It’s an interesting question because even if you have nine or ten grand lying about spare, you may well struggle to buy a Rolex Sub or GMT homage this side of Renata battery expiry date. That’s 2024 by the way.
So if you just want the Rolex look, and don’t care about the Chinese assembly or build quality, here are some alternatives we spotted online.
We actually placed an order for this Milgauss lookalike from China recently, so watch out for a review of this quartz watch which costs a mere $25 including shipping on Aliexpress. At that money it is gonna be hard to find fault even if the second hand falls off after 3 months.
This one is one eBay in various dial/bezel combo; Pepsi, all black, blue/black etc at about £95. You get German tech it says, which could be the sapphire crystal? Seagull movement inside, nice steel bracelet too – VAT and customs duty on top of the ebay price though. We saw a couple of pre-owned examples in the UK if you want to save all that mither.
PAGANI DESIGN DAYTONA DEMON
Pagani are one of the best known Rolex tribute acts around, with some positive reviews online. Priced at about £80-£110 in the UK the Daytona lookalike is undeniably good value with a Seiko movement inside.
Pagani even have their own UK based ebay store, which is handy as regards back-up if things go wrong, plus avoid the import duty racket. Great looking Subs and GMT models too.
REGINALD, YOUR ROLEX IS HERE LUV
The Reginald is another China brand, with this quartz Submariner copy retailing at just over £35 plus taxes on ebay. You get 30m water resistance and…oh come on, do you care? It’s under 50 quid.
The Cadisen Datejust sells for about £70 on ebay or Amazon and again, the dependable Seiko NH35 automatic movement in inside the case. Thinking ahead, that movement is worth about 30 quid, assuming you wanted to build a MOD watch one day.
Anyway, you get a steel bracelet, 100m of claimed depth rsistance and a range of dial colours. Aliexpress has this on for about £50 plus import tariff n VAT, so not too pricey. See-thru caseback as well.
Would you pay £15,000 for a mint Rolex Submariner Batman to a complete stranger on eBay? No, of course you wouldn’t, even if you were Carrie Symonds and some clown had given you 30K to spend on any fripperies that caught your eye.
But there is a solution to the problem of transferring lots of cash for Swiss watches, and eBay have been busy perfecting it. Here’s the word;
eBay, one of the largest luxury watch marketplaces in the world, today announces the addition of escrow to marketplace payment offerings for luxury watches. This additional payment option allows buyers and sellers an added convenience via trusted third party Escrow.com, holding funds securely until the transaction is complete providing an additional level of protection. Benefiting both parties in the transaction process, escrow is now available to those buying and selling luxury watches over $10,000, expanding the payment options available to luxury watch enthusiasts to foster an even more seamless experience.
“We are changing the way people buy and sell luxury items on eBay,” said Tirath Kamdar, General Manager of Luxury at eBay. “When it comes to high value watches and other significant purchases, consumers expect additional assurances. eBay is committed to providing the best experience, from start to finish, and our new offerings will continue to deliver on that promise.”
There’s been a tremendous surge in enthusiasm for high value collectibles as consumers expand their investment opportunities. eBay is constantly introducing platform and product enhancements to improve the buying and selling experience, creating a seamless process for transactions on premiere brands like Patek Phillippe, Richard Mille, Audemars Piguet, and Hublot, which were some of the most coveted luxury watches in 2020. After launching its Authenticity Guarantee service in September 2020, more than 7,000 luxury watches priced at $10K+ were sold on eBay. Now, with the introduction of escrow, eBay continues to make shopping and selling high value items like collectible timepieces convenient and simplified.
“As a long-time leader in the luxury watch space with more than 1.2M daily live listings, eBay offers an unmatched selection of timepieces — from rare, vintage watches to new styles from top brands like Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer and more,” said Charis Márquez, Vice President of Fashion, eBay. “We’ve seen a tremendous uptick in interest for luxury watches this past year, with more than 22 million site searches for Cartier, and more than 15 million for Tag Heuer. Escrow joins Authenticity Guarantee as eBay’s response to that growing appetite.”
