Eddie Bloom.

DISPATCHES: The return of realistic trading prices for Rolex and Patek Philippe

Stories from the front line of the secondary market.

As dealers, what we want to be doing daily is buying and selling watches. Whether prices are high or low is actually of little interest to us, as long as there’s plenty of confidence.

The best trading conditions are when the volume of transactions is high and prices are predictable.

Buyers often point the finger at grey market dealers for having “driven prices up” during the post-pandemic boom and making a fortune during that time.

However, the truth is that, among us longer standing dealers, we were no more responsible than anyone else for the spectacular rise and fall.

At the time, we paid market price for stock and made almost the same margins we’re making now. If anyone, it was the flippers who benefited more than anyone, not the dealers.

Many a dealer lost a fortune when prices started to fall, so I think we’re all quite grateful that we’re now outlaying an awful lot less to buy the same stock, with little chance of us getting caught out by price volatility.

“The most popular Rolex models in January and February were from the GMT and Oyster Perpetual ranges, with noticeably more significant demand for Pepsis in light of a clear lack of supply and a rumoured discontinuation on the horizon”

Eddie Bloom

Thankfully, 2024 seems to be off to a flying start, and we seem to be through the worst of the storm, with bucket loads of confidence coming back into the market and a few surprises from certain brands in terms of unexpected demand.

As usual, Rolex is topping the transactional volume scales, accounting for a whopping 84% of sales for Bloombar in both January and February of this year, with the runners up being Patek Philippe, JLC and then Cartier.

The most popular Rolex models sold were from the GMT and Oyster Perpetual ranges, with noticeably more significant demand for Pepsis in light of a clear lack of supply and a rumoured discontinuation on the horizon.

It’s been a good start for Patek Philippe transactions too. We’ve handled many sales of Nautilus, Aquanaut and non-sports references recently and there’s noticeable demand for the most value for money references such as the 5164A, 5205G and 5712/1A.

That kind of sums up the Patek Philippe market right now; there’s plenty of sellers and a plethora of buyers out there, but pricing must be realistic and only the best examples which are priced sensibly are actually selling.

If you’re reading this wondering what you should consider buying next, I’d say buy what you really want and buy with your heart.

In the mid-value range, the huge increase in sales and general demand of pre-owned Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai and Cartier proves that buyers are buying what they’ve really longed for, as opposed to buying something that might increase in value in the next 6 months, which is considerably more fun for us as dealers.

It’s always nicer to sell a watch to someone knowing they’re going to wear and enjoying it rather than just buying it to sell it for a profit in a few months time.

As usual, there have been relatively significant annual price increases across the board, which hasn’t seemed to have had much of a knock on effect with pre-owned prices.

In light of this, newer examples of pre-owned, current production references are now looking like pretty good value and can only fuel sales of pre-owned watches in the long run as the price gap between new and pre-owned increases.

A good example of this has to be a regular Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch which has just had its RRP raised to £6,600, with pre-owned examples readily available at £5,250 in Europe on Chrono24.

In years gone by, the sheer mention of a potential reference discontinuation got everyone very excited and Chrono24 prices started to inflate almost immediately however, that seems to have changed somewhat.

In the last few weeks we’ve come to the end of the production run for the Aquanaut 5164 and the Nautilus 5980, yet neither have jumped up in price whatsoever.

Maybe a clear sign of the times, and more importantly, a sign of a market where both sellers and buyers have had their fingers burnt previously and sensibility is prevailing once again.

Discontinuations are great as they make way for new exciting references, but time and time again people fail to realise just how many of these watches have been produced during their production run, and it doesn’t take that many of a reference to come onto the market in one go to flood a market and send prices crashing down to where they came from.

Hopefully, for the foreseeable, prices of the most commonly traded watches remain stable, allowing for a more accessible market for buyers on a budget and commodity watches showing a gentle and realistic return for long term investors.

Eddie Bloom is founder and owner of Bloombar Watches.

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