Tick-tock… has your time run out? Is it time to sell your designer watch? The answer is, probably. But before you stop reading this out of pure annoyance, let me tell you what’s going on in the secondary market. There are several trends sounding alarm bells, signaling it might be time to sell.
Historically timepieces have been cherished and collected for hundreds of years. Many have been passed down for several generations. It’s one of the key items that still seem to matter when an estate is being settled. Fights over “Who gets Dad’s watch,” have been legendary. I believe it’s due to their personal nature and sentimental value. Plus, it’s a small token you can keep with you rather than an antique car or entire baseball card collection. However, we are at a crossroads of sentimentality and practicality. The Apple Watches and smart phones have really taken the place of traditional watches and clocks. We have already started to see the toll this has taken on clock makers. However, watch manufacturers are still making the classics. Brands like Breitling, Omega, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Vacheron are all in full production, selling watches, status, fashion and style.
So why do I seem to think it’s time to sell? Because the precipice is in sight. Just as I have seen before, prices are peaking (watch prices have never been higher) and the new generation of buyers have little to no interest in vintage watches, let alone much of anything else in the tangible goods arena. There’s a whole generation that don’t have, and never had, a traditional watch. Or, if they do it’s a Star Trekked out version of what we fondly remember. This generation, unattached to watches and their history, are becoming the consumers of America.
So, let me recap. First, watches are commanding record prices on the secondary market. So, the resale market is high. Basically, buy low and sell high or wait for the bubble to burst. Second, the next generation will have no attachment or fond memories of classic watches when they become consumers, as they did not play with, have or know these watches. Making the forecast not so exciting.
Let me rattle off a list of things that also followed this treacherous trend. Hummel & LLadro figures, Lionel Trains, Fine China, Stamp Collections, GI Joes… No one thought these bubbles would burst, but here we are with piles of China and outdated stamps. I don’t want people to miss this market should my prediction be correct. I do know several younger watch collectors and fans. However, I don’t see that being enough to support the inflated resale value when floods of watches inevitably come to market from Boomer’s estates. So, if you are considering downsizing your collection, I would do it sooner rather than later.
This is a subject I don’t speak fondly of. I love clocks and watches and hate to see their pending future decline. But, I always remember, for most people, it’s not about the price they get, but the hope that the next owner will cherish, enjoy and make their own memories with that watch.