Swiss luxury watch brands have long considered the market for second-hand watches as a potential threat to their business, but now their view is shifting as they see it can provide valuable insights into pricing and demand.
Initially seen as cannibalising sales of new watches, the market for previously owned or “pre-owned” watches has become the best place to assess the value of a watch over time and provide liquidity to watch owners who want to trade in their watch for a new one.
Watchfinder has just launched a home collection service to make transactions easier during the pandemic.
Justin Reis, chief executive of pre-owned platform WatchBox, said the size of the pre-owned watch market was estimated at $16 billion and WatchBox’s business was growing about 25% per year, including last year, when sales of new watches took a severe hit.
“We’ve seen so much in terms of new tailwinds pushing this sector. There’s been a cultural change where people are more emphatic about collectibles,” Reis told Reuters.
Reis said prices for popular Rolex, Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet models had increased by around 25% and smaller independent brands like H. Moser & Cie, F.P. Journe or De Bethune were also gaining traction on WatchBox.
WatchBox and Watchfinder both set out as online platforms, but now also have some physical showrooms.
H. Moser & Cie head Edouard Meylan told Reuters demand for the brand’s new watches had benefited from the “good job” WatchBox and peers were doing in the second-hand market.