The younger generation is driving a boom in demand for pre-owned luxury watches – fuelled equally by social media and the desire for sustainability – according to an expert Dublin dealer.
And thanks to a raft of Tik Tok influencers, they are investing in timepieces which are no longer being manufactured or depreciating in value.
Dublin-based Swiss Watch Club has seen a surge in demand for premium used brands such as Rolex, Omega, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe – many starting at €10,000.
The company is making its debut appearance at the aptly-named ‘Timeless’ – the Irish Antique Dealers’ Fair – at the RDS from September 15-17.
“We now have customers in their 20s, who have secured a good job, sometimes in the tech world, and are rewarding themselves with a timepiece in the same way they would a car,” said Charlie Cullen, founder of Swiss Watch Club.
“They do that to mark a promotion or a first job or a milestone in their careers.
“And they are doing it because the watches are keeping their value, whatever you spend on them.
“If you resell them in a couple of years’ time, you are getting back what you pay for them, if not more. So it is seen as a good investment.”
Mr Cullen claims the pre-owned luxury watch market is matching – and in many instances outperforming – the new market.
He will be bringing a Rolex Model Reference 2811 Vintage Chronograph Circa 1932, worth €35,000, to the show, and attendees will also be able to purchase a 1940s Vintage Oyster for €4,000.
Customers in their 20s and 30s are displaying a growing appreciation and knowledge in the expert craftsmanship and history of older versions and vintage timepieces, according to Charlie.
Buyers are being influenced by old-school watch dealers such as John Buckley @tuscanyrose who broadcast the characters he comes across in his work to his 855k followers.
Accounts such as @nolandanielwhite and @mikenouveau have also amassed significant followings for their TikTok breakdowns into watch creation and history.
On Instagram, the likes of @teddybaldassarre, @swisswatchgang, @ericmwind, @watchfred highlight the aesthetics while also inviting their followers to see beyond the watch face, through educational posts on vintage and newer pieces.
“It’s not just about price – older models have their own desirability and it’s an added bonus that the watch is no longer available,” he said.
“The market has opened up to the younger generation and people who would never have been open to looking for a pre-owned watch.
“The world has also changed, it is about sustainability and there’s a louder conversation now about pre-owned pieces, whether that’s watches, clothes or handbags.
“And a vintage watch is something people can have for a lifetime or leave to someone else in the family – they last generations.”
Older buyers, he says, invest in pre-owned luxury brands to mark a career highlight, the sale of a business or retirement, while timepieces to mark landmark events for their children are also popular.
The Swiss Watch Club, which also buys pre-owned watches from the public and sources upgrades for customers, is bringing a large collection of premium watches from the 1930s onwards, to Timeless.
Timeless, the Irish Antique Dealers’ Fair, runs in Hall 2 of Dublin’s RDS from September 15-17. See: timelessfair.ie.