Pre-owned luxury watch sales now account for over 30% of the high-end timepiece market—and the trend is likely to continue, said a report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
The report, “Luxury Preowned Watches, Your Time Has Come,” found that secondhand watch sales hit $22 billion in 2021, close to one-third of the $75 billion luxury watch market.
While the report didn’t provide final numbers for 2022, it estimated secondhand watch sales hit $24 billion last year, out of a total global luxury timepiece market of $79 billion.
The report comes as online secondhand sellers have taken pains to buff up their image, and the market has gained legitimacy as big names like Rolex have entered the space.
While “the secondhand watch market once evoked images of back alley deals and discounts, with dubious authenticity and a high risk of fakes and fraud,” today’s market is dominated by transparent markets and authentication services, the report said.
Watches have also become an unlikely investment vehicle.
From August 2018 to January 2023, the average price in the secondhand market for top models from the three largest brands—Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet—rose at an annual rate of 20%, BCG found. That’s more than double the 8% gains investors saw from the S&P 500 index.
And while secondhand watch prices fell during 2022, stock prices did too—and in most cases, the watch market outperformed the S&P, said the report. Most collectors still believe their items will increase in value, with two-thirds of secondhand watch buyers saying an expected increase in value influenced their decision to buy.
Watches also outperformed other collectible assets like jewelry, handbags, wine, art, and furniture, it said.
The report credited e-tailers for fueling the secondhand sector, noting online sales in this segment already top sales at traditional channels like auctions and brick-and-mortar stores. It predicted that online sales will account for close to 60% of the secondhand luxury watch market by 2026.
The secondhand market tends to draw Generation X males and high-income millennials, with the latter particularly attracted by the social component.
“Many collectors exchange information over Reddit and other forums and show off their acquisitions on networks such as Instagram and TikTok,” the report said.
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