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Watch Industry Trends in 2024

June 3, 2024

A brief look at recent trends in watchmaking and some predictions for the future

In the consumer products industry, trends emerge, disappear, and sometimes reemerge. This cycle is especially evident in the fast-paced world of fashion. However, the principle even applies to luxury watchmaking, an industry built on words like heritage, tradition, and timelessness. In the last three years, integrated-bracelet sports watches soared in value and Tiffany blue had its time in the sun. Now, those two trends are in decline, but others, like a tendency toward smaller watches, are on the rise.

The Decline of Hype Watches

As 2021 rolled into 2022, the prices of so-called hype watches like the Nautilus, Royal Oak, and Daytona climbed astronomically. It was not unusual for the steel Nautilus 5711 to trade for well above $130,000. The price of a Daytona 116500LN soared to $40,000. Due to a confluence of global economic factors, the spring of 2022 saw a sharp descent in the resale values of the most expensive pieces. Of course, the aforementioned models have not quite fallen to their pre-2021 values. However, prices of pieces like the Nautilus, Royal Oak, and Daytona have continued to fall, albeit at a very gradual pace. In 2024, the performance of these once absurdly expensive models will depend on consumer demand for luxury goods. At the moment, a resurgence of demand seems unlikely.

Integrated-Bracelet Sports Watches

Judging by the diminished prices of the Royal Oak and Nautilus, the integrated-bracelet steel sports watch trend might seem to be declining. However, those two models still trade for well above retail. Although the height of the integrated-bracelet trend is behind us, the style is now a mainstay in the catalogs of most brands. Models like the Christopher Ward The Twelve and Tissot PRX remain popular in the affordable segment while the Royal Oak still carries Audemars Piguet on its back. Given sustained demand for the style, the integrated-bracelet sports watch is likely here to stay.

Tiffany-Blue Dials

Supercharged by the release of an unobtainable, highly limited Patek Philippe Nautilus Tiffany in December 2021, the popularity of Tiffany-Blue dials ballooned to an absurd size. Seeing an opportunity to make a quick buck, microbrands and big names like Tissot and Breitling alike began releasing watches in the iconic bluish-green color. Tiffany Blue is still certainly in demand. The pastel-blue Rolex Oyster Perpetual still sits well above the trading prices of any other OPs in current production. However, it is safe to say that we are well past the peak of the trend.

Smaller Cases

A short while ago, large watches were all the rage. Now, cases are getting smaller. A prime example is the Tudor Black Bay 54, a watch that came out of nowhere when Tudor released it in 2023. The model sized down the already 39mm Black Bay 58 to 37mm. The trend extends beyond the watch world to Hollywood; male celebrities have been seen toting watches as small as 20mm on the red carpet. The demand for smaller watches coincides with the recent success of vintage and neo-vintage designs and reissues. While fashion trends are often cyclical, implying an eventual return to large watches, case diameters will likely continue to trend toward more modest sizes for now.

Microbrand Success

Independent microbrands have become more and more mainstream. Thanks to social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube, a larger amount of information is available to consumers than ever before. Smaller brands have seen several successful releases, including Christopher Ward's The Twelve and Furlan Marri's hit mecha-quartz chronographs. The Christopher Ward Bel Canto, an innovative chiming watch, even won the Petite Aiguille prize at the GPHG. However, the microbrand market has become saturated. With thousands of brands competing for relatively few watch buyers, at some point this growth may become unsustainable. Spending on affordable watches is also tied to economic trends, including changes in inflation and the cost of living. A thinning out of microbrands may be possible in the coming years, leaving only the most successful companies standing.

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