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Which way now for for Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet prices?

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A comment from Chronext co-founder Philipp Man that prices for certain Patek Philippe and Rolex models have begun to dip on the secondary market has caused a flurry of competitors to question his data.

Extreme shortages at authorized dealers for steel sports watches such as Rolex’s Sea Dwellers and GMT Masters; along with Patek Philippe’s Nautilus and Aquanaut have driven up prices to well above retail prices mandated by the brands on platforms including Chrono24, Ebay, Watchbox and Chronext.

It certainly remains the case that prices on the secondary market are above retail, but the gap is narrowing on certain models, including one of 2018’s hottest watches, the Rolex GMT Master II with Pepsi bezel.

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“If I look at the Pepsi, which I sell every day on Chronext, it does not make sense that it sells above retail as extremely, and I can tell you that the premium above retail, the delta, is decreasing pretty fast. It is still quite significantly above retail, but you can see that gap is going to change pretty quickly. Even though it will remain trading at a premium. You can see a number of watches that were going for crazy prices but are now dropping back towards normal retail,” Mr Man describes.

 

Price on the secondary market since the Rolex GMT Master II with Pepsi bezel launched last year. (Data from Chrono24 based on sale prices for unworn watches).

 

Speculation is rife that the Rolex Submariner Hulk will be discontinued this year, which could be contributing to its rapidly rising price on the secondary market. (Data from Chrono24 based on sale prices for unworn watches).

 

The Rolex Batman (aka Black and Blue) is also in demand. (Data from Chrono24 based on sale prices for unworn watches).

 

Tim Stracke, CEO of Chrono24, says his vast well of data on buying and selling prices for luxury watches does not support the Chronext account. “We see the current discussion on price decreasing on Rolex sport models with interest. Our data does not match this observation. From our point of view the price development for especially the Rolex Pepsi is quite flat, pending around €16,000 /$18,000 over the last months.

“As global marketplace we mirror the market of approximately 3,000 dealers and 30,000 private sellers offering over 400,000 watches from around the world. This gives us an excellent overview on global trends within the luxury watch market. We currently track approximately 180 new/unworn Rolex GMT Master II “Pepsi” (126710 BLRO) starting at approximately €15,500 in the EU on Chrono24 and we don’t see any price decreasing here.”

 

Patek Philippe’s Calatrava Pilot Travel Time has seen its value on the secondary market decline since it launched last year. (Data from Chrono24 based on sale prices for unworn watches).

 

Waiting lists at authorized dealers for Patek Philippe’s steel Nautilus are heading towards a decade, if you can get on a list at all. The secondary market is the only way to jump the queue, so prices continue to rise. (Data from Chrono24 based on sale prices for unworn watches).

 

It could be that secondary market specialists are carefully selecting data that supports their own positions. In the case of Chrono24, there is no reason to doubt Mr Stracke’s assertion that prices have been stable for new/unworn Rolex GMT Master II “Pepsi” models over recent months. However, data from Chrono24 does show the price weakening since the model hit retail in August last month from a peak of $19,825 in September last year to $18,230 at the start of February this year, a drop of 7%. That is still almost double the retail price of $9650, but the delta is narrowing, as Mr Man suggests.

David Lee, General Manager of Watches at America-based StockX, which publishes data on rising and falling prices of luxury watches on the secondary market, agrees with Chrono24 that there has been little change to prices for the most popular Rolex models. “Prices are up between 2-6% for the most sought-after Rolex timepieces from the [pre-Christmas] holidays through today,” he adds.

Fellow American specialist in pre-owned Rolexes, Bob’s Watches, concurs. “I have to tell you that in North America right now you cannot go into any Rolex store and find any supply at all of their sports watches. There has been no supply and that is why there is still a healthy $10,000 premium,” the company’s CEO Paul Altieri told WatchPro.

 

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Jumbo in steel is still impossible to find at retail, so its secondary market value is soaring. (Data from Chrono24 based on sale prices for unworn watches).

 

James Hendy, Ebay’s head of authentication for luxury watches, says the picture is mixed. “We are seeing slight softness in the pre-2018 GMT Master II Pepsi, but overall strength in all other sports models,” he describes.

Online retailers may be unable to agree on whether secondary market prices for popular Rolex steel sports models are going up, down or sideways, but Wholesalr.io, a startup market for dealer-to-dealer wholesale trade, says that offer prices for certain models have dropped since the start of the year.

Although the sample size for data is dramatically smaller than for giants like Chrono24, Watchbox or Chronext, the dealer-to-dealer price does give an insight into which way retail prices may move in the coming weeks.

“We have noticed that the prices of some of the popular Rolex models are in fact falling on the wholesale side while others have been stable or even climbing,” says Avi Shenkar, founder of Wholesalr.io “For example, wholesale pricing of the Rolex GMT Master II Pepsi that was recently released has gone from around $19,000 a few months ago to a surprising $16,000 in the past few weeks. Same with the two-tone Root Beer,” he adds.

“The Rolex Sea-Dweller 43mm has seen a drop from around $15,000 to around $12,500. The two-tone Sky-Dwellers have also seen a drop from around $19,000 to around $16,000,” Mr Shenkar continues.

The black and blue Batman GMT and all green Hulk have seen prices rising in wholesale trades in the past few months and the white ceramic Daytona is also up on Wholesalr.io.

Models that have been stable include the Submariner, GMT, Datejust, and the Yacht-Master 40mm Rose Gold, according to Mr Shenkar.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder