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Wristcheck 2024 Predictions: Watches, The Market and Beyond
Marketcheck

Wristcheck 2024 Predictions: Watches, The Market and Beyond

By Ross Povey
19 Jan 2024
8 min read

We asked some of our favorite horological movers and shakers to predict new launches from top brands and the course for the luxury watch market in 2024

We all love trying to conjure up what the future might hold; trying our luck at predicting what could be or might occur. Over-optimism can often lead to disappointment, however, and we see this nowhere more than when it comes to watch and the horological market predictions. Undeterred, however, I am going to make some predictions for the year ahead, but have decided to adopt a concerted approach by asking some familiar horological movers and shakers for their input and wisdom on what they believe might occur over the next year, in terms of what brands might release, how the market will perform and generally how the watch universe will unfold in 2024.

I’ll talk about Rolex first, as it’s the brand, along with Tudor, with which I’m most familiar and focused on both personally and professionally. 2023 was all about the Daytona, with a full overhaul of the family that centered on the new in-house Caliber 4131 movement. The entire line was replaced with new models and it was the hero novelty of Watches and Wonders for the venerable watchmaker. 2023 also marked 70 years since the launch of the Submariner in 1953. This is a technicality, as the Sub didn’t fully appear on the market until 1954, but as Rolex celebrated the 50th anniversary of the watch in 2003, who are we to argue?

Rolex GMT-Master With A Coke Bezel

Photo: Rendered by Wristcheck

What we are certain about is that the GMT-Master first saw light in 1954 with the unveiling of reference 6542, the watch that kick-started the Pepsi-bezel sports watch saga that’s still very much alive today. Pepsi, Sprite or Batman; there is a combination for every taste but the watch has remained pretty much unchanged for a while now. So it seems appropriate that to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its professional pilot’s watch, Rolex might give the GMT-Master a makeover. Remember, its evolution never revolution from the Wilsdorf stable, but I can imagine a new movement and maybe a Coke bezel colorway? Rumors have persisted about a discontinuation of Pepsi for a while. Maybe it’s a switch of the colas coming up? What we know is that Rolex last year tipped its hat to the iconic Paul Newman Daytona with the Le Mans special edition watch. How great would it be to see some special heritage touches from the original 6542 GMT-Master – maybe a chapter ring dial, no-crown-guard case or a small GMT hand? 

Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 6542 Photo: Sotheby's

Cartier Privé Maxi Oval

Moving to Cartier, Hodinkee Senior Editor and camera-supremo Mark Kauzlarich feels that heritage will continue to be a big play at the Parisian watchmaker. “We've seen the Cintrée brought back in a few Anniversary releases, the Pebble, the platinum Crash last year, and the Tank Normale, so what's the last major striking design they haven't touched in a while? I'm guessing this is the year that we'll see a Cartier Privé release of the Maxi Oval, the standout London design that achieved some great results at auction recently. It's the last of the great watches from Cartier's golden era of design (which stretched about 50 years, to be fair) that we haven't seen come back yet. I actually feel so confident about this pick I already called someone at Cartier Paris to put my name down for the watch only to be told that "the list doesn't exist because we have no idea what you're talking about." Fingers crossed they remember me when time comes!”

Oval Maxi from Cartier London Photo: Hodinkee

A Special Rolex Milgauss for CERN

Photo: Rendered by Wristcheck

An anniversary at Rolex is something that Felix Scholz, our colleague here at Wristcheck and Editor of Revolution Australia, believes we will see: “My outlier prediction for 2024 is the return of a Milgauss and I’d really love to see some sort of collaboration with CERN. The Geneva-based Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire CERN is the world’s preeminent particle physics research facility. In the mid-to-late 1950s, the Milgauss was officially put through its paces by scientists at CERN who confirmed that the watch could indeed be exposed to magnetic fields of up to 1000 gauss without any impediment to timekeeping. CERN turns 70 this year and so maybe, like Rolex recently launched a special green enamel dial Day-Date to celebrate its work with the Vienna Philharmonic and the special Daytona for Le Mans last year, maybe we'll see a special Milgauss for CERN”. That would, indeed, be great. Collectors have long wished for a relaunch of a Milgauss inspired by the early 6543 with a textured dial and rotating bezel.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Milgauss Ref. 6543 Photo: Christie's
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Milgauss Ref. 6543 Photo: Christie's

Another anniversary that Scholz feels worthy of celebrating is at Lange: “I’m entirely speculating here, but I’m looking forward to what Lange would do for 2024. It's 30 years since their inaugural collection launched in 1994 and hopefully we're going to see really faithful yellow gold reissues and yet I suspect they'll maybe twist it up a little bit!”

