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Top Rolex dealer says more women, young people are buying luxury watches

Watches of Switzerland (WOSGF) says its buyer demographics now include more women and young people.

“So it's still around 65% men, but increasingly women,” said Brian Duffy, CEO of Watches of Switzerland, one of the top Rolex dealers in the US, to Yahoo Finance. Duffy noted women are now buying timepieces with larger case sizes, prompting watch houses like Rolex, IWC, and Omega to offer them as unisex.

With Rolex, women have been opting for men’s watches like the Daytona, Submariner diving watches, and unisex Datejust models.

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: Patricia Gloria Contreras wears a burgundy velvet with red checkered embroidered sequins pattern / V-neck / tank-top / flared jumpsuit, a pink gold watch from Rolex, a large gold ring, during a street style fashion photo session, on November 14, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
Patricia Gloria Contreras wears a burgundy velvet jumpsuit and a pink gold watch from Rolex during a street-style fashion photo session, on Nov. 14, 2021, in Paris, France. (Edward Berthelot/Getty Images) (Edward Berthelot via Getty Images)

But with Rolex accounting for half of the retailer’s business, Duffy said supply can be a pain point.

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“Demand is never going to be satisfied for what comes from Rolex,” Duffy said. “We'd love to have a lot more product than we get; it's the biggest thing that we do is to try and negotiate, as you know, as much [product] as we can through our investments.”

Younger buyers are another standout demographic for the chain. This is somewhat surprising since many in the industry assumed newer generations were no longer interested in the luxury timepiece market. Younger buyers, particularly those invested heavily in assets like cryptocurrencies, sent Rolex and other top-tier brand values in the secondhand market skyrocketing. In 2022, digital currencies crashed alongside secondhand Rolex prices.

“The other big change [in our buying demographic], contrary to what people might expect, is young people,” Duffy said.

“There was a view of young people that are all using their phones, they're all using smartwatches and so on. But the young people, particularly here in America, they really love the products.”

Though Duffy did not divulge statistics on the retailer’s younger buyers, he did note that young buyers are also fueling its CPO (certified pre-owned) business, which could hit 20% of overall sales by the end of the year.

Duffy said the demographic appreciates the history of pre-owned items — whether inherited or from a stranger — and values a product that has been recycled in some sense, meaning it is better for the environment and can potentially be in “circulation forever.”

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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