch market at large.

The Richemont-owned company told Bloomberg an increase in supply has affected demand, with prices for well-known models Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet having dropped considerably. The value of watches has also been affected by slowing economic growth, rising interest rates and the collapse of the cryptocurrency market.

The average price of a pre-owned watch is 7,000 pounds

With Rolex the most sought after brand, the average selling price of an item at Watchfinder is 7,000 pounds, according to the company’s CEO Arjen van de Vall. Mr van de Vall said the price correction and increased supply came as no surprise to the platform, which uses data to track and predict market trends as supplies increase. What was surprising, however was "the speed with which the price list adjustments became necessary".

Yahoo Finance reported the most popular Rolex models saw their prices falling 21 percent since the peak last April. For Patek Philippe, prices of the most popular references plunged 19 percent.

The flood in supply saw Morgan Stanley advise investors: “We have noticed a significant increase of watch inventory in the secondary watch market year to date as a result of secondhand watch dealers and individual watch investors off-loading their stocks,” the company wrote in a report.

Watchfinder, which has been operating for over two decades, remains one of the most popular pre-owned destinations, with an inventory that includes thousands of watches from over 70 luxury brands. The company operates in France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the UK, the US and Hong Kong. Online sales of luxury timepieces is a relatively new phenomenon, with Watchfinder launching on the cusp of the e-commerce revolution to make hard-to-find pieces available to a new generation of enthusiasts and collectors.

Just like fashion houses, luxury watch companies are launching their own pre-owned programmes, including certification, and taking advantage of a new revenue stream to keep pre-owned in-house rather than lose sales to third-party retailers.

Deloitte projects the pre-owned luxury market to grow from 20 billion euros to 35 billion euros by 2030.