COVID-19 – Watches in a Crisis
With the menace of Coronavirus sweeping across the world, the financial effects have been felt in almost every industry. The airline industry, worldwide sport, the hospitality sector, and countless more fields have been, and will continue to be ravaged by closures, lockdowns and consumer fear.
While it is true that virtually no business is ‘disaster-proof’, the luxury pre-owned watch market is, perhaps, a little more robust than many.
If (pre-owned) luxury watches are to be taken as an asset class, then it is without doubt that they have been impacted far less than many other assets, such as global stocks, oil, cryptocurrency and gold.
- The S&P is down nearly 30% since February 20th, wiping billions off the value of global powerhouses.
- Oil prices have dropped massively from nearly $60 per barrel, to under $30 in the last month. This has sent reverberations throughout the OPEC states, and is sure to have ramifications far beyond just financial losses in the coming weeks and months.
- The price of gold has reversed its relentless growth since the start of the year, and endured some sizeable drops in recent weeks.
- The trendy world of cryptocurrency, so long a favourite of millennials and technophiles, has suffered dramatically, with billions wiped out in a matter of days. The price of Bitcoin – the de-facto flag-bearer of the crypto space – is virtually 50% down on prices a month ago, with few signs of an immediate recovery.
Now, while there is no index, per-se, of watch values, nor do watches have a universal, agreed-upon price around the world, there is general market value that is adhered to. And, for the most part, the stable, “steady-Eddie” models that have been ‘cashable’ and ‘safe’ remain so, with little impact on valuations. Models such as the Rolex Submariner, Daytona, GMT and Datejust, for example, have remained largely unaffected by price, and the closure of the Rolex factories should serve to shield the value of watches currently on the market.
More niche models, and those in a higher-bracket price range may feel the pinch, but these models would not necessarily be considered collectable or asset-worthy to begin with.
The global watch market does indeed face several sizeable challenges, as we have seen recently, and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The cancellation of major international watch exhibitions and auctions, restrictions on global travel, and the closure of non-essential retail businesses will all impact on the ability to buy, sell or trade luxury watches significantly. But the inherent value of the watches themselves is not likely to change much, if at all.
There are, however, certainly models that will suffer in price due to the lockdown and general consumer malaise. Namely, these will be models that go for ‘overs’ – those watches that have commanded a selling price well over the RRP. Models such as the Patek Nautilus 5711 and the Rolex Daytona 116500LN, to name just a couple, may find the price will soften somewhat, as there may not continue to be an appetite to pay over double the retail price.
Whilst we can speculate and make educated guesses about market goings and comings, these are certainly unprecedented times, and there are likely to continue to be upheavals and changes that’ll impact on many aspects of our lives, not just on the value of the watch on our wrist.
Bottom line, stay safe, be well, and don’t spend too much time worrying about whether your watch has grown or dropped in value, as there are far more important things going on in the world right now.