Newcomers to the watch world are often incredibly curious and sometimes even apprehensive about the iconic brand Rolex. Why is Rolex so popular? Are Rolex watches worth it?
It’s reasonable. It’s the one brand everyone has heard about, and it can seem incredibly expensive for those unfamiliar with the world of horology. Each Rolex watch costs at least a few thousand dollars - money you could save for a car or even a downpayment.
However, once you get deeper into the world of watches, you’ll realize that if you want a high-quality product, you need to be willing to shell out some cash. So then, the question that follows is, does Rolex really merit all of the hype?
Keep on reading to find out some of the reasons why Rolex is so expensive and whether it’s worth the investment at the end of the day.
Rolex was founded by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis in 1905 in London. The company’s original name was Wilsdorf and Davies, but in 1908, it started using the name Rolex for its watches. Following World War I, it moved to Geneva in Switzerland, and eventually, the entire company was renamed Rolex S.A.
Hans Wilsdorf had a clear vision when he chose the crown as the brand’s logo. He wanted to create the best watches in the market, and it’s easy to argue that he succeeded. Throughout Rolex’s history, the brand has made huge technical achievements.
Just a few years after its inception, Rolex became the first brand to receive a chronometer certification (an important acknowledgment of precision and accuracy) for its wrist watches. In 1926, Rolex developed one of the first fully water and dust-resistant watch cases, aptly named the “Oyster” case.
Then, in 1931, the brand produced a unique Perpetual mechanism for its watches. Its purpose was to self-wind the using a rotor at the back of the case, saving wearers a lot of hassle.
The words Chronometer, Oyster, and Perpetual are found on the dial of every Rolex watch, to remind you of Rolex’s history and achievements.
How Rolex Watches Are Made
To better understand why Rolex is so expensive, we need to dive deeper into how Rolex watches are made.
The first question we need to address is where are Rolex watches made. Rolex crafts all of its watches in-house, in its manufacturing facilities in Geneva, Switzerland.
This means that all of the parts, from the cases to the movements and bracelets, are crafted inside the Rolex facilities with absolutely no outsourcing. Even the gold used for some Rolex models is cast inside a Rolex facility.
If you’ve been interested in watches for a while, you may have noticed that most watch brands utilize 316L stainless steel to construct their watches. Rolex, however, uses a different type of stainless steel called 904L. This type of steel provides additional corrosion resistance and maintains its polishing better than traditional steel.
The downside to it is that it’s difficult and expensive to machine. In fact, after it was introduced, Rolex had to replace all of its machinery to accommodate 904L stainless steel.
Inside every Rolex watch beats one of Rolex’s in-house, automatic Perpetual movements - the interntal mechanism that keeps the watch ticking. The tough, reliable movement powers itself and requires minimal maintenance, which is why Rolex watches are so consistent and durable.
Thanks to the chronometer certification, the 360o rotor, and the different shock absorption systems, your Rolex will continue to function without a problem for many years. And when the time comes to service it, Rolex has one of the more affordable service procedures in the luxury watch market.
Why Are Rolex Watches So Expensive?
Let’s start with a paradox; Rolex watches are not that expensive. For some people, it might seem ludicrous to drop several thousand dollars on a wristwatch. But, when you compare Rolex watches to other luxury watch brands, you will find that their prices are fair. However, there are some factors that contribute to the seemingly high prices.
As stated above, Rolex’s priority is build quality and attention to detail. Rolex wants every watch that leaves the factory to hold up to the durability and reliability standards of its clients.
Despite popular belief that Rolex production is totally mass-produced, every Rolex watch actually receives the attention of an individual, highly-trained artisan. On top of that, Rolex tests all of its movements rigorously to ensure their accuracy and reliability.
Combine all of those with the high-end materials used in every Rolex watch and you can understand why Rolex is so expensive.
Another factor for Rolex’s asking prices is their brand recognition - a controversial factor that will be incredibly relevant to some watch enthusiasts, and not important at all to others. Ask a random person on the street to name a watch brand and their answer will probably be Rolex.
