BaselWorld wrapped up another show this past March 17, 2018 to rather disappointing numbers, falling from the heels of last years drop. Numbers released by BaselWorld itself confirm that in the past 2 years 850 exhibitors have dropped out of the show, a drop of 57%, the biggest drop was in 2018 when 650 of last years 1300 exhibitors failed to return, 90 of which were Swiss firms which shrank from 220 in 2017 to 130 in 2018. (Darwell S.A. Official Public Relations Firm for Swiss Watch Exhibitors) Attendance was also down by 30%. These could be viewed as bad numbers for the luxury watch industry but if you dig deeper, you will find that the trade show industry in general is in a serious decline, disrupted by, as are many things, technology. Digital has changed the game from production and most importantly marketing, which leaves the trade show industry following in the footsteps of the newspaper you used to hold in your hand.
In fact the real story is Swiss exports rose by 3 % in 2017 ending a 2 year slump with another 3% growth spurt is expected again this year. The only perceived dark cloud could be that exports to the U.S., the Swisses second largest market, fell yet again in 2017 down near 4%. But chatter from U.S. retailers at the recently held SIHH in Geneve, Switzerland, was that 2017 was a good year for top end sales with the holiday season being phenomenal. With the prospect of higher corporate earnings on the way stemming from tax reforms, retailers are very optimistic about the coming year.
Stainless Steel; The New Gold Standard
Even in the best of times the U.S. is a tough market due to its size and the fact that it is dominated by one brand in the $5000. and up market and that brand, Rolex, is a formidable foe with more than 50% of the market in its possession. So a 4% downturn in the market may sting a little bit, or not, but it won’t leave the welt others may experience. In fact quite the opposite is true. At this moment in time everyone knows how to spell Rolex, because Rolex is on everyone’s mind.
A lot of great watches came out of BaselWorld in 2018, but the real stir in the watch world had begun months before the doors to show opened. The release of the ROLEX GMT-MASTER II 126710BLRO with its beautiful ceramic Pepsi bezel re-engineered movement all on the iconic jubilee bracelet, only served to enhance what had already become a run on Rolex stock, both new and pre-owned, leaving the faithful Rolex owner in a good position, buying, selling,or trading, depending on which model you desired everything from Datejust to Submariner. How the huge desire and ensuing scarcity of Rolex stainless steel sport models converged into the perfect storm is information few know for certain, but simply viewed, it could be said Rolex just didn’t produce enough watches. Whatever the moves and motives involved, one thing that everyone can agree upon is that the art of supply and demand has been put into motion.
The New Rolex Pepsi GMT II Appeared This Year
Hal Martin owner of Hal Martin’s Watch & Jewelry Co. in Houston, Tx. had this to say about the state of the U.S. Rolex market. “ With 2017 being a banner year for Rolex the demand for both new and pre-owned Rolex watches, mainly mens and the stainless steel sport models, is at an all time high. If you are looking to sell or trade in your Rolex there has never been a better time; and if you are looking to buy a new or pre-owned Rolex now is the time to buy as inventory is getting scare.” So if you are a Rolex owner or first time buyer to be that has been watching the market the last few months you know what Hal Martin is talking about.Then you also know that beginnings of this scarcity of Rolex stainless steel Submariners, Daytonas and GMT II’s is also beginning to show in the prices. On the other side of the fence if your time has arrived to make that purchase and you have always had your eye on a 2 tone Daytona you can now pick up your dream watch, all 18k gold center links of it, for about 3 grand less than a stainless steel model. Scarcity or not, once again, Rolex owners are enjoying a long history of value, as strong as ever it appears. People have their names on waiting lists for black ceramic Submariners, as long as 2 years. This is a watch most people thought would be available on every street corner until the end of time. Ask an authorized dealer what he thinks about that statement today. He may chuckle or punch you in the nose, all depending on his frustration level at the lack of supply for his wanting clientele.
This Watch Could Make You Very Happy Over Time
So what does deciphering data teach us once again? To me it seems to say, that numbers could never fully tell a story as elaborate as this one, and also, that there will always be a shiny side on the coin, and once again it reads, Rolex.