In October, the secondary market for pre-owned Rolex and Patek Philippe watches reached its lowest point in two years, primarily due to high interest rates crushing demand and increasing supply returning to the market. The combination of the two is accelerating the bust cycle in the luxury watch market.
The Bloomberg Subdial Watch Index, which tracks prices for the 50 most-traded watches by value on the secondary market, fell 1.8% in October, stumbling to its lowest level since 2021.
Subdial data shows a Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time 5990/1A-001 has crashed 42.5% since peaking at $271,000 in March 2022.
Prices for a Rolex Daytona 116506 have been halved since peaking at $185,000.
“We are seeing growing downward pressure in the market, which could lead to a further downward drift in prices as dealers cut valuations to chase sales,” Christy Davis, the co-founder of Subdial, wrote in an October market report.
According to Subdial data, the number of used watches hitting the secondary market has increased 5% since August. More supply is adding downward pressure on an already fragile market.
“With more watches available at a wider spread of prices, what we’re seeing is people dropping prices to chase sales going into the holiday season,” Davis said.
However, she did not provide a specific reason for the increased supply. We note it could be attributed to speculators who purchased luxury watches at high prices during the mania phase during Covid and are now forced to sell to generate liquidity.
Last week, luxury group Richemont warned about waning consumer demand for watches, jewelry, and clothing. The owner of Cartier Jewelry was gloomy about the economic outlook.
In October, luxury conglomerate LVMH, controlled by billionaire Bernard Arnault, reported a slowdown in sales for high-quality products, such as leather goods, perfumes, watches, and wine, in China, Europe, and the US amid a soaring interest rate environment.
Timing the bottom of the used luxury watch market might be a 2024 story. This year has been nothing more than a ‘falling knife.’