After a year of price declines in the secondary market that caused more than a little angst in the luxury watch world, many insiders are predicting 2024 will be marked by greater stability and a return to buying and selling among passionate collectors as opposed to investment buyers.
“I feel like we’re going into an interesting year because now everything is sort of settled or settling,” says Silas Walton, founder and chief executive of A Collected Man, a London-based dealer that specializes in rare pieces by independent makers. “And there’s less speculation, which is fantastic.”
More from Robb Report
Below, eight watch experts—a mix of collectors, analysts, dealers and auctioneers—offer their predictions for the watch industry in 2024.
Giovanni Prigigallo, co-founder and head of business development and content at EveryWatch
“As people venture more into the secondary market and buy vintage pieces, we’re seeing more confidence in pre-owned and vintage watches. And I believe this will be a trend in ’24. People really are now hunting and looking for the hidden treasure that nobody knew about that’s super high value for money rather than just, ‘Oh, look at my new Daytona.’
“In ’24, there will be a significant interest towards really rare and collectible watches and the best conditions, going back to a buyer’s market and a real collector’s market. People will pay big premiums for the best examples, even though the market might have stabilized. I think we’ll have a very stable year throughout. I think we will see a lot of records, like we did last year. In a down market, we saw so many records for Daytonas, for F.P. Journes, for many other watches. We saw record prices, and that’s because collectors are still as lively as ever.
“The independents could have a really amazing year. And we’re only seeing the start of the interest towards them. Cartier and Piaget — they will keep doing great for this year. And, for example, Audemars Piguet, the vintage dress watches, the perpetual calendars, they are trending to extreme highs right now. And even Vacheron [Constantin] — they made skeletons and perpetuals. And people are going crazy for them. So I think we’ll go back to very well-made, distinguished, but smaller and simpler watches that usually are vintage. And that’s why, again, we’re seeing so many re-editions. Look at the Cartier Tank Normale. That was the release of the year [in 2023].”
Geoff Hess, Sotheby’s head of watches for the Americas, and founder of RollieFest, an invitation-only gathering of watch collectors
“Collectors will be less focused on the hyped steel sport watches that attracted so much attention in 2021 and 2022, where prices rose too strongly and too quickly. Now, you’ll see increased interest in collectors seeking rarity, provenance and narratives they can connect with.
“The theme I’m hearing is that the fun in collecting is back once again. We always talk about the thrill of the hunt and collectors can enjoy it with greater purchasing power than they’ve had in quite some time. The buyer has far more choices with his or her dollars than ever before and that creates a real opportunity. With this new increased purchasing power, it becomes a lot more fun.”
William Massena, founder of Massena Lab
“I am always afraid of predictions because looking back a few years later, I will most likely look like a blind fool. But the game is a bit exciting, like putting your chips on a roulette table.
“2024 will be the year Rolex goes wild. We clearly saw that Rolex was ready for fun in 2023 with the introduction of the ‘Emoji’ Day Date but also the ‘Balloons’ Oyster. The Crown was also seriously evolving when it presented a titanium watch and introduced some watches fitted with sapphire backs.
“I predict that 2024 will have even more risk-taking from Rolex with unexpected new watches but also new product categories that will surprise most observers. Historically, Rolex has been extremely focused and risk-averse, but I predict that things are about to change in the near to medium term. Let 2024 be the year Rolex goes wild!”
Cameron Barr, founder and CEO of Craft + Tailored
“2024 is the year of the gem-set bezel and dial. There, I said it! This year, we will see more collectors appreciating the true scarcity, craft, and statements made by these less practical and more ‘art-forward’ pieces.
“Last year I traveled extensively and wore a 1970s 25 mm square Piaget with a lapis dial and bezel during a lot of these trips — this is the exact type of watch that I expect to see more interest in this year. We, and men especially, are becoming more comfortable with smaller timepieces, less focus on utility and more expression through art, color and a renewed focus on true rarity vs. hype.”
Eric Ku, collector, dealer and co-founder of Loupe This
“My prediction is that it’s going to be a muted year for new releases. You can’t reinvent the wheel yearly and I think given the part of the economic cycle we are in now, I don’t expect any of the major brands to come out with crazy stuff. I’m thinking more derivative releases or variations on a theme—new dials, new case metals, etc.
“We’ve just come out of a record long period of unprecedented growth for the industry, with year after year of the brands constantly trying to one up themselves and their peers. I think 2024 will be a year for the industry to take pause and see if good times will be back again in 2025 and beyond.”
Lydia Winters and Vu Bui, founders of the This Watch Life podcast
“In 2023, we saw two exciting and innovative releases with complications being used for fun versus function. The positive receptions towards the Rolex Day Date Puzzle (words on the day wheel and emojis on the date wheel) and the Oris Pro Pilot X Kermit (with Kermit appearing instead of a 1 on the date wheel) showed the appetite for even more whimsy within a traditional industry.
“Our prediction is this trend will continue across watch brands and different types of complications in 2024 in a bigger way. New playful and whimsical uses of complications will bring unexpected surprise and joy into the watch industry.”
Yoni Ben-Yehuda, head of watches at Material Good
“My boldest prediction for 2024 (and beyond) is that collectors looking for colored dials will expand their search to include dial textures. We will evolve beyond just the color of a dial and into the material, texture, depth and three-dimensionality of it. Stone dials will continue to catch discerning collectors’ attention, and mother-of-pearl will become even more popular. Dials made from alternative materials, with deeper tactile textures, will become some of the most interesting and sought-after in the next few years.”
Oliver R. Müller, founder of LuxeConsult, a watch consultancy based near Lausanne, Switzerland
“We will see a 2024 slightly below the record levels of 2023, but still at a very high level on a long-term timeframe. Everyone will be a lot more cautious on launching new products or new retail initiatives. The positive trend of the small independent brands will persist, but only for the ones with a clear positioning and strategy.
“Collectors will be more cautious before spending substantial amounts of money and they want to be reassured that the value retention is there. There are too many new brands out there and a growing proportion lack differentiation factors.
“The main leading brands will continue to foster their market dominance and further gain market shares. And so will the leading niche and independent brands. The long-term trend of an exacerbated polarization will continue and the natural selection done by the market will eliminate the weaker brands.”
Best of Robb Report