Grail Watch? WAIT! – Coronavirus Watch 8

Grail watch Rolex for sale (courtesy bernardwatch.com)

Prices for Vintage Watches Are Dropping. Here Are 13 Worth a Look, From Rolex to Patek Philippe, robbreport.com announces. Prematurely. This is not the time to dive into the pre-owned or new grail watch market. In fact . . .

More than a few dealers I’ve talked to have said that they’re doing around 80 percent of their pre-Coronageddon business. That’s because there are a bunch of watch buyers sitting at home with time on their hands, who haven’t fully grasped the awful reality of the situation.

As we pointed out in Coronavirus Watch 6: Watch Dealers Trumped? the President’s wishful thinking – America will start returning to work on Easter – has given millions of Americans false hope. The idea that we’re going to be sheltering in place through the entire summer, until everyone can be tested to see if they have immunity, is alien.

Right until it isn’t.

Rolex Daytona value courtesy chrono24.com

A fair number of moderately wealthy luxury watch buyers were using their grail watch as a currency hedge and investment vehicle, like real estate in the 70’s. When these owners realize that the recession/depression is here for the long haul, many of them will look to cash-in their chips, flooding the market with pre-owned pieces, bursting the way-over-retail grail watch bubble and driving down prices generally.

Robb reporter Carol Besler claims her people say it’s already happening.

Grail watch: A. Lange & Sohne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna ($135,500) (courtesy watchbox.com)

Dealers say they are lowering prices on some models, and more treasures are coming in by the day, so now may be the time to find the watch you’ve been looking for. We asked a few online dealers to tell us what’s happening in the world of pre-owned what’s to recommend a few of their coolest picks.

The article lists prices for these “coolest picks” but not the prices before Coronageddon. Her post is simply saying, hey look! These rare watches are for sale at this price. Which helps the named dealers no end but doesn’t tell you anything about price stability. Let me help.

A. Lange & Sohne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna

Check out the chart above. It’s the chrono24.com widget for the watch mentioned in her article: the A. Lange & Sohne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna. watchbox.com lists it for $139,500. A similar piece on chrono24.com is going for $148,620.

A. Lange & Sohne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna grail watch price over one month

Zooming in to the last month, we can more clearly see that the price dropped when Coronageddon hit bigly – then recovered. If I’m right, as time goes by, that squiggly line will drop hard.

[NOTE: the watchbox.com Lange mentioned in The Robb Report article – the lowest priced of six examples listed – is also on chrono24. Instructions on how to create these charts at the bottom of this post.]

Meanwhile, we’ve also pointed out that authorized dealers are sitting on new-in-box grail watch inventory – because they can. When 60 and 90-day invoices come due and there’s no end to Coronageddon, the need to generate cash will overcome their reticence.

Patek Philippe Nautilus

At first, you’ll see them shift the watches to the grey market, to avoid alienating manufacturers. But there’s a good chance they’ll get to a point where they won’t care. One way or another, they’ll put the pieces up for sale, probably through customer emails, social media, as a private buyer on chrono24 and the like (for discretion).

I don’t have a crystal ball. But I read the news and know a thing or two about psychology. We’re weeks away from the desperation that will drive the watch market. I’m thinking we have to get past President Trump’s Easter deadline (April 12, 2020) at the least.

Piaget Antiplano price over one month (courtesy chrono24.com)

If Coronageddon lasts a couple of weeks after that without any end in sight (until fall) – as many experts believe – things will get, as they say, gnarly.

Price drops (courtesy ifuckinglovewatches.com)

Carol Besler isn’t wrong – prices are already starting to soften, and grail watches are already showing up at pre-owned and gray market dealers. But this is the beginning of the end of the grail watch bubble.

The long overdue market correction for grail watches at $15k and up (especially up) is here. It will arrive in full force in a matter of week. Cash will be king. I’m saving mine for the Piaget Antiplano small seconds. I highly recommend you save yours for your grail watch.

Click here to read the latest Coronavirus Watch coverage

*To create a watch price tracker, create an account at Chrono24.com. Search for a watch. Hit the little heart to save it to your “watch collection.” Go to your collection and click on the piece. TTAW does not receive a commission on any links or sales.

7 comments

  1. Prices on new-in-box BLRO GMTs on Chrono 24 seem to have dropped a bit over the last couple of weeks, from mostly 19+ to mid 16s. Although that’s still probably 40% too high for what you’re getting. So slowly things seem to be adjusting. On the other hand, Breguet Type XXIIs have cratered, from 17-18 to high 13s, and this if for a 20k RRP item. It would be interesting to track a selection on the grey market over time and see what happens.

    As for how long this will last, I don’t think anyone knows. Trump’s hope that things will be back to more-or-less normal in 3 weeks is probably too optimistic nationwide but the truth is that nobody has enough information to accurately model this. The rule for these retailers is of course, that everyone holds out as long as possible (too long) and then shoves inventory on the market which creates a glut. Which is probably happening in the next month or so. Even if the economy snaps back on 4/12, it will take a while for a lot of the effects to work out of the system, and luxury retailer is a “tail of the whip” phenomenon. So I’m waiting.

  2. if things do get gnarly, then you won’t have to pay, you’ll be able to break into Ben Bridge (or some other store) and take it.

    1. I don’t think they’ll get THAT gnarly. And it ain’t my style. Nor, I suspect, yours.

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