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This is how much Gen Z spends on a new watch (spoiler: it’s a lot)

Watchfinder report reveals surprising Gen Z spending habits

A man and woman online shopping
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While Millennials are still smearing avocado on toast, tearing up at grocery prices, and moving back in with their parents, Gen Z has quietly been purchasing luxury watches, and their purchasing power will have you absolutely fainting. As if they don’t make Millennials feel old enough already, this younger generation doesn’t just go out and buy a new watch; they check out TikTok for inspiration and wear their timepieces as a total status symbol.

Generation Z has major economic potential

Man in a car on his phone
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Generation Z encompasses people born between 1997 and 2012, and they represent one-fifth of the total U.S. population. As they enter adulthood, this group has some incredible economic potential, and on top of that, they’ve got a penchant for luxury, especially when it comes to high-end watches.

The new report from Watchfinder & Co. is incredibly eyebrow-raising, with the most surprising fact being that a massive 41% of Gen Z bought a luxury watch last year. This is absolutely wild, especially when you look at the numbers: Gen Z spends an average of $10,870 on a new watch, while Millennials spend just half that at $5,325. Want some numbers that are even more wild? Gen Z buys 2.4 new watches per year on average and 1.43 pre-owned timepieces. That’s a lot for any age, but especially for a generation whose top age is just 26 years old.

How can Gen Z afford luxury watches?

How exactly are these people who are so young able to afford luxury watches? Well, apparently, they’re so into these status symbols that they’re much more willing to look into financing options, and 48% have no problem liquidating some of their assets in order to invest in a new watch. A third of Gen Z considers luxury watches to be a better investment than more traditional assets such as fine wine, gold, and real estate. Essentially, luxury watches may be their avocado toast and the reason they can’t afford homes in the future.

TikTok and “watchfluencers” are having a major impact

Person picking out a watch
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The impact of social media cannot be ignored, especially when it comes to such a young generation. Dubbed “watchfluencers,” there are people on platforms like TikTok that take part in “watch flipping,” and 73% of Gen-Z are aware of it, and a third claim they participate in watch flipping themselves.

According to Edouard Caumon of Watchfinder US, “More than any other generation, online culture plays an influential role for Gen Z. TikTok Influencers like Vookum or Mike Nouveau are garnering millions of views from videos focused on live watch negotiations. This gives Gen Z watch enthusiasts important exposure to luxury models, heritage brands and what represents good value in purchase, and this may be contributing to Gen Z’s particular engagement with the luxury watch market in 2024.”

Gen Z considers aesthetics rather than function

Cartier watch
Antony Trivet / Pexels

When it comes to aesthetics, Gen Z doesn’t want just any old new watch, they’re looking for vintage timepieces from the 90s (any Millennials out there feeling old yet?) and minimalist designs, with brands like Rolex, Cartier, and Omega the reigning champions. Unsurprisingly, especially for a generation brought up on smartphones and social media, the status of a watch matters much more than its functions. A mind-blowing 61% of Gen Z believes that the symbolic value of a luxury watch far outweighs any functions it may have. This mindset will be exceptionally interesting in how it affects the secondhand luxury watch market in the future.

Keeping watches “aesthetically pleasing” will be incredibly important for brands going forward. Caumon adds that brands would be smart to keep Gen Z in mind when designing watches, including keeping dial sizes down and keeping in mind how watches will pair with current trending outfits.

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Sarah Veldman
Sarah has been a freelance writer for over 7 years now, having started while she was living out of a suitcase and traveling…
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