What role do watch fairs and exhibitions play in the luxury watch resale market?

trading a luxury watch

Luxury watches can have a high price tag, depending on the materials, design, and additional features. They are also considered investments and can appreciate in value over time.

These are the kinds of watches that attract watch enthusiasts, collectors, and dealers from all over the world. They are designed by famous brands and designers, and they are made in limited quantities.

Trade Shows

As the name suggests, watch trade shows are geared toward dealers and collectors. They offer the opportunity to physically handle luxury timepieces at all price points that you would normally only scroll through online or gaze at behind a glass case. Many shows also feature expert panel discussions, which are an excellent way to stay informed and connect with industry experts.

The best thing about trade shows is that they provide an exclusive look at new watches that you won’t see in a boutique window or on the website. But there’s one downside to attending a trade show: you have to pay for the privilege. Many shows are incredibly expensive, and some even require VIP tickets for entry.

Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to traditional watch fairs, including smaller local exhibitions and pop-up events. The relaunched Watches & Wonders, which was held earlier this year in Miami, is one such example. While the fair isn’t as large as Baselworld or SIHH, it still offers a unique chance to discover luxury watches in an intimate setting.

Other exhibitions are dedicated to specific brands or styles of watchmaking, and may be open to the general public. For example, the multi-day New York City event Watch Time brings together some of the world’s finest watchmakers for an exclusive showing. This year, the show runs from October 20th to 24th.

Another notable event is the biennial Jewelry & Luxury Goods (JLC) trade show in Las Vegas. While JLC is primarily a jewellery trade fair, it does feature several prominent watch brands, such as A. Lange & Sohne and Breguet.

A third option for catching a glimpse at the latest watch models is to visit a high-end retailer or specialist dealer. While some retailers carry a wide selection of luxury watches, others focus on specific categories or regions. In addition, some dealers offer trade-in options for existing watches, which can be an effective way to upgrade your collection without putting a dent in your wallet.

According to a recent study, collectors/investors are the largest segment of watch buyers, accounting for 44% of sales value. These buyers are highly engaged with the secondary market, purchasing secondhand pieces and interacting on social media platforms like Reddit and TikTok. The study found that almost three-quarters of these consumers believe that a brand’s participation in the secondary market reinforces a perception of craftsmanship and durability, increasing buyer loyalty and satisfaction.


Watch conventions are a great opportunity for the world’s most prominent brands to get in front of the people who buy their watches. They are a chance for watchmakers to communicate the core value proposition of their creations and to establish brand relationships with new buyers who may not be familiar with high end watchmaking. In addition, they serve as a unique marketing opportunity for brands to showcase their new collections in a more retail setting.

However, the convention model needs to evolve for the future. It worked quite well in the pre-digital era, when watch companies would travel around the globe in the weeks before the fairs to discuss their new product introductions with retailers and journalists. Now, with shorter lead times and a more global distribution network for press releases, the brands can reach their target audience through different channels that were not previously available.

With the launch of a number of new watch events this year, it seems like the industry is re-embracing the convention model. Unlike trade shows, which are fully focused on the B2B side of the business, conventions are designed to cater to end consumers and collectors. WatchTime New York and Windup, for example, are both consumer-oriented events with a focus on the latest watches and the people who wear them.

While these events are a fun way for watch fans to see and handle countless watches in a short period of time, they also allow buyers to interact directly with the watchmakers and gain a more in-depth understanding of the technical aspects of a watch. This enables them to make more informed purchasing decisions, which ultimately benefits both the customer and the watchmaker.

This year’s convention season is poised to be one of the most significant ever. Several new events have been launched this year, including the relaunch of Watches & Wonders in Miami. The new W&W event has rebranded itself as a “community of watch lovers”, which is an excellent idea for the industry, and it has taken a bold step in embracing the retail side of the business by putting the focus on the customers.

Private Sales

The resale market is a valuable way for luxury watch brands to extend their reach. These markets can help establish brand awareness, boost sales, and increase customer engagement. However, the resale market is not without its challenges. For instance, it’s important to keep up with the latest market trends, shifts, and demand patterns in order to maximize your profits. Moreover, it’s important to seek advice from experts, such as watch appraisers or collectors, before selling or trading a luxury watch. These experts stay up-to-date on the latest market changes and will provide you with a more accurate assessment of your watch’s value.

Despite these challenges, the luxury watch resale market is still thriving. Younger customers are increasingly drawn to the craft and mechanics of watches, while older buyers are attracted by their investment potential. In fact, a recent study by BCG found that watches outperformed traditional investments in terms of both price transparency and resilience.

As a result, many consumers are increasingly choosing to buy secondhand watches as an alternative to investing in stocks and shares. This trend has prompted luxury watch companies to take a more active role in the secondary market. They can do so by offering authentication services, leveraging blockchain technology for provenance verification, and encouraging consumer-generated content. By doing so, they can engage with new audiences and encourage the association of their products with investing.

In addition to expanding their brand visibility, luxury watch resale sites can also offer financial benefits for both buyers and sellers. For example, reselling a watch that is broken can generate a significant profit by reducing the cost of repairs. This is especially true if the watch has been worn extensively. In addition, many resale sites offer a flexible return policy, which can be very beneficial for customers.

Another benefit of resale sites is that they can make it easier to find specific types of watches. For example, some resale sites specialize in selling used Rolex watches, while others are focused on vintage watches. In addition, resale sites can help users compare prices and features between different models of the same watch.

Online Auctions

As the secondhand watch market continues to grow, luxury brands need to engage in it. They can monitor the marketplace, invest in authentication services, utilize blockchain technology for provenance verification and appraisal pricing, and create customer service programs to help their consumers get the best value for their money when buying secondhand watches.

Another way for luxury brands to connect with secondhand buyers is through online auctions. Auction websites are a convenient and secure method of purchasing used timepieces, especially when they offer high-quality photography and detailed descriptions. They also allow prospective buyers to view the watches from all over the world and determine if they are the right fit for them.

The online auction format is attractive to buyers because it eliminates the need for face-to-face meetings and offers flexibility in terms of timing. However, there are some challenges for online auctions. Buyers might be tempted to overbid for an item, leading to inflated prices, or they might find themselves disappointed when a watch fails to meet expectations once it arrives. Additionally, some online auction platforms charge listing fees and shipping costs for sellers.

In addition to online auctions, some traditional watch fairs and conventions offer a curated collection of secondhand watches at their events. This helps to ensure that these watches are vetted and of good quality, and it gives buyers the opportunity to purchase a watch from a reputable dealer.

Whether it’s at an auction or at a fair, a used luxury watch can be a great investment. With the right care and attention, a luxury watch can be worn for decades and even become an heirloom that is passed down through generations.

As the global economy slowly recovered in 2021, online auctions saw a surge in activity. A few major players, including Antiquorum and Patrizzi, became global leaders in the industry, but ultimately were unable to maintain their position due to mistakes made along the way. Despite these setbacks, online auctions continue to be an important part of the market. Fellows Auctioneers, for example, hosts online timed auction sales for a number of different watch categories each year, and last year sold an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon in one of these sales for £70,180 (including fees). This is significantly higher than the £25,090 it was worth when sold at Fellows’ physical auctions in 2020.

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