Luxury watches have never been more a part of the zeitgeist than they are right now in 2022. From song lyrics to social media and even your local pub – more people are talking about high-end timepieces than ever before.
Some brands and models get more love than others, though. Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Rolex… It’s brands like these that have captured peoples’ imaginations – and wallets. In-demand stainless steel luxury sports watches like the Royal Oak, Nautilus and Daytona respectively have become some of the hardest watches to acquire on the planet.
Prices on the aftermarket for these models have long reflected that, too. We’re talking 200%, sometimes even 300% markups in some instances, with prices having steadily climbed over the last 3 years. Until now, at least. Italian watch expert @watchanalytics has observed that recent market moves suggest we’ve hit the peak of watch speculation for these popular models – and now things are going to swing the other way.
“In the last month, the [upwards price] trend of the most sought after watches on the market has reversed its direction for the first time,” they say, explaining that we’re currently witnessing a substantial market correction.
“Just as the growth of these watches has been motivated by low production and [low] availability, this phase is also motivated by the contraction in demand due to too high prices.”
They point to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus specifically, sharing that on average prices for these two models have fallen by 7.3% since the beginning of March. It’s one hell of a correction, considering how ascendant prices for these two ‘Holy Trinity’ sports watches have been in recent memory.
@watchanalytics interprets this market shift like so: “as soon as owners observed a decline in the prices they flocked to the market to sell and this led to an oversupply which in turn caused an even greater drop in prices.
This phenomenon can also be clearly observed from the rather important differences in the graph between the listing prices (the offer prices) and the real market prices.”
They caution, however, that “at the moment it is not a market crash situation but a period of price adjustment. These are phases that alternate in all markets… [watches are] no exception.”
Indeed, one only has to look at the direction Rolex watch prices are moving in to see that what’s happening with APs and Pateks might not be indicative of the market as a whole. Prices for popular Rollies like the Submariner, Daytona and GMT-Master II haven’t weakened one bit.
Indeed, prices for the latter have seen particularly sharp price increases, perhaps in part to the hype surrounding Rolex’s unveiling of a new GMT-Master II at Watches & Wonders 2022.
Again, whether we’re talking about Royal Oaks or Rolexes, it’s worth pointing out that ask prices almost never equal market prices – so just because some chancer wants $100,000 for their beat-up old Rolex Air-King doesn’t mean it’ll ever sell for something even close to that figure.
Still, fingers crossed that what’s happening with Nautiluses (or is that Nautili?) and Royal Oaks is indicative of a forthcoming, broader market shift that’ll see prices get less silly for some of the world’s most popular watches.