9 Reasons Why Rolex Watches Are So Expensive (Is It Justified?)

Have you ever wondered why Rolex watches are so expensive? These Swiss luxury watches are the envy of many. They are one of the world’s most popular brands. But have you ever thought about why they charge such a high price? What makes them superior?

With Rolex, you are paying for master-crafted timepieces. Mechanical watches are costly to manufacture and create. The materials used to craft these luxury watches are nothing short of the highest quality. Everything from 904L Stainless Steel to in house development increases the price as these factors also raise the cost of production of the watches. 

It’s no secret that the cost of a Rolex can surpass that of a brand new luxury car. But why? In this article we will discuss some of the pricing factors surrounding Rolex to give you an overall view of the company. This way, you can see if Rolex is worth it in your eyes.

Can Rolex Prices Really Be Justified?

Although Rolex watches are expensive, you’d be hard-pressed to find another product with the same level of quality in each piece. This is an intriguing fact, and it is one of the reasons why watches are so popular in the luxury market.

Rolex has earned a well-deserved reputation for quality over the years; they primarily manufacture mechanical watches. These mechanical watches are, by definition, extremely time-consuming to produce.

Because of the nature of the product, mechanical watches, not just Rolex watches, generally command a higher price. Here are some of the main reasons why a Rolex watch is so expensive.

Rolex is one of the best luxury Swiss watchmakers, with dazzling elegance and functionality. As a result, it’s no surprise that some people believe Rolex watches are only for a particular class of people.

But have you ever wondered why Rolex watches are so expensive? Rolex watch prices vary depending on the model and collection. Rolex would like to make its watches available to everyone, but the resources and materials used in production must also be considered. These are just a few of the factors that influence watch pricing.

Why Are Rolex So Expensive

1. Rolex Watches Are Expensive to Create

Rolex watches are no exception to the demanding nature of the watchmaking profession. In terms of both design and craftsmanship, a Rolex watch has very high in-house development costs.

Not only does it cost a lot to design and assemble the movements, but the materials used in the actual construction are also not cheap.

Rolex even has its own research and development lab department — or rather, several. These are well-equipped, professional facilities. They devote their time to developing more efficient manufacturing methods and new techniques in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Rolex uses highly sophisticated and sensitive equipment, such as electron microscopes and gas spectrometers to create some of the world’s best watches. Because the parts can be pretty small, it is critical that the materials used are up to the task. Their stress chamber literally destroys individual parts.

2. Employing Gemologists

Rolex employs a large team of gemologists to ensure that they always present top-tier luxury watches to customers.

These experts assist in the purchase, testing, and setting of precious materials such as gold and diamond onto various luxurious models.

Furthermore, the company employs traditional jewelers to help with the hand-picking and hand-setting of diamonds and precious stones.

3. Mechanical Watches are Costly to Manufacture

Mechanical watches are also not cheap to produce. Because most of the parts are small, there is a high failure rate during assembly and manufacture.

The majority of them are also polished and finished by hand. When you consider that they are made in Switzerland, with their high labor costs, you should have a better understanding of their overheads.

Rolex appears to subscribe to the “no expense spared” philosophy. The materials are prohibitively expensive. Rolex, for example, uses 904L steel, which is miles ahead of most luxury market equivalents, which use the less costly 316L steel.

By default, the 904L steel makes the watches harder, shinier, and more expensive. Dials are frequently made of white gold, and bezels are typically made of ceramic.

The numbers themselves are frequently made of sandblasted platinum, and the movements and bezels are set with genuine gemstones. All of these materials are costly in their own right.

4. Rolex Loves Control

The quality of Rolex watches is unrivaled, as previously stated, and proof positive (so to speak) when handling one. When compared to competitors such as Tag Heuer or Omega, they are a “cut above.”

The quality demonstrates that they are well worth the price. Rolex watches hold their value very well on the resale market, as long as they are genuine. Rolex produces approximately 800,000 watches per year.

