If you are a watch enthusiast, then Rolex should be in your most favorite list. It is undoubtedly one of the finest wristwatch brands in the world. It holds a great heritage. It carries a symbol of status and is one of the most loved luxury brands in the world.
This Swiss luxury wristwatch brand is so popular that many of its models were used by some most important and influential people who had ever lived. Starting from Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy to James Bond was spotted wearing a Rolex on their wrist.
Rolex is also famous for its high price value. The most expensive Rolex Daytona was sold in an auction over $17 million. Some people think that they have to sell their organs to buy a single piece of Rolex. But few models are least expensive such as the Submariner that was once owned by James Bond starts at $6,500.
Of course, there are models that cost you several thousand dollars to buy. Despite having such a high price tag, the brand is making over a million watches a year. So, whatever the price, people are buying their models.
But why are Rolex watches so expensive? Is it because of their clever marketing, the materials they use are expensive or the value of this iconic watch brand owes to the rich? Below, let’s explore the reasons that make Rolex models super expensive and popular at the same time.
What makes a Rolex so expensive?
There are many factors that determine the high price of Rolex. But, let’s see some things that make a difference in the case of the cost compared to other brands.
1. Delicate Design
Rolex watches takes years to design by innumerous skilled designers to make them stand out from the crowd. Both resources and time are needed as every single detail of a Rolex timepiece is designed to perfection without any compromise. Such level of perfection needs keen observation and great attention to detail. For each new timepiece, the movement is designed and developed.
2. Expensive Materials
Instead of the standard luxury market 316L steel Rolex uses 904L steel which makes their watches shinier, harder and corrosion-resistant. It also adds to their manufacturing cost as Rolex needed to replace most of its production machines and tools while switching to 904L steel usage in their product.
Rolex uses the best possible materials for their watches. Even if a material they’re searching for doesn’t exist, they go to such extent of creating it by themselves. To give example their Oyster steel and Eve rose gold were the result of their in-house material production. So, when they go to such great lengths that they develop their own materials for their watches, then naturally, that will be reflected in the price. Many expensive materials such as diamond, gold, mother of pearl, and other expensive materials are being used for their watches which increases its price even more.
3. Perfect Precision
In 1910, a Rolex wristwatch was first of its kind to receive the Swiss Certificate of precision by the official watch rating center in Bienne. Furthermore, it was awarded with A-class certificate by Kew Observatory in Great Britain which was awarded only to marine chronometers at that time. From then Rolex has been delivering products of great quality and standard.
Each Rolex is accurate to -2/+2 seconds a day surpassing the strict standards of -4/+6 seconds a day. The inner movements for such precision are costly to develop and take both time and money to perfect to the desired level.
Also, the parts are small and they have a high failure rate during the manufacturing process. Thus, these parts need to put together by hand which takes exquisite craftsmanship.
4. Almost In-house production
Striving for perfection, every single part of the Rolex watch is made in-house. In order to manage the whole manufacturing process in-house, they need to invest an immense amount of resources. Again, the management of every part of production gives them greater quality control and the capability to have full control over every step of production.
5. Hand-assembled movements
Rolex watches are mostly assembled by hand. Though Rolex uses robots widely for production, machines and robots actually perform simpler tasks such as sorting, cataloging, etc. Most of the machineries are operated under the direct supervision of people. Apart from that, people assemble watch movements and bracelets. Before watches are sent for chronometer certification, they are usually double-checked by humans to ensure high quality.
6. Mechanical movement
All Rolex watches are made with mechanical movements and the mechanical watches are expensive to build. Again, because of the small size of most of the parts, there is a high failure rate during assembly and manufacture. Rolex uses its in-house movements which they have innovated and developed.
Again, assembling a movement can take huge resources and a lot of time as it consists of hundreds of parts. Thus, it has to be done by a highly-skilled watchmaker.
7. Dedicated research facilities
To stay ahead of the curve, Rolex has established its own internal Research and Development department equipped with highly professional and sophisticated laboratory facilities where scientists and researchers work continuously on innovation and manufacturing techniques. Specialized chemists also research in these labs on oils and lubricants used in their machines.
They also employ very delicate and sensitive pieces of kit like electron microscopes and gas spectrometers. As the parts are really small, the materials used must be up to the mark. There is also a specialized test room for testing watch movements, cases, and bracelets.
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8. Quality control
Each watch leaves the Rolex factory is tested to a high standard. They are also tested by the Independent Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). Every watch has to earn the title of a superlative chronometer.
To ensure noteworthy water-resistance in every Rolex watch, they are tested under pressurized tanks and then in actual water. You will be surprised to know in 1927, an English swimmer named Mercedes Gleitze wore the Oyster watch while swimming across the English Channel and the watch successfully survived the 10-hour journey and remained good.
Furthermore, the watches also drop-tested, temperature tested to ensure their durability and reliability.
9. Rolex watches are never old fashioned
It can be said that Rolex watches are reasonably priced thinking about the resale value. Its resale value is close to its retail value. For example, if you buy a Rolex with $10,000, you will not lose so much if you sell it after using it for two years or so. Even some of the popular models of Rolex after a period of 10-20 years might actually rise in value than the original retail price. This phenomenon is rare in the wristwatch industry.
You may call Rolex watches are so ‘expensive’ but considering the depreciation of the product, it would not fit into that category for sure.
10. Rolex is for high achievers
Now whether it is because of their intelligent marketing or not people with high influence and achievements were found to have a Rolex in their hands. In 1933, a team of explorers flew over Everest all wearing Rolex watches in their hands. Even when Sir Edmund Hillary conquered Everest, he was wearing a Rolex. Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the world’s speed record of over 300 miles per hour wearing Rolex Oyster. By then, Rolex was established as a brand of high achievers and elites.
One of the finest models of Rolex was the Rolex Submariner reference 6538 worn by Sean Connery in Dr. No. This watch became so linked with Bond that collectors even used reference as ‘James Bond Submariner’.
Despite its enormous price tag, compared to other watches you are paying for a lot more than you actually can see. Rolex watches are not just objects, they are the fusion of engineering and watchmakers art.
After knowing all the details of its making I believe that you wouldn’t ask the question ‘Why are Rolex watches so expensive?’ Collectors love this brand and spend a lot to buy its products. People should appreciate the dedication, workmanship, material cost before just categorizing it as ‘expensive’.
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