New models from Rolex, the world’s most recognised Swiss watch brand, offer a fantastic opportunity for HNW and other brokers who can build new digital insurance products for single items.
Rolex probably accounts for about 25-30% of all UK watch sales above £3000, depending on which survey you read, and that includes both new and used. Your typical Rolex buyer/collector may well own 2-5 watches, with a total auction value of over £25K, even if some of those Rolex models are Air Kings. Yeah, don’t buy an Air King.
The latest editions of the Oyster Perpetual Datejust include a rainforest green dial, plus upgardes to the traditional two-tone 18ct gold/steel bracelet Datejust. The new Explorer and Explorer II models are also likely to attact Rolex fans with their new super-bright lume, upgraded movements and other tweaks.
The market will be transformed by data
Valuations have been dominated by jewellers and watch experts, who produce an insurance company certificate for about £100-£150 a time, but this is a very 1990s way of estimating the actual value of a Rolex. Often the jeweller lacks the knowledge to assess the true value of an older Rolex, because the staff don’t know that upgrading the fading hands on a 1960s Sub may actually devalue the watch, not add value.
Even new watches aren’t always worth the official retail price, even if the policyholder thinks that is the real value. For example a new Submariner or GMT II may retail officially at about £9000, but the actual value due to waiting lists is about £14-£17,000 on the open market. So if that watch is stolen, the insurer will struggle to get a replacement GMT II Batman from Rolex, especially at the official RRP.
Conversely, a watch like a Hamilton Intra-Matic may retail at £1900 but if you try to lend against it at a pawnbrokers you’ll soon discover that its real value is akin to £500, even in as-new conditon, with box and paperwork.
Much of the value is down to fashions and trends in the arcane world of watch collecting, so maybe there is room for an agreed value policy, similar to classic motorcycles? In the end if you give the policyholder the agreed value they can always go shopping for another watch, rather than the unobtainable model they previously owned.
By linking auction or grey market prices realised to the underwriting software, plus adding in the new digital passports that brands like Breitling and Vacheron Constantin have pioneered, insurance brokers and MGAs can create policies that the Rolex collector can manage via app. Add or remove watches as they turnover their collection. Insurance in transit. Upload photos for agreed values.
The location of watch, on the wrist vs in a safe, is also crucial data – by sharing that data the owner may effectively pay a daily, or hourly, premium on-demand when wearing a special Cosmograph for a wedding event perhaps.
If you build it right, watch collectors will come to your website and buy it.