The iconic status of the brand started to develop in its nascent days. Hans Wilsdorf wanted to associate Rolex watches with excellence.
So, he ensured that some of the most important exploring and sports achievements were performed in the company of a Rolex watch. These include the first expedition to conquer Mount Everest, the first descent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and Mercedes Gleitze’s cold-weather attempt to swim across the English Channel.
So, Is Rolex Worth It?
We’ve had a lot to say about Rolex so far, and you may already have a guess at our answer. Rolex, as a brand, absolutely justifies its pricing. However, it’s only through a careful examination of the following factors that we can answer a more profound question: is a Rolex watch worth it?
It’s been several decades since Rolex watches have had any significant visual changes. Additionally, the brand offers a rather limited selection of models to choose from. However, these two seemingly negative traits are advantageous for the company.
Keeping the design familiar increases the brand’s recognition. It ensures that people from different generations and backgrounds can instantly recognize a Rolex watch on someone’s wrist. Moreover, the small details that do change with every new Rolex release make each reference highly collectible.
The few Rolex models that are available right now are the ones who have truly stood the test of time. Models such as the Submariner or the Datejust have been in the market for more than half a century. People consider them true icons and synonymous with the phrase “luxury watch.”
As we’ve discussed previously, one ofRolex’s top priorities is to create sturdy and reliable timepieces. This focus on simple toughness has been criticized by some luxury watch connoisseurs.
Some of the best luxury brands focus their attention on developing timepieces with unique designs and complex movements. Rolex, instead, wants its watches used as everyday tools, so their priority on robust build quality is justified. This approach, sadly, also means that watch enthusiasts don’t consider Rolex a true high-end luxury watch brand.
Ultimately, nobody can deny that Rolex watches are some of the best-built watches in the market. If you take proper care of your Rolex it can easily outlive you! That’s another reason why Rolex watches are so popular. You can keep them as an heirloom and gift them to your child or grandchild when the time is right.
What Rolex movements lack in looks and complications, they certainly don’t lack in accuracy.
Since its early days, Rolex has had a firm focus on accuracy. That’s why, in 1914, Rolex received a Class A Precision Certificate from the Kew Observatory. This was important because it put Rolex watches on par with official marine chronometers in terms of precision and accuracy.
Nowadays, Rolex watches have the words Superlative Chronometer written on the dial. This is to show that every Rolex caliber is chronometer-certified by COSC. You can expect your Rolex watch to have an accuracy of up to +2/-2 seconds per day. This makes it one of the most accurate mechanical timepieces in the market.
One of the most important reasons why Rolex is worth it as a luxury watch brand is its appreciation. Watches, just like cars, usually lose a significant portion of their value once you unbox them and wear them for a few minutes. However, this is not true for Rolex watches.
Most Rolex models retain their full value for many years, and some even appreciate in value. This is the case thanks to consistently high demand and Rolex’s decision to keep the production rate low on its more sought-after timepieces.
For instance, if you’re lucky enough to find a brand new Rolex Submariner from an authorized dealer, you can sell it immediately and make a profit. Or you can store it safely and it will most likely gain value as time passes.
Also, due to the brand’s worldwide iconic status, it’s easy to find someone who’ll buy your Rolex no matter where you are in the world. So, if you’re ever in dire need of cash, know that you can utilize your Rolex’s value and sell it for a good price.
Love It or Hate It, Rolex Is Here to Stay
Overall, Rolex is a polarizing brand with both sworn lovers and enemies. Nonetheless, no one can deny that Rolex watches offer great value and that they easily justify their price, both from a quality standpoint and as an investment.
If you’re looking to enter into the world of luxury timepieces, Rolex is one of your safest bets. After all, the best Rolex watches always hold their value. If you buy one, think about where you’ll store it, so it doesn’t get damaged when you don’t wear it.
A premium watch roll like the ones from Operandi Firenze will keep your precious timepiece safe from scratches and bumps when you’re not enjoying it.
Become a part of Rolex’s history, and don’t forget to keep an eye on the time.