For this Watches & Pencils “Back to original prices”, our cartoonist Teun van Heerebeek used the ever-increasing watch prices as an inspiration to draw this time machine. Instead of setting a location and a time (which are the more common parameters of a time machine), you set the destination price of a watch brand and model and it will make you travel back to the corresponding year.
The (steep) price increases we see every year from watch brands make a lot of us watch enthousiasts suffer. All sorts of reasons (or excuses) are being used by brands to increase the retail prices, aside from the Swiss Francs / Euro “disconnect”. Increases that – in percentages – would make a lot of us very happy if we would get an annual raise like that from our employers.
We’ve just looked up the Rolex price list of 2006 for example and let’s compare it to 2015. A stainless steel Rolex Datejust reference 116200 on an Oyster bracelet had a list price of € 3205 Euro, including VAT. Let’s have a look at the price of this 116200 Datejust an on Oyster bracelet according to the official price list of February 2015: € 5850 Euro, including VAT. The Rolex Yachtmaster with platinum dial (reference 16622) was never a cheap watch, with a list price of €6985 Euro (including VAT) in 2006. Today, it has a price tag of € 10.900,- Euro, including VAT. Rolex is just an example as we have the price lists floating around in our office, but it is certainly not an exception. Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak 15202 had a list price in 2009 of $15,500 USD. Today, it retails at $22,700 USD.
However, as long as the consumers from parts in the world where there is no economical crisis (yet) happily spend their money on luxury items like timepieces, the rest of the world will have to deal with the greed and thus ever-rising prices. Although Europe was doing nicely in terms of sales for a number of brands, we assume that they know who actually made those purchases. Correct, the bus loads of tourists that are being dropped off at the large watch retailers to do their shopping for themselves and relatives back home.
We hope that the watch industry will come to its senses and acknowledge the fact that even though their watches are awesome and high in demand, there is ultimately a limit to the price tag. Now for the good part, the pre-owned watch market is bigger than ever. For example, Chrono24 offers over 71,000 pre-owned watches today (of +214,000 watches in total).