04/20/2022
 7 minutes

Chrono24 Data Check: Four Generations and Their Favorite Watches

By Sebastian Swart
Rolex-Submariner-Header-2-1

Who’d have guessed? Whether it’s the baby boomers or Gen X, Y, or Z, each generation has a favorite luxury watch that represents their age group. That’s what Chrono24’s extensive data analysis has revealed, based on data collected from 2018 to 2022. Spoiler alert: one watch has captured the hearts of all generations across the board. When it comes to brands, however, we see the age groups diverge; some are on team Rolex, while others side with team Omega.  

Other than this somewhat unusual observation, the data check revealed a number of other interesting findings regarding the values, characteristics, and consumer behaviors of the generations in question. Given that each generation lives up to different clichés, I’ll present them in this article with a wink and a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor.  

Warning: This text may contain traces of irony and sarcasm. 

The Baby Boomers – Living to Work, Save, and Inherit

They have populated the Earth since the end of World War II and were still coming into the world up until the mid-1960s: the baby boomers. If you belong to the boomer generation, you’ll be between your late 50s and mid-70s today. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and LBJ were household names during your childhood and youth. So, we’re talking a long time ago! You are a child of the postwar economic boom and grew up under decent, reasonably stable circumstances. Your father might have fought in World War II and worked hard for his paycheck, while your mother was primarily responsible for managing the household and your upbringing. Both of your parents contributed to the economic growth from which you profited then and still do today. According to your life motto, you live to work and secure your wealth. Or, to put it another, less flattering way: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” 

This approach to life means you’ve placed your professional life entirely in the hands of your employer, who has been able to offer you structure and assign you a clear role in your company. Whatever the boss says goes. You’ve always fulfilled your role loyally. And as a restless workaholic, you’ve climbed the career ladder quite far. 

According to the data collected and analyzed by Chrono24, you should be in possession of a Rolex GMT-Master II (ref. 16710) or Submariner Date (ref. 16610) – or both! If you’re a boomer and do not happen to own any of these Rolex models, you either fall woefully outside the statistical norm or you should take a closer look at your watch box. In case you weren’t aware of this already, your consumer behavior is characterized by the pursuit of quality, luxury, and status. This makes you often susceptible to the slick marketing schemes of large luxury goods corporations. 

Now you know why you drive a luxury car and own at least one of the aforementioned Rolexes – or why you will feel the need to start shopping for one after reading this article. So, go ahead and invest around $14,500 in a pre-owned GMT-Master II or $18,000 in a Submariner Date with a clear conscience. Your heirs will thank you. 

A boomer favorite: the Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 16710
A boomer favorite: the Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 16710

Generation X: The Cynical Nihilists

Are you cynical, sarcastic, and born between 1965 and 1980? Then, like me, you are a Gen Xer. The term has been around since the early 1950s, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that it became a popular moniker to describe the traits of this demographic cohort, thanks to the novel of the same name by Douglas Coupland. 

While baby boomers still focus on values such as idealism and prosperity, our Gen X value system is primarily characterized by individualism to the point of hedonism and nihilism. Instead of hard work and a successful career, Gen X puts a premium on pragmatism and the pursuit of an enjoyable life. The new life motto is “work to live.” This attitude ushered in the term “work-life balance,” which, among other things, aims to achieve considerable freedoms in allocating one’s time at and outside of work. Many a boomer has berated our generation as lazy and unmotivated. But they forget that Gen Xers came of age in a highly technologized world and, in many cases, their everyday professional lives are no longer dictated by the machines of late stage industrialization. 

Which watch is the favorite of these hedonistic cynics? The Rolex Explorer II (ref. 16570). While the value system, personality structure, and everyday working life of Generation X has shifted considerably from that of their predecessors, Gen X’s buying behavior has hardly changed at all. 

I can attest to the truth of this trend, since I personally owned this watch a few years ago. Then, my pragmatism finally kicked in and I asked myself why such a simple watch should cost several thousand dollars. Today, on average, you’d have to be willing to part with just under $10,000 for a pre-owned Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570. That’s double what it cost five years ago. However, the strong purchasing power and brand awareness of our age group help relativize this steep price. 

