IN FOCUS: The demand for luxurious watches in Singapore and why collectors flip to the gray market

IN FOCUS: The demand for luxurious watches in Singapore and why collectors flip to the gray market

SINGAPORE: It took Mr Jay Tun nearly two years of deliberation earlier than he purchased his first luxurious watch in 2018.

The S$16,480 Rolex Sea-Dweller, which remains to be in his possession, began him on a journey that has been “onerous to cease”.

The 35-year-old has since spent greater than S$300,000 on these timepieces. He now sees his watches, now valued at about S$400,000, as not only a ardour, but in addition an funding.

“I do not identical to watches for the worth. I just like the watches for the totally different actions, totally different intricacies of the actions itself. It’s very intriguing … It’s like artwork to me,” he defined.

“Whichever buy I wish to purchase, particularly for watches, the numbers should make sense first. However after all the piece should be one thing that I like.”

For luxurious watches like a number of the ones Mr Tun collects, demand far outstrips the provision. Watches from manufacturers reminiscent of Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet are among the many hottest.

Patrons can’t simply stroll into retailers and buy these watches. There are often lengthy ready or curiosity lists, particularly for common fashions, watch sellers and collectors stated.

Mr Jarod Ng, co-founder of retailer Watch Capital which sells new and pre-owned luxurious watches, stated lots of people discover the ready time too lengthy.

“Let’s simply say that you just wish to purchase this as a marriage anniversary reward otherwise you wish to purchase it on your son as a commencement current. You possibly can’t be ready for 2 years when he graduates within the subsequent six months,” stated Mr Ng.

Getting your identify on the record additionally on no account ensures you a watch.

“With the authorised supplier, I feel lots of people really feel the identical frustration as I did. You go there they usually will provide you with the usual SOP (commonplace working process) – that it is a extremely sought-after piece, there’s this curiosity record,” stated Mr Tun.

“When you do not comply with up, should you do not buy something extra from them, possible you’ll by no means hear from them ever after.”

Even VIP prospects have to attend just a few months for a watch of their alternative, stated Mr Tan Khai Hsiang, who runs a web based store on Carousell known as KHF Watch.

Mr Tan began out as a watch collector himself, and began shopping for and buying and selling luxurious timepieces on the e-commerce market in 2019. He additionally purchases watches abroad on behalf of different sellers in Singapore. 


New prospects are sometimes advised that the watches they need are out of inventory and they also flip to the gray market, Mr Tan stated. The gray market is made up of shops who usually are not formally authorised by manufacturers to promote their watches.

Mr Tan likened the method to purchasing an unique bag just like the Hermes Birkin. “For regular folks, it’s inconceivable to get,” he stated.

Mr Charles Lee, founding father of Good Time Luxurious at Far East Plaza, stated that it turned more durable to get watches amid the pandemic as prospects couldn’t journey abroad to purchase them. 

“Even when they stroll into the boutiques, you’ll be able to’t get the favored fashions. You possibly can’t get the Rolexes, the cabinets are empty. That’s why folks have to purchase from gray sellers like us.” 

And a few prospects don’t thoughts paying extra to get what they need instantly.

Extra common manufacturers and fashions can price between 20 and 30 per cent extra on the gray market, whereas some can command nearly double the retail worth. 

Checks by CNA on authorised supplier web sites discovered that an entry-level Rolex Submariner mannequin is listed for about S$12,000. On Chrono24, a web based market for watch patrons and sellers, the identical mannequin prices about S$22,000. 

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