Articles & News

Review of the Watch Market October 2020

James Lowe, Watch and Jewellery Specialist

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The watch market seems to have survived amazingly well over the past six months, both on the retail and auction side. There was even an auction in Hong Kong recently selling only early Seiko watches, a brand that despite being the first to launch a quartz watch in 1969, has in the past fared pretty badly at auction with very low prices generally. However, the sale largely sold out, with several of the rarer watches fetching thousands.

An area of the market which is causing excitement currently is what is known as the Secondary Market. I do stress that it applies to an extremely limited few brands and models, and that for most watches the value still plummets as soon as they leave the shop. Patek Philippe, Rolex, and to a lesser degree Audemars Piguet, are the brands most impacted in this situation and it is only their steel sports or utility ranges rather than the precious metal and bejewelled dress watches that are affected.

Image of Patek Philippe Nautilus

Patek Philippe Nautilus

Patek produce only about 6,500 steel watches out of their total annual production of about 65,000. The waiting list for several of their steel ranges can be 18 months to 2 years, so this Secondary Market has emerged. If you were able to purchase a steel Patek Philppe Nautilus at the recommended retail price of about £31,000, keep it in its plastic factory wrap together with all original documents, you could put it on the Secondary Market and ask in excess of £70,000.

Image of a Rolex Daytona Watch

Rolex Daytona

A few Rolex and Audemars Piguet models might get you a 50% profit on RRP. Patek say that they are essentially a maker of luxury precious metal watches, not sports watches, and they will not increase production to meet the demand. But I must stress again how this market is relevant to so very few of the watches that come on to the retail market.

Image of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore watch

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph (re-edition-25th-anniversary)

Another by-product of this market is the emergence of some very convincing well-made fakes – or replicas as they are sometimes called. All the major brands will mark their cases and movements with reference and serial numbers so that with some diligent sleuth work you should be able to safeguard yourself against buying an expensive fake.