Gen X prefers the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570

Generation Y – Aimless Ego-Tacticians

If you’re between the ages of 24 and 42, then you’re a millennial and belong to Generation Y. Gen Xers like to sarcastically refer to you as “Generation Why?” because you are constantly searching for meaning behind your actions and questioning everything. At the same time, you have a strong desire for security. As a well-educated millennial, you’ve graduated from university with greater ease than previous generations – though it’s difficult to say whether this is due to a general decline in teaching. In contrast to the risk takers of Generation X, your age group – much like the baby boomers – is characterized by risk avoidance, boredom, perfectionism, and the pursuit of fixed rules. 

Since you strive for stability in life, teamwork and group belonging are essential to you. This may also explain why networking via all kinds of social media channels is even more important to you than it was to previous generations. You’re always online, so your watch search doesn’t start in front of retailers’ shop windows, but on Instagram or other online channels, which you tend to trust blindly. 

Your motto in life is to “blend work and life”. With this in mind, fun, flexibility, and flat hierarchies are especially important to you. However, this approach to life demands a great amount of improvisation, leaving a meandering career path on your resume. The pursuit of great independence and freedom combined with the promise of an uncertain future, however, has the unsavory side effect of you being known as an “ego-tactician.” This means you make all your important decisions based on how it may benefit or disadvantage you and you alone. 

According to Chrono24 data, the favorite watch of the notoriously ego-centric generation is the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch with the reference number 311.30.42.01.005. So, if you belong to Generation Y and own this watch, you’re fulfilling all the clichés of your age group described above. After all, the Moonwatch is one of the few iconic cult watches that, from a purely technical standpoint, is well worth its price of around $5,000. 

"Generation Why?" loves the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch ref. 311.30.42.01.005
“Generation Why?” loves the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch ref. 311.30.42.01.005

Generation Z – Saving the World With a Luxury Watch

The last generation we’ll discuss in this article is Gen Z. As part of this group, you were born between 1997 and 2012. So, you’re probably just finished up your training to become a Youtuber or influencer and are currently fishing for likes on the Web. Or maybe you’re just learning to read and write. As a digital native, you came into the world with a smartphone in hand and haven’t put it down since. 

You prefer to solve this world’s problems through WhatsApp groups and hashtags. And if that doesn’t work, you and your friends take to the streets, much to chagrin of all previous generations who already have a driver’s license. These bad people – predominantly white men over 40 – get in the way of your tireless pursuit of justice. As a supporter of all things woke, you lead your life dogmatically, according to the codes of political correctness, and largely free of humor. Accordingly, you’ve declared nothing short of war against the sarcasm of Gen X. 

For you, Gen X’s notions of work-life balance and working from home are synonymous with exploitation. As a digital nomad, your workplace is wherever you happen to be and the thought of regulating working hours is a foreign concept to you. 

You consider wealth and material goods unimportant. As you’ve learned by watching Generation X and Y, these won’t get you very far in life anyways. The existence of a generation like the baby boomers is something you only hear about in stories about your great-grandparents or read about in bound stacks of paper (aka books). 

Now that we’ve thoroughly covered all the clichés of your generation, let me introduce Gen Z’s favorite watch. According to Chrono24’s data, you prefer to demand freedom and justice with a Speedmaster Reduced ref. 3510.50.00 on your wrist.  

What’s so special about this watch that attracts Gen Z? The best explanation probably lies in the fact that your taste is excellent, but your wallet and wrist are still quite small. At an average price of around $3,000, the Omega Speedmaster Reduced is about $2,200 below the price of the visually similar Moonwatch, preferred by members of Generation Y. We have thus come a long way from the boomers and their motto “all work and no play lets Jack buy a Rolex.”

Omega Speedmaster Reduced ref. 3510.50.00 - the luxury timepiece for today’s youth
Omega Speedmaster Reduced ref. 3510.50.00 – the luxury timepiece for today’s youth

Across the Generations – The Watch That Everyone Can Agree On

It has influenced the design of the classic diving watch like no other, and for generations, it has been THE timepiece of choice, whether you flip burgers or flip stocks: It is the Rolex Submariner. According to Chrono24’s data analysis, the four generations described here have all come to the same conclusion. This watch – specifically, the Submariner Date ref. 16610, which has long been a favorite of baby boomers – unites all different age groups. 

You can’t go wrong with a Submariner ref. 16610. You won’t make a bad impression, you won’t stand out, and you won’t reveal especially bad or good taste. It is also well suited for passing on from one generation to the next. Generation Alpha is already waiting in the wings and raring to go. 

It doesn’t offend, it doesn’t stand out: the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 16610 is the luxury watch for everyone
It doesn’t offend, it doesn’t stand out: the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 16610 is the luxury watch for everyone

About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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