Hold onto your Daytona, watch fans, because the winds are shifting in the high-end pre-owned market. Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet, the holy trinity of luxury watches, have seen their resale prices dip in recent months, while Cartier, the king of Parisian elegance, surprisingly takes the cake with a slight increase.
It’s like finding a Daytona at MSRP – unthinkable just a year ago. The Bloomberg Subdial Index, which tracks prices for the 50 most traded watches by value, dipped 1.8% in October 2023, marking the lowest point since 2021. For the “Big Three,” the numbers tell a story of decline: Rolex prices slid 1.6%, Patek Philippe dropped a painful 4.4%, and Audemars Piguet took the biggest hit, with a 4.5% decrease.
So, what’s causing this shift? Experts point to a confluence of factors. The luxury bubble, fueled by the pandemic and stimulus money, seems to be deflating. Inflation and economic uncertainty are making collectors think twice before dropping tens of thousands on a Submariner. On top of that, the flood of “grey market” watches (those sold through unauthorized dealers) may be saturating the market, driving down prices for the genuine article.
But while the big dogs are barking at their paws, Cartier is strutting down Bond Street with a newfound swagger. Prices for pre-owned Cartiers, led by the Tank and Santos models, actually edged up 1% in the fourth quarter. Why the Cartier love? Analysts say it’s a combination of timeless design, growing popularity among women (a key demographic in the luxury watch market), and a relative scarcity of certain models compared to the ever-present Rolex or Patek.
So, what does this mean for you, the discerning watch enthusiast? Well, if you’ve been eyeing a pre-owned Rolex, now might be the time to negotiate. Just be prepared to face a market flooded with options. As for Cartier, their upward trajectory could make them a savvy investment with staying power.
One thing’s for sure, the watch game is changing. The days of guaranteed skyrocketing resale values for the “Big Three” might be over. But with Cartier on the rise and a wider range of brands and styles to choose from, it’s an exciting time to be a watch lover. So, keep your eyes peeled, polish your haggling skills, and who knows, you might just find the perfect timepiece at the perfect price.