Rolex and Patek Philippe prices stabilise after sliding in second-hand market

Valuations for some of the most coveted models slumped in the late spring after hitting a peak sometime in March or April

Used watches of Swiss manufacturer Rolex are seen at a shop in Zurich, Switzerland. Reuters
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More signs are emerging that the second-hand luxury watch market is finding its footing, after prices surged and then tumbled earlier this year.

An index for Rolex resale prices at WatchCharts, a consultancy, fell by 1.84 per cent in early September from the previous month, a slower place of decline following a summer slump of at least twice that rate.

Meanwhile, the Subdial50 index, which tracks prices of the 50 most-traded luxury watches, rose by 1.2 per cent in the 30 days before September 7, “hinting at a bottoming out of prices in the world’s most popular luxury watch references”, the company said earlier this week.

The index tracks references for watches such as the Rolex Daytona and Datejust, as well as Patek Philippe Nautilus and an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

Luxury timepieces have been on a wild ride this year, particularly in the closely tracked secondary market.

While there is wide variation of price performance in the market, valuations for some of the most coveted models slumped in the late spring after hitting a peak sometime in March or April, depending on which models are tracked. The downturn had been linked by some to a collapse in cryptocurrency prices, though others thought different factors were in play, such as dealers trying to get rid of overstock.

Gains in other asset classes, stimulus cash and speculation fuelled what some were calling a bling boom early this year, with new buyers looking for alternative investments. Demand for the most sought-after watch resales was high, sending prices soaring. In March, the WatchCharts Rolex index was up by 35 per cent over the same month the previous year.

“It was almost a sense of euphoria in the market,” said Austen Chu, founder and chief executive of online watch platform Wristcheck.

Then came the fall. In the steepest month-over-month drop, the WatchCharts Rolex index fell by 5.9 per cent in June, followed by a 3.5 per cent decline in July and 5.1 per cent drop in August.

“Flippers and day traders who’d been told you couldn’t lose money in watches came with little underlying passion and found themselves burnt when prices began to fall,” Subdial said.

Updated: September 11, 2022, 9:44 AM