Drawing on metadata from 3.7 million watches owned by 1.3 million users (approx. 7% of all watches in the world), we’ve analyzed how enthusiasts regard various watch brands across their collecting journey. Some brands, like TAG Heuer, make great starting points, while others, like Vacheron Constantin, are best for seasoned collectors. Others still, like Casio, are lifelong loves. Read on to see how other collectors treat your favorite brands.
What’s in the Watch Collection Report Part II?
What was the first watch you purchased? How about your first “nice” or “real” watch? What was the brand? And do you remember the model?
Now think about the watches you’d like to purchase in the future, both the realistic future and the future you can only dream about. We at Chrono24 would be willing to bet that the watch brands you bought in the past are not the same as those you’re thinking about buying in the future. In fact, we can prove it.
Chrono24 has recently completed the second installment of our massive Watch Collection report, analyzing data from over 3.7 million watches registered by more than 1.3 million Chrono24 users. In this follow-up report, we’re examining which brands buyers tend to choose for their first watch, and comparing that to the brands they choose for their subsequent purchases.
Data provenance: Chrono24 looked at the anonymous watch collections of its community members who own more than three timepieces valued above 250 euros each, regardless of where they were purchased. We then looked at the brands and references of these watches in order of chronological acquisition, up to the first 20 timepieces owned by a single collector. The total value of all the watch collections tracked on Chrono24, across the 120+ countries it serves, is more than $49.7 billion – almost 7% of the estimated $748 billion worth of watches in the world. For an even deeper dive, check out Part I of our Watch Collection Report.
CATEGORY 1: Entry-Level Brands
Now let’s take a look at which brands collectors grow into and which brands they grow out of.
Certain brands are designed to be approachable for those who are first entering the luxury watch world. For example, approximately 6% of enthusiasts choose a TAG Heuer for their first watch. But in this hobby, your first love is rarely your last. By the time someone buys their fifth watch, the likelihood of buying another TAG Heuer is cut in half, and there’s only a 2% chance that they’ll purchase one for their tenth watch. Thus, watch enthusiasts on Chrono24 see TAG Heuer as a brand to start with, not one to end with.
Tissot and Breitling share similar trajectories, with Breitling decreasing from 4.6% for the first watch to 3% by the fifth and 2.5% by the tenth. Tissot starts at 2.5% for the first watch, before diminishing to 1.1% by the fifth and only 0.8% by the tenth.
CATEGORY 2: Veteran Brands
On the opposite end of the spectrum, certain brands take time to grow into, both in terms knowledge and purchasing power. Only 2% of collectors begin their watch journey with either Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet. After all, the median value of a Patek Philippe timepiece within this data set is 41,000 euros (approx. $44,000), while the median value of an Audemars Piguet watch lands at 27,000 euros (approx. $29,000).
As tastes are refined and bank accounts grow, we see a growing interest in these premium brands, with the likelihood of owning an AP doubling by the tenth watch and tripling for Patek by the twelfth. By the time a collector is ready to buy their twentieth watch (must be nice), there’s a 7.5% chance it will be a Patek Philippe (the third-highest share among all brands, following Rolex and Omega).
But which brand is reserved for the most seasoned collectors? We’ve already discussed Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, and as it turns out, the final member of watchmaking’s “Holy Trinity” sees the largest jump in numbers from first to twentieth watch. While only 0.2% of first watch purchases within our dataset are from Vacheron Constantin, that number doubles by the tenth watch and increases by five times by the time a collector reaches their twentieth. That said, Vacheron Constantin still only represents a total of 1.5%, further cementing its status as the forgotten member of the trilogy, and proving that the nearly 250-year-old brand remains vastly underappreciated by the collector community.
CATEGORY 3: Universally Loved
So far in this article, we’ve covered the “starter” brands that collectors love and then leave, as well as prestigious brands that take years or even decades to access, but there’s a third class left to discuss: the brands that are universally loved from start to finish. One of these will come as a surprise, the other will not.
The most collected brand among Chrono24 users for their first, fifth, tenth, and even twentieth watch is, of course, Rolex. It’s no surprise that we’re crowning Rolex a winner; the crown is already on the dial, after all. The brand averages a 34-38% purchase likelihood across collections of all sizes in our dataset. This can be attributed to a range of factors, including the brand’s cultural cachet, reputation for quality, market performance, and deep catalog of popular models.
While the Rolex dynasty rolls on, there’s another surprise winner hiding in the data analysis. A Casio is often the first watch one receives as a child, and according to the data, those fond memories carry over consistently into adulthood. The extremely affordable brand maintains strong interest among collectors over the years, likely due to its sheer accessibility, as well as the wide range of models and limited editions that are constantly emerging from the Japanese brand. Perhaps we’re not the only ones making late-night impulse buys…
We’ll provide you with more exciting insights into our data in the third installment of our Watch Collection Report, so stay tuned. Additional articles on price developments, market insights, and buying guides can be found in the Chrono24 Magazine or in our video series, Time Is Money.