How It Works
Enhancing the secure payment suite by partnering with Escrow.com, the most licensed online escrow company, this multi-step enhancement offers the eBay community of buyers and sellers another way to securely transact on watches $10,000 or more, with no processing fees. The streamlined service requires minimal steps to ensure a swift transaction process:
Getting Started: At checkout, if a shopper decides to purchase a qualifying luxury watch using escrow, they will be directed from eBay to Escrow.com’s website where they will receive step-by-step instructions for creating an account. Both buyers and sellers must have an account in order to send and receive payments; it is a one-time process and all data is privately shared between Escrow and the buyer or seller.
Transaction Process: The buyer funds an account via wire transfer or ACH electronic check, which is managed by Escrow.com as an intermediary. Funds are released by the third party to the seller once the item is received by the buyer in the condition described in the listing and terms of the transaction agreement are met to the satisfaction of both parties. They are protected against fraudulent customers through verification checks and payment being held by a third party in case of a return allowing sellers 5 days to inspect the merchandise and release funds to customers if the merchandise matches the original condition.
Progress Updates: Buyers and sellers can check the status of their transactions where payment is made via Escrow.com by visiting the “My eBay” drop down under “Order Details,” or via Escrow.com where they can access a transaction summary page and view the progress of all active Escrow.com transactions.
Item Inspection and Returns: After receiving their watch from the authenticator, the buyer will have up to seven days to inspect and examine the watch before accepting the item. Once accepted, or if the seven-day inspection period has passed, returns will not be available. In the event of a return, the watch is shipped back to the third party for verification and funds are then released to the customer if the merchandise matches the original condition.
Nearly eighty thousand new, pre-owned and vintage watches are marked with the Authenticity Guarantee badge on eBay.com, comprising an inventory of fine watches from brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, Audemars Piguet and more. Each watch sold for $2,000 or more, marked with the Authenticity Guarantee badge on the listing, undergoes a rigorous third party inspection by Stoll & Co., the leading provider of watch repair services, ensuring the timepieces are authentic and as described. Escrow joins Authenticity Guarantee as another way eBay is evolving the buying and selling experience for eBay’s community of luxury watch enthusiasts.
We thought that it was about time we rounded up some of the UK thefts, scams and wrsitwatch frauds that are going on in this crazy world, just so you can be on your guard.
CANVEY ISLAND FAKE ROLEX SELLER
Ellis Cross sold a fake Rolex and pocketed six grand from the fraud. He was rumbled but went off to NYC for a holiday on the proceeds after giving the buyer just £500 back from the 7K purchase price on eBay. But when a witness thought she would co-operate with the Police Cross started to use a bit of intimidation. The Canvey Echo reports that Cross will be sentenced in May. Never assume a Rolex on eBay is real, always assume it’s a replica until you see enough proof to convince you otherwise, especially if the seller is a bit reem from Essex.
FOOTBALLERS ARE TARGETS
The football lifestyle may look fabulous from the outside, but pro thieves are always trying to find out where highly paid professionals reside, so they can steal their watches or cars. Roma player Chris Smalling was recently targeted and had Rolex watches stolen at gunpoint, says the ESPN website. A gang of three men broke in a stole jewels and watches from Smalling and his wife. Not the sort of experience anyone would want to go through.
THEY WILL FOLLOW YOU FOR MILES
A gang of three blokes from London have been jailed after going after Rolex watches in a series of violent robberies.
Freddie Aguis, 29, and Shane Johnson, 30, were each given 16-year extended sentences and John Weaver, 35, was jailed for five-and-a-half years, reports the Eastern Daily Press. The trio admitted following a woman and robbing her in the street in a small town in Norfolk. They carried out a similar mission as they followed a man to Worcester to steal his Rolex. In that incident they forced their way into his home and attacked him with a baseball bat, talking a Rolex valued at 20 grand. The gang are pictured below.
