Which Brands Do Watch Enthusiasts Love Most? Chrono24 Takes a Look

WatchesMar 23, 2023

Which Brands Do Watch Enthusiasts Love Most? Chrono24 Takes a Look

The watch marketplace gathered data from 1.3 million collectors, highlighting the most popular timepieces and exploring value appreciation.

Chrono24 has released its new “Collectors’ Report,” gathering data from the 1.3 million collectors who use its “Watch Collection” tool, which tracks the value trajectories of more than 3.7 million owned watches.
Karlsruhe, Germany—Watch marketplace Chrono24 has released its inaugural “Collectors’ Report,” taking a deep dive look into the personal watch collections of its users.

The data used in the report came from the 1.3 million collectors who use Chrono24’s “Watch Collection” tool, which tracks the value trajectories of more than 3.7 million owned watches. The tool tracks value using the purchase price, whether or not the user bought the watch from Chrono24.

For the report, a “watch collector” is defined as someone who owns three or more watches, each valued above $215.

The total value of the tracked watches is $49.7 billion, or around 7 percent of the estimated $748 billion global value of all watches.

From the most-collected watches to value appreciation, here are five interesting findings from the new report.

The value of watch collections has increased by double digits, on average.

The watch collections tracked with Chrono24’s online tool increased in value by an average of 31 percent since the date of purchase in the top 20 countries.

Last year, however, saw weakened demand for certain watch brands after years of sky-high prices on the secondary market.

In 2022, collectors lost an average of 5 percent in value year-over-year. In the U.S., it was an average loss of 4 percent.

“As a general trend, the collections with higher-than-average values also saw higher-than-average value depreciation, as the top of the watch market was most affected by the downturn,” said the report.

The watch market does see volatile periods, said Chrono24, but collectors still tend to do well in the long term.

How well collectors did varied by country.

Japan and Switzerland were on the high end, seeing 40 percent growth in increased valuation. 

Germany and the Netherlands were on the low end, seeing 25 and 24 percent overall growth, respectively.

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The most valuable watch collections are in Asia.

In terms of median value, collectors in Thailand took the No.1 spot with the median value of their collections totaling $104,000, followed by Hong Kong ($82,500) and Japan ($68,300).

The United Arab Emirates was in the No. 4 spot ($67,700) followed by Singapore ($62,300), and Malaysia ($50,800).

The top six countries’ median values were well above the global average of $41,300.

In Europe, the most valuable collections are in Switzerland, of course, with a median value of $48,400.

The United States’ median value sits below the global average at $38,700.

These are the most popular watch brands.

The most popular brand globally on Chrono24 is, unsurprisingly, Rolex, showing up in an average of 30 to 40 percent of watch collections globally.

Omega is No.2, finding itself in nearly 10 percent of watch collections. The brand is twice as popular as Rolex sister brand Tudor, which occupies the No.3 spot.

Seiko is No.4, followed by Patek Philippe, Breitling, TAG Heuer, Audemars Piguet, IWC, and Cartier.

In the U.S., Rolex was the top choice, seen in 34 percent of collections, followed by Omega (11 percent), Tudor (5 percent), Seiko (4.9 percent), and Breitling (4 percent).

In the No. 6 spot is Patek Philippe (3.5 percent), TAG Heuer (3.3 percent), Audemars Piguet (3 percent), IWC (2 percent), and Vacheron Constantin (1 percent).

“The takeaway here is this: If you want a watch that’s easy to sell, focus on the top brands,” said the report.

“And if you want a watch that’s a little more unique, either avoid those same brands or dig a bit deeper into their archives and catalogs.”

National pride takes a back seat to brand preference.

Though one may think Americans will favor American brands while collectors in Switzerland go for Swiss watches, etc., the report found that wasn’t always the case.

Panerai, a watch brand with Italian roots, is three times more popular with Taiwanese collectors than it is with Italian ones.

Japanese brand Seiko is most popular with collectors in Finland.

Mexican collectors have twice as many watches from French brand Cartier than any other collectors, while Scandinavian collectors lean toward Omega watches.

As for high-end brands Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, they’re most popular in Asia, which makes sense considering collectors from Asian countries have the most expensive collections.

The top five countries for Patek Philippe are all in Asia, with Thailand (13 percent) in the No.1 spot, followed by China (11 percent),Taiwan (9 percent), Indonesia (8 percent), and Hong Kong (just under 8 percent).

Audemars Piguet is a top choice for watch collectors in China, making up 13 percent of collections. Taiwan is in the No.2 spot (7 percent).

Chrono24 noted that longevity is prized in Asian culture, and longevity is a cornerstone of the Patek Phillipe brand identity. The company’s tagline is, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” 

There is some national brand loyalty, the report found, with Germans buying the most Nomos watches and French collectors buying the most Bell & Ross timepieces.

Switzerland, home to world-class watch brands, prizes Rolex and is also the most popular market for IWC.

The British, meanwhile, were found to favor Tudor watches more than anyone else.

Those looking for a less popular brand may want to seek out vintage TAG Heuer or Eberhard & Co. watches.

“Those brands only make up a fraction of a percentage of collections on average, despite rising popularity among collectors and auction houses,” said the report.

The future of the market is bright.

Chrono24 reached out to Dr. Brendan M. Cunningham, professor of economics and founder of watch blog Horolonomics, to add some expert insight to its report.

“Often what we see during recessions and turbulent times in the economy is a flight to those kinds of assets that have low or minimal default risk,” he said.

“One of the advantages [of watches] is that they can be a somewhat stable store of value, although you do have to be careful because, as we’ve seen, some particular references have seen corrections in their value.”

Still Cunningham shared an optimistic sentiment about the future of the watch industry.

In particular, he highlighted Rolex’s plans to build new factories to bolster production.

“I don’t think a lot of people have made a lot of money betting against Rolex and Rolex’s decisions,” he said.

“The reverse of ‘everything that goes up must go down’ is, ‘everything that goes down must go up.’ So, I do think the future is bright for watch collectors, and watches themselves, and the industry as a whole.”

For more information or to read the full report, visit the Chrono24 website.

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