Rolex Still Holds Their Position In The Top Watch Luxury Brand

Explore why Rolex continues to hold its position as one of the top luxury watch brands, with a range of designs and materials to suit every collector's preference.

May 4, 2023

When watch enthusiast Adam Golden stopped by his local Rolex dealer in Florida this summer, all he had for sale was a ladies Datejust in a case.

If the customer who originally ordered it hadn't changed his mind, it would have been zero.

Rolex is reported to make about a million watches a year, and while advertising is almost everywhere, finding out what to actually buy proves to be a futile task.

According to Jeffrey Hess, a Rolex collector and co-author of Rolex Watches, the watches were always expensive, but today's rarity and pricing make them affordable enough to allow dealers to sell them at negotiable prices. Gone are the days when we had stock. Unauthorized talk.

Rolex did not respond to insider requests for comment on the story. "At the time, everyone could afford a Rolex," Hess told an insider. "I drove around and [the Daytona] he bought for $3,000. Now on the secondary market he's a $50,000 commodity."

According to Hess, the 1980s was his turning point in the company's public image. In that time, the brand has evolved from a must-have precision tool for professionals and adventurers to today's highly-regarded high-end collector's item.

"This watch was never intended to be a fashion watch. It was meant to be a rough man's watch. It should be a watch for swimmers, submariners and explorers. ”

In fact, under founder Hans Wilsdorf, Rolex was at the forefront of horological innovation for much of the 20th century. From radical ideas to wearing a watch on his wrist, diving into the English Channel, climbing Mount Everest and setting speed records, the brand emphasized practicality and reliability above all else.

When Wilsdorf died in 1960, he was succeeded by André Heiniger, his director of marketing at Rolex.


True to its form, the brand has made a name for itself with Hollywood movie placements, sporting event sponsorships, and philanthropic awards.It has also tightened control over supply, resulting in enhanced quality control and a rarity appeal. can be maintained.

By the 1970s, these efforts to project an image of reliability and stability put Rolex in a prime position to store value safely during times of economic uncertainty. For example, the United States abolished the gold standard of the dollar in her 1971, Italy strengthened its control of the lira in her 1972, and the oil crisis of 1973 rocked the market.

According to Hess, the first to enter the vintage Rolex business were the Italians, as watches were a stable and portable alternative to currency at the time. Dealers bought luxury watches in Switzerland, transported them across the border, and sold them in Italy. The Italian then took his Rolex, his Audemars Piguet, and his Patek his Philips to the United States and elsewhere, selling them for many times more cash than he could otherwise carry. A collector's market was born.

Heiniger retired in his 1997, but the company remains true to the strategy he perfected, even if Rolex's original purpose was supplanted by more precise, versatile and affordable alternatives. and continues to be

If anything, the intervening decades have accelerated the growth of the category. Because Rolex is a privately held company (notoriously secretive), it doesn't disclose its financials, but Morgan Stanley estimates the company had sales of CHF 5.2 billion in 2019. .

Meanwhile, in a recent study by McKinsey and Business of Fashion, he predicts that aftermarket sales of luxury watches will exceed $29 billion by 2025.

Tim Stracke, his CEO of Chrono24, the world's largest online marketplace for luxury watches, said in an interview, "There is much less trust in the stability of fiat currencies today than there used to be.

“How do you compare the stability of the euro and the US dollar to a Rolex Daytona, Bitcoin and a kilogram of gold? Hard assets are better,” Stracke said. Its reputation has allowed Rolex to beat the competition for a quarter of the luxury watch market. And Rolex's dominance is growing, says Hess.

"That's the watch that all these guys buy when they make it," he said. “At first, I bought all the small brands that wanted to buy a Rolex, and when I finally succeeded, I bought this Rolex.”

In other words, without Rolex, you wouldn't get there. It's not just a luxury icon, it's the front door.


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