There is a trend now for criminal gangs to have a portfolio of activities, so this could mean that your stolen Rolex is being traded for people, drugs, or even pets. A recent bust in South Wales discovered over 50 missing animals, Rolex watches, a horse box and some cannabis plants growing at one property, says the BBC.
This highlight that your Rolex is something that as an asset value amongst crimnal gangs, it isn’t something that will be pawned for cash, or sold on Gumtree. That’s because the cash price realised would be fairly low, so your serious gangsters will keep the stolen watches and sell – or ransom – kidnapped dogs online, which is a far better way of getting untraceable cash into their little Sopranos corporate machine.
Our top tips for a safer watch collecting life are;
Never post photos online with location services ON your smartphone.
Never meet would-be watch buyers in person unless you already know them
Invest in a small steel safe and have it bolted down to the floor.
If you – or a relative – requires carers or cleaners in your home, then lock the watches away securely and set up a small clock sized camera. Carers and house cleaners are notorious for stealing watches, cash or jewellery.
Never, ever, wear a nice watch or jewellery during a stay in hospital – NHS staff and managers will not investigate properly.
There are lots of green watches this year. For example JLC has launched a green Reverso, which retails at £7200 and has a green strap option too. Then there’s that weird Rolex palm tree thing. Hmmm, let’s move on.
Thing is, the green Reverso works well because this is a physically small watch, designed back in the days when gents wore little 32mm case things because you stood a good chance of being hit by a fascist/communist goon, industrial machinery etc so it made sense to keep an expensive Swiss watch up your sleeve. That is how wristwatches became popular, because getting a pocket watch out in the trenches of WW1 was a bad move.
So yes, we love the Reverso in its green colours. But it looks handsome in blue as well – and blue is THE most popular dial colour in gents watches.
Other green dial watches lauched recently include the 18ct gold Tudor Black Bay 58, the Patek Nautilus in olive green, plus three AP Royal Oak variants all featuring green. The tourbillon Royal Oak is actually very 1960S Time Tunnel, with its strange, almost psydelic swirling green pattern. Crazy ass watch as about $180,000 so we expect to see Floyd Maywether sporting this one very soon.
But when you look at the Tudor 58 in green, it’s kinda in-your-face and although the Rolex Sub Hulk is a very collectable watch, we cannot think of another all-green wristwatch that carries the same cred when it comes to watch collecting, pre-owned shops and pawnbrokers. Seriously, when was the last time you stuck your nose onto a jewellers shop window and lusted after a green watch?
Yes, we can sympathise with fans of the IWC Big Pilot 43, because the 2021 model with green dial looks the part, no question. It’s probably fair to say that the blue version looks equally stunning but we bet you £50 that when it is time to sell you will get about £500 less for the green dial version, maybe £1000 less. They just don’t sell and as I worked in a pawnbrokers for two years and a jewellers for five years, I know what sells.
It’s this in a nutshell; blue dial gents watches, followed by black dials, and then maybe a white dial if the lume/hands/numbers combo is sharp and clean. Cheap Accurist or expensive Omega. Blue dials win, all day long.
Those – like us at NWC magazine – who have said the Oyster Perpetual Datejust was something of a Honda Jazz, in that it didn’t really change its style in 20 years, have to pipe down as new dial options appear for 2021. Including a palm, or rainforest green effect. It’s great to embrace something new, but we wonder if this palm frond dial will stand the test of time. Perhaps a more conventional Datejust will prove to be a watch for all seasons.
Here’s the word from Rolex;
Rolex is introducing four new versions of its Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36 featuring new ‘palm’ and ‘fluted’ dial motifs. The palm motif evokes lush, vibrant tropical forests, while the fluted motif showcases the pattern found on a range of Rolex bezels that has become one of the brand’s signature aesthetic styles.
