The second-hand luxury watch market has experienced significant growth lately, thriving despite a global pandemic, with an increase in demand buoyed by consumers seeking safe-haven assets such as pre-owned luxury watches. A notable dip in the prices of the top fifty most resold luxury watches occurred between May and October 2022, falling by 18%, yet the market is still expected to expand by 75% by 2030. In France, the market mirrors this positive trend, registering 1.7 million searches by French consumers in 2022 for just five types of vintage luxury watches. The luxury watch market globally was valued at $24 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $35 billion by 2026, growing at an 8.3% annual rate.

On the other hand, the French watch industry's market value decreased from 1.760 billion euros in 2014 to 1.530 billion euros in 2021, struggling to regain its 2019 level of 1.879 billion euros. The demand is largely driven by younger consumers, with an 11-point increase in interest in second-hand luxury watches from 2020 to 2021. Environmental concerns and lower purchasing power significantly contribute to the popularity of second-hand watches. Moreover, the auction market for luxury watches remains robust, with Drouot's Art & Collectibles category seeing a 40% rise in 2021, hitting a record €4 billion in sales. Despite new challenges, traditional watchmakers like Rolex have entered the certified pre-owned segment, providing authenticity guarantees to compete with the growing dominance of online platforms like Chrono24. Counterfeiting remains an issue, affecting consumer trust and directly competing with the legitimate market due to cheaper, high-quality replicas.

The Rising Popularity of Pre-Owned Luxury Timepieces in France

The French market for second-hand luxury watches has seen considerable growth over recent years, a trend reflecting global market dynamics but with local nuances. Especially noteworthy is the amplifying role of younger consumers in driving demand within this niche.

Key Trends in Second-Hand Luxury Watch Demand

The younger generation, affluent yet environmentally conscious, is progressively turning to the pre-owned luxury watch market, as highlighted by the substantial increase—from 21% to 32%—in the number of people considering purchasing a second-hand luxury watch between 2020 and 2021. These consumers are not only driven by the acquisition of status symbols but also by the desire for sustainable consumption practices.

The French market seems to have bucked the trend of declining sales in new luxury watches. While there was a drop in overall watch sales by about 14% from 2020 to 2021, with only between 9 and 10 million watches sold in 2021, the luxury segment maintains its allure. It represents approximately 1% in volume but commands around 42% in market value, indicating the premium placed on such items. The pre-owned market for luxury watches in France, estimated by proportionality with global markets, could range between approximately 200 and 280 million euros. This growth points to a robust demand for second-hand luxury timepieces, driven by young consumers under the age of 40 and diminishing purchasing power which makes the affordability of second-hand items an attractive prospect.

Additionally, a significant portion of demand stems from watch collectors and enthusiasts who frequent auction houses, contributing to the vibrancy of this segment. Collectors form a diverse group but notably include a significant percentage of seniors over 65 years old and a vibrant current of active young collectors, particularly those between the ages of 18 and 24.

A Market Bolstered by Digitalization and Environmental Awareness

The digitalization of sales has played a significant role in the accessibility of pre-owned luxury watches, with specialized websites gaining popularity as platforms of choice for both experienced and new buyers. The preference for online channels is ever-increasing, encouraging the expansion and success of international and French online platforms. Environmentally-driven purchases are also on the rise. Consumers are increasingly aware of the ecological footprint of new watches and their production processes, encompassing the mining of materials and associated transportation pollution.

The Titans of Time: Profiling the Dominant Forces in the Luxury Watch Market

As we delve into the inner workings of the luxury watch market, several prominent conglomerates stand out, their names synonymous with quality, heritage, and opulence. Three international groups in particular - LVMH, Richemont, and the Swatch Group - command significant respect and revenue, both within the traditional new luxury watch sphere as well as the burgeoning pre-owned and vintage watch markets.

LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) is a global titan in luxury goods, with an empire that extends beyond haute horlogerie to include fashion, leather goods, wine, and spirits. Reported to possess an extensive portfolio of prestigious watchmakers, LVMH is home to brands like TAG Heuer, Hublot, and Zenith, each exuding their own distinctive style and mechanical prowess. Their impressive versatility and reach across different luxury sectors allow them to continuously adapt to market trends, including the shifts towards digital retail platforms and the increased demand for certified pre-owned watches.

Richemont is renowned for its high-end jewelry and luxury watches, with a roster that includes some of the most venerable names in watchmaking such as Cartier, IWC Schaffhausen, and Panerai. The Swiss-based conglomerate is an embodiment of craftsmanship and timeless elegance, attributes highly sought-after in the vintage watch market. Its active participation in the second-hand watch segment is reflected in its acquisition of Watchfinder, which has helped Richemont tap into the fast-growing certified pre-owned market.

