Let’s talk about the Crown! Rolex is, without a doubt the most divisive brand amongst our readers. We have seen an increasing number of people turn their back on Rolex for the way it conducts its business. The steady unavailability of their watches at authorized dealers and skyrocketing grey market prices have become a reason for many to say “goodbye” to the Geneva brand. But there are still plenty of watch enthusiasts that love the brand for its rich history and for creating great products. So we decided to put down some of the reasons why you do and don’t need a Rolex in writing. The final question is simple: what camp are you in? Let us know your thoughts.

We have some very passionate readers that are very vocal about Rolex. Some absolutely adore the brand, but an ever-growing number of people have expressed their frustration with the company’s business ethics. Does it mean you have to say goodbye to the brand? That is obviously a very personal question.  Without a doubt, Rolex has created some of the industry’s biggest icons. On top of that, they still create amazing watches. It is why many of the Fratello team members have great respect for the brand.

But it’s not only love and respect. Like so many of you, we also see the many issues surrounding Rolex, and we’ll discuss them regularly. But we decided it would be good to make you part of the discussion and have your say. It’s why we decided to sum up five reasons why you need a Rolex and five reasons why you don’t need a Rolex. Let us known what side you are on. Let’s kick things off with five reasons why you don’t need a Rolex.

1. You cannot get a Rolex through an Authorized Dealer

Of course, this was always going to be the number 1 reason. Whether it’s the artificial scarcity or the fact that Rolex dealers seem to have a problem with drought at their back door. Whatever it may be, the brand is pushing a product in their advertising and through their brand ambassadors that you can’t buy is extremely frustrating. It’s fine if brands create an aspirational dream, but at one point, you should be able to make that dream a reality. But the way things are now, the dream has become an ongoing nightmare. And that makes actually wanting a Rolex a frustrating experience up to the point where people lose interest. The fact that you can’t buy a mass-produced luxury product is annoying and frankly insulting to consumers.

2. Rolex market prices do not represent the true product value

This is a tricky one if you are a firm believer in a free market. But you simply can’t defend that a new Rolex Daytona with a list price of €12,500 is worth almost 3 times that price. The list price is often plenty of reason for a discussion already. Personally, I will not pay over retail for any watch. If that means I will never buy a Rolex from an AD, so be it. Additionally, if you realize that the actual production cost is approximately 10% of the list price, you have to ask yourself at one point where sanity turns to insanity? But the amount of hype plus the cloak of exclusivity leads to downright ludicrous prices. You cannot tell me with a straight face that a Rolex Daytona in steel is worth 30K. If you truly believe that, we’re done talking here.

Rolex Datejust 116234.001

3. Rolex attracts the wrong crowd

We have all read the stories of people being attacked because they wear a Rolex. There is an increasing number of violent robberies in some of the world’s major cities over Rolex watches. It’s a worrisome development, and it makes you think why you would want to own a Rolex if you can’t wear it out and about? Over here in The Netherlands, a young man was killed over, what turned out to be, a fake Rolex. Robert-Jan wrote an article about the horrific events last year. There are numerous stories of people in London getting robbed because they were wearing an expensive watch, including Rolex models. There is simply no watch in the world that is worth becoming a target for criminals for.

4. Rolex watches are not exclusive or scarce

Are Rolex watches really exclusive and scarce? Exclusivity implies that a product is only available to a select number of people based on production numbers and price. But we are talking about the biggest producer of luxury watches with an estimated annual production of around 800,000 watches. Every third person in the street seems to be wearing a Rolex so exclusive to who? Additionally, it doesn’t seem to be a scarce product. It’s a topic that Michael, Balazs, and myself have touched upon in an episode of our podcast series Fratello On Air. The word scarcity implies that there is a shortage of Rolex watches available. While that may be the case at the Rolex AD’s, a quick check at Chrono24 shows that there are currently almost 70,000 Rolex watches available for sale. Over 20,000 of them advertised as brand new. How are Rolex watches scarce? If you want one, you can actually get one. It’s just a question of whether you want to spend the ridiculous premiums?

5. Speculating makes vintage Rolex unattainable

If you thought buying a new Rolex is like climbing Mount Everest, wait until you see what has happened to the world of vintage Rolex. The world of vintage watches has a major source for making money by speculating on increasing values of Rolex watches. It’s a world where the prices have gone up even more ridiculously as in the world of new Rolex watches. Rob said it very spot-on in his article about his favorite Rolex watches: “Locked in the bizarro universe that treats a hammer price of nearly 2 million for a failed watch design as the norm.  Go figure.” And he is right. With an ever-growing group of investors looking to make money, prices for vintage pieces have skyrocketed far above what auction houses have set as their estimates. As a result, more and more people are willing to spend huge sums of money on vintage Rolex pieces, hoping to make money. Unfortunately, that trend is not limited to really unique and special pieces. As a result, many Rolex enthusiasts will never be able to enjoy the glory of the past.

