Vintage Watches

August 10, 2011: Vintage Watches

I love when my instincts are borne out by real life. I have a big folder where I file ideas for future Trendcasts. Last month I cut out an article on watches from The New York Times and put it in the folder. Then one of my business partners sent me an Engage: Affluent newsletter from the folks at Media Post on watches. That clinched it, and I planned to report on the trend in the next few weeks.

I’m visiting family in New York this week and on Sunday my 19-year-old niece announced, “I want a watch.” This was surprising since, like many members of her generation, she hasn’t worn one for as long as I can remember. Several years back there was a lot of concern in the watch industry, since the Millennials were forgoing timepieces and using their ever-present cellphones to keep track of time. So that sealed it: Watches are hot.
According to the Engage: Affluent newsletter and some of the men (the article was specifically about men’s watches) interviewed by The Times, the resurgence is less about telling time, and more about broadcasting style. Vintage, retro (Timexes are suddenly in again) and oversized styles are particularly in demand right now, and several retailers report skyrocketing sales. The uniqueness of wearing watches among their peers is also appealing to a lot of Millennials.

This trend is perfect for many different entrepreneurial ventures. The emphasis on vintage means you can get started for less on eBay or other auction sites, or open a watch website, kiosk or retail store. The proof is in the numbers. The Times reports that after two years of a down market, sales of moderately priced watches (between $150 and $1,000) were up 15 percent in the last few months. And in the midst of a miserable economy, sales of luxury watches (priced between $10,000 and $25,000) have increased 33 percent.

My niece actually bought two watches on Sunday. And as an aspiring medical student who can’t check her cell as she shadows the doctors, buying a watch was a practical, as well as stylish, decision.