The Swatch Group is the behemoth behind many of the world's most famous watch brands, such as Omega, Longines, and Breguet. They sit at a unique position between mass-market appeal and exclusive luxury, with a varied portfolio that appeals to a diverse clientele. The Swatch Group's impact on the luxury watch market stretches further still, as they supply crucial movements and components to numerous other brands, thereby influencing the industry from the ground up.

While these groups have a stronghold on the industry, the landscape is becoming increasingly competitive due to the infusion of digital platforms that are democratizing the watch-acquiring process. Platforms such as Chrono24 and eBay are challenging traditional retail models, introducing new ways for collectors and enthusiasts to purchase and sell luxury timepieces worldwide. Through strategic maneuvers - including launching their own second-hand certification programs and embracing e-commerce - these juggernauts have shown adaptability in a market that is rapidly evolving

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of the study

In this study, we will focus on the second-hand watch market, also known as the secondary or resale market, in France. We will only focus on the second-hand market for luxury watches because it alone represents 80% of this global market.

The lockdown in 2020 has caused buyers to consume less on a daily basis and turn to buying safe havens such as luxury pre-owned watches and gold. Although the prices of the top fifty most resold luxury watches fell by 18% between May and October 2022, the second-hand watch market will continue to grow and increase by 75% by 2030.

In France, this market is also experiencing strong growth. According to a leading second-hand watch sales website, 1.7 million searches were made by French people in 2022 on just five vintage luxury watches (Rolex Submariner, Audemar Piguet Cosmograph Daytona, ...). This growth is in line with an increasingly popular second-hand market, especially among the under 40s.

The evolution of buyer profiles, from passionate collectors to young people wanting to own second-hand watches, has modified the places where these goods are sold, with sales becoming increasingly digitalized. Thus, specialized websites will continue to develop. Luxury brands wishing to control the quality of their products on this second-hand market are also starting to offer this service directly in their points of sale. This is the case for Rolex, for example, which has been trying out this new service since December 2022 in six countries and should extend it to all its points of sale in 2023.

1.2 A global market that is on the rise

The market for second-hand watches has grown considerably in recent years. More specifically, the segment of second-hand luxury watches is booming and helps to boost the market. In addition, the arrival of refurbished connected watches is also leading to a renewed interest in the sector, which is diversifying and targeting an ...

1.3 The domestic market

The following graph illustrates the evolution of the market value of the watch industry in France between **** and ****. Thus, we can see that the market is growing, from *.*** billion euros in **** to *.*** billion euros in ****. Nevertheless, the French watch market has still not recovered its **** level of *.*** billion euros. *.* million watches ...

2 Analysis of the demand

2.1 Demand driven by the younger generation

In France, * out of ** individuals regularly wear a watch on their wrist. The penetration rate of this fashion accessory is therefore among the highest. Nevertheless, the diversity of the watch offer leads to a multitude of practices concerning their use. For many people, the watch is an aesthetic accessory. It is ...

2.2 Environmental concerns and declining purchasing power lead to a second-hand boom

The second-hand market has grown considerably in recent years. Indeed, the reasons to turn to second-hand and reconditioned products are multiplying, leading to an increase in demand. If the main criterion remains the lower price (***), other factors push individuals to opt for second hand. The opportunity to own an appliance that ...

2.3 Collectors and auction houses, historical applicants

Watch collectors and auction houses, looking for rare pearls, are two categories that fuel the demand for second-hand watches. Indeed, watches are "classic" items among French collections, due to the variety of vintage models and the age of the discipline. In ****, they were the eighth most collected item category, with *% of ...

2.4 Counterfeiting, an obstacle to second-hand purchases

Many consumers refrain from making second-hand purchases because of the risk of counterfeiting. This phenomenon is particularly marked in the luxury sector, where counterfeits are very numerous and very difficult to detect. Counterfeits of Rolex are among the most numerous and this is one of the reasons why the brand has ...

2.6 Analyse de l'audience

Décomposition de l'audience par âge France, ****, % Source: ****

 L'analyse de l'audience du marché étudié montre une prédominance masculine, avec une proportion de **.**% d'hommes. Les femmes, quant à elles, représentent **.**% de l'audience totale. Cette tendance globale indique une nette inclination vers une audience majoritairement masculine dans le marché étudié.L'analyse ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Watchmakers face competition from new players

If the historical watchmakers and the big luxury houses reign supreme on the new watch market, the second-hand market is much more fragmented and involves a multitude of players. Among them, we find distributors specialized in second-hand watches, digital and reconditioning platforms, but also private individuals.

Specialized distributors

Several companies specialize ...

3.2 The rise of digital platforms, a lever for the second-hand market

Although watchmakers seem to have understood the importance of second-hand watches, they have been outpaced by online platforms and specialized distributors, which still account for a large majority of sales today. Since the ****s, online sales sites have taken over the market, promoting online purchases.

Which channel do you prefer for ...