As you’d expect from a luxury item, every step of the manufacturing process is quality controlled.

For example, the Rolex bezel handles on some watches must be so precise that the stones do not deviate from their ideal position by more than a quarter the thickness of a human hair. Rolex even has control over the melting of precious metals used in their products, such as gold and silver.

5. Multiple Research Facilities

Rolex has an exceptional Internal Research and Development department. They have a number of professional labs and facilities where scientists and researchers work on new Rolex watches and manufacturing techniques.

Rolex must ensure that the best team is in place in these labs and facilities. As a result, they prefer to conduct research on oils and lubricants used in their machines with highly trained scientists in their chemistry lab.

Rolex also has a stress test room where watch movements, cases, and bracelets can be tested. The company also has a room with several electron microscopes and gas spectrometers where metal and other material research is conducted.

6. Gold Production

Rolex is marketed as the only watchmaker that manufactures its own gold. This explains why specific gold models appear on lists of the most expensive watches. For their products, Rolex typically refines 24K gold into 18K yellow, white, or Everose gold.

7. Hand-Assembled Movements

Despite the fact that Rolex employs a large number of robots in its manufacturing, the tasks performed by machines and robots are actually simple.

Sorting, cataloging, and filing are examples of these. In fact, watch movements and bracelets are typically assembled by hand.

To ensure high quality, watches are frequently double-checked and tested by humans before being sent to COSC for chronometer certification.

8. Water Impermeability Testing

Rolex watches have exceptional impermeability. Some are even waterproof up to 300 meters (e.g., Rolex Submariner watches).

Each Rolex dive watch is typically tested under pressurized tanks before being tested outdoors in actual water to confirm water-resistance levels.

Meanwhile, Rolex often uses a high-pressure water tank that has been specially re-developed through COMEX to test Rolex Deepsea watches.

9. Rolex Uses 904L Stainless Steel

Rolex gives its luxury watches a classic, unrivaled design to set them apart from the crowd. This includes the use of 904L stainless steel, which is of high quality. This steel is much stronger and shinier than the standard 316L steel used by other watchmakers.

904L stainless steel is not only expensive but also difficult to produce. Rolex began extensively using this steel (also known as Corrosion-Resistant Superalloy) in 2003.

Given that all Rolex watches are typically made in-house, most existing tools and machines were replaced in order to produce 904L stainless steel. Producing this steel type necessitates specialized skills and extra effort.

As a result, most watchmakers continue to use 316L steel. As a result, Rolex is likely the only watch manufacturer to use 904L steel.

What Is So Special About a Rolex Watch?

Rolex watches accurately display the time and are strong, sturdy, and dependable. They maintain consistently high quality with an annual production volume of approximately three-quarters of a million pieces.

It’s also in Rolex’s best interests to avoid unusual complications. It lacks tourbillons, perpetual calendars, and minute repeaters, as well as movements with a large date display, power reserve indicator, and alarm function.

The company focuses on what it does best and constantly improves the details. This is true for both the movements and the case.

You won’t find a rotating bezel that ratchets as cleanly and smoothly as the one on the Submariner or GMT-Master II from any of its competitors. This includes other high-end manufacturers with much more expensive products.

The Most Expensive Rolex Watches in the World

Here are some of the most expensive Rolex watches in the world. This will give you an idea of how the value of a Rolex watch can change over time.

Paul Newman’s Cosmograph Daytona

Photo Credit: LD Eventos

Paul Newman’s Daytona is the most expensive Rolex watch on the market. This watch is the most iconic of all Rolex Daytona watches, and it was auctioned off for a record-breaking $17,752,500.

Paul Newman’s wife purchased the watch because she was concerned about him getting into an accident due to his passion for motor racing.

She had the case back of the watch engraved with “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME,” a loving and humorous gesture. This watch appeals to people far beyond the watch world– It appeals to those who enjoy and admire motorsports and automobiles, as well as those who collect Hollywood memorabilia.

