TTAW Watch Market Index

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Chronograph 42

If you read this site you already know the watch market is moving, but not how much nor how fast. Part of this difficulty stems from the unknowables – where the equity markets are going, how long and deep the current downturn is going to be, how shut down everything will stay through the spring, etc. But we also lack good data . . .

Price discovery is hard. The nature of the watch market makes it harder. Limited editions, variations, unknown amounts of inventory, and a very fragmented secondary market all make settling on what the “correct” price should be difficult. Unless you have the kind of relationship with a dealer to get ask quotes for a variety of timepieces, putting numbers to the market is a fool’s errand.

This was driven home when TTAW posted its ninth COVID update. The prices from Chrono24’s estimated worth looked a little off to me, as I have been following some of those models with an eye to picking one up if it hits my price point.

I went to the marketplace, and sure enough, in every case I cared to look at, the lowest priced sellers were considerably under even the low end of Chrono24’s  graphs:

The watch market says Rolex prices are going down . . . slowly

There are a few speculative reasons why this would be:

  • The graph doesn’t represent what I assume it does (asking price band).
  • Those sellers aren’t actually selling the pieces at that price. If this were true, Chrono24 would be enabling bait-and-switches by their “Verified Dealers”. I find this hard to believe.
  • The watch tracker lags real time data. Possible, but it would have to be pretty far behind; I have been seeing under $17k BLROs for several weeks now.
  • Actual transaction prices are higher than asking prices. Another one that is hard to believe – why would you pay MORE for a product, from a verified dealer, brand-new-in-box?
  • Everything is bullshit, why are we even trying?

So if we can’t trust the Chrono24 information, how can we accurately track the market? Given the limited number of public transactions and the untrustworthiness of listed prices, it’s going to be hard. Unfortunately, we don’t have something like Bring a Trailer which is a relatively large and liquid market several car models and publishes graphs like this:

Bring a Trailer’s auction results page for the Porsche 996-generation 911

In the absence of this, I am going to do a little tracking myself. Let’s select a few watches that we think would be representative of the overall market, and I will track several data points over time:

  • Mean of lowest three asking prices on Chrono24 from verified dealers in the United States showing availability
  • Bob’s Watches price
  • Any completed eBay auctions or failed auctions due to RNM

What watches would make sense to track? We would want watches that:

  • Are still available from their manufacturer
  • Are new in box, remove any pricing effects due to condition
  • Have decent availability, so not something like the Moonwatch 321 in steel where there’s not enough inventory for the market to have found equilibrium

With that in mind, here is the list that we’re going to track. Suggestions are of course, always welcome.

  • Bell & Ross BR03-92 Ceramic (BR0392-BL-CE)
  • Breitling Navitimer 1 43mm (AB0121211)
  • Cartier Tank Solo Steel (W5200028)
  • IWC Portofino 40mm (IW3565)
  • Omega Moonwatch Professional 42mm, Steel (311.30.42.30.01.005)
  • Panerai Luminor Base Logo (PAM00774)
  • Rolex Explorer I (214270)
  • Rolex GMT-Master II “Pepsi”, Steel (126710BLRO)
  • Rolex Daytona “Panda”, Steel (116500LN), for our holiest-of-holies grail watch
  • Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight, Steel on Leather (79030N-0002)

I’ll update the TTAW Watch Market Index here every week.

6 thoughts on “TTAW Watch Market Index”

  1. One need only look at watch forums to see that places like Chrono24, Authenticwatches.com, etc., are not all that they claim to be. So yes, I would be leery of the pricing.

    With that said, in the L.A. area, where I live, they just announced the quarantine will continue through May 15. This is a farce, as they obviously intend to extend it past that date, but “can’t“ because they don’t want to alarm the populace. At some point, the prices will have no where to go but down. And I mean DOWN.

    1. Pretty much. A lot of “data” people get is anecdotal from their dealers or otherwise which is a) instantly suspect given the source, and b) incomplete and piecemeal since so many transactions are really private.

      And yes, things are going to get worse before they get better. The market dislocation *may* be behind us (but I wouldn’t bet on it quite yet) but the demand-shock pain is just beginning. We’re nowhere near capitulation yet.

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