3.3 The auction of luxury watches

Like many other luxury goods, watches are considered a good investment during times of uncertainty. For example, watch auctions exploded during the pandemic. In ****, the Drouot auction house recorded €*,*** million in sales in the Art & Collectibles category; an increase of +**.*% compared to ****. In ****, growth slowed but maintained an interesting pace for ...

4 Analysis of the offer

4.1 Typology of used watches

There are different types of watches, which can be categorized as follows:

Mechanical watches ; Automatic watches ; Quartz watches ; Radio-controlled watches ; Connected watches.

The vast majority of used watches are luxury watches. Thus, we can look at the different categories of luxury watches. These are very diverse but we can draw up ...

4.2 The paradox of second-hand prices

Like many other products, second-hand watches have seen a sharp rise in prices since the beginning of ****, due to the energy crisis and therefore the inflationary context. We can look at the Subdial** price index. This index includes the top ** most traded second-hand models on the market, which represent **% of total ...

4.3 The democratization of refurbished connected watches

For several years, we have been witnessing a considerable boom in connected watches. Indeed, they offer undeniable advantages that facilitate communication and information sharing while offering greater practicality. Shortly after the democratization of this new accessory, a second market was born: the refurbished market. Indeed, just like smartphones, connected watches are ...

5 Regulation

5.1 Regulations on the watch market

Watchmaking companies are concerned by numerous regulations concerning the following products

Nickel: restrictions in articles in direct and prolonged contact with the skin. Cadmium: restrictions in the metal parts of articles. Lead: restrictions in accessible parts of watches. PAHs: restrictions in plastic materials (***). Chromium VI: restrictions in leather (***).

In addition, for ...

5.2 Regulatory framework concerning counterfeiting

Luxury watches are particularly affected by counterfeiting and smuggling. The Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes(***) is the authority in charge of the fight against these frauds, as specified in the Code de la Propriété Intellectuelle and article L. ...

List of charts

  • Luxury watch market
  • The French watch market
  • How likely is it that you will buy a second-hand luxury wristwatch in the next 12 months?
  • Do you plan to buy a used watch in the next 12 months?
  • If you are considering buying a watch in the next 12 months, what will be the purpose?
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Latest news emancipates itself from the auction house - 18/03/2024

Proceeds auctioned to Internet users in 2023: 344 million euros, representing a 3.5-fold increase in 4 years.

  • Online sales in 2023: - 1,400 auctions.
  • - Number of registered bidders 290,000.
  • - Goods sold : 204,000 lots.

Customer base:

  • - average age of account holders 45.
  • - Share of professional buyers down from 31% to 23%, in favor of private buyers.
  • - 58% of buyers come from France, with strong representation from the USA, UK and Belgium.

Expansion of the platform:

  • - 785 homes for sale by 2023, representing a two-fold increase in 4 years.
  • - One in three sales by a foreign player.
  • - 170 European houses, excluding France and Belgium, conducted 1,800 sales in 2023.
  • - Nearly 60 houses operating outside the European Union, from around ten countries.


  • - Interenchères saw its live and online art sales increase by 5%, totaling 248 million euros.
  • - faces several international competitors, including Lot-Tissimo in Germany and The Saleroom in England.
Luxury goods: Richemont slowed by declining customer morale - 13/11/2023
  • Half-year sales in Europe up 5%
  • Jewelry: 68% of sales, up 10% in the first half
  • Watchmaking: Down by 3%
  • Fashion & Accessories: 1% decline
  • Growth in the United States: 1% increase
  • Growth in Asia: up 23% at constant exchange rates
Rolex aims to consolidate its hold on the watch market - 31/08/2023
  • Rolex accounts for around 40% of sales in the luxury watch sector.
  • The company is said to have passed the one million mark in annual production.
  • Rolex has also exceeded 10 billion euros in sales.
  • The Swiss company plans to invest one billion Swiss francs in new production capacity.
  • Rolex buys Bucherer, a major retailer that previously distributed 5% of its volumes
  • The group plans to employ around 2,000 people at its new production site in Bulle, in the French-speaking part of the canton of Fribourg.
Global luxury flights: Rolex in the lead. - 25/08/2023
  • 60% increase in the number of luxury watches stolen last year
  • Rolex accounts for 44% of stolen watches, followed by Omega (7%), Breitling (6%), Tag Heuer (6%), Cartier (4%) and Patek Philippe (3%)
  • 90% of stolen watches are men's models
Swatch Group benefits from Asian recovery - 14/07/2023
  • Swatch Group generates 56% of its sales in Asia.
  • The Group's own boutiques now account for 40% of Swatch Group activity.
Ilaria Resta takes the helm at Audemars Piguet - 24/05/2023
  • Audemars Piguet produces 50,000 units a year, compared with over a million for Rolex and less than 60,000 for Patek Philippe.
  • Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021.
  • According to Deloitte, the second-hand watch market is expected to reach 36 billion euros by 2030.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Swatch Group
Patek Philippe
Audemars Piguet
Back Market
Drouot L’Hotel

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