The dial is dark brown, which contrasts with the white outer trim of the watch, and it has an Art-Deco font, a black and red minute track, and square ends on its subdial markers.

This extraordinary timepiece perfectly captures Paul Newman’s iconic style, making it one of the most sought-after vintage timepieces.

Daytona Reference 6265 Unicorn

Photo Credit: SJX Watches

The Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6265 is the second-most expensive Rolex ever auctioned off. This Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6265, nicknamed “The Unicorn,” became the second-most expensive Rolex at auction fetching $5.9 million.

The white gold Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6265 was sold at Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo’s “Daytona Ultimatum” thematic auction on May 12 in Geneva for CHF 5.9 million ($5.9 million).

This makes it the second most expensive Rolex at auction, trailing only Paul Newman’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.

Bao Dai Reference 6062

Photo Credit: CelebreMagazine

The Rolex Ref. 6062 “Bao Dai” first made history when it was sold for $235,000 in 2002, making it the most expensive Rolex watch ever at the time. It broke its own record 15 years later when it was auctioned off for a whopping $5,060,427 on May 13, 2017.

However, the Bao Dai watch only held the record for a half-year longer before Phillips auction house sold Paul Newman Daytona for nearly $18 million, eclipsing the Ref. 6062, also known as the Bao Dai Rolex.

Rolex 6062 in yellow gold The Bao Dai watch has a black dial and a Jubilee bracelet. Prince Nguyn Phc Vinh Thy, also known as “Bo I (translated as “Preserver of Greatness”), was the thirteenth and final Vietnamese emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, ruling from 1802 to 1945.

“The Legend” Daytona Oyster Reference 6263

Photo Credit: Jonathan’s Fine Jewelers

The Rolex 6263 is an early reference in the Rolex Daytona collection. It belongs to what is known as the first series. Daytona is the most popular Rolex line on the used market, especially for the references in this first series.

The series ran from 1963 to 1987 and used manual wind movements, whereas the two subsequent series used automatic movements. It is also one of the so-called ‘Paul Newman’ references. It got this name because watches with these reference numbers occasionally came with Paul Newman dials, which are the most sought-after Daytona dial configuration.

The Paul Newman references are divided into three groups of two, with one watch with a steel bezel and one with a black acrylic bezel in each group. The 6239/6241 was the first pair to be released, followed by the 6262/6264 and finally the 6265/6263.

As with the other pairs, the only real difference between the 6265 and 6263 is that the former has a steel bezel, and the latter has a black acrylic bezel.

The 6263 is the most desirable of the six Paul Newman references. There are many different types of 6263s available, and many have been given nicknames by collectors.

These include the Big Red, UAE Desert Eagle, Panda, Peruvian Air Force, Paul Newman (Exotic Dial), Non-Paul Newman, Sigma Dial, and Arabian Knight. The prices for these various versions vary, but some have sold for as much as $3,717,906.

“The Neanderthal” Daytona Reference 6240

Photo Credit: Tropical Watch

The Rolex Daytona Ref. 6240, dubbed “The Neanderthal” due to its “pre-Paul Newman” dial style, sold for $3,010,260 at the Phillips Daytona Ultimatum sale.

It is distinctive due to its dial configuration, which includes the color combination, the oversized subsidiary dials that nearly touch the outer white seconds’ track, and the black outer seconds marks.

The steel wrist band almost looks better on this watch due to the coloring of the watch’s face. It ties everything together and has its own unique character.

 #5Rolex Daytona “The Neanderthal” at Phillips

Photo Credit: Jonathan’s Fine Jewelers

The Rolex Daytona Ref. 6240, dubbed “The Neanderthal” due to its “pre-Paul Newman” dial style, sold for $3,010,260 at the Phillips Daytona Ultimatum sale.

It is distinctive because of its dial configuration, which includes the color combination and the oversized subsidiary dials that nearly touch the outer white seconds’ track.

The black outer seconds’ marks and the lack of any Cosmograph or Oyster designