WHY ARE ROLEXES SO EXPENSIVE ?
Renowned for their iconic and high quality watches, Rolex offers some of the most desired watches around the world. Rolex is a watch brand many people aspire to wear as a mark of success and accomplishment, but it all comes at a price. The love for refined watchmaking skills with a strong brand name has attracted many people to Rolex, and just like with any strong brand, you also pay a pretty penny for the name Rolex alone. However, branding and marketing aside, the amount of craftsmanship, time and effort that goes into producing a Rolex naturally incurs a premium cost for a premium product.
Hans Wilsdorf had his beloved company Rolex built and set up in the heart of watchmaking’ homeland, Geneva in Switzerland. Switzerland is not exactly known for its cheap houses and redecisy areas, so you can only begin to imagine the cost of having a factory in Switzerland.
Geneve is one the most expensive cities to live in in Switzerland and it’s the seventh most expensive city to live in world wide. This will inevitably add to the cost of production of Rolex and therefore increase the price. Rolex will also only hire and train the finest watchmakers around the world to maintain their incredibly high standards which as you may have guessed, also adds to their production costs.
Source : Time & TIde
PRESTIGIOUS MATERIALS FOR ROLEX
Source : Time & TIde
If you take a look at the materials used to make a Rolex watch, you will notice that there is not a single Rolex watch currently made that does not have a precious metal used to make it. Your iconic Submariner (ref ) or the classic simple explorer (ref ), both made from Rolex durable steel in a brushed finish giving them that tool watch practicality, still feature white gold.
The hands of a Rolex watch and hour markers are all made from precious metal whether it's white, yellow or rose gold, it’s gold at the end of the day. Gold is a rare and exhaustible resource on this planet which naturally means with more demand means higher prices.
It’s an expensive material to use but a material Rolex uses so frequently to ensure thor watches look as incredible as they do now as they will in hundreds of years. The shine and shimmer effect a Rolex gives off in the sunlight is due to their craftsmanship and the precious metal used, both adding to the already expensive cost of production. Given that they use gold on their tool watches, they use a lot more gold on their dress watches like the Datejust with its solid gold fluted bezel and they also make solid gold watches too.
Once they’ve constructed the case they need to perform tests on both the case and the movement to ensure it lives up to its certifications, which Rolex are constantly trying to improve. How do you improve an already successful watch? Research and Development (R&D). Rolex are well known for their innovative designs and movements, you don’t have to look further than the Rolex Sky Dweller (reference 326935) which uses the precious metal fluted bezel as a ‘command’ function.
Source : Monochrome
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, A MAJOR UNDERTAKING FOR ROLEX
Instead of having far too many crown positions, they made it so the bezel rotates to access another feature, pure ingenuity and cleverness. However, you can imagine Rolex didn’t produce this overnight, but rather by investing millions of dollars into R&D into their innovation and future.
The Sky Dweller is certainly not the only watch Rolex investm,s heavily in the R&D for but all the other models too. Rolex strives to make the best wrist watches they possibly can, Rolex owns their own foundry for mixing metals and producing them, this takes extensive testing and research to find the perfect combination.
For example, All Rolex steel watches are not made from your typical 316L steel, but rather their own 904L stainless steel which is known for being a corrosion-resistant superalloy. This means it will suffer less when exposed to the elements compared to regular 312L steel, and as you may have guessed, 904L steel cost and lot more
Source : SJX
Source : Time & TIde
Rolex not only wants their metals to look pleasing to the eye but will also withstand the test of time. The movements Rolex use are under constant testing and their watchmakers are always looking to try and improve the movements, however this takes many years of hard work.
Rolex does not tend to update their movements very frequently as they are already extremely well made, hence looking to improve an already incredible movement is very hard to do. This can only be done by the surgeon-like hands of a highly trained watchmaker which will also add to Rolex’ overhead costs.
Rolex has always been a relatively expensive watch brand to purchase from, but for good reason as we’ve seen. The location of Geneva in Switzerland is one of the most expensive places in the world. You could possibly set up a watchmaking factory, and to top it off, Rolex has multiple facilities, not just one. Within these expensive factories and R&D laboratories, Rolex makes their own precious metals and then carefully crafts them into their watches.
The movements require a highly skilled watchmaker to assemble all by hand and comply with all of Rolex’ acreditations. Not only is testing their watches costly, but they invest a huge amount into R&D to look to constantly improve their impeccable movements. Rolex is not expensive for the sake of being expensive, it’s expensive because you’re buying into a brand that has produced exceptional timepieces for many decades that are handmade to some of the highest standards in the world of horology.