Why I Collect Rolex Watches
I'm often asked the question, "why do you collect Rolex watches?" Some times I ask myself the same thing! So I created the below little "FAQ" about Rolex watches, and my interest in them.
Rolex Watches Are Incredibly Expensive! Why Do You Collect Them?
You'll certainly hear no objections from me regarding criticisms as to the price of Rolex watches. When I started collecting watches many years ago, the idea of purchasing one, let alone several Rolex watches just didn't seem feasible, or make sense. It seemed there were always other choices to consider that were less expensive. In fact, even today when people ask me for help when buying a watch, I generally always point them toward a good value brand like Seiko, or even Omega, which I feel represents about the best "bang for your buck" you can get in a luxury time piece. For most people, value is an important consideration when buying anything. Value is of course a relative concept. Many people chafe at spending more than $19.95 on the quartz watch they can buy a Wal-Mart
Realizing that collecting watches (collecting anything really) is a considerable expense, I decided early on to do "work on the side" to support my watch habit. I started doing freelance writing and photography, wrote articles for magazines, and even wrote a book. It was during this time that my attentions turned back to Rolex watches. Surprisingly, these freelance ventures I undertook were quite successful for me, and soon I had several examples of watches I considered excellent and really enjoyed, but still found myself drawn to Rolex. I can't entirely explain it in rational terms why this would be, but it just was. So I decided that my modest collection (which will never contain more than 10 watches) will include a few Rolex models that I like for several reasons:
History/Tradition - one of the things I respect most about Rolex is the place they hold in watch history. They virtually invented the modern day wristwatch, the water resistant case, and the self-winding mechanism among other innovations and contributions. They also produce more COSC certified watches then any other watch maker, and have done so for many years.
In House Movements - Rolex is one of the FEW watch houses that produces their own movements (most other brands of mechanical watches buy movements made by other companies). In fact, Rolex meticulously controls the production of nearly every last part, in every last component that are used in their watches. It's one of the reasons why their watches cost more, and one of the things that makes Rolex so special.
Resale - You never know when a financial disaster will hit. The nice thing about buying a Rolex is, they can be sold quickly and at minimal loss.
Aesthetics - this plays a role in any watch I buy, and I've always liked the Rolex sport watch look and feel.
Brand Name Recognition - believe it or not, this a neutral point for me. In my experience, painfully few people notice or even care what kind of watch you're wearing. Of those that do, for every person that says, "Hey cool you're wearing a Rolex!" there's someone that thinks, "oh, you're wearing a Rolex...you must be one of THOSE kinds of people." In the end, all the watches I buy and wear are because I like them. I don't really care one way or the other what others think. I think you're always better off when you buy things based on what it means to you, and irrespective of what others think.
As a Rolex Collector, here are a few other questions I?m often asked or hear:
Are Rolex Watches Entirely Hand Made? Rolex produces in excess of 800,000 watches per year. Unless they have the entire People's Republic of China on their payroll, considerable automation is no doubt utilized in their production processes. I don't see this as a negative because Rolex personnel supervise, inspect, and test every Rolex watch produced.
Does it take a year to produce a Rolex watch? I don't see how this could be the case, given their production of over 800,000 watches per year. I'm sure more time is taken in quality assurance, testing, and re-testing than most other watches. But a year? C'mon. Besides...why would taking an entire year to make a watch be considered a good thing? Would your Dad have been happy if it took you 3 months to mow the lawn?
Do The Profits From Rolex Watches Go To Charity? Yes they do. The short, uncomplicated explanation is that when Hans Wilsdorf (Rolex's founder) died, a foundation was created that controls what is now Rolex. The foundations funnels much of the profits generated by Rolex into various charitable endeavors. Given that Rolex isn't a publicly held company, exact numbers aren't known, but it's clear they generate huge sums of money for worthy charities. Now doesn't that make you feel better about buying a Rolex? Just tell people the watch your wearing it isn't an overpriced bauble...it's a charitable contribution! Just don't go trying to write off your next Rolex purchase on your income taxes...
Are Rolex Watches "The Best?" The short answer is "no." In fact many wouldn't even consider Rolex a top tier brand. In the world of high horology, names like Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and A. Lange & Sohne are brand names spoken with hushed reverence for being the true upper echelon of fine mechanical watch making. Examples of watches from these brands can easily reach nearly six figures and above. Suddenly $4000.00 for a stainless Submariner isn?t so bad...
Are Rolex Watches a "good investment?" Will I make money on my Rolex? As I said above, one of the nice things about buying a Rolex is, they can be sold quickly and at minimal loss. But in most cases, as with any mass produced product that is purchased new and resold, you're likely to lose a little money at the time of resale. Only the stainless steel Rolex Daytona models seem to be the exception, due to supply (woefully low) and demand (staggeringly high) considerations. Of the other Rolex models, the stainless steel 16610 date Submariner seems to be the safest bet in terms of minimal loss at resale. Given that Rolex increases the retail price of their watches 1-2 time per year, if you hold on to your Rolex for at least 10 years, you've got a pretty good shot at recouping most of your initial investment at the time of resale. That makes Rolex watches a better investment choice than most other watch brands, but a long shot away from being considered a "good investment."
Above all, remember watches are just material things. Having passion for our varying interests is fine, but don't let a passion for a watch interfere with what's really important in life. Love God with all your heart, and love people just as much as you love yourself. Do this, and you will enjoy a truly full, rich life regardless of whether you have a Rolex, or many.