The reason why a good majority of the world finds it so hard to buy a brand new Rolex isn’t exactly a secret. While the retail price is certainly a factor, the heart of the issue comes down to a classic dilemma: demand outstripping supply (an issue only heightened by COVID-19), the mechanisms of the purchase process, as well as the existence of a burgeoning grey market.
As Pras Subramanian of Yahoo Finance explains with the help of Eric Wind of Wind Vintage,and Paul Altieri, CEO of online watch retailer Bob’s Watches – Rolex doesn’t have an official waitlist, leaving the general public constantly at the mercy of authorised dealers (ADs). Common practices involve demanding prospective clients to fork out some hard-earned cash for a less popular timepiece before they can be considered for the one they actually want; exclusively selling to those who they personally deem worthy; to the worst-case scenarios where an AD will simply hit up the grey market directly.
And then there’s the issue of unauthorised dealers and professional online hawkers alike, who dedicate their lives to buying a Rolex, only to flip it for a profit immediately after. As you can imagine, this entire economy does nothing more than drive artificial scarcity, increase monetary value, increase consumer frustration, while decreasing reputation.
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In a rare development, the notoriously private Swiss brand offered a statement when contacted by Yahoo Finance regarding why it’s so hard to buy a popular Rolex (like a Submariner or Daytona) at RRP – no matter how hard you try – check it out below:
“The scarcity of our products is not a strategy on our part. Our current production cannot meet the existing demand in an exhaustive way, at least not without reducing the quality of our watches – something we refuse to do as the quality of our products must never be compromised.”
“This level of excellence requires time, and as we have always done, we will continue to take the necessary time to ensure that all our watches not only comply with our standards of excellence, but also meet the expectations of our customers in terms of quality, reliability and robustness. Rolex does not compromise on what it takes to produce exceptional watches.”
“All Rolex watches are developed and produced in-house at our four sites in Switzerland. They are assembled by hand, with extreme care, to meet the brand’s unique and high-quality standards of quality, performance and aesthetics. Understandably, this naturally restricts our production capacities – which we continue to increase as much as possible and always according to our quality criteria.”
“Finally, it should be noted that Rolex watches are available exclusively from official retailers, who independently manage the allocation of watches to customers.”
Translation: “We haven’t done anything wrong and we aren’t going to fix it.”