Why have Rolex watches become so expensive?

Rolex watches

Would you like to acquire a Rolex  ? If you’ve done any research you’ll probably know that getting one from an authorized dealer is nigh on impossible – and even if you do find a dealer with the model you’re looking for, be prepared to pay way more than the list price. This problem is also found in advertisements for new or used Rolex offered on Chrono24. Will the price spike ever come to an end? Let’s first examine the factors contributing to the explosion in the price of Rolex watches. Are they really up to the astronomical sums you will have to pay?

Rolex, the luxury brand par excellence

If Rolex is synonymous with success and wealth today, this has not always been the case. Before the arrival of quartz watches, most mechanical watches were indeed not considered luxury goods. Rolex created some of the best tool watches of the time, some of which became famous for pushing the boundaries of what was possible in extreme situations. Examples include the Explorer , Submariner , Milgauss and Daytona , four references designed to meet a clear functional objective. In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, some Rolex timepieces were already considered the best in the industry, but not necessarily as luxury items.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the overall perception of mechanical watches changed and they evolved from simple functional timepieces to luxury items. At a time when quartz was king and the Swiss watch industry was going through an unprecedented crisis , the Italians have had a resurgence of interest in classic chronographs. The stories, traditions and know-how associated with these watches have helped make them highly sought-after symbols of good taste and wealth. This transition was key to the renaissance of mechanical watches and the Swiss watch industry in particular. With the public once again appreciating Rolex creations and seeing them in a new light, virtually all of the brand’s classics found themselves center stage.

Rolex prices have increased significantly over the past few years.

As mechanical watches truly began to be perceived as luxury items, the brand with the crown was on the lips of watch enthusiasts. Rolex, of course, realized this potential and began to market its products very skilfully. The result ? Rolex is now much more than a “just” watch manufacturer and has firmly established itself as one of the world’s leading luxury brands.

Rolex, the difference between the list price and the market price

Over the past five years, interest in Rolex watches has increased significantly and prices have obviously followed suit. With the brand limiting its annual production volume, popular models have become increasingly difficult to obtain from authorized retailers. To find a new or used Rolex, it is better to try your luck on another sales channel, for example on Chrono24.

The catalog prices of Rolex watches vary within a very wide range: count around €5,200 for an Oyster Perpetual and €430,000 for a GMT-Master II Ice. Whatever their list price, most of these watches are actually bought at much higher prices: the Submariner and the Daytona, for example, often sell for two to three times more than their official list price. How to explain such a difference ? Let’s take a closer look at the multiple factors that go into this equation.

Rolex watches are often offered at prices well above the recommended price.

Rolex watches are often offered at prices well above the recommended price.

Rolex, mass production at the highest level

One of the biggest secrets to Rolex’s success has been to mass-produce watches of incredible quality, unlike brands such as Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet who focus on high-end, handcrafted pieces. and in small quantities. This very large series production has been a hallmark of the brand for several decades, which is why you will be able to find many vintage Rolex references from the 1960s and 1970s in good running condition.

The brand regularly revisits the materials as well as the movements used in order to increase the overall quality of its watches. but also for their ease of maintenance. Everything is done so that you can enjoy your Rolex for as long as possible and perhaps even pass it on to your children. By managing to mass-produce timepieces of such quality, Rolex has therefore accomplished a major feat.

Creating icons, another secret to Rolex’s success

Another factor that has greatly contributed to the success of Rolex is the incredible number of watches that have become classics over the years. In the 1950s, the designers at Rolex had no idea that the Submariner would become the universal reference in terms of diving watches. Fascinating ! Rolex did not stop there and gave birth to other unforgettable icons: the GMT-Master served as an example for many watches equipped with a second time zone and the Day-Date became a iconic luxury watch.

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