The palm motif can be seen on three of the new watches. On the first, in Oystersteel and equipped with an Oyster bracelet, the pattern is present on an olive green dial. It also decorates the golden dial of the second watch, a yellow Rolesor version (combining Oystersteel and 18 ct yellow gold) fitted with an Oyster bracelet, and the silver dial of the third watch, an Everose Rolesor version (combining Oystersteel and 18 ct Everose gold) on a Jubilee bracelet.
The fluted motif is found on the golden dial of the final watch – another yellow Rolesor version – this time with a Jubilee bracelet. The new versions of the Datejust 36 are equipped with calibre 3235, a movement at the forefront of watchmaking technology. Like all Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36 carries the Superlative Chronometer certification, which ensures excellent performance on the wrist.
Rolex’s Datejust is the archetype of the classic watch thanks to functions and aesthetics that never go out of fashion. Launched in 1945, it was the first self-winding waterproof chronometer wristwatch to display the date in a window at 3 o’clock on the dial, and consolidated all the major innovations that the brand had contributed to the modern wristwatch until then. The Datejust has spanned eras while retaining the enduring aesthetic characteristics that make it so instantly recognizable.
HOW ABOUT THE MOVEMENT?
The new versions of the Datejust 36 are equipped with calibre 3235, a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex that was released in 2015 and has been fitted on this model since 2018. At the forefront of watchmaking technology, this self-winding mechanical movement led to the filing of several patents, and offers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.
Calibre 3235 incorporates the Chronergy escapement patented by Rolex, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic fields. The movement is fitted with an optimized blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy that makes it up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks. The blue Parachrom hairspring is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position. The oscillator is fitted on the Rolex-designed and -patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.
Calibre 3235 is equipped with a selfwinding module via a Perpetual rotor. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of calibre 3235 extends to approximately 70 hours.
The latest Explorer II made its debut yesterday and we have to say the white dial and vivid orange GMT hand are classic touches that didn’t need to be changed. The new movement is a welcome upgrade, so you now have a 70 hour power reserve, plus the dial features new super-bright lume on the markers and hands. The case size is 42mm too, which will suit many buyers as it looks like a proper watch, not a 36mm vintage model.
It’s arguably a better investment than the Explorer with two tone case because it won’t date so quickly and the lack of gold links in the bracelet makes it slightly less attractive to thieves. Wearing a dress Rolex openly in public is becoming pretty dangerous in many UK cities, even in daytime, so owning something that looks more akin to a Seiko 5 or a Maurice Lacroix Aikon is a wise precaution.
Here’s the press info from Rolex;
Rolex is introducing its new-generation Oyster Perpetual Explorer II. This technical watch, in Oystersteel, was created for the boldest explorers and now features a redesigned case and bracelet. This update brings enhanced visual balance and harmony to the timepiece while remaining true to its aesthetic heritage.
On the white lacquer dial, the hour markers – whose black coating is applied using PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) – and the black lacquer hour, minute and seconds hands stand out for their matt finish. The 24-hour hand retains its characteristic orange hue, which is the same colour as the Explorer II inscription that has featured on the dial since 2011.
The new-generation Explorer II also benefits from an optimized Chromalight display. In dark conditions, the intensity of the blue glow emitted by the hour markers and hands now lasts longer thanks to the innovative and exclusive luminescent material with which they are filled or coated. In daylight, these display elements also have a brighter white hue.
The new-generation Explorer II is equipped with calibre 3285, a movement at the forefront of watchmaking technology. Like all Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual Explorer II carries the Superlative Chronometer certification, which ensures excellent performance on the wrist.
The Explorer II is heir to the privileged relationship that has long united Rolex and exploration. Presented in 1971, this robust and reliable watch quickly became an essential tool for explorers travelling to the far corners of the globe, often in extreme conditions. Thanks to its 24-hour display comprising an additional, orange hour hand and an engraved bezel, the Explorer II allows the wearer to clearly distinguish daytime from night-time hours. This is particularly useful in areas where it is difficult or even impossible to distinguish between day and night, such as underground or in polar regions, which experience six months of daylight and six months of darkness a year. In certain conditions, this display enables the watch to serve as compass. The 24-hour display can also be used to show a second time zone.
