The market for pre-owned luxury watches has been on the rise for several years now. However, the pandemic triggered a buying frenzy amongst collectors with prices of collectible watches ballooning to record levels, especially in the case of Rolex watches. According to a study by online retailer Bob’s Watches earlier this year, Rolex watches outperformed traditional investment options such as gold, real estate, and even stocks. But as the old saying goes, what goes up must come down. Over the last few months, the severe inflation and recession fears have severely affected the valuations of all investment assets. The world of pre-owned luxury watches hasn’t remained unaffected either. In the case of discontinued Rolex watches, the valuation slump has been more extreme. According to an exclusive report by WatchPro, the prices of some of the Rolex watches discontented this year have diminished by as much as 50%.
Traditionally, the value of discontinued luxury watches, especially Rolexes, goes up considerably after the models drop out of the catalog. Speculators often bet big on models that are rumored to be discontinued in anticipation of making big profits in a relatively small time period. However, the WatchPro report that cites data provided by Swiss-based secondary market specialist Chronext states that some of those speculators who mistimed their investments might be sitting on huge losses. The report gives the example of the Rolex Oyster Perpetuals, which was launched in 2020 in a range of sizes and dial colors. Some of those references were commanding prices of up to eight times their retail value by 2021, fueled by the rumors that several dial colors and sizes were going to be discontinued.
According to the data by Chronext, the 41mm powder blue Oyster Perpetual which has a retail price of €5,700 (roughly $5800) was selling for as much as €32,500 (about $33,000) at the start of 2022. However, the price rocketed by another 50% to €48,000 by the end of March during the Watches & Wonders show. Since then, the value of the model has diminished by 21%. The 36mm Oyster Perpetual with a pale pink dial has experienced a more severe devaluation over the same period. From a peak of €34,000 (about $34,600) in March, the reference has tanked by 53%. Some other models such as the Sea-Dweller and Air-King witnessed modest spikes in early 2022 and had shallower declines since March.