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TREND REPORT: The Saleroom reveals key auction trends

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The-Saleroom.com, which aggregates online auctions on its one website, has revealed to WatchPro a number of trends that it’s been noticing recently.

Here is its trend report:

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Trend 1: Popularity of Rolex and other Swiss brands has been a barometer for the success of watch auctions in the past 12 months

Among the categories proving particularly popular on thesaleroom.com in 2020 were watches. Rolex was the most searched-for word on the saleroom.com in 2020 – not just among watch brands but among all terms, after the number of searches for it rose by 14% year-on-year.

This was the first time Rolex has ever been the most searched-for term on thesaleroom.com and underscores the rising popularity of the brand at auction.

Other Swiss watch brands experienced a similar rise: searches for Patek Phillipe were up 13%, taking it from number 163 to 143 in the ranking of most searched-for terms; and searches for Breitling rose 15%, moving it up to number 69 from 88.

Examples of Rolex, the number one brand on thesaleroom.com:

This Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman”, was sold by Bertolami Fine Art on February 16 for £195,000

These Rolexes have also sold to online bidders in 2021:

Rolex £47,500

A Gentleman’s Rolex Explorer II Oyster 1972 stainless steel wrist watch, sold by British Bespoke Auctions for £18,000

A gentleman’s Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II, sold by Fellows Auctioneers for £11,000

A Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 18ct gentleman’s bracelet watch, sold by Gardiner Houlgate for £8,800

And the following watches were sold to online bidders in the last quarter of 2020:

A Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date “single red” Submariner, sold for £13,500 at Arthur Johnson

A rare 50th anniversary men’s stainless steel automatic bracelet watch, sold at Chiswick Auctions for £12,000

Trend 2: Big in Japan – Seiko outperforms

However, the stand-out performer was Seiko. The number of searches for the Japanese watch brand, which trend-setting collectors are deeming increasingly desirable, rose 28% in 2020, moving Seiko into the top 100 for the first time, where it reached the number 83 spot. In 2019 it was ranked 139 and three years before that in 2016 it barely made it into the top 500, scraping in at position 490.

You can expect Seiko to find even greater favour in the coming years as more collectors come to appreciate it. This will lead to a rise in demand and thus prices and as a result a greater willingness among owners to consign to auction because they can see their watches will achieve a higher price. It remains at the moment an affordable option for bidders looking for a pre-owned mechanical watch from a well-known brand.

At the moment, as well as individual lots, Seiko watches at auction are also to be found within a mixed lot of watches and these lots are often going well above the auction house’s estimate.

Examples:

These Seiko watches were sold in a mixed lot at Roseberys. They had an estimate of £200-£300, but reached a hammer price of £800

Another mixed lot of Seiko watches, sold by Charterhouse, was estimated to sell for £40-60. The hammer came down at £550

Seikos provide a different look compared with other classic marques, giving the auction buyer an opportunity to stand out from the crowd:

Examples: 

This Seiko Orange Monster Mark 1 sold at Sterling Vault for £340

Slide rule Seiko sold for £650 at David Duggleby

With Seiko you can get affordable diver’s watches:

Examples

Seiko Diver’s watch, sold at Arthur Johnson with hammer price of £270

Seiko ‘Turtle’ 150m diver’s watch, sold at Lacy Scott Knight for £400

And space watches:

Alongside the official NASA issue Omega Speedster on his right wrist, Col William Pogue wore a yellow-dial Seiko ref 6139 on the left arm during a Skylab 4 mission in 1973. It became known as the ‘Pogue’ and is a hit with collectors who like its space heritage:

This Seiko ‘Pogue’ chronograph sold at Lacy Scott Knight for £460

And a Seiko ‘Pogue’ chronograph achieved a hammer price of £820 at Laidlaw Auctioneers & Valuers

Trend 3: Elsewhere in the market, collectors can still find good value among lesser-known brands.

Lemania British Military issue gentleman’s wristwatch, was sold by Gardiner Houlgate at a hammer price of £980

And this British Military Royal Navy issue single push button chronograph watch reached hammer price of £1500 when it was sold by Gardiner Houlgate

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