Rolex rob corder
WATCHPRO editor-in-chief and co-founder Rob Corder.

CORDER’S COLUMN: The inverse correlation between supply and prices for Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe watches

Much of the commentary around prices on the secondary market has been about demand, but a key indicator of future price direction is the volume of listings on sites like Chrono24.

It doesn’t take a degree in economics to appreciate that an imbalance between supply and demand has caused the dramatic rise in prices for the hottest luxury watches on the secondary market.

Unable to buy certain models from Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet through authorised dealers, watch lovers and investors turned to sites like eBay and Chrono24 where they appeared to be plentiful — at a price.

These secondary market prices have become a barometer for the desirability of key collections including Royal Oaks, Nautiluses, Aquanauts, Submariners and Daytonas.

Desire reached fever pitch back in the first quarter of 2022, which drove prices to double, treble or even greater multiples of the official retail prices.

Those price rises could not go on forever, and we all know that the market turned in around March last year, and prices for the hottest, most hyped, watches have been falling ever since.

Much of the commentary around demand exceeding supply at authorised dealers, demand on the secondary market, and the ensuing rise and fall in prices.

Much less attention has been paid to the volume of supply on the secondary market, but this changed earlier this year when Florida-based vintage watch expert Eric Wind (www.windvintage) gave a presentation to the Horological Society of New York about the joys and perils of collecting.

In it, he presented data from Tortella & Sons, a data capture and analyst focused mainly on auction prices, showing the volume of listings on Chrono24 dating back to before the bubble blew up for waiting list watch prices.

The data shows a perfect inverse correlation between prices and the volume of listings on the after market platform.

Rolex audemars piguet listings on chrono24

It also shows that not all brands and watch collections have followed the same path.

The key families for Audemars Piguet, the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore, had a fairly consistent level of listings through 2020 and 2021, and only a slight dip as the price bubble inflated into 2022.

Audemars piguet royal oak 41mm steel

Since then, volumes of AP listings have shot up by over 50% and, while volumes have fallen since the start of this year for Rolex and Patek Philippe, they have remained high for AP.

This is both a cause and an effect for waiting lists coming down at official Audemars Piguet points of sale, as WatchPro reported yesterday. , and why the secondary market price for even the brand’s most desirable reference, the 41mm Royal Oak in steel, is now so close to its retail price.

New, and bought direct from AP, the watch costs £23,900. The last one to sell on Watchcollecting.com, an online auction site, sold in mint condition with box and papers for £28,250 in February.

Rolex patek philippe listings on chrono24

The number of listings on Chrono24 for Patek Philippe’s hot sports watches, the Nautilus and Aquanaut, has been falling since the end of last year, but remains well above the low point in the first quarter of last year.

Interestingly, Patek Philippe’s volumes are around half those of equivalent AP watches (if you consider an Aquanaut to be in any way equivalent to a Royal Oak).

This could just be because AP makes more of its bestsellers every year than Patek Philippe does, or it could be that more are being sold on the pre-owned market.

Rolex patek philippe aquanaut steel mens rubber strap watch p1500 18344 imagePrices for the Aquanaut and Nautilus have tanked since peaking in Q1 last year. A steel Aquanaut was trading for around £85,000 at the peak, but the price is now around £55,000, according to Chrono24, which Mr Wind says is about 20% higher than true market value.

A couple of ten-year-old steel Aquanauts sold on Watchcollecting.com for £34,000 in February and March, which rather supports Mr Wind’s theory of over-ambitious prices in Chrono24’s figures.

Nautilus is a little more difficult to analyse since the bestselling steel model with a blue dial (Ref. 5711) was discontinued and replaced with the white gold 5811.

The supply side data from Chrono24 includes all Nautilus models (there are dozens with different complications, colours and construction materials). The volume of listings followed the same pattern as all other hot sports watches and, as with the Aquanaut, is supply peaked earlier this year and has fallen since, so expect prices to start recovering.

Rolex rolex listings on chrono24

The combined number of listings for watches in Rolex’s Daytona and Submariner collections is double that of AP’s hot sports watches and four times that of Patek’s.

The steel on steel Daytona was the first watch, produced in industrial quantities, to trade at over-retail prices when it became hot property in around 2017.

The number of listings on Chrono24 was in decline by the end of 2020, at which point the Daytona was trading for around £20,000.

By February of 2022, the volume of listings had declined from 6,000 in 2020 to 4,300 and the price had shot up from £20,000 to £38,000, according to Chrono24 data.

Rolex cosmograph daytona m116500ln 0001 840x550As the number of listings rose on Chrono24 to over 10,000 by the start of 2023, the average advertised price dropped to below £30,000.

And those advertised listings look wildly optimistic when you notice that Watchcollecting.com sold a 2017 Daytona 116500LN (steel with black dial) for £18,450 in March.

When Eric Wind things about buying a pre-owned watch for this business, he keeps a close eye on the volume of listings on sites like Chrono24 as a key indicator of future price direction.

But he also has additional advice on how to interpret published prices on Chrono24.

As he told the Horological Society of New York:

“My general Chrono24 formulas are to take the lowest price on Chrono24 and multiply by 0.9-ish to get market value for modern Rolex and by 0.75 to 0.8 to get real value for other established or hot watches. When it comes to less desirable watches, I multiply by 0.6 to get real value. You should also supplement this by looking at recent auction results.”

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