Erik Boneta of Boneta Inc. Discusses Growth of the Fine Timepieces Market

Erik Boneta of Boneta Inc. in New York City discusses one of the biggest changes he has seen in the industry’s market landscape in the past two decades

The global luxury watch sector is forecast to exceed USD 57 billion by 2021, according to Technavio research analysts’ latest report, proving that analog timepieces are making a strong comeback. This industry boom is being spearheaded by secondhand markets where the owners of expensive wristwatches such as Patek Philippe and Rolex are increasingly trading their used ones for a different, but not necessarily brand new, style. Erik Boneta of Boneta Inc. in New York City discusses one of the biggest changes he has seen in the industry’s market landscape in the past two decades.

“Swiss watchmakers have traditionally viewed the preowned market as competition. The logic being that the only watch that can supplant a new Rolex in the shopping cart of a brand-devoted shopper is a vintage Rolex,” said Erik Boneta. “But Switzerland has started to embrace the resale movement, hoping to lure shoppers back to stores by any means possible.” When F.P. Journe launched its certified pre-owned program in October 2016, it was the first luxury watchmaker to offer used pieces at lower prices and with new warranties and official certification. Since then, a handful of others have followed suit, including notable brands MB&F and Audemars Piguet, which plans to open standalone stores to sell secondhand timepieces, according to Chief Executive Officer Francois-Henry Bennahmias. The company, which makes about 40,000 new pieces annually, estimates that the preowned business could be 10 to 20 times more than that for new watches. The size of the market is currently about $5 billion annually, says Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux in Zurich.

While that’s a fraction of the size of the market for new watches, which consulting firm Bain & Co. estimates is $46 billion, it is one of the fastest growing segments in the industry. Sales of used pieces has been growing an average of 40 percent annually over the past five years, compared to an estimated 3 to 5 percent increase in first-time purchases. Ebay, the world’s biggest secondary market platform, launched its own authenticated luxury watch service in September with around 7,000 items, and inventory has already trebled in size to over 20,000 timepieces listed. “Across all luxury categories, I believe [the certification of pre owned products] will happen,” James Hendy, head of Ebay Authentication, told WatchPro. “It’s about understanding the customer. The secondary market gives a great insight into who and what your customer is, and it is a lot more than just what a retailer sees of the customers that come through their door.”

Erik Boneta is the founder of Boneta Inc., a family owned and operated business based in the heart of New York City specializing in fine watches. Boneta’s world class team of in-house watchmakers inspect each piece, ensuring every item sold is guaranteed to be 100% functional and authentic.

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