Curious about what the most popular watches are? While we recommend people choose watches to wear that best fit their own personalities and needs, it is interesting to know which timepieces are currently trending with the general watch-buying public. Working in collaboration with eBay, aBlogtoWatch investigated what products are sold most on the important marketplace platform. eBay has provided data on the top 10 luxury watch models (above a certain price point) that sold on the platform in the first half of 2023 (the data is for the period of January to July 2023). eBay is probably the world’s largest single platform for timepiece sales, and thus, what happens on eBay probably signifies trends and behaviors that are also occurring off eBay in other watch sales markets. How closely does your own buying behavior match the average?
In addition to the top 10 bestselling luxury watch models sold on eBay for the first half of 2023, we also have data on the top-performing luxury watch brands. So, it’s no surprise that all of the top 10 individual watch model families are contained within the list of the top-selling watch brands. The goal of this coverage is not only to capture a snapshot of watch sales and popularity but also to see how this data changes over time. It is aBlogtoWatch’s goal to receive this data from eBay at least twice a year and then to show how performance is similar or changing over time as trends, marketing, and consumer interests may shift.
As far as I am concerned, this watch sales data is revealing, but hardly surprising. The activity on eBay closely coincides with active luxury brand marketing campaigns, as well as those brands that are the most active in the market. In other words, the performance we see on eBay is based on external factors such as timepiece enthusiast group popularity, current advertising reach, and overall current brand penetration in the minds of various consumer groups (watch lovers, car lovers, fashion lovers, design lovers, etc.). Another way of looking at it is that marketing activity on platforms like eBay appears to have a clear and direct relationship to watch sales. This further validates the importance of watch brand marketing and communication activities outside of the retail sales environment. A related piece of wisdom here is that watch demand and desire emotions are formed outside of a watch sales platform, and marketplaces like eBay (no matter how big) respond to consumer demand more so than actually form it. eBay is nevertheless a huge beneficiary of watch purchase interest — as it is my understanding that more transactions to purchase (and thus sell) watches occur on eBay versus any of the alternatives.
Why these particular watches from these brands? I wouldn’t get too caught up in there being particularly special qualities in any one of these watches that make them ideally suited to perform so well. The reality is that well-performing watches do so as a result of a mixture of factors including a) current brand desirability, b) fashion relevancy of the design, c) current cultural associations with wearers of that product, d) practical wearability, and e) price. All of these factors must blend together in just the right way for a timepiece to experience top-level demand. This status quo is merely a function of how many quality wristwatch products there are in the competitive market. This list does not, for example, represent the most accurate, durable, or legible watches. Therefore, this popularity list of watches sold on eBay does not overlap with the best value or functionality you can find on the market. Rather, this is a list of demonstrated luxury product popularity with brands and products that currently have hit a stride with popular culture. A final lesson here is that pop culture and trending fashion interests can still have a major impact on luxury watch desirability. The good news is that some good taste is, indeed, relatively timeless.
Without further delay, let’s look at a list of the top 10 watch models sold on eBay between January and July 2023, presented alphabetically. Keep in mind that the data is not down to specific reference numbers but rather more tailored to the terms for which users on eBay actually search, and that the list is based on global figures, not just sales performance in the United States (although most of the performance probably does come from the United States).
- Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore
- Cartier Ballon Bleu
- Cartier Panthere
- Cartier Tank Must De Cartier
- Omega Seamaster 300
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual
- Rolex Submariner
- TAG Heuer Aquaracer
- TAG Heuer Formula 1
- Tudor Pelagos
What we see is dominance by a few major brands (the 10 watches are segmented between just six brands), with few surprises. Rolex, Tudor, Cartier, Omega, TAG Heuer, and Audemars Piguet all represent the world’s biggest spenders of advertising dollars in the luxury watch space. I would also argue that this list is split between about 30% of women’s watches and 70% of men’s watches. My guess is that such a split closely resembles the larger overall split in the watch market between purchases of watches to be worn by women or by men.
I consider the three Cartier watches (Ballon Bleu, Panthere, and Must de Cartier) to likely be those for women because of the nature of the models. What is worth noting is that women’s watch-buying interest is still currently consolidated into a few brands. Here we see all of that interest consolidated into a single brand. This goes to a larger point I often like to discuss: Male consumers of luxury watches currently seem more open-minded to new brands, whereas female luxury watch consumers still appear to rally around a small number of established and recognized luxury brand names.
What is also interesting is the style of watches that are popular. I think it would be easy to categorize the women’s watch models as daily wear casual luxury, while the men’s models are all mainly sports-style watches with sizes averaging about 40-44mm wide. It isn’t clear from the eBay data which precise reference numbers were the most popular (which would help further narrow down size, material, and color choices), but that is beyond the scope of the discussion I wanted to have here. With this data alone, you can easily understand what is popular in the luxury watch market and, in many instances, why they are popular.
In addition to people tending to prefer clean, legible dials, what the eBay data suggests is that consumers are not too interested in complications. At least 80% of the watches are time-only dials (perhaps with the date), and the other 20% do not get more complicated than standard chronographs. While the timepiece industry rightfully prides itself on the quality and complexity of its movements, the data suggests that the general luxury watch consumer is interested in design features outside of what functionality a timepiece can offer. Of course, there is still a place in the market for complications — but there doesn’t seem to be much mainstream volume appeal. This is also good news because it means watch brands can attain popularity with a relatively simple watch (mechanically speaking) provided it excels in other areas such as beauty and storytelling.
- TAG Heuer
This list mostly includes the brands that have individually sold models and styles in the top 10 list above, but not all. Audemars Piguet is not present probably because of an overall smaller number of models (even though its active models are very popular), and brands like Versace wouldn’t have any single most popular item but rather is a brand that appears to be performing well overall. It is also interesting to see large volumes of sales activity in brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre, Gucci, and IWC. This could be related to a few factors, including spikes in interest due to marketing activities, the availability of attractive discounts, or merely the availability of inventory to be listed on eBay. Further, we see the presence of the largest luxury watch advertisers in the United States on this list, which tends to include Rolex, Omega, TAG Heuer, Cartier, and Breitling.
I hope you found this list of the top 10 watches sold on eBay interesting. Taking this data, it’s easy to see what’s currently popular in the luxury watch market, and informed enthusiasts can begin to understand why these models are popular to begin with. aBlogtoWatch will strive to maintain this series and continue to work with eBay to track and report on the top 10 luxury watches and brands actually sold on eBay. This data once again includes performance for the first half of 2023. In several months, let’s see how shifting tastes and trends may have an effect on the top 10 most popular luxury watches sold on eBay.