Luxury watch prices reached absurd highs in early 2022 as low interest rates from central banks, expansionary fiscal policy, and online shopping drove unprecedented competition for Rolex, Patek Philippe, and other watch brands. Core models such as the Rolex Daytona, Patek Philippe Nautilus, and Vacheron Constantin Overseas rose in value so fast that some watch dealers stopped listing price altogether. Now the tide is turning, and some deflation in watch values has been observed already..
The Rolex Daytona (116500LN) is the world's most wanted chronograph watch, and it peaked at over $50,000 in February 2022. The "steel Daytona" has a track record of creating waiting lists and insatiable demand that dates back to the 1990s. But given a 2022 retail price o $14,550, price surges of over 300 percent were unlike any Rolex sales trend of the past 30 years. As of July 2022, prices of the stainless steel Rolex Daytona have begun to correct from their frenzied heights of January and February. The formerly $50,000 white dial Daytona now trades between $35,000 and $39,000, and the black dial Daytona typically trades between $32,000 and $37,000.
Patek Philippe discontinued its celebrated Nautilus 5711 in 2021. Scarcity, looming cancellation, and already torrid pre-2021 demand for the model led to insanity. The new 2021 green dial 5711/1A-014 immediately surged from its retail price of approximately $35,000 to become a $500,000 used watch. Only months later, Patek Philippe launched the 5711/1A-018, a turquoise dialed limited edition of 170 pieces that was co-branded with Tiffany on its dial. As a rare Nautilus limited edition, the 5711 "Tiffany" immediately causes a frenzy, and year-end watch auctions witnessed a breathtaking $6.5 million yield for just a single Tiffany dialed Nautilus. That said, the standard blue dial Nautilus (5711/1A-010) and silver dial Nautilus (5711/1A-011) have witnessed price pullbacks of approximately 15-25 percent on preowned watch markets.
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas never enjoyed the fame or acclaim of rival sports watches from Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet. But the third generation Vacheron Overseas may be the best watch in its class among Swiss "Holy Trinity" watchmakers. In February of 2022, the core blue dial Overseas Self Winding 4500V/110A-B128 witnessed a price surge that peaked at $70,000 preowned. The boutique exclusive blue dial Overseas retails for $22,500, so a $47,500 pricing premium represented a level of buyer respect never previously accorded to Vacheron's sports watch.
Additional Overseas references including the brown dial 4500V/110A-B146, the silver dial 4500V/110A-B126, and the black dial 4500V/110A-B483 also realized prices never before paid for a Vacheron Constantin sports watch -- vintage reference 222 included. As of July 2022, the flagship blue dial Overseas trades between $50,000 and $55,000. While that continues to represent a sizable premium over pricing at retail, secondary market prices for the most marketable Vacheron Constantin watch have fallen 21-28 percent from their peak.
While most luxury watches have witnessed declines in value as of mid 2022, a handful of watches from smaller brands continue to realize robust gains. Certain watches from German watchmaker A Lange & Sohne have exhibited strong performance, and the Zeitwerk 140.029 in white gold now reliably trades in the $80,000 price range. This compares to $50-$55,000 commonly paid for used examples of that jump hour watch back in 2017.
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