Yesterday, I had the opportunity to browse the Watches of Switzerland store located in SoHo in New York City. I went to visit my friend Anthony who is a salesman there and he reported that business across the board has never been better. Pandemic, Rolex scarcity, and more interest in watches from younger buyers has fueled a boom in the industry.
Photo by Watches of Switzerland
While we browsed the impressive pre-owned selection within the store from Analog Shift, the case of four- and five-digit Submariners and Explorer exemplified why this hobby continues to be so intriguing. The older models stood in stark contrast to the shinier new watches throughout the showroom. Even the Tudor section, with a poster of David Beckham wearing the navy Black Bay 58, did not show any of the hottest models in the case. Grand Seiko, Omega, Cartier, Hublot and all the other brands the store sells appeared to be abundantly stocked. Anthony reported that sales of the non-Wilsdorf watches have been very good.
A shopper who proclaimed he was “new to the watch game” was getting the bracelet sized on his new IWC pilot’s watch. Two midwestern tourists waited outside the store wondering if they needed an appointment and were seeking to purchase a new steel Rolex sport watch. I didn’t have the heart to tell them they had zero chance. These younger and new watch enthusiasts are the future of the industry and it’s nice to witness such a powerful attraction to obtaining a new piece that might serve as their first statement piece, whatever that means these days.
While I won’t deny that there is a unique feeling that strapping on a classic Rolex gives the wearer, the difficulty in obtaining one (new at retail) opens the door for other brands. This is a golden opportunity for non-Rolex brands to really develop a new fanbase.
Photo by Analog Shift
The other factor at play is relative affordability. The older collector (one who has simply had a longer career) is more likely to have the means to pay the $14K asking price for a pre-owned Submariner in today’s marketplace. So that makes the younger buyer a perfect candidate to get into, say, an Omega Aqua Terra, which, at $5,700 retail, is loaded with tech, wrist presence and brand recognition. Will the newer more educated watch enthusiast champion a newfound recognition of brands that don’t possess The Crown?
Photo by Monochrome Watches
The truth is most people who aren’t into watches will never notice what anyone is wearing. But with mainstream fashion publications like GQ featuring very well-rounded coverage of brands that aren’t Rolex, there is an emerging possibility that more excellent watches will become more known to the general public.
My trip into Watches of Switzerland shows anecdotal evidence that the non-digital watch industry is headed into a very strong period of growth. Many of our readers are longtime watch collectors who have seen the ups and downs of the market. Let’s be sure to encourage and share our love of watches with newer fans. Rising the tides for the industry is good for everyone. And be sure to cherish your the Rolex models that are likely to be in your current collection as you may have already obtained what is unobtainable to many.