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How Rolex Became So Successful

Have you ever wondered how Rolex became so successful? Or why its watches set so many auction records? In this article, industry experts explain the top 10 reasons why this brand became a legend.

rolex's success

Have you ever wondered how Rolex became so successful? Or why its watches set so many auction records? Read on, as our experts explain how and why this brand launched in the early 20th century went on to became a legend.

 

How Did Rolex Became So Successful?

  1. Rolex styles change very slowly
  2. Demand exceeds supply
  3. Only best-of-the-best materials are used
  4. Rolex invented the first waterproof watch
  5. Next, Rolex invented the Perpetual rotor
  6. Then Rolex continued inventing
  7. Celebrities love Rolex
  8. Athletes love Rolex
  9. A Rolex holds its value
  10. A Rolex lasts . . . and lasts

 

1. Rolex Styles Change Very Slowly

designer watch

The first reason for how Rolex became so successful is simple: Rolex doesn’t go in and out of fashion. Classic models like the Day-Date, Oyster Perpetual, Datejust, Submariner, and Explorer are recognizably the same from one decade to the next. Rolex doesn’t try to up demand by adding on unnecessary complications or changes. Tom Pozsgay, head horologist at WP Diamonds, explains: “The crux of Rolex’s success is in making a quality product and keeping things simple.”

 

2. Demand Exceeds Supply

secret to Rolex's success

Somehow the supply of Rolex watches never quite meets the demand for Rolex watches—and the company makes sure it stays that way.

Even though Rolex could sell double the amount, it produces only 800,000 to 1 million watches a year. Those are then available only through a tightly organized network of authorized Rolex dealers. (The brand does not operate its own boutiques.) Nobody can corner the market either: multiple buys of a single model are not allowed.

 

3. Only Best-Of-The-Best Materials Are Used

luxury diamond watch on pink background

Rolex uses only the best. Its platinum is 950 platinum, refined at its in-house foundry. Gold is always 18K, also refined at its in-house foundry. Its pink gold—18K of course—is a proprietary alloy called Everose, created to its own specifications.

Even its steel is proprietary. A 904L alloy called Oystersteel, of the type employed by the aerospace industry for resistance to corrosion. The ceramic on those bezels is an extra-hard, proprietary ceramic called Cerachrome that is practically impossible to scratch and doesn’t change color with UV exposure. And if a Rolex watch is gem-set, then you can be sure that each and every gem—even on those blinged-out Pearlmasters—is internally flawless.

 

4. Rolex Invented The Oyster

Gold luxury watch on black background

Even if Rolex had never come up with another technical innovation, it would still go down in history for its 1926 invention of the Oyster, the world’s first waterproof watch. Rolex became the first to create and patent a system of  screwing down the bezel and case back against the middle case, completely protecting the calibre.

Inspired by the design of submarine hatches, the winding crown of the Oyster used two or three sealed zones. This ensures that the watch is water resistant and no moisture is able to penetrate the watch.

 

5. Next, Rolex Invented The Perpetual Rotor

beautiful gold watch

Not content with inventing the first waterproof wristwatch, Rolex patented the first  self-winding mechanism in 1931, known as a Perpetual rotor. Now watches could be wound by the movements of the wearer’s wrist throughout the day, saving the wearer from manually winding.

Kinetic energy was transmitted through the wheels of the winding mechanism to the mainspring. This means that the watch was continually being wound. As long as the watch was being worn, the spring stored and released energy.

 

6. Then Rolex Continued Inventing

rolex watch on gold background

The Datejust debuted in 1945 as the first automatic wristwatch with a date window. Then, in 1948, Rolex’s signature cyclops lens was introduced to magnify the date, so it would be easier to read.

For the divers, Rolex created the Submariner in 1953, which was the first divers’ watch that was waterproof up to 100 meters. This watch also featured a rotating bezel that allowed divers to measure their time underwater, crucial for knowing their remaining oxygen.

For the pilots and other travelers, Rolex unveiled the GMT-Master in 1955. Named after Greenwich Mean Time, this watch had a two-tone 24-hour rotating bezel that distinguished daytime hours from nighttime hours. Jumping forward to 2005, Rolex invented the blue parachrom hairspring which made the watch’s movement 10 times more resistant to shocks while remaining unaffected by magnetic fields.

