What started as a niche market, the secondary luxury watch market has grown into one of today’s fastest-growing sectors in the industry. Driven by the growth of Ecommerce worldwide, the second-hand luxury watch market is worth an estimated US$5 billion in revenue, and growing in value by 5% YOY.
While many watch companies have attempted to diminish (or ignore) the impact of the grey-market, this multi-billion dollar market is now increasingly upsetting big brands, as the grey-market has fostered the creation of new watch enthusiasts and watch collectors who take pride in finding sought after watches, discontinued models and discounted prices.
Let's take a look at the driving forces of this new market and the many benefits it offers to watch collectors.
Benefit # 1 You Can Buy a Watch at a Fraction of the Retail Price
The majority of watches available on the secondary-market cost a fraction of the retail price. Some watches may even be listed for up to 60 or 70% of the initial price. Some collections from brands such as Piaget, Breitling, Tag Heuer among others, have historically been steeply discounted when purchased pre-owned.
Benefit # 2 You Can Find Unique Treasures
The secondary-market Is the optimum place to source discontinued, vintage, limited editions, and rare watches. The convenience of simply typing in a search engine a specific watch that you are looking for allows you to very quickly narrow down your search. The internet is filled with unique watches that would be nearly impossible to find at a brick-and-mortar store, or even at an auction house.
While it would be hard to figure out where to find, say, a Richard Mille RM 59-01 Yohan Blake Tourbillon, the internet has created a perfect space to enable collectors to hunt down some of the most unique treasures at affordable prices.
Benefit # 3 No Pressure to Buy
Online marketplaces have created environments in which one can research a watch without any pressure. The convenience of an online marketplace allows to easily research a watch, narrow down the best condition and price, and ultimately buy your next dream watch. Throughout this journey, there is no pressure from any sales-person trying to push you to swipe your credit card. This new way of buying watches enables a frictionless, pressure-free purchase.
Benefit # 4 Build A Community Of Watch Enthusiasts
Perhaps, one of the biggest shifts in the development of an online pre-owned watch marketplace is the creation of communities surrounding the industry. Watch aficionados have connected through their common interests, generating vast interest in horology throughout the world. This has fueled the watch industry with new waves of collectors, who embraced this major shift in the horological sphere.
Audemars Piguet CEO François Henry Bennahmias declared at SIHH in 2018 that the second-hand watch market could ultimately be worth 10 to 20 times more than the market for new. His prediction is a testament to the shift in collectors’ strategies to find the most sought-after watches from the comfort of their couch, all while educating themselves about upcoming trends, investment-grade watches, and teaching younger generations about the fascinating world of horology.