Chrono24 – Useful Idiots?

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I don’t spend a lot of time reading Chrono24 Magazine or the watch press generally. While I enjoy watches for the same reasons as many others do – admiration for their design and engineering – I find the cottage industry of blogs and sites that’s sprung up to guzzle at the trough of marketing dollars both boring and offensive. Not to mention writing styles that range from insufferably pretentious to pretentiously insufferable. That said . . .

Reading about watches is like reading about cars, or sports, or guns: something to pass the time. A momentary diversion on the road to the grave, if you will. No harm done, we all go on with our lives, and everyone is a few clicks richer.

This is a fine illusion – right up until the moment our esteemed editor sends me an article like Market Performance Is now the time to buy or sell? And then I lose my mind all over again.

Chrono24 Rolex GMT listings

I’ll save you the click. Fresh-faced Chrono24 writer Tom Mulraney trots out stats and charts and theories and analysis and . . . leaves the question unanswered. Why? The “magazine” has a vested interest in answering “yes.” Lest we forget, Chrono24 makes money when people buy or sell watches. Things must be really bad to leave readers hanging.

Sigh. For a moment there I thought I might have found one honest broker in this whole morass of self-dealing, and I, the Diogenes of horology, could finally put down my lantern. But no, Chrono24 doesn’t hold themselves accountable for their “reporting” on the traditional watch market. Here they are in April:

Chrono24 Patek Philippe listing

Prices for iconic models that were in high demand pre-coronavirus, such as the Rolex Pepsi and the Patek Philippe Nautilus, have remained steady.

This is likely to continue, particularly if there are concerns that new supply of these key models to the market will be further constrained by manufacturer shutdowns. Those who have the available funds might also see this as an opportunity to acquire their long-coveted grail watch. 

And here they are in May:

On the flip side, a number of popular models have recorded drops in value over the past month or two. Again, there are very few surprises on this list.

Rolex Daytona 116500LN
Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi 126710BLRO
Patek Nautilus 5711/1A-010

It’s important to keep a few things in mind here. To start, many already thought that prices for some of these models (the Nautilus 5711 and Daytona 116500LN, in particular) were overinflated pre-crisis and that a correction was inevitable.

Chrono24 Rolex Daytona listings

Oh gee thanks! These models were overpriced? There was a bubble? What changed between April and May to move opinion from “will remain steady” to “overpriced”? It surely couldn’t have been Coronageddon (which some people flagged back in January).

Again, where is the accountability? Chrono24’s prediction – that pricing would remain steady – was proved wrong by their own data. That happens. And when it does happen it’s best to come clean. In fact, readers like it when [self-appointed] experts admit their mistakes. Their trust increases.

That’s how we roll here at TTAW. When we get it wrong, the comments section awaits! And we’ll acknowledge our mistake in the article in question. But there’s a larger (if entirely related) issue in play: the horological press’ hidden agenda.

Chrono24 magazine

The mainstream watch press covers the industry the same way the sports press covers the NBA, or Garrison Keillor reported on Lake Wobegone. They are cheerleaders and eternal optimists. Hence the breathless coverage of the watch industry’s latest shiny object and their endless desire to confuse watches with an investment.

The horological press’ approach to watches is nothing less than magical thinking. They imbue watches with magical properties to increase the products’ importance. Their importance. For some, the clubby, sycophantic coverage sucks all the fun – the drama, the excitement – right out of the hobby.

So, gentle reader, when you see articles like the Chrono24 “advice,” remind yourself that the watch press is in the business of selling watches. We here at TTAW circle that rabbit hole but we’ll never fall in. We pursue the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If not us, who?

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