Rolex Yacht-Master 16622

Five reasons why you do need a Rolex

With five reasons why you don’t need a Rolex also come five reasons why you do need a Rolex. A quick reality check is obviously that you don’t need a Rolex at all. But if you are a watch enthusiast looking to spend a substantial amount of money on luxury watches, here are five reasons why it needs to be Rolex.

1. Rolex makes great watches

A great brand starts with a good product. Rolex has always made sure the quality of their products has been on point. For a long time, Rolex watches were used as they should: functional daily wearers that tell the time. It didn’t give you any personal status. Just the recognition that you bought a quality product. When you think of that and see how many of them survived the test of time, there is no other conclusion than that the brand created an outstanding product that has become legendary for a reason.

Over time Rolex has obviously grown into a luxury brand, eventually becoming one of the most recognized luxury brands in the world. But what is respect greatly is that Rolex has never slipped up when it comes to overall quality. The brand has become the benchmark for the entire industry when it comes to quality. And if you take away all the hype, marketing, production numbers, and dealer issues, what you are left with is simply a great product. Is it the best product out there? No, definitely not. But if you consider the numbers that Rolex annually produces and the level of quality they offer for it, there is no doubt that their products are great.

2. Rolex created some of the biggest icons ever

The number of iconic watches that the Rolex has created is amazing. We know that not all Rolex watches were an instant success, but it’s hard to deny there is a Rolex design signature that hit the right snare. But there is a second ingredient that is part of this success. Rolex as a brand has stuck to its ways and believed in its product. If you look at a Submariner from 1953, you see the direct link to today’s model. The same goes for the GMT-Master, the Day-Date, the Datejust, or any of the other icons. The brand simply has believed in its own designs through the decades. Rather than feeling the need to develop something new constantly, the improvements of the existing designs have always been the brand’s focus. And that’s what creates icons.

3. Rolex watches represent good value

The third reason is value for money. There is something extremely frustrating about buying a product and knowing that fifty percent of the value of a watch has vanished into thin air by the time you have walked out the door. You want to know that what you spend your money on at least holds some value in case you want to sell it again. But in general, it is good to know that IF you get a chance to buy a new Rolex, you don’t leave the building knowing you have wasted a big chunk of that hard-earned cash. Overall this happens with way too many luxury products. As a general consumer, this phenomenon feels like legal robbery. Rolex bucks that trend with a mixture of excellent quality and high consumer demand. Simply put, when you buy a Rolex the risk is minimal.

4. Rolex is a magical brand

There is no other watch brand that has the same brand attraction as Rolex. In a world full of commercial deals to have celebrities wear your watch, the Geneva brand does not have that problem. More celebrities wear their watches than they could ever spend money on as brand ambassadors. And it works, even for die-hard watch fans. There is simply something cool about someone you respect wearing a brand that you own as well. When it comes to Rolex, for me, it’s Roger Federer. I have been playing tennis since I was seven years old, and I have never had greater respect for a tennis player as I have for Federer. His style of play and his demeanor on and off the court are unmatched. That fact alone makes him the perfect Rolex ambassador. Add the fact that he is Swiss, and it’s a match made in heaven.

5. Rolex watches are a good investment

This is obviously the most controversial reason why you need a Rolex. The reason that so many people are interested in the brand is obviously because of their watches and their history. At least, that is what you hope for as a watch enthusiast. But in reality, an ever-growing number of people are buying a Rolex as an investment. Do I have a problem with that? If you are looking for long-term investments and you will enjoy the watches as you wait for a return for an investment, I don’t see what’s wrong with it. We have asked ourselves the question in the Fratello team quite often: would you pass up on a good investment if you had the chance? Of course not. If a Rolex is offered to you at a good price, why would you not buy it, enjoy it and eventually sell it for a great price?

Final thoughts

If you ask the question, you have to answer it yourself first. My feelings when it comes to Rolex are ambivalent. Just like so many of you, it’s frustrating to see the way the Crown does business. The steady unavailability of new Rolex models at authorized dealers has been baffling to witness. Additionally, it’s even more disheartening to see that grey market dealers have the newest references in abundance, only to sell them for prices that are not in sync with my reality. It is why I have closed the book of buying a new Rolex, as I explained in this article I wrote earlier this year.

But that doesn’t mean I have said my final goodbyes to the Crown. Writing about vintage Rolex icons in a weekly series of articles on vintage watches has reminded me time and again why I love the brand. Rolex has created various amazing watches in the past that are high on my list of all-time favorites. The one Rolex that is my “must-have” is the Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 16600. That specific model is the one Rolex itch I want…no, need to scratch. After that, I’m good. Is it on the top of my list of watches to buy? Well, there are some Speedmasters first in line. That can hardly be a surprise, can it? But a long story short on Rolex for me is: yes, you do need a Rolex. At least one.

Let us know what your thoughts are in the comment section. Have you said goodbye to Rolex, or are you still as passionate as ever about the brand? We would love to find out.