François-Henry Bennahmias, the widely respected CEO of Audermars Piguet, says that the prices of watches sold on the secondary market give brands a chance to judge their state of health.
“The secondary market is like a mirror. It shows you who you are. It is like waking up in the morning, the mirror will show how good you look,” he told WatchPro today.
Watchfinder, the pre-owned luxury watch specialist owned by Richemont, is a perfect place to research how “good looking” brands are, not least because they treat all watches the same way in terms of authentication, cleaning and servicing before listing them for sale.
The website also helpfully gives its own price for pre-owned watches alongside the current full retail prices authorised dealers will charge. This promotes the fact that almost brand new watches in mint condition with boxes, papers and manufacturers’ warranties can often be bought at considerable discounts to RRPs.
In the opinion of Mr Bennahmias, the closer a watch is priced to its full retail value, the better the brand is doing in the eyes of customers – a simple case of supply and demand economics.
For Audermars Piguet, Rolex and Patek Philippe, the data from Watchfinder is encouraging. Many pre-owned watches, particularly steel sports models, are selling at above full retail prices.
A quick browse today found a 2018 Audermars Piguet Royal Oak in steel with date only advertised for £17,200, a full £2600 above retail price.
Patek Philippe’s Nautilus 5711/1A, one of the hottest watches of the decade, can be bought pre-owned for £44,750. If you could find one brand new at retail it would cost 50% less at £22,820.
Rolex’s ever-popular Submariner 116610 LV, also known as the Hulk, will cost £11,450 for a one year old used model, almost double the retail price of £6,600.
The mirror presents a more mixed picture for Richemont’s watchmakers.
A year old Cartier’s Tank Français in steel is selling at almost the same on Watchfinder at £2500 as it is priced at retail for £2800 when you consider the retail price includes 20% VAT sales tax.
Watchfinder only pays VAT on the profit margin for each sold watch.
A 2016 A Lange & Sőhne Lange 1 in platinum has a retail price new of £38,500, but Richemont-owned Watchfinder is selling it for £29,950.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s big launch of 2018, the Polaris, costs £9,350 at retail but a mint pre-owned model is being sold on Watchfinder for £7500.
IWC, another Richemont maison, can see its big launch of 2018, the anniversary Portugese, marked down from £6550 retail to £5750 on the site that is owned by the same parent company.
It is worth noting that the retail prices are considerably higher than consumers are paid for their watches because Watchfinder has to make its own profit on top, so the depreciation of the least popular models is considerably greater than Watchfinder’s on sale prices suggest.