Rolex makes more than 123 watch models — most of them are worth more used

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Rolex makes more than 123 watch models — most of them are worth more used
Rolex's new left-handed GMT-Master now trades for nearly double its $11,250 retail price.Rolex
  • The pre-owned luxury watch market has been declining for over a year, driven largely by the top three brands.
  • Even so, nearly three quarters of currently-made Rolex models are worth more pre-owned than new.
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Over the last few years, the luxury watch resale market focused on the top three Swiss brands, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and of course, Rolex.

In particular, demand for Audemars Piguet's Royal Oaks, Patek Philippe's Aquanauts, and Rolex's Daytonas (and a handful of other models) has outpaced the supply of new watches and sent prices soaring.

"The big three brands have been desirable for a long time," WatchCharts founder and CEO Charles Tian told Insider, noting that resale prices for several key models have been noticeably above their retail cost since at least 2017.

"The appreciation was at first quite gradual, then skyrocketed in 2021 and the beginning of 2022 due to low interest rates and rampant speculation," he added.

Now, as the overall watch resale market is coming back down to earth, the big three brands still command a premium on the pre-owned market over retail, per a new report from Morgan Stanley using WatchCharts data.

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In short, these top three brands (and specifically the top models made by these brands) are so hard to find at retailers that the only option to get the watch you want is to head over to the pre-owned market and pay the premium.

Rolex makes more than 123 watch models — most of them are worth more used
A man looks at Rolex watches in a window display in New York.Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Eighty-nine of Rolex's 123 current models included in the analysis are worth more used than new.

The report considers each unique variant (steel, gold, etc.) within the various collections (i.e., Datejust, Yacht Master, etc.) presently being made and sold via authorized dealers. The popular Daytona and SkyDweller collections were excluded for Rolex, since they were overhauled earlier this year, and data is still coming in.

Surprisingly, the model with the biggest relative increase in value is the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 with a turquoise dial that sells new for $6,100 but trades for more than twice that secondhand.

A left-handed GMT-Master (Ref. 126720VTNR) introduced last year now sells for nearly double its $11,250 retail price.

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On average, pre-owned Rolex watches cost 24% more than retail, less of a markup than pre-owned Patek Philippe, and more than that of Audemars Piguet.

Still, neither of those brands matches Rolex in terms of the proportion of their total current watch lineup fetching a higher price for pre-owned models than new ones: Only half of Patek Philippe's current models sell for more the second time around, as do about 70% of Audemars Piguet's current models.

"Rolex is the only brand that has achieved high desirability across a diverse catalog of model lines," Tian said.

By comparison, almost every model from the other major Swiss brands loses at least some value once it's sold at retail, which admittedly is what happens to most consumer goods — luxury or not.

Against the backdrop of sliding secondary market prices, these numbers show that even though the value has fallen significantly for the hottest models, demand remains well in excess of supply.

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