Not Every Watch Enthusiast Needs To Own A Rolex
Whenever I meet someone new and tell them what I do, they often quickly assume that I own a Rolex. And to be honest, I have owned one in the past, but I sold it not long after I got it. Sometimes, my new acquaintance will act surprised I don’t have one, and I feel like I kind of have to explain to them why I don’t. Of course, I don’t have to, but it did make me wonder why there isn’t a Rolex in my collection anymore. So for anyone interested, here goes my own personal backstory on why I don’t have a Rolex to call my own.
Last year, Jorg wrote an article on five reasons why you need a Rolex and five reasons why you don’t. In it, he more or less analyzes why people, in general, should or should not buy a watch from the Crown. I won’t do the same here today, but I’ll certainly touch upon some of his arguments, so you might want to read that article first before jumping into this one. All right, let’s get started.
I mean, who wouldn’t own a Rolex?
As I said, I did own a Rolex at one point. It was actually quite early on in my watch-collecting journey. I was probably thinking just like those people who assume that I own a Rolex now. After all, the “rational” arguments for owning one are actually quite good.
First of all, you know you’re getting a very high-quality watch (even if I wasn’t very aware of quality differences between different brands at that time). Also, almost every Rolex model has become an icon by now. As such, you spend quite a significant amount of money on it, but at least you can be sure that other people around you will notice it. And in the long run, it will certainly hold its value, so if you get tired of it, you can probably sell it for the same or an even higher price. In conclusion, who wouldn’t own a Rolex, right?
A vintage Datejust wasn’t my thing
I got myself a 1974 blue-dial Datejust reference 1603 with an engine-turned bezel on a stretched-out Jubilee bracelet. I explained more in-depth in this article why it wasn’t for me, but to cut a long story short, it felt too fragile, and I just didn’t connect with it when I was wearing it. So I sold that watch within months of receiving it. And since then — about two years ago — no other Rolex watch has entered my collection.
I must say that from time to time, the “new” 36mm Explorer reference 124270 knocks on my mental door. But I still haven’t put my name down on any of the waiting lists. I’m not saying I’m avoiding it, but I can certainly think of a few reasons why I’m not taking any action.
I don’t like to stand in an invisible line
First and foremost (and this was also Jorg’s number-one reason for why you don’t need a Rolex), it’s the process of getting one that annoys me. When I shop for a watch, I do my research. I visit some of the authorized dealers, and in the end, I decide on certain a watch, go to the boutique, and buy it. The watch might not be in stock, but at least I’m sure that I’ll eventually get it in a reasonable amount of time. As we all know, though, that’s not exactly how things work when you want to buy a Rolex.
I probably have to go to several ADs to put my name down. Then I have to call them and stop by every once in a while to see what’s going on. I might even have to buy another watch from them in the meantime. But what annoys me the most is the fact that they leave you in the dark. They’ll probably say they’ll do their best for you and might give you a time estimate, but you’ll never know when you’ll eventually get “the call”. I think that’s unacceptable when you’re willing to spend thousands of euros or dollars on a watch.
I’d rather not pay a premium
You could say, “If don’t want to wait, buy one second-hand.” I could maybe get a neo-vintage Explorer or a practically new one at a gray dealer. That last option just doesn’t seem right to me, though. It feels like I’d be helping sustain a system that I really dislike. As such, I don’t think I’d do that any time soon. Prices on the (neo-)vintage market have also increased quite a lot over the last couple of years. Although they have stabilized a bit over the past few months, you still have to pay quite a large premium to own that Rolex.
Great quality, but not very exciting
And honestly, when I look at those current prices, I think to myself, “There are so many other nice watches I could get for that money.” Don’t get me wrong. Rolex watches are incredibly well made, have a very high standard of quality, and look quite good too. But they aren’t the most exciting watches out there, at least not for me. That might also be influenced by the fact that they’re relatively common. And when you buy one, you probably won’t be the only one who’s bringing it to your next watch get-together.
Of course, that is totally fine, but for the same kind of money, I’d rather get a watch that’s a little more unique and under the radar. For example, the Cartier Santos that I got with the money from selling my Datejust or the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duoface that I got more recently. Those watches really put a smile on my face when I wear them. I’m sure that brand-new Explorer would do the same thing to me, but I’m just not sure for how long that feeling would last… Especially because I live in Amsterdam, one of the bigger cities plagued by Rolex robberies.
I’d like to stay safe
I’ve heard a few stories from friends and have read some in the newspapers. But that story in which a guy got killed because he tried to prevent someone from stealing his friend’s fake Rolex still gives me goosebumps. It happened in Amsterdam the summer after I sold my vintage Datejust. Since then, I’ve also seen some videos of robberies happening in London and Rome. And it’s unfair, but for now, Rolex and some of the other better-known brands like Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe seem to be the target here. For someone who enjoys wearing his watches, that’s a huge constraint. I wouldn’t like to buy that Explorer only to keep it in a safe until special, private occasions.
Never say never
Listen, I’m not saying that I won’t own a Rolex ever again. I mean, that vintage Datejust wasn’t for me, but that doesn’t completely rule out Rolex as a brand. I’m just saying that a watch collection is still a watch collection even if a Rolex is not a part of it. Neither you nor I, as a watch collector or enthusiast, have to have a Rolex per se. There are many other very nice watches out there. They might not carry the same presence and fame as a Rolex, but please think about how you feel when you wear your watches and not too much about how other people see them. I think that can help us all to stay happy as collectors.
What about you? Do you have a Rolex in your collection? If you do, what has your experience been like? And if you don’t, do you feel weird because of it? Please let me know in the comments below!
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