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Ref. 101.002 Photo: Bachmann & Scher

Grand Old Brands To Break The Mold

On a more general level, I personally believe we will see a move away from the over-reliance we have seen on heritage-based watches. It’s been a blast, but how many more times can brands look back into the archives without the call for something novel. Fauxtina, reinvented silhouettes and simple re-editions have been in tune with the zeitgeist, but with the forward-facing and innovation seen in independent watchmaking in recent years, will the long-established brands begin to look through the windscreen more than the rear-view mirror?

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 By Audemars Piguet Selfwinding in purple and ivory

Kauzlarich thinks that this will certainly be a factor for 2024: “I'd expect that a lot of brands will try to break free of their own moulds in 2024 and experiment more with new product lines and more creative designs than they traditionally have in the last 10 years. Many of the biggest companies had been playing relatively safe the past few years, riding the wave of (or grappling with the demand for) iconic models like the Daytona, Nautilus, or Royal Oak, but even these super-in-demand brands seem to be getting bored with the "same old." Now that lines like the Code 11.59 for AP are starting to hit their stride, Rolex is releasing everything from a new collection in the 1908 to quirky and fun enamel dials, and Patek is making (admittedly strange) experiments with enamel portraits on dials, it seems obvious that the top brands are getting bored with their own status quo. I think it's a sign of a healthy market and younger audience and I expect to be surprised with some more experimentation coming out of brands this year.

Demand For Vintage & Neo-Vintage Models On The Rise

One thing that is certain is the pre-owned market will change in 2024. 2023 witnessed some significant corrections in the ‘as-new’ gray market, with prices of so-called hype watches cooling off by as much as 50% in some cases. “I think general watch trends in 2024 will be more diversified,” says Austen Chu, co-founder & CEO of Wristcheck. “I think obviously the hot models, the steel sports models, are still going to reign supreme in general, but smaller watches are also coming in. Brands such as Cartier are killing it for sure, in this sector. That said, the three kings are still AP, Patek and Rolex and within those three brands it's the sports models that are currently still hot. However, with those brands and particularly AP and Patek, vintage models have been on the rise and I think in 2024 there will be a lot more interest in vintage APs which have seen a resurgence as well for those off-the-radar pieces”.

Audemars Piguet 30mm Royal Oak in tantalum and rose gold
Audemars Piguet 30mm Royal Oak in tantalum and rose gold

Felix Scholz believes that Neo-Vintage, those pieces from the 1990s and early 2000s, will also be hotter than ever in 2024: “I think we're going to see increased interest in those 90s and early noughties pieces from mainstream brands, a thing that has been strong in the independent sector in recent times. We might see more of that on a mass level, I like maybe even James Bond Seamasters from ‘95!”

Vintage fared better in 2023, largely due to the fact that it hadn’t experienced the unmanageable bubble that modern watches had. Auction results from the autumn auction season clearly demonstrate that vintage watches are still hot property. Says Monaco Legend Group Chairman Davide Parmegiani, “The market and appetite for rare and important vintage watches is still very strong. These watches are unique and will never be made again and so they are highly sought-after by collectors. Rare complicated Patek Philippe timepieces or very small production numbers of vintage Rolex Daytonas will always sell well because however small the market is, there is only one watch!”. I see no reason why this will change in 2024.

Digital Innovation, Transparency & Trust To Shape The Market In 2024

Davide Rovelli, watch collector and advisor to the Altr platform, shares this optimism for the vintage market: “Looking ahead to 2024, it's clear that vintage watches are more popular than ever. But with this popularity comes a need for better information about these watches. People want to know what they're getting into, and they deserve clear, honest details''.

The Wristcheck Price Index featuring Patek Philippe Ref. 5712/1R-001 dated 18th January, 2024

Buyer protection and education have always been important factors in the vintage market, which is why established auction houses like Monaco Legend Group, with reputable experts, have always been a preferred choice for collectors. New technology, however, backed by Web 3.0 developments, is becoming more important in this area of the market. “Platforms like Wristcheck are leading the way, especially with their new Watch Index that makes understanding the vintage market easier. Then there's Everywatch and Altr, shaking things up with fresh ideas. Altr's tokenization platform, in particular, is a game changer. It’s not just about selling watches; it's about making the whole process more transparent and trustworthy. In 2024, we're going to see digital innovation and collector involvement merge in exciting ways. Companies like Wristcheck, Everywatch, and Altr are at the forefront, making sure that when you buy a vintage watch, you're not just getting a piece of history, but also peace of mind,” says Rovelli.

Whether you buy watches because you love them, use them as an investment vehicle, or enjoy a healthy mix of the two, 2024 is gearing up to be another fascinating year for the industry. What happens next? Let’s keep watching and find out!

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