Secondhand Luxury Watch Sales Set To Grow 75% Thanks to Interest From Gen Z and Millennials

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It might be true that luxury never goes out of style, but that doesn’t mean you always have to pay top dollar for it. Like their elders (whose values they often question), Gen Z and millennial consumers want a piece of the luxury market — as long as they can buy it online and score a deal while doing so.

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This is especially true of the pre-owned luxury watch market, which is expected to surge by 75% by the end of the current decade, according to a Bloomberg article that cited a new report from Deloitte.

That report, based on a survey of consumers and watch brand executives, estimates that annual sales of secondhand watches will nearly double to 35 billion Swiss francs ($35 billion) over the next several years. By that time, the pre-owned segment should account for nearly half of the overall luxury watch market.

“The growth potential for the pre-owned market is enormous,” Karine Szegedi, the head of consumer, fashion and luxury at Deloitte Switzerland, told Bloomberg.

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To take advantage of the anticipated boom, some watchmakers have used buyouts to expand their lineups of luxury timepieces. There also has been an expansion of secondhand sales platforms such as Chrono24, Subdial, Watchbox and Hodinkee.

Luxury Watches a Hot Commodity During COVID-19 Pandemic

As Bloomberg noted, interest in luxury watches skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, when consumers were locked down at home and found themselves flush with cash that couldn’t be spent on travel or restaurant dining. Prices for pre-owned Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet watches hit all-time highs before falling back down again earlier this year amid a broader decline in other investments such as stocks and cryptocurrency.

Interest in luxury brands doesn’t only apply to watches. The RealReal’s 2021 Luxury Resale study found that Gen Z was the demographic with the largest buyer and consignor growth, Modern Retail reported. Luxury brands that once ignored Gen Z are now actively courting the demographic.

“We already have a substantial number of Gen Z globally in the workforce,” Hana Ben-Shabat, CEO and founder of Gen Z Planet, told Modern Retail earlier this year. “They’re starting now to earn their own money and to make their own spending decisions, and that means that there’s going to be a pool and a wallet to tap into.”

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Research from Gen Z Planet found that Gen Z consumers’ disposable income reached an estimated $360 billion in 2021 — more than double what it was a few years earlier. Much of that spending power will be used for online purchases of secondhand luxury items. This is partly because of Gen Z’s comfort with online shopping, and partly because they are looking for the best brands at the cheapest prices, and those are almost always available online.

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“Our audience is so different than who you assume a traditional watch buyer to be,” Ben Clymer, founder of online watch news and retail website Hodinkee, said in the Deloitte report. “They’re much younger, they’re buying and selling watches much more often, and they care about pre-owned.”

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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