After a first quarter surge, driven mainly by rumours and then confirmations of discontinued watches, prices for the world’s hottest watches from the likes of Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet are starting to cool.
WatchPro interrogation of asking prices on Chrono24 shows how Audemars Piguet’s blue dial Royal Oak 15202ST, which will be discontinued next year, soared from around £40,000 at the beginning of the year to £80,000 in April.
Since then, asking prices have gone sideways and pre-owned pieces are being offered for £65,000. Some traders are still hoping to find customers for unworn models with a full set of box and papers for over £90,000 and in one case an eye-watering £109,000.
It is the same story for Patek Philippe’s Nautilus 5711/1A-010, which is discontinued this year.
Prices started to rise in January as rumours circulated that the unicorn watch would be axed, and continued to surge through the first quarter.
It was possible to buy a 5711 for under £60,000 on the secondary market at the beginning of the year, but fans of the Gerald Genta classic would not get much change out of £90,000 by February after the rumour was confirmed by Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern on January 25.
Since then, asking prices have flattened, and the typical pre-owned 5711 is offered at £80,000 while unworn full set models are still tagged at over £110,000.
Rolex has been less volatile, although more of its models are now selling at around double their recommended retail prices.
The new Submariner with black dial and green bezel (the Kermit) has been consistently offered on Chrono24 for over £15,000 since it launched in October last year.
Authorised dealers have to sell the watch for £7,650.
The all black Submariner with date, Ref. 126610LN, retailing for £7,300, has settled at around £11,400 asking price on the secondary market.
Hulks, which were not replaced in the slew of new Submariners launched last year, rose from around £12,400 to almost £16,000 from August to October, 2020, but have plateaued since.
While there are still irresistible profits to be made for flippers able to secure Rolex watches at recommended retail prices from authorised dealers, the market is far more challenging for people buying on the secondary market in the hope of future price growth.
This may explain why many traders are looking for “the next big thing” and are increasingly being attracted to low volume artisan independent watchmakers such as F. P. Journe, Philippe Dufour and Kari Voutilainen.