The new-generation Explorer II is equipped with calibre 3285, a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex that was released in 2018 and is fitted on this model from 2021. At the forefront of watchmaking technology, this self-winding mechanical movement led to the filing of several patents, and offers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.
Calibre 3285 incorporates the Chronergy escapement patented by Rolex, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic fields. The movement is fitted with an optimized blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy that makes it up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks. The blue Parachrom hairspring is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position. The oscillator is fitted on the Rolex-designed and -patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.
Calibre 3285 is equipped with a self-winding module via a Perpetual rotor. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of calibre 3285 extends to approximately 70 hours.
The new-generation Explorer II is fitted with an Oyster bracelet. Developed at the end of the 1930s, this three-piece link bracelet is known for its robustness.
The Oyster bracelet on this new watch features the Rolex-designed and -patented Oysterlock folding safety clasp, which prevents accidental opening. It is also equipped with the Easylink comfort extension link, developed by the brand, which allows the wearer to easily adjust the bracelet length by approximately 5 mm. In addition, a concealed attachment system ensures seamless visual continuity between the bracelet and case.
OK, we are in two minds about the latest Rolex Explorer with two-tone bracelet. Yes, it adds a kinda executive touch to a watch that has looked a little bit dated for a few decades. But 18ct gold centre links? Hmm, yeah it’s a bit Swiss Tony. Plus a 36mm case size is too small for much of the 50-60-something, male dominated market that Rolex enjoys. The watch collector market has got used to 40mm being the default size for a statement watch on the wrist. That’s all we are saying Rolex, so get that 39/41mm case option prototype tested and in production for September.
Rolex is presenting its new-generation Oyster Perpetual Explorer. At 36 mm, it returns to the size of the original model launched in 1953 following the first ascent to the summit of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on 29 May that year.
The new-generation Explorer is notably released in a yellow Rolesor version (combining Oystersteel and 18 ct yellow gold). The black dial, now lacquered, bears the index hour markers and emblematic 3, 6 and 9 numerals that are the cornerstones of the model’s personality, evoking the determination and spirit of adventure that give rise to great achievements.
The new-generation Explorer’s Chromalight display is particularly impressive. In dark conditions, the intensity of the blue glow emitted by the hour markers and hands now lasts longer thanks to the innovative and exclusive luminescent material with which they are filled or coated. In daylight, these display elements also have a brighter white hue.
The new-generation Explorer is equipped with calibre 3230, a movement at the forefront of watchmaking technology. Like all Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual Explorer carries the Superlative Chronometer certification, which ensures excellent performance on the wrist.
AN EXPLORATION TOOL
Presented in 1953, the Explorer is emblematic of the close ties between Rolex and exploration. In the 1930s, the brand began to equip numerous Himalayan expeditions with Oyster watches. Among these was the group that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were part of when they became the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, at 8,848 metres (29,028 feet).
This pioneering move illustrated the company’s ambition to use the world as a laboratory, testing its watches in real conditions in order to continually improve them. The feedback that Rolex received from the members of these different expeditions therefore had a direct influence on the evolution of its watches, making them more precise and robust.
GOLD CENTRE LINKS
Rolesor, the combination of 18 ct gold and Oystersteel on a Rolex watch, has been a signature feature of the brand since 1933, when the name was registered. It is a meeting of two metals: one, noble and precious, attractive for its lustre and stability; the other, highly resistant to corrosion, assuring strength and reliability. All of these qualities mirror the elegance and performance that come together in a Rolex watch.
On the yellow Rolesor version of the new-generation Explorer, the bezel, winding crown and centre links of the bracelet are in 18 ct yellow gold, while the case and outer links of the bracelet are in Oystersteel.
