Prices for Rolex and Patek Philippe watches fall, Cartier shines: why Richemont’s brand outperforms as higher-end timepieces like Audemars Piguet are losing value on the secondary market

Prices for the most popular higher-end watches from Rolex and Patek Philippe kept falling over the past month, even as mid-tier timepieces from brands like Cartier outperformed.

The Bloomberg Subdial Watch Index, which tracks prices for the 50 most traded watches on the secondary market by value, declined by 1.1 per cent in a month.

After an unprecedented surge during the pandemic, prices for the most hyped pre-owned models from Rolex, Patek and Audemars Piguet began dropping sharply in March 2022 due to higher interest rates, slowing economies and the crash in cryptocurrency values.

The 1993 Rolex reference 16520 Zenith Daytona, which was awarded to US film director Paul Newman in 1995 when he became the oldest person to win the 24 hours of the Daytona Race, is displayed during Sotheby’s Luxury Week 2023 press preview in New York City on June 1. Photo: AFP

The index, which gives insight into demand for the most popular luxury used watches, has fallen about 14 per cent in a year.


The Rolex Daytona 16520, with a steel tachymeter bezel, was the best performer over 30 days, gaining 0.5 per cent to trade at an average price of US$30,976. But another Daytona, the 116528 in yellow gold, was the worst performer, falling seven per cent in a month to an average value of US$41,841.

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Despite falling values, current trading volumes remain elevated and the pace of price declines is slowing, according to Subdial, a UK-based used watch dealer and trading platform.

Cartier watches has declined by 2.5 per cent since the start of the year, but went up 1.6 per cent in the past month. Photo: Cartier

Even as prices for the big three Swiss brands continue to fall, some lower priced marques are showing signs of strength and stability.

An index compiled by Subdial comprising 25 of the most popular and frequently bought Cartier watches has declined 2.5 per cent since the start of the year, but gained 1.6 per cent in the last month. The performance of the Subdial Cartier Index, with watch prices averaging about £5,000 (US$6,338), compares to a 7.4 per cent drop for the Bloomberg Subdial Watch Index since the start of the year.

Cartier is owned by Swiss luxury goods conglomerate Richemont.

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Actor Shawn Yue Man-lok’s impressive vintage watch collection includes the Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700J with a khanjar dagger on the dial. Photo: @dailywatch/Instagram

Used watches from Rolex, Patek and AP in the Bloomberg Subdial Watch Index generally trade above their retail price.


By contrast, the watches in the Cartier index are more readily available to buy new in stores and sell for below their retail price on the secondary market, according to Subdial.


 Prices for Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe timepieces are falling amid slowing economies and the cryptocurrency crash – but Cartier seems to be showing more resilience