Much has been said already about the global economic downturn affecting the US and now the rest of the world. So much in fact that it affects our daily thoughts in every aspect of our life. This impact is here to stay with us for unforeseen times thus affecting everything including many of ours horology acquisition and collecting habits. Now I will not go on about what/whom/where/why did it happen nor will I try and predict the future. All I will state is how I see it affecting me/us right not and how I see it developing.
There is definitely a correction from watch market valuation highs from the middle of the year especially evident in the vintage watch markets. The biggest change I see now (and for the future) is in the middle to low market where the effects are clearly evident. The middle to entry level consumers momentarily will see the sharpest decline due to lack of disposable income for luxury objects of desire. I say momentarily because as disposable income becomes available we will see the return en mass because the timepiece in today's digital age is not anymore just a time telling tool but rather the reflection of ones style, persona & emotional desires (very much like ones home, car, clothes, etc). On the other hand there is no abating in the high-end market with clear expansion in the very high-end due to unseciable demand in ever growing numbers of emerging markets new millionaires.
The positive thing of potential reduced demand for watches as a result of this is that finally the supply and manufacturing capabilities of the companies will catch up to true demand. Thus resulting in a move back to the equilibrium including both exuberant pricing increases of the past few years, increase in service and quality control of manufacturing, increase in true watchmaking talent pool & timely deliveries for the true aficionados that will stay in this horology game.
Another positive result evident already is sharp reduction of speculators and flippers which puts a smile on every true watch aficionado dial. In addition I foresee further consolidation in the horology industry with hopefully weeding out the overcrowded field of the weak, lemmings & the inconsequential that benefited from the past half decade of the horology renaissance. All in all as you can see not all news are that bad because once the economic fortunes bounce back (which eventually they undoubtedly will) the industry will emerge much more complete, efficient and stronger – of course this is just my humble opinion which just might be completely wrong.