A few months ago, we analyzed the pros and cons of buying a watch from a pre-owned dealer versus a private seller. In addition to this, we also shared some interesting statistics: in general, a watch is 13% more expensive when purchased from a secondary market dealer compared to a private seller.
Naturally, a follow-up question that interested many readers was the comparison between retail and secondary market prices. In this article, we’ll provide an answer by comparing these prices for over 500 popular modern watches.
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Watches that trade above retail
Conventionally, it’s well-known that the vast majority of watches trade below retail on the secondary market. Yet, there are certain exceptions driven by limited availability, strong secondary market demand, or a mixture of both factors.
Listed below are the top five watches that we track which command the highest secondary market premiums. Note that the retail price is an estimate as prices differ between regions.
|Watch||Retail Price||Market Average||% Above Retail|
|Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A||$33,230||$101,545||205.6%|
|Omega Speedmaster 50th Anniversary Silver Snoopy 310.32.42.50.02.001||$10,560||$28,903||173.7%|
|Rolex Daytona 116500||$12,225||$30,177||146.8%|
|Patek Philippe Nautilus 5712/1A||$40,230||$89,804||123.2%|
|Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726/1A||$43,340||$95,855||121.2%|
You can see the full list of watches that trade over retail here, updated daily.
All of these watches trade for easily double their retail price, with the stainless steel Patek 5711 trading at more than triple that. Patek easily dominates the list, with the Rolex Daytona and 50th anniversary Omega Silver Snoopy also making an appearance.
Overall, 14% of the watches in our dataset trade above retail, while 86% trade at or below retail.
The chart below shows the results broken down by brand.
Rolex and Patek Philippe blow the competition clearly out of the water, with 64% and 47% of their models that we track trading above retail respectively. Audemars Piguet is an honorable mention at 33%, though the brand fails to have any real success on the secondary market outside of the Royal Oak collection. Also notable is that despite tracking over 90 Omega models, only 4 of them trade above retail.
Average Appreciation/Depreciation by Brand
Of course, seeing which brands trade above retail is not the whole story – there’s also the question of how much.
We answer this question in the chart below, which depicts the average appreciation/depreciation of watches on the secondary market by brand. The values are relative to the retail price. For example, a value of 1.1 means that the brand’s watches trade for 10% above retail on average, while a value of 0.5 means that the brand’s watches trade for half the retail price on average. A value of 1.0 means the watches are generally the same price on the secondary market as compared to the retail price.
Once again, we see that Patek Philippe and Rolex are way ahead of the pack. They are the only two brands whose watches trade above retail on average, with an average appreciation of 22% and 14% respectively. Audemars Piguet comes in at a comfortable third, with their watches trading at 2% below retail on average.
For most brands though, you risk significant depreciation when purchasing retail. The average watch that trades below retail loses 35% of its value on the secondary market. Even considering the discounts that you can typically expect to get from authorized dealers, you’ll stand to lose a solid chunk of value from depreciation.
This depreciation is even more exaggerated when its comes to entry-level brands, with watches from Longines, Hamilton, Tissot, and others in this price range only retaining around 50% of retail price on the secondary market. In these cases, buying from private sales forums is especially compelling, as these watches also have some of the higher markups from secondary market dealers.
The takeaway? With some exceptions, unless you’re buying a new Rolex, Patek, or Royal Oak, don’t expect to get anywhere near the retail price when you decide to sell that watch on the secondary market. If you view watches as a sunk cost and don’t expect to ever see that money again, then that’s not a problem. But if you take value retention into consideration when deciding your next purchase, then the secondary market is the way to go – unless you are able to get one of those highly coveted Rolexes or Pateks at retail.
A full list of watches we track that trade above retail is available here for our Professional members. Sign up for a 7-day free trial to see the list, as well as other lists of top performing watches and advanced watch market analysis.