2020 Recap: WatchCharts and the Watch Market

Posted by Charles Tian on December 31, 2020

We made it! 2020 has been a crazy year for the watch world (and outside of it), filled with ups and downs and interesting developments. In this post, I’d like to share with you a recap of our year at WatchCharts, and discuss some changes we’ve seen in the and market as well. Most of all, I’d like to thank you for using our site and letting us be part of your watch collecting journey.

Site Updates

This year, we’ve made major strides in improving our service to you:

  • We added over 15,000 watches to our watch database, complete with the latest market prices and model specifications.
  • We launched mobile apps for iOS and Android, making it easier for you to browse watches for sale and get market pricing while on the go.
  • We introduced price ratings to try and help you make more educated buying decisions. The rating for each listing is an indication of how the price compares to other listings of the same watch on the market.

We also wanted to engage more with the community and hear what you guys had to say:

  • We launched an Instagram account, where we share cool watch photos and infographics every day.
  • We also created a server on Discord, where you can come chat about watches or share your collection.
  • Finally, we asked for your help in improving our site through several polls throughout the year, and talked to many of you face-to-face (virtually) to get your feedback and opinions.

Market Overview

The secondary watch market, like other financial markets, also saw crazy highs and lows this year. Prices for many watches tanked in March and April of this year, when the initial fear of COVID-19 swept through the world. However, things recovered (and even surpassed previous highs) over the second half of the year. The discontinuation of several Rolex models saw prices for these watches increase. Particularly, the Hulk has had a crazy year, with asking prices shooting up to $21K overnight.

Rolex Hulk Prices, 2020

Our overall Market Price Index for Rolex, which shows a moving average of the sales prices of Rolex watches on the private sales market for the past year, shows a positive trend, though proportionally much smaller than that of the Hulk.

Rolex Market Index, 2020

As another example, let’s look at the average sales price of watches on the secondary (private-sales) market. Based on our data, this average was $1,530 at the beginning of 2020, and $1,810 at the end of the year, or an increase of 18%.

While the secondary market looks quite strong, Swiss watch exports are still down significantly this year. According to the latest November 2020 reports from the Fédération de l’industrie horlogère (Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry), Switzerland has seen a 23.5% decline in watch exports in the first 11 months of the year.

Source

Exports are down double digits for every major region of the world, with the only exception being China, which increased 17.1% year over year. China also now leads for the first time as the biggest market for Swiss watch exports, overtaking the United States and Hong Kong and surpassing $2 billion CHF.

Needless to say, the results of this holiday season will be critical in seeing how brands round out the year and prepare for 2021.

Industry Changes

Things are also changing outside of the secondary market, at the brands themselves. This year, we saw some major milestones in both new watch releases and the ways that brands do business.

Rolex and Tudor changed their approach to how they release watches this year, with both the new Rolex Submariner and Tudor Black Bay Blue being available almost immediately after the watch was announced. Previously, interested customers would have to wait months for the dealers to start receiving the newly announced watches of the year.

The watch industry also played catch-up when it came to their digital sales strategy – though there’s quite a bit more work to be done. IWC opened their first virtual boutique, while Grand Seiko released an Instagram filter that uses augmented reality to show you how a watch would look on your wrist.

Source: NYTimes

Conclusion

We have many exciting things in store as we close out 2020 and start afresh in 2021. As always, we’d love to hear any feedback you might have. Please feel free to reach out to me at charles@watchcharts.com. Happy new year!

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