Watches & Wonders 2024 kicks on on Tuesday 9th April | WatchPro


A stable market, with dry powder in anticipation of Watches & Wonders

The Bloomberg Subdial Watch Index (BSWI - GBP) was relatively flat, down 0.6% since last month. There are a few winners - notably the Rolex Submariner Starbucks 126610LV and GMT-Master II Pepsi 126710BLRO, which saw a 30-day price increase of 3.2% and 3.3% respectively. Traded volume for the Starbucks fell from its 24-month high in February, but was still up 23% across 12 months. Conversely, traded volume for the Pepsi has continued to fall from its 24-month high in January this year, and tracks negative 4% across 12 months.

On the flipside, the Rolex Daytona 16520 was down 3.2%, as was its yellow gold cousin, the ref. 116528 at 2.6%. Traded volumes for both were up, with the former more so than the latter.

It’s been a fairly quiet month, but it’s a sign that buyers are keeping their powder dry for the main event - Watches and Wonders.

Watches & Wonders 2024

Watches & Wonders sees a huge portion of the watch industry descend on Geneva. The headliners are Rolex and Patek Philippe, as well as Richemont and LVMH brands. Larger independent watchmakers are also well-represented, such as Laurent Ferrier and H. Moser & Cie. Even though Audemars Piguet and Swatch Group are notably absent, they often time a few of their releases to coincide with the huge media frenzy around W&W.

When the doors at the Palexpo Convention Centre open on the morning of the 9th of April, we’ll see all the novelties being released. Almost immediately, listings for these watches will pop up on resale platforms, with the sellers promising delivery shortly.

Watches & Wonders sees a huge portion of the watch industry descend on Geneva | WatchPro

But how are these watches actually priced on the secondary market once they appear? There’s inevitably a huge premium on the very first listings, but this generally disappears fairly quickly once a model becomes liquid. We define this as the point at which a model has enough availability to be considered as actively traded. The time between release and liquidity varies, and we’ll explore whether this period of time makes a difference in the secondary price one year onwards.

Rolex’s GMT-Master II 126720VTNR “Sprite” was released at W&W in 2022 | HODINKEE

Rolex’s GMT-Master II 126720VTNR “Sprite” was released at W&W in 2022, but appeared on the market and became liquid in May 2022. Initially priced at £55,000, the price rapidly dropped and was down to £19,000 a year later. Today, it’s 73% down from the peak, at £14,000.

The following W&W saw the announcement of the Daytona 126500LN. It arrived on the market and became liquid in November, where its price rose to £40,000. It’s now down to £24,000 - a reduction of 40% from its peak. We expect that the Daytona suffered less than the Sprite because it was released in 2023 - after an entire year of secondary market price declines. It makes sense that there would be less optimism about a new Rolex launch against a background of prices falling.

Patek Philippe’s releases tell a similar story, with the Calatrava 5226G-001 becoming available in May and liquid in August of 2022. It peaked at £78,000, then fell to £43,000 a year later. Today, it’s down 57% from its peak to £33,000. These examples show the typical journey of hype and interest that new watches receive, but what about watches that are liquid much closer to the launch date?

Tudor is known for making watches available as soon as they’re announced. For example, the Black Bay Pro ref. 79470 was announced at W&W 2022, and was first seen on the market a few days later at the beginning of April. It became liquid shortly after, towards the end of the month, trading for around £4,300. One year later, it was trading for £2,900. This represents a decline of 35%. Today, it trades for £2,500 - a decline of 43%. This is lower than the Rolex Daytona and GMT-Master Sprite, but what about a comparison with a watch closer to the Tudor’s price range?

The Cartier Tank Must WSTA0072.

The Cartier Tank Must ref. WSTA0072 launched at W&W in 2022, retailing at £3,300 versus the Tudor’s £3,640. Unlike the Tudor, it was made available in September, only becoming liquid in December 2022. It traded for £3,200 one year onwards, and for £2,600 today. This represents a price decline of 38% and 42% respectively - virtually the same as the Tudor Black Bay Pro.

Looking closer at the numbers, we see that the Cartier declined considerably faster than the Tudor. A potential explanation is that the immediate availability of the Black Bay Pro meant that interested clients could buy them (either new or pre-owned), share them on social media and keep interest in the model high. Conversely, the delay between announcement and release meant that many potential customers would’ve simply forgotten about the watch in that time.

Looking closer at the numbers, we see that the Cartier declined considerably faster than the Tudor.

This year, we’re expecting the new launches to follow the trend. As excitement builds over the course of W&W, prices for the newest releases will skyrocket. Once they become more widely available, however, expect pre-owned prices for all but the most hyped releases to fall significantly over the next few months.

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