Audemars Piguet has Announced the Release of 3 New Pieces

Audemars Piguet has Announced the Release of 3 New Pieces

You could do a lot with 4% of the value of a Rolex. Yet that’s the average increase that hit the UK watch market in January this year while Rolex opted to leave its US pricing unchanged, according to a report by Barclays.

The decision has put the luxury timepiece market in a bit of a spin, with UK investors wondering why they’re having to dig so much deeper than those across the pond. To give an example, the price of a Rolex Air King rose from £6,250 in 2023 to £6,500 at the start of 2024. The price tag of the Yacht-Master II Yellow Gold also went up by £3000.

One journalist at Luxurylaunches did the maths. You could actually fly from London to NYC in business class, buy the Yacht-Master in question, spend a night at the Plaza Hotel and then fly back to London. And you’d have change left over.

The Royal Oak is a modern icon defined by a steel case, octagonal bezel, Tapisserie dial and integrated bracelet. It’s an example of the brand’s rare expertise and it belongs in any good timepiece collection.

The economics of timepiece price tags

Like most luxury watchmakers, Rolex usually raises its prices once a year in January to protect itself against inflation, currency fluctuations and other economic shake-ups. In 2022, Rolex increased prices twice in the UK as the pound sunk to a long-time low against the dollar.

As a rule of thumb, luxury brands tend to maintain stable price levels around the world, give or take. Speaking historically, the UK market is subjected to an average annual increase of 2.5% by Rolex while US dealers usually have to fork out around 2.2% more each year. So there’s not a lot in it. And while last year's price rises were pretty consistent across the map, this year saw Rolex playing favourites.

Examining Rolex’s secondary market

Rolex was approached by Robb Report but is yet to comment on the inconsistencies between the US and UK markets. In some ways, that makes it more fun. The rest of the industry has begun speculating on why the UK saw a heftier increase than the US (or, indeed, previous years). Many have interpreted the decision as a sign that Rolex anticipates a continued decline in the secondary market, while others think Rolex simply sees the UK market as stronger than the US.

Let’s start with the first rumour. In November 2023, Rolex prices dropped to their lowest point in two years on the secondary market, as reported by the Bloomberg Subdial Watch Index, a data hub of the 50 most-traded pre-owned timepieces. The index marks Rolex at £26,592 (down 32.3% in the last 24 months). 

The anomaly follows the unexpected surge in retail prices in 2022 as the pandemic eased. Prices have fallen since hitting those record highs, with some pre-owned Rolex watches down 42% compared to their highest point in April 2022. But it’s not just Rolex. Competitors such as Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe are feeling it, too. 

So what does that mean for you? If you bought a luxury watch in 2022, there’s a chance you’ve lost money on your investment piece. For now, anyway.

Not all doom and gloom for Rolex

The Crown takes the top 2 spots on the Subdial Watch Index and a number of its best-selling models have seen an increase in average price over the last 30 days.

We’re also taking the 4% increase as a sign that Rolex has high hopes for its UK market, in addition to being a smart safeguard against inflation.

Despite rising costs, the brand still manages to sell over $10.5 billion worth of watches every year, according to Morgan Stanley’s 2022 estimates.

For timepiece fans and investors, this could be the time to jump on the aftermarket bandwagon. After a long period of paying more for second-hand luxury watches, the secondary market is finally at an accessible low.


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