In 2012, Rolex took another deep dive into the Mariana Trench with filmmaker James Cameron. Rolex created the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea Challenge, which was waterproof up to a remarkable 12,000 meters, setting the recording for the deepest diving watch. During Cameron’s solo dive, he reached a depth of 10,908 meters and the Rolex successfully withstood 1,245 tons of pressure.

 

7. Celebrities Love Rolex

yellow gold watch

Every serious watch collector owns a Rolex. And celebrities are no exception. Well-known Rolex wearers—who sometimes have little else in common—include BonoDavid Beckham, Justin TherouxRihannaDrake, Justin BieberThe WeekndEd SheeranBruno MarsJay-Z, and Bruce Springsteen. 

 

8. Athletes Love Rolex

Rolex is loved by athletes

What better way to build a reputation for high performance than by putting your watch on high-performance athletes?  In 1927, Rolex promoted its Oyster watch by putting it on Mercedes Gleitze, who wore it during her 10+ hour swim of the English Channel.

Likewise, a Rolex was on the wrist of Edmund Hillary when he conquered Mount Everest in 1953. Today, its brand ambassadors include sporting legends Roger Federer, Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Rod Laver, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Sir Jackie Stewart, Tom Kristensen, Lindsey Vonn, and Ed Veisturs.

 

9. Rolex Holds Its Value

what makes rolex so successful

Everyone has heard that Paul Newman’s Cosmograph Daytona brought a gavel price of $17 million when it came up for auction a few years ago. But even a vintage Rolex without a celebrity provenance tends to keep its value better than other brands.

Especially if it’s a limited edition, a reference that has been discontinued, or anything that’s otherwise difficult to get. For example, because Daytonas can be hard to find, they tend to bring higher prices.

 

10. A Rolex Lasts . . . And Lasts

why rolex is so successful

And last on our top ten reasons of how Rolex became so successful is durability. Variations in altitude, temperature, and humidity that would spell the end of other luxury timepieces don’t seem to do anything to a Rolex.

Edmund Hillary, the first man to summit Everest, got to the top with a Rolex Oyster Perpetual on his wrist. Decades later, in 1994, high altitude mountaineer Ed Viesturs received a Rolex Explorer II after summiting three of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks—Everest included—and went on to wear it as he conquered the rest. He’s still wearing it today.

Ready To Upgrade Your Watch Collection?

Upgrading is an expensive habit. Serious watch collectors tend to finance new purchases by selling off the watches they no longer love, something that’s been tricky for anyone without industry connections—up until now.

WP Diamonds allows you to sell watches and jewelry for immediate funds or store credit (an option that adds 10 percent to the offer) with our partner site Gemma., Buy authenticated, warrantied watches from brands including Rolex, Patek PhilippeVacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, and the other elite names in Swiss and German haute horlogerie.

The process of selling your luxury pieces is free and can take as little as 24 hours. Our service backed up by our  A+ BBB rating and hundreds of fantastic online reviews.

Sell online:

  1. Complete our online form and our experts with contact you with price quote.
  2. Receive a free, fully insured, trackable, overnight shipping label.
  3. You will be notified once your items arrive.
  4. Your client representative will contact you with the final offer.
  5. If you decide to accept, we can send payment by wire, check or for an increased amount in store credit. There is never any obligation to sell and you can always request to have your items returned to you for free.

Sell in person:

  1. Complete our online form and our experts will contact you with price quote.
  2. Schedule a free appointment to bring your watch to our offices in New York City, the UK, Tokyo or Hong Kong. Appointments are discreet and usually about 30 minutes long.
  3. If you accept our offer, you can be paid by cash, wire transfer, check, or store credit.

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535 5th Avenue, 11th Floor,
New York, New York
10017, USA

Berkeley Square House
Berkeley Square, Mayfair
London, W1J 6BD, UK

212 JQ Modern
120 Vyse Street, Hockley
Birmingham, B18 6NF, UK

6 Duddell Street,
Suite 604
Central, Hong Kong

N&E BLD., 5th Floor
1-12-4 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tokyo 104-0061, Japan
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