Sustainable shoppers fuel Rolex resale price rises


Anybody paying attention to the watch market over the past five years does not need reminding how soaring demand for watches from Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet has created crippling shortages at authorised dealers and an overheated secondary market for flippers, investors and individuals who simply love the thrill of trading.

What may be of more interested to the educated WATCHPRO readers is how the secondary market for luxury watches fits into broader patterns in the retail market.

A Luxury Consignment Report from The RealReal (TRR) — the world’s largest online marketplace for authenticated, resale luxury goods — crunches data from the company’s 24 million members who have traded more 22 million items and reveals trends across brands across all sectors (apparel, jewellery, accessories, watches, etc), and assesses how people from different backgrounds behave.

As shoppers become more conscious consumers, they are turning to resale to shop their values. Broadly speaking they are buying fewer items overall but investing in the best possible brands.

Interestingly, that trend is not confined to younger people. All age groups have discovered resale and the secondary market.

Why resale is booming

40% of TRR shoppers are replacing fast fashion with resale and 43% shop resale because it’s more sustainable.

Primary market supply constraints for the likes of luxury watches are driving shoppers to explore the secondary market, with sold-out styles attracting 50% more new buyers than standard resale items.

“Resale has undeniably gone mainstream, and the luxury sector has one distinction that sets it apart: every demographic actively participates in luxury resale,” said Rati Sahi Levesque, President of The RealReal.

“From Gen Z to the Silent Generation, every demo increased its adoption of secondhand luxury in 2021, and nearly every brand saw rising resale value as a result.”

Highlights from TRR’s consignment trend report

  • The Items First-Timers Shop & Sell Are Universal. Gucci is the #1 brand and dresses are the #1 item sold by first-time consignors and bought by first-time shoppers.
  • Gen X is driving the generational closet swap. Gen X is selling vintage pieces forward to Millennials and Gen Z  shoppers discovering them for the first time.

  • It’s still your mother’s Tiffany. While the brand’s average sale price (ASP) rose 23% year-over-year (YoY), its heavy push to  appeal to a younger audience hasn’t shifted its No. 1 resale demo away from Gen X.

  • Vintage and unbranded jewelry sets new value records. Desire for unique pieces with character is driving vintage jewelry and watch resale value up to 2-3x more than current collections
  • Unbranded jewelry continues to rise in demand, with a $350,000 unbranded engagement ring becoming the most expensive item ever sold on TRR.

  • High-value sneakers see greatest resale value gains. ASP for high-value Nike sneakers grew +32% YoY, 2X more than any other brand. New Balance sneaker collabs top the list of what to sell now, with a resale value of up to 387%.


  1. Sorry but that’s a misdirect as 1: If buying from an AD how is one creating waste? The watch is already manufactured and 2: Judging from the type of person who is buying Rolex steel sports models I’d doubt they go beyond for sustainability. These are ego and or profit driven buyers who see these watches as either cash in the bank or self worth flexing ops
    But can’t get them at retail so are paying inflated grey market prices for pure look at me returns. Such a shame for the sub model that’s one of the best for purpose but rarely sees the light of day outside an Instagram wrist pose. I bet Rolex would rather see them on watermen rather than on social media.
    Enjoyed the article tho. Thanks Rob.


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