Paying The Price Or Playing The Waiting Game — How Long Can You Sit Tight For A Rolex?
Desiring a steel sports watch from Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, or Vacheron Constantin is a challenge. It requires either an almost unhealthy relationship with the local dealer, an XL bank account, or the patience of a Zen master. The luxury dilemma of paying the price or playing the watch waiting game is a reality that gets harsher every day. And because of that, it has a direct influence on how people are experiencing watches. Some people have turned away from brands with multi-page waitlists, while others just pay (way) more than list price because they can afford it. For those people, there also must be a big fear of missing out involved, but what exactly they’re missing out on eludes me. Then there are people who play it cool, shrug their shoulders, and move on. What’s your mindset when it comes to this luxury watch dilemma? Ask yourself, how long can you sit tight for a Rolex?
Wanting something, realizing you have the funds, going to the store, and leaving with the object of your desire is not something to be taken for granted. At least not when you’re in the market for a luxury sports watch from brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin. If you put all the waitlists in the world for watches from these brands on top of each other, that stack of paper would reach the top of the nearly 830m-tall Burj Khalifa. No need to google if this is correct; I already did my research and math. Do you want to be a part of that? Well, some people have no problem with it. They will just have their name taken down, and at multiple locations if they’re determined to either own the watch or flip it for a quick and big buck. But others, seasoned and passionate watch enthusiasts, for instance, are less keen.
How long can you sit tight for a Rolex? Money buys you time
How can you buy time? Some say that eating healthy food helps you live longer and thus buys you time. But I’m obviously not talking that kind of time. I mean timepieces. And going full-organic or vegan is not going to help you buy a Rolex GMT-Master II, for instance. What will? Money. More money than Rolex wants for it. But why would you want to pay that? Is it show it off on Instagram or to feel like you belong to a select group of people you want to be associated with? Or is it because you love what the GMT-Master stands for in the horological tradition? If it’s the third option, you are also well aware that the list price is the reasonable one, and that a price of €30K on the parallel market is out of touch with the actual product.
What is right and what is normal are two very different things
Don’t get me wrong, the market is always right. It’s a question of demand and everything. But what’s right and what’s normal are two very different things. The retail price is normal, the prices on, for instance, Chrono24, are not. I’ve written it before in a piece about the Rolex Daytona not being a watch any longer, but instead, a commodity. And that not only goes for the Daytona. It also goes for a whole range of luxurious sports watches, from the Submariner to the Royal Oak. And because the Royal Oak and the Nautilus (but also the Aquanaut) are now more or less unobtainable, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas — once a clever Haute Horlogerie alternative — is now also a waitlist kind of product.
Making sense in the metal
The problem with the investment game is that it not only completely overshadows the watches in question, but also the craft of watchmaking, the history and tradition of the brands, and the passion and fascination of collectors and aficionados. The emotional aspect of a mechanical luxury watch is not just the prestige of a brand that wears off on the owner of a watch. It is the micromechanical wonder under the dial, the finishing of the different parts, the functionality and accuracy; a very tangible creation that is part of a long history and strong tradition. In other words, the higher the price of a steel Submariner on the secondary market, the less sense it makes in the metal. Price and product become detached. And so have the people buying them at three times list price.
How to deal with desiring a watch on a waitlist? The Buddhist approach
The best solution is to switch off your desire for “watch X”. It might take willpower or a crash course in meditation, but it will be worth it. The Buddha taught that the way to extinguish desire, which causes suffering, is to liberate oneself from attachment. It’s the third Noble Truth of Buddhism that offers you the possibility of liberation, and if you’re getting overly frustrated being on a waitlist and your AD won’t answer your calls, it could well be the thing for you. In this age of affordable quartz watches, smartwatches, and almost every other electronic object in your presence telling the time, a mechanical luxury watch is no longer strictly a functional item. Acknowledging this may help in (re)discovering that grounded self-awareness.
Selling your soul, losing your dignity
The alternative to the Buddhist approach is to just pay up. But that’s not a viable option for the majority of watch fans, so I’ll leave it at that. But what do you do when you don’t have a spiritual bone in your body, and you have no intention of taking your eyes off the prize?
There is an alternative, but it does involve very possibly selling your soul and/or losing your dignity. I’m talking about some serious networking — sucking up, if you will. In short, the plan involves paying regular visits to the AD of the brand you’re after, and telling them you want watch X for a special event — the birth of a child, an upcoming wedding, those types of events. Stop by very, very regularly to show your interest in watches, AND buy a watch from the brand that you don’t even want. Consider it as investing time and money. You can sell the undesirable watch after you pick up the one you had your eye on. Bringing chocolate or flowers might be too much, but if you feel your AD is sensitive to either one, go for it. However, I have to stress that this advice is not THE key to unlocking your seemingly stuck position at the bottom of the waitlist. It’s merely a suggestion.
Show your love, express your passion
If you’re not comfortable selling either your soul or losing your dignity over a watch, I completely understand. I can only say that, in the end, honesty goes a long way. If your AD catches you in a lie, the trust you have is broken. And most likely, you will never get back to where it was. Just tell the truth, and tell the AD you’re passionate about the watch you want. If your AD shares your passion, that could help you in your quest, but please find out before you serenade them about a watch. You don’t want to open up completely to someone who would also be just as happy selling cauliflower or extension cords.
How long can you sit tight for a Rolex? Count to 365
Taking the Buddhist route and becoming detached from your desire might not work for everyone. But it sure seems to be the right way to stop you from wanting something you can’t have. But what if you took the buttering-up-the-AD route, but that turned out to be a dead-end too? You can’t buy yourself out of your prison of desire. Otherwise, you would have done that without thinking twice. So, what’s left? Be patient.
They say that anticipation is half the fun, but I’d say there is also a time limit in play. So, how long can you sit tight for a Rolex? Well, after waiting for more than 365 days, the fun will be pretty much dead, don’t you reckon? Why 365 days? Because that’s the number of days between big yearly watch shows. Let me give you an example. Next week, Watches and Wonders 2022 kicks off in Geneva. That means Rolex is going to present a steel sports watch that will be unobtainable for mere mortals. If you can’t manage to get your hands on it come Spring 2023, just realize that every year after that, there will be a watch you can’t have. Meditate on that.
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