Have you ever wondered why a Rolex is so expensive? One of the world's most popular brands, these Swiss luxury watches are the envy of some and the must-have timepiece for others. But have you ever thought why, exactly, they demand such a high price tag? What makes them better?
At the end of the day aren't they just a regular timepiece with the "classic" label markup? As it turns out you are not just paying for the name but also the "time" of a master craftsman in every watch.
We'll take a closer look at Rolex watches in general and one piece in particular, the Rolex Submariner. Today, we will point out the rare intricacies, and by extension, help justify the price but of course you will be the judge of that. Only time will tell... We also hope that by the end of the article, you might well ask "Actually, why are they so cheap?"
Disassembling the price tag
First, if you want to know why the brand is so expensive you may want to watch this demonstration of a Rolex Submariner being disassembled. The video shows intricacies involved in the making of the timepiece in exquisite detail.
The demonstration is, of course, performed by a professional watchmaker, who meticulously picks apart the watch with great skill. It goes without saying, unless you've managed to get one for free, you shouldn't try this at home.
As you can see, the "gubbins" of the watch is very different from the one you might get from a Christmas cracker. It is, quite literally, a work of art comprising of hundreds or even thousands of individual parts. In that sense, Rolex can be compared to vintage timepieces such as those created by Patek Philippe.
As interesting as that video is, is it enough to answer the question "Why a Rolex is so expensive?" In case it wasn't, let's expand a bit on what is involved in making a single Rolex.
Can they justify the cost, really?
Although Rolex watches demand a high price tag you'll likely be hard pushed to find another product with the same level of quality in each piece. This is an interesting fact and a good reason for a person to buy it. Although Rolex has, over time, developed a name for quality as well as prestige, they tend to produce mechanical watches, which by their very nature, are incredibly time-consuming to produce.
Mechanical watches, not just Rolex, generally command a higher price because of the nature of the product. There are various reasons for why a Rolex is so expensive, let's take a peek.
1. Rolex watches cost a lot to design
Watchmaking is a demanding profession and these models are the best example. A Rolex watch has very high in-house development costs in design and craftsmanship. It not only costs a lot to develop the design of the movements and assemble them, but the materials used in the actual construction are also not cheap either.
Rolex even has its own R and D lab department, well several. These are well equipped and highly professional facilities. They spend their time developing more efficient manufacturing methods but also new techniques to keep ahead of the curve.
They even employ some highly sophisticated and sensitive pieces of kit like electron microscopes and gas spectrometers. As the parts can be pretty small, it is very important the materials used are up to the task. Their stress room tests individual parts to literal destruction.
2. Mechanical watches are expensive to build
Mechanical watch movements are also not the cheapest things to make. Owing to the small size of most of the parts, there is a high failure rate during assembly and manufacture.
Most are even polished and finished by hand as well. Also, factor in that they are made in Switzerland, with its high labor costs, and you should start to get an appreciation for their "overheads".
3. No expense spared
Mr. Hammond of Ingen would blush at the lengths Rolex go-to when building a single watch. The materials are very expensive. Rolex, for example, tends to use 904L steel which is leagues ahead of even most luxury market equivalents. They tend to use 316L steel.
This makes them harder, shinier and also more expensive by default. Dials tend to be made of white gold and bezels tend to be ceramic. The numbers themselves tend to be sandblasted Platinum.
4. Rolex are "control freaks"
As previously mentioned, and proof positive (so to speak) when handling one, the quality of them is unparalleled. When you compare one to their competitors like, Tag Heuer or Omega, they do stand a "cut above".
It is obvious that they are at least worth the price tag. They also hold their value very well on the resale market, providing they are genuine, of course. Rolex makes between 800K and 1 million hand watches per annum.
Every single part of the production process is quality controlled, as you'd expect from a luxury item. Rolex even controls the melting down of precious metals, like gold and silver, that are used in their products.
But, like any QA system, it can fail on occasion.
As an aside, their symbol has a very interesting origin.
Quite incredible really.
Rolex watches weren't always expensive
Although back in the '50s, they weren't as expensive, their price started going up over the years and before long, they became one of the expensive watches in the world.
A brief history in the video description states:
"First revealed to the public in 1953, the Rolex Submariner was a diving watch for everyone. Appealing to both professional and hobby divers, the Submariner set the standard for the category, its affordability and practicality unmatched. Rolex also developed non-chronometer versions of the Submariner that were even more affordable, costing roughly two weeks' pay at the time."
The final word
So there you go. Despite their enormous price tag compared to other watches you are actually paying for a lot more than meets the eye. Rolex watches are not just a practical object, they are also a literal fusion of engineering and watchmakers art.
Collectors simply love this brand and will pay lots of money to wear it. In fact, Rolex Daytona holds a record for the most expensive wristwatch sold on auction. The stainless steel watch belonged to Paul Newman and was sold in Phillips Auction House, New York for $17.8 million trumping previous record set by Bao Dai Rolex ($5 million) and Patek Phillipe ($11 million). Paul Newman's Rolex is just an example of how special and cool this brand actually is.
So to answer the question "Why a Rolex is so Expensive?", people must understand and appreciate the workmanship, material costs and time consumed in each and every single piece. But more importantly, have you been convinced?