The Biggest Watch Trends for 2024

For 2024, expect a dazzling shift away from steel sports watches to enchanting unique gold alloys and snugger case sizes, alongside a direct-to-consumer embrace that strengthens ties between brands and watches aficionados.

The Biggest Watch Trends for 2024

Sat here writing this in early 2024 we find ourselves in a position where the watch world has had an incredible few years of success globally. The industry keeps posting record numbers; on social media, we see more likes for wrist shots than puppies for the very first time, and the general interest in watches is far greater than it ever has been before. And much like on Christmas Eve, handling the presents under the tree to guess what's inside, we find ourselves on the cusp of the biggest annual event: Watches & Wonders. During the week-long show in early April, we will see brands release new models for the year ahead in front of both media and collectors. But before all of that, the fun is in the guessing, and today, I'm going to take on the challenge of presenting a few themes which I think will be prevalent in 2024.

Shift away from steel sports models 

We will see a continued shift away from steel sports watches, which have been insanely popular in the last couple of years. While I personally find them to be incredibly beautiful in their wearability and functionality, they tend to be ubiquitous, which I appreciate puts people off. Every collection, though, should still have a sports watch of some kind. The question is, should it be a Chopard Alpine Eagle, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, a Nautilus from Patek, an IWC Ingenieur or a Laureato from Girard Perregeux?  

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

Smaller case sizes

2024 will absolutely see a continued reduction in case size. We've seen this over the last two or three years, in parallel with the rise of vintage and vintage-inspired watches. Typically, dress watches that were, say, just above 40mm are now down to 36 / 37mm and 38mm. In many ways, this is a direct play to appease the purist, which I would consider myself to be, often seeing the date window being removed and the thickness of the watch also coming down. Take the new Chopard LUC 1860, for example, a 36mm dress watch. And a real winner of 2023. 

Chopard LUC 1860.

It's all about shaped watches 

As well as the rise of dress watches with smaller case sizes and classic proportions, we will absolutely see the continued rise of interesting case shapes. For example, the Cartier crash has been an incredible force in the collector world in the last year or so, and we are seeing collectors, particularly from Europe in Italy and France, focusing their energies and passions on jewellery watchers, stone dials and interesting case shapes. And while it may not be a point in itself, it's important to note at this point that we no longer segregate watches for both men and women as it should be. Watches are for everybody, as they always should have been as they are for everybody, and it's a matter of your gender. 

Cartier, Mechanical Legends Crash Skeleton watch.

Unique Gold

I believe we will see each and every brand look to develop its own unique gold alloy. A few that come to mind from brands that have been doing it for some time are A Lange Sohne and its honey gold and channel and its beige gold. For 2024, we have already seen Audemars Piguet launch for the very first time it's “Sand Gold”.  Not quite yellow gold, not quite rose gold, it's somewhere in the middle, and by all accounts those who have seen it in the metal all say that it flexes dramatically in different lighting conditions. We will see more of this naming of gold to come. 

Audemars Piguet, Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked in 41 mm Sand Gold.

Lume dials & cases

Next, we have full loom dials and cases. We have seen these deployed by FP Journe in the Elegante, Bell & Ross and IWC. Lume is, of course, used as a design tool and a functional tool. From a functional standpoint, helping till the time in low light conditions. And while some people appreciate lume on the hands and markers in a subtle way they will be severely disappointed when they encounter a full lumed ill or case because the brightness is quite something. I personally like the fact that brands are exploring this; I think it's an extension of a theme, and it's technically not entirely easy to develop, which is interesting. 

Bell & Ross BR-X5 Green Lum.

Brands will go direct to customers

We will continue to see, I believe, brands going direct to customers. We saw Rolex acquire Bucherer, the retailer, recently, which is a strong move in this direction. We've seen Richemont Group continue to build its own brick-and-mortar locations for its brands, as well as Audemars Piguet, who removed itself entirely from the retail network. As well as this shift to direct-to-consumer, I also believe we will continue to see the rise in prices. These tend to happen more than once a year from certain brands and often in a quiet fashion.

Brands will sell pre owned watches direct 

I also think we will continue to see brands sell secondhand watches directly to customers. We've seen this begin to take place independently and in small capsule collections with JLC and Vacheron Constantin. The beauty, of course, is buying directors. You've got the guarantees of authenticity, you've got the guarantees the watch has been serviced, and you, more often than not, find that you have paperwork coming directly from the brand, which gives you insight into the watch. In many ways, what collectors have been wanting for some time now is to build a relationship directly with the brand and the manufacturer and feel that their passion, energy and financial commitments will, in the long term, be rewarded. By that, I mean allocations of new watches and all of the other extracurricular activities that buyers enjoy from brands these days.

Jaeger-LeCoultre, Triple Calendar.
Jaeger-LeCoultre, Memovox Automatic Calendar "Lapis Lazuli".
Jaeger-LeCoultre, Memovox Automatic Calendar.

A market for collectors not speculators 

We are seeing the continued slide in the eye-watering secondary market numbers for watches from the last 2-3 years, and as a result, watches are finding their way into the hands of collectors rather than prospectors. This is a good thing, and from a market perspective, it is only natural. For example, a Royal Oak, which you could have easily sold the day after purchasing for double if not three times the value of the retail price, is no longer trading for those numbers, which ultimately means that those who buy the watch we hope are the ones that will end up enjoying it.

To conclude, it is going to be a great year for watches. Both in terms of design and sales. Will it be as buoyant as the year gone? Possibly not, but with watches now well and truly on the cool table, we will have lots to celebrate. Come back to this story in December, and let me know in the comments if I was right!