2023 WAS A SIGNIFICANT year for the watch industry. We saw an abundance of exciting new releases, collaborations and partnerships that caused a stir; milestone celebrations, key-figure retirements, ambassador announcements, and a whole lot more.
As we enter the new year, it’s time to hypothesise what 2024 might bring to the watch industry. We’re betting on a few key trends to continue, while other novel looks will emerge, keeping collectors, enthusiasts and pundits alike on the edge of their seats.
Scroll on to see what 2024 has in store for your wrist.
The dress watch makes a triumphant return
If you follow what’s trending in the watch world, there’s a high chance you’ve noticed dress watches creeping back into the zeitgest. Sure, the demand for steel sports watches isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But a growing number of collectors are ditching the hype, forgetting the waitlists, and even selling off their collections to invest in pieces with traditional hallmarks of the yesteryear watch. The neo-vintage movement, for one, remains prominent, with some standout releases this year paying homage to this trend that moulds together the romance of watches from the 1930s with contemporary design elements.
Just look at what Jean Arnault is doing with the rebirth of Daniel Roth and Gerald Genta brands, or even Rolex releasing its Perpetual 1908 in early 2023. We anticipate the rise of neo-vintage watches will be a significant trend in the years to come, which presents an exciting era of style, history, and value for the modern watch enthusiast and/or collector to invest their time (and money) into.
…As do smaller case sizes
There’s no disputing the demand for smaller watches in today’s watch industry. Long gone are the days of slapping on a watch 43mm and above on your wrist hoping to pull off your best Sly Stallone impression; watch consumers are praying their favourite collections become available in 39mm and below, and most watch brands are taking heed.
Naturally, a return to the dress watch calls for smaller dimensions, so we will see a greater number of dress watches become available in 2024 in sizes ranging from 36mm to 39mm (which we consider the ‘sweet spot’ for sizing). But we’re also anticipating smaller watches that aren’t just reserved for the traditionalist—it will be exciting to see a return to smaller watches with high-quality movements incorporated in a range of existing collections, from sports watches to pilots watches and more.
Colour dials aren’t going anywhere (yet)
2023 was a strong year for the continuation of the coloured watch trend—a notable mention must be made to Rolex, TAG Heuer and Hermes who produced some of this year’s best ‘coloured’ timepieces. We anticipate the craze for these whimsical watch dials will remain a strong trend in the year to come. Why? Because watch collectors love the rarity that coloured dials possess—just look at Rolex’s release of the coloured Oyster Perpetual collection in 2020, with some pieces already fetching ludicrous prices on the secondary market—while others, particularly the new generation of watch stans coming through, love the fun of it all. Plus, coloured watch dials are an expressive way to make an impression in a notoriously conservative industry. Perhaps the question for 2024 is: what colour is going to be the next big hit?
Watches & Wonders will be bigger and better than ever
The global trade show that stops the (watch) world is really the centre focus of the wider watch industry, as 55 key watch brands gather to present their major novelties for the year. From April 9 to 15, watch media and trade will descend upon Geneva to bear witness to all the latest developments that will undoubtedly dictate trends to come.
And next year, there are rumours circulating that joining the existing 55 exhibiting brands—which already includes the likes of Rolex, IWC Schaffhausen, Cartier, and TAG Heuer, just to name a few—will be six new brands, including Bremont, Eberhard & Co, Gerald Charles, Nomos Glashütte, Norqain and Raymond Weil. Breitling and Bulgari are also slated to be joining the fold, meaning the 2024 fair is set to be one of the biggest yet.
Special anniversary releases aplenty
2024 will mark some significant milestones for historic watch brands. Piaget will celebrate 150 years in January; Bulgari will also celebrate its 140 year anniversary and Rolex will celebrate 70 years of the GMT-Master II—the traveller’s watch that carries arguably the same weight and importance as the Submariner and Daytona. Will we see a new—or updated—GMT-Master from Rolex next year? (Coke bezel, please!) We hope so, but considering this year was the 70th anniversary of the Submariner, and Rolex didn’t mark the occasion with any new updates to the popular collection, we’re not holding our breath.
Collaborations will continue dominating watch headlines
Marketing ploy or genuine watchmaking feats? 2023 was hardly short on watch collaborations—there was the Audemar Piguet x Cactus Jack collaboration; Swatch x Blancpain celebratory timepiece and the IWC x Lewis Hamilton, just to name a few. In 2024, you can bet that watch brands will continue to drive hype through the use of limited-edition collaborative releases and celebrity partnerships. But what will be the next big collaboration to land? In the case of the Swatch x Omega MoonSwatch collaboration of 2022, we hope to see similar partnerships that bring together the watch community, both old and new, as well as enticing a completely new customer base with an affordable yet coveted product.
And finally, a greater focus on sustainability
Sustainability and ethical practices will remain a key focus for watchmakers in 2024, as the industry as a whole continues to develop new ways of sustainable watchmaking production, from the use of environmentally friendly materials to ethical manufacturing processes. Beyond doing the right thing from an ethical point of view, brands will want to appease their climate-conscious millennial and Gen Z consumers who will continue to seek sustainable luxury purchases in 2024.