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Gen Zeders and Millennials are redefining the luxury watch market
By our News Team | 2023
These consumers still desire a luxury timepiece, but are driving a growing second-hand market because they see it as ‘more sustainable’.
The demand for luxury watches is booming around the world. This time, though, the centuries-old market is undergoing significant change that is partly being driven by the expectations of Millennial and newly wealthy Gen Z consumers.
This younger cohort of buyers is – perhaps surprisingly, given their often-stated sustainability credentials and views against over-consumption – still keen to buy expensive high-end watches from the likes of Rolex, Breitling, Cartier and others. But they want them to be second-hand, in a nod to those concerns.
Photo by Y. Leclercq via Wikimedia Commons
Going this ‘pre-loved’ route is a notable change for the luxury watch market, whose top brands have typically viewed second-hand buyers with suspicion because of an association with discounted, grey-market products.
“We cannot continue to consume the way we used to, especially luxury goods, because as an industry that expresses intrinsic values of timelessness, repairability [and] quality, it really should be a leader in this field,” said Fabienne Lupo, an authority on the luxury watch industry and recently the founder of ReLuxury, an event specialising in what she calls the ‘re-commerce’ of luxury and collectible objects.
We need to rethink the way we consume luxury goods
“I hope that it will make it simpler for people to understand that buying second-hand is actually being responsible, and a smarter solution for businesses,” Lupo told the website Luxury Society in an interview. “I really want to change the perspective on that and help them realise that we need to rethink the way we consume luxury goods.”
She emphasised that the craze for second-hand watches could be explained by the consumer choices of Millennials and Generation Z who are “very concerned about the future of the planet, and no longer want to buy new”.
According to a recent study by Deloitte, the global second-hand watch market is currently estimated to be worth US$21.7-billion and could reach $32-billion by 2030.
“Watch manufacturers typically have been worried about the secondary market as it was closely associated with the grey market, where discounted watches could be found,” Jon Cox, an industry analyst with the Kepler Cheuvreux financial services company, said in an interview with news agency AFP.
“However, they realise there is a halo effect of having strong secondary prices, enhancing the brand value of the primary watches.”
Cox added that second-hand watches were a “store of wealth”, being “worn and shown off for years but still retaining value to be resold so another watch can be bought in its place”.
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