100m WATER RESISTANCE
The new-generation Explorer’s 36 mm Oyster case is guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet). Its middle case is crafted from a solid block of Oystersteel, a particularly corrosion-resistant alloy. The case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only Rolex watchmakers to access the movement. The Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a double waterproofness system, screws down securely against the case. The crystal is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire. The waterproof Oyster case provides optimum protection for the watch’s movement.
MODERN MOVEMENT, PLENTY OF RESERVE
The new-generation Explorer is equipped with calibre 3230, a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex that was released in 2020. At the forefront of watchmaking technology, this self-winding mechanical movement led to the filing of several patents, and offers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.
Calibre 3230 incorporates the Chronergy escapement patented by Rolex, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic fields. The movement is fitted with an optimized blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy that makes it up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks. The blue Parachrom hairspring is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position. The oscillator is fitted on the Rolex-designed and -patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.
Calibre 3230 is equipped with a self-winding module via a Perpetual rotor. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of calibre 3230 extends to approximately 70 hours.
We think so because Explorer values have been heading up a decent pace of late, as demand for GMT II, new Oyster and Subs becomes a feeding frenzy. There is something to be said the classic Explorer, especially one like this, which we spotted on a watch auction site. It’s in Italy, which often sets off alarm bells, but the period box and booklet looks good, plus there is a certificate of verification with it.
Then there’s the general wear. It’s been used, with big scratches on the crystal and quite a bit on the bracelet. That’s a good thing, because fakes tend to be much more minty, and we love that bold, big orange GMT hand too. This watch stands out, even if it is just 39mm. Yes, the bezel is non-original and those hands could be replacements fitted sometime in the early 2000s perhaps. They look too clean somehow, not a trace of fading over 40 years of sunshine – which you do get in Milan, has to be said.
But taken all round, yeah, well worth considering as an investment. There are still 13 days left on this one and we are going to guess it makes £6100.
I only ask the question because according to trade magazine WatchPro, one quarter of the entire Swiss watch industry is Rolex sales. The UK is arguably one of the most Rolex obsessed markets in the world, as the 2020 launch of the new Oyster, GMT and Subs showed. Flippers who managed to bri-sorry, get allocated a much prized Submariner were able to sell it on for around 50-80% above the RRP, depending on the dial colour, bezel etc.
Recently UK retailer Goldsmiths announced that it was rolling out a new store concept, based on Mayors of Miami, where watch brands would have dedicated zones. This offers consumers the chance to look at particular brands in detail. The danger with this idea is that it mirrors the disaster that is the Premiership in English football – all the money, marketing and top talent is concentrated on a handful of brands. Goldsmiths will have Rolex, Breitling, Omega, Cartier, TAG and Tudor – which is of course part of Rolex. You could say it’s Rolex-Lite, but that does minimise how good a Tudor Black Bay is in terms of value when compared to a Rolex Sub; same build quality for half the price, some might say.
But this focus on a handful of brands, with Rolex as the `One Watch To Rule Them All’ is going to damage the market in the end. Because history teaches us that every bubble, whether it’s a UK housing market, Tesla, South Sea, tulip bulbs or spices, will go pop eventually. When it does, then confidence is buying luxury watches as an investment will largely evaporate. It will have a catastrophic effect on watch retailing, as chains like Goldsmiths, Beaverbrooks and Watches of Switzerland depend on luxury Rolex and other watch sales to help keep them afloat, now that the government has decided that house arrest is a good idea long term. Footfall is NEVER coming back to pre-lockdown levels, and many older people – who make up a high percentage of luxury Rolex buyers – don’t trust the inetrnet. They also don’t want their Rolex purchase data to be held online either, as they rightly assume that various thieves and accomplices will hack that info at some point, leaving them vulnerable to house burglary or card fraud.
The final reason why Rolex domination is a bad thing is that it stifles innovation, to the extent where many of their watches are often quite boring. The Oyster range really needs a kick up the rear, as it’s becoming the Honda Jazz of the watch world; safe, steady, reliable but entirely uninteresting to any serious watch collector. There is nothing to talk about if you own an Oyster, exept its value.
Rolex don’t really do anything left field, quirky or challenging in their range, except perhaps the Milgauss, which is a 1950s idea still in production for some bizaarre reason. Personally, I like the Milgauss because I love the blue dial, but you have to admit that it’s a one-trick pony as a modern watch. Rolex could be creating some 21st century ground-breaking watchmaking tech instead, not just anti-magnetic as regards digital devices, but with tourbillions, liquid-powered chrono functions, or maybe a MODshop where well-heeled customers could order truly one-off Rolex models, created in the same way that Bamford London are doing. But better, with all the resources that a global brand can bring to bear.
When you are number one there’s only way you can go, and that is down. Change and development is necessary, despite the risks associated with it. Rolex is in a sweet spot right now – apart from the ongoing customer anger concerning waiting lists. Demand could not really be any higher and it is consistently voted the number one brand in any marketing survey you read. It is amazing that so many people believe that Rolex is the best watch in the world, despite the obvious truth to anyone who has taken their watches apart. They are not the very best, but they are brilliant at mass production to a very high level. But resting on those laurels is not a strategy for long term progress and it will also damage the entire watch industry when consumers decide that buying a Rolex is no longer as safe an investment as buying a Premium Bond.
Maybe that’s the future, the Rolex Fantasy Share Index? You basically mine your Rolex data like Bitcoin and when you get to GMT III level you cash in. Stranger things have happened…
Documents have been filed in Chicago USA which could – in theory – see a full scale jury trial of senior Rolex dealership directors accused of racketeering. Yep, that old Capone era felony is still on the books! The case revolves around three former employees of CDP, an authorised Rolex dealership, who tried to blow the whistle on grey market Rolex sales, waiting lists and all the other stuff that is well known to Rolex buyers aorund the world. In short, it is a huge can of worms which could damage the Rolex reputation if aired in detail.
This is an extract from the court documents; “The heart of the Scheme was a conspiracy by the Defendants to illegally sell Rolex watches to foreign grey market resellers in order to enrich themselves. In order to further the Scheme, the Defendants conspired to violate numerous federal and state laws including but not limited to racketeering, money laundering, mail, wire, immigration, and credit card fraud, and Illinois sales tax evasion.”
To summarise the document, the employees complained about the grey sales situation, then refused to join in with the schemes, and were then fired. The plaintiffs then allege that a Chinese national was subsequently employed to organise grey market watch sales, and worked in the US without the correct immigration paperwork.
The problem for Rolex here, and to a lesser extent AP and Patek, who also enjoy the luxury of having demand for certain watches outstrip supply, is that it inevitably encourages dealers to consider the grey market. Everyone in the watch and jewellery business has favourite customers, usually high spending self-made men nad women, who appreciate personal service and a lack of waiting around when they want something new. It’s human nature; money talks.
But how much reputational damage could this case cause to Rolex by exposing the situation that EVERYONE in the watch industry knows about, but is not widely known amongst the general public. Mistakenly, many ordinary people believe thay can walk into a Rolex shop and buy a new Submariner or GMT 2 – just like that. Cash, card or finance and have it in their hand that day. To learn that dealers are involved in shipping watches around the world, via dubious middlemen and online brokers, who are selling on new watches that are briefly owned by flippers, is going to do lasting damage.
In short, once lost, trust is hard to recover.
CDP has been in the watch and jewellery business since 1837, so it will be hard for Rolex to pull the franchise. But if this nasty case goes to court, then they will have no other choice. How can any manufacturer back dealers who are doing business like this? You cannot, it is morally indefensible and that is why this case will never go to trial in our opinion. The best resolution will be an out of court settlement to the three ex-employees, plus the firing of the Chinese sales guy.
The sooner the better, for all concerned, not just CDP.