As 2023 is ending, the global economy grapples with instability and stagnation. Unsurprisingly, these economic challenges have begun to cast their shadow on the more affluent sectors of the market, including the preowned luxury watch market.
The decline in luxury watch prices has been a prevailing trend throughout the year, impacting not only the high-end models but the industry as a whole. This significant market shift has created financial hardships for numerous watch dealers worldwide, leading to layoffs and business closures.
In this blog post, we will delve into the factors responsible for the price decline in the preowned luxury watch market in 2023, identify indicators signaling market softening, and explore the implications for collectors. We’ll also venture a glimpse into the future, asking the question: Will luxury watch prices continue to decline in 2024?
Factors Contributing to the Decline in Luxury Watch Prices in 2023
1. Excess Inventory: The luxury watch market boomed in 2022, leaving both authorized dealers and grey market dealers with extensive inventories. When the market started to decline, overleveraged dealers, primarily in the grey market, had to offload their inventory rapidly, resulting in a glut of discounted watches that impacted the global market significantly.
2. Investors Exiting: The watch market witnessed a surge in interest from investors in 2020, driving up preowned prices. However, as the market softened, many investors, who had no genuine interest in the product, exited, putting additional pressure on prices.
3. Interest Rates: Grey market dealers often rely on credit or external investment for inventory. Rising interest rates have increased their costs, prompting them to either purchase inventory at lower prices or sell existing stock more quickly at discounted rates.
4. Inflation: In 2023, the cost of living has surged, with essential items like groceries becoming more expensive. This inflation has left consumers with less discretionary income, impacting demand for luxury watches.
5. Global Events: Recent global events have heightened uncertainty, causing individuals to be more cautious with their spending. Reduced spending has translated into fewer available resources to support the luxury watch market.
Indicators Signaling the Softening of the Preowned Luxury Watch Market
1. Dealers Going Out of Business: The watch industry experienced a surge in new dealers, especially online, during the market’s boom. However, with falling prices, many of these operations have closed or laid off staff, indicating reduced profitability and inventory movement.
2. Declining Home Prices: Homeownership is a key indicator of economic health. Falling home prices reflect the inability of incomes to support luxury watch purchases, as household budgets are strained.
3. Rolex Prices Declining: Rolex, the gold standard of the luxury watch market, has seen a sharp decline in preowned prices in 2023. This trend may influence the prices of other luxury watch brands.
What This Means for Collectors
The impact of a declining luxury watch market varies for different types of collectors. Those with sufficient disposable income to continually add to their collection without selling will benefit from the market softening. Their buying power increases, allowing them to acquire more within their budget. On the other hand, collectors who rely on selling to fund new acquisitions will face limitations due to reduced buying power.
Will Luxury Watch Prices Continue to Decline in 2024?
While predicting the future is challenging, current market indicators suggest that the luxury watch market may continue its downward trend in 2024. To reverse this trend, the industry could consider halting price increases, implementing better inventory management practices, and focusing on new product launches aligned with consumer preferences.
Preowned Luxury Watch Market Performance in 2023
In 2023, luxury watch prices experienced significant declines, with Rolex seeing a 2.2% decrease in market prices. All major watchmakers reported negative results, with Omega and Cartier following suit. The secondary market for the most traded watches from Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe reached two-year lows. Prices were off by 26% from their peak in March 2022.
While the market has stabilized since early 2023, there remains an 8% decline from January to June. Rolex saw the smallest price drop, followed by Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet.
The preowned luxury watch market has been in correction mode since 2022, with values declining by about 20% from peak prices. However, for collectors driven by passion rather than speculation, a market with more reasonable prices is a positive development. While transactions may take longer to close, trust and relationships remain at the core of the watch industry.
The luxury watch market presents opportunities for growth, but the landscape is evolving with more sellers, new sales channels, increased supply, and narrower margins. Adaptation and creativity will be key for companies to remain competitive in this changing environment. The fundamentals of trust, relationships, and reputation are resurfacing as essential elements in the industry’s success. According to BCG, the global market for luxury watches is estimated to be worth over $100 billion by 2026, with secondhand sales accounting for a significant portion. The luxury watch industry, like any other, is continually evolving, and embracing change is vital for its continued success.
As always, Jonathan’s Fine Jewelers has your back! We are still paying the most for all of your luxury preowned watches that you want to sell, as well as offering competitive pricing to purchase authentic watches. We pride ourselves on being the number one preowned luxury watch seller and buyer in Houston and the country. If you have a watch to sell or buy, please contact Sergio here. He will tell you what we have in stock, and if we don’t have it, we can find it! He will also help you with safely and securely selling your luxury watch.