Collectors, bored and curious newcomers, and high-income earners who did not spend money on summer vacations are fueling demand for watches that cost thousands of dollars — and sometimes six figures. Compared to other industries, luxury watch sales are showing resilience even as the global coronavirus pandemic continues to rage. Whether new or used, demand for high-priced watches continue to at least keep pace, if not surpass, expectations in some markets. For a comparison with other luxury industries, McKinsey & Company’s report, “The State of Fashion 2021,” says that global fashion sales declined by 15% to 30% in 2020, compared with 2019, and that it will take two years for the industry to return to 2019 levels. The same report notes that high-end watches and jewelry (“hard luxuries”) was the second-best performing category (behind sportswear) in 2020 because of their appeal as investment pieces. “The market capitalization of jewelry and watch specialists was down 7 percent compared to their December 2019 valuations by October 2020,” according to the report.
Many firms had to adapt their business strategy to keep their businesses thriving. Watch enthusiasts worldwide turned to eCommerce platforms to research and buy watches. Auction houses adjusted to the limitations of holding public sales by increasing the number of online sales while holding live auctions virtually. In the U.S., many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers used technology to reach out to their clients while creating safe environments for in-store shopping. These same stores are reporting that watch sales at the high end for the most-after brands are strong. At least one traditional retailer has an aggressive plan for expansion.
Avi Hiaeve, a millennial who owns a high-end watch retailer explains that those looking to enter the watch investing game should look out for four names: Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Richard Mille. Hiaeve said it’s impossible to be priced out of the watch game because there’s a watch at every price point for everyone. To sum it up: The people who want a Rolex will always buy one. That statement was proven true amid the pandemic, where high-net-worth-individuals have continued to splurge on luxury watches and items.
Born in Israel, Hiaeve, 35, grew up in Queens, New York. At 16 years old, he opened Avi & Co., an exclusive high-end retailer that now caters to some of the notable names in the world — Foxx, Nicki Minaj, and Justin Bieber, to name only a few. His family has always been in the jewelry business, he said, but the watch industry is where he truly found his calling. Most of Hiaeve’s clients come from word of mouth — basketball players, rappers, and football players flock to him because they’re referred by existing customers. To learn more about Avi Hiave and Avi & Co., visit his website.