Luxury Watches - Value Over Time
While there is no publicly available information to fully answer the question about luxury watches and their attained value over the last 20 years, the research team was able to identify a few helpful findings that may shed light on fluctuations in luxury watch values and the elements that contribute to those fluctuations. Below is an outline of research strategies to better understand why the information requested is publicly unavailable, as well as a presentation of the findings.
- Social networks are positively affecting luxury watch ratings which, in turn, leads to higher market prices. As an example, Heuer Autavia 2446 is a luxury watch that was bought for $7,000 in 2010 and resold in 2017 for $200,000.
- The price increases in the high-end vintage watch market are sometimes driven by an increase in the value of a particular watch model which, in turn, manufacturers exploit in their marketing strategies.
- Current prices for some Rolex GMT-Master models are double the value they were a couple of years ago.
- Vintage watch collecting can be problematic in that seemingly imperceptible differences can detract thousands of dollars in value.
- During the 2008/2009 crisis, prices for some high-end vintage watch models such as Paul Newman's dropped by 30% to 40% but bounced back.
- The Patek 5711P retail price was $106,000 before it soared in 2016 to $177,000.
- In 2012, Richard Mille's Tourbillon RM052 was valued at $500,000. Today, it is sold for $681,000.
- In 2006, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was sold at its highest price, at that time, which was €133,808. In 2014, the watch was sold at its highest price of €184,189. However, in 2017, it was sold at prices around €60,000.
To start with the search, the research team decided to identify watches that cost over $100,000 and were on the market 20 years ago. To identify the watches, we used a Forbes' list of the most expensive watches. We then searched for information and data surrounding each of these watch models' increases in value today compared to 20 years ago (e.g., Jean Dunand Grande Complication, 1933 Patek Philippe, the Audemar Piguet Grand Complication). This strategy has been effective in that we were able to compare the prices of the Audemar Piguet Grand Complication watch today compared to 20 years ago. However, for the other identified watches, recent price information wasn't available. In some instances, the most recent price information dated back to 2010, possibly because the specific models are no longer on the market.
Next, we decided to continue the search by focusing on high-end tourbillon watches since these are the most expensive watches and are always priced above $100,000. The team searched for information on price fluctuation for these types of watches over the past 20 years. To find this information, we searched reports on global luxury watch news publications, such as Watchville and WatchTime. The available reports focused on irrelevant things such as changes in luxury watch manufacturing process, fluctuation in demand and an increasing number of manufacturers, but no reports focused on increases or decreases of watch values over time. Some reports described potential future increases in value over time for certain luxury watch brands such as Rolex, but this included watches below $100,000 (since the brand sells watches at prices well below $10,000). Also, the information focused on future value predictions rather than comparisons of past values.
Next, we searched statistical databases, looking for data on luxury watch value fluctuations over the past two decades, hoping to find statistical information on watches that are valued over $100,000. Sites we searched include Statista, marketplaces such as Chrono24 and TimeRating. This strategy failed because we were not able to find comprehensive historical information on watches valued over $100,000. Historical price fluctuations for some Rolex watches that are valued far below $100,000 was available but that was as close as the team was able to get.
As a last resort, we searched global consumer price index databases to find data on watch price fluctuations because the consumer price index data usually focuses on certain product types, including watches, and is usually available publicly. To find this data, we searched global financial sites such as the World Bank's open data catalog. Our search determined global value information does not focus on luxury watches in particular but rather focuses on overall CPI data. Information specific to watches was available for the US only.