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Global Luxury Watches are in Dramatically Shortage!

Consumers are being scared off from buying luxury watches by inflation and a slowing economy, but it’s becoming harder to find those big-name timepieces than ever before, according to the UK’s biggest watch retailer, Rolex watches. 

While it’s been a struggle for a while to keep up with the demand for Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe watches, the supply is now dwindling for other brands too, including Zenith, Omega and IWC, Watches of Switzerland Group CEO Brian Duffy said in the report.

Three-quarters of the retailer’s sales, by value, are done through customers getting on waitlists because the timepieces they want aren’t available immediately, the report stated. Even though the company is able to fulfill some orders, the wait list continues to grow.

Watches of Switzerland is the U.K.’s top Rolex retailer and is among the largest in the U.S., with a market share of about 9%, according to the report. Among the most-wanted items for those on Duffy’s wait list are Zenith chronographs, IWC pilot watches and Omega’s James Bond Seamaster and Speedmaster models.

Sales of luxury watches surged during the pandemic as homebound consumers, flush with cash, snapped up Rolexes and other timepieces, sending prices for many secondhand models soaring. As a result, secondary market prices for the most sought-after Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe watches have started to decline as equities and cryptocurrency valuations tumbled. 

Watches of Switzerland’s in-store and online sales grew by 48% in the U.S. to 428 million pounds ($512 million) in fiscal year 2022, a number that Duffy said in the report could have been higher if there were more supply available. Meanwhile, watch prices have already risen by an average of 4% to 5% this year.

Some 25% to 30% of demand for luxury items was driven by the increment in cryptocurrencies. Those prices are falling now, even as prices for new luxury watches seem to be holding up.