The Daily Mail refers to them as “Rolex rippers” — a cutesy name for thugs who attack and rob people in the streets for their watches:
A spate of luxury watch muggings in London is putting wealthy owners off flaunting their wrist candy — and may be contributing to collapsing demand for high-end timepieces.
The value of secondhand watches, as tracked by the Bloomberg Subdial Watch Index, is down more than 40 per cent since its peak in April 2022.
Major UK retailer Watches of Switzerland has seen its share price drop by 53 per cent this year after announcing it expects revenue to be 10 per cent lower than forecast, while Richemont, owner of Cartier, has said half year sales are down by 17 per cent.
Typical Mail ignorance used as panic creation. The “spate of robberies” cannot affect more than a tiny percentage of luxury watch owners, and while London certainly has a large share of sales of these overpriced geegaws, it’s not enough to account for the dip in Richemont’s sales.
Aside: For those who aren’t aware of the Richemont empire, it includes luxury brands like Montblanc pens, Cartier, IWC, Dunhill and Purdey (!!!). It’s controlled by a South African one-time tobacco tycoon, Johann Rupert, who founded Richemont as a way to get out of the tobacco business.
What the downturn in Richemont sales would appear to mean is that the demand for luxury items is dipping due to economic concerns (not street thuggery) — except that when it comes to individual wealth, sales are trendy within the various divisions within the luxury market. Such divisions include real estate, cars, precious metals, clothing, yachts, watches and so on. And of course, while “fashion” plays a lot in this market, the real motivator for such spending is driven by investment.
Note, by the way, that Richemont doesn’t own Ferrari or Aston Martin (yet), and if Sotheby’s recent auction of “desirable” cars is anything to go by, a larger chunk of disposable income has been channeled in that direction — one 1956 Mercedes 300 SC can buy a couple dozen Vacheron Constantin watches, for example. (I’m also told by sources within the collectible car market that sales are softening there too, but the sales of luxury yachts are still firm, even growing.)
We won’t even talk about real estate prices in the South of France or similar “must-have” destinations like the Gulf states.
Against serious high-ticket items like yachts and resorts in the Greek islands, for instance, Montblanc pens and Rolex watches are pretty small potatoes. That said, however, I certainly wouldn’t risk wearing a luxury watch in London nowadays — although the discreet Patek Philippe is certainly not as noticeable as the chunky Rolexes and Breitlings.
The real story here is not the ups and downs of economic trends or the spending of rich people, but the ever-increasing rise in street thuggery (and not just in London), which law enforcement agencies seem unwilling to address let alone reduce because racism.
I also note that the luxury real estate market in Manhattan seems to be softening, and I’m pretty sure that it’s getting more difficult to sell those $50 million+ condos in an area where increased street thuggery makes London look like a kiddies’ playground.
Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail talks hysterically about the thuggery (because hysteria is their stock-in-trade), but not a great deal about lenient prosecutors and police inaction. That discussion seems to be more acceptable to conservative outlets like Breitbart News.