(Bloomberg) -- Falling prices for Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet watches have dragged down an index of the most traded timepieces on the secondary market to pre-boom levels, according to UK-based reseller Subdial.
The Subdial50 Index, which tracks prices for the 50 most traded luxury watch references by value, has fallen to levels not seen since before an unprecedented surge in 2021 and early 2022.
The decline shows the most sought-after watches from the top Swiss brands haven’t been able to maintain lofty prices hit during the pandemic when cash-flush consumers stuck at home snapped up Patek Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks and Rolex Daytonas in a frenzied search for the next hot asset class.
Dominated by Rolex references including the Daytona ceramic bezel chronograph and GMT Master II, the Subdial50 Index has declined by almost 5% in 12 months and nearly 17% in half a year.
The falling demand coincided with declines in technology stocks and the crash in cryptocurrencies.
Secondary market prices for the Royal Oak “Jumbo” reference 15202 soared above £110,000 ($134,840) at their peak in March, more than doubling over 12 months. Now the watch is trading at around £70,000.
Yet even as prices for the most traded Rolex, AP and Patek references have fallen, values for many dress watches, so-called neo-vintage pieces from the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, as well as some models featuring complex complications are outperforming, according to Subdial.
For example, many references from classically styled German brand A. Lange & Sohne, owned by Richemont, have gained ground during the year, rising between 30% and 40%, Subdial data shows.
Prices have also gained for some models by IWC, another brand owned by Richemont known for its classic pilot watches and chronographs. Prices for the Big Pilot reference IW501902 climbed 20% in a year, buoyed by the release of the recent Top Gun film.
Finally, more intricate pieces featuring chronographs, perpetual calendars and other complications have outperformed. Patek Philippe’s 5070 chronograph is up 20% in a year.
“When a bubble starts to build around one thing, watch enthusiasts find another,” said Christy Davis, a Subdial co-founder. “Steel sports watches went mad but this isn’t crypto at the end of the day: it’s a market driven by people who are actually passionate about it and want to own the watch itself.”
(Updates with graphics showing price declines)
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