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The Rolex Explorer II and the Patek Philippe Nautilus Lead Declines in Grey Market Watch Sales

The Bloomberg Subdial Watch Index, which monitors the prices of the 50 most-traded watches by value in the secondary market, fell by 1.4 percent over the past month according to data from Subdial, a U.K.-based platform for selling and trading pre-owned watches.

The drop was primarily driven by price declines of the Rolex Explorer II (down 3.4 percent in a month to an average price of $9,875) which features a GMT hand and a fixed 24-hour bezel, and several models of the Patek Philippe Nautilus, according to Bloomberg. The Nautilus 5711/1A-010 with a blue dial decreased by 2.9 percent to $102,333 while the Nautilus Travel Time 5990 is down 2.7 percent to $130,882.

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According to the index, prices for pre-owned watches have dropped by about 26 percent in a year, while values surged during the pandemic in 2021 and into 2022 for Patek, Rolex, and Audemars Piguet timepieces. The month’s best performer? The Rolex Datejust 16233, a 36 mm watch in two-tone gold and steel, which climbed 3.3 percent to an average price of $6,396.

Just two months ago, the secondary market for luxury watches was able to outpace the stock market since 2018, as Robb Report covered. At that point, the market grew by a whopping 20 percent over the last four and a half years, according to a report from Boston Consulting Group, driven by the most popular secondhand watches including the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and the Rolex Daytona.

The report pointed out that there’s an influx of new, younger buyers who are less “personally attached” to their watches. These new collectors treat watch buying more like the stock market, trading in their models when they see a good opportunity.

During the past few years, secondary market retailers have risen to new prominence, while social media communities have formed to showcase watches and tout their value as investments. In addition to young influencers such as Mark Cho and Bryn Wallner, a new cast of TikTok watch collectors are helping to reach a whole new generation of potential enthusiasts. Whether these communities can continue push the market upward in absence of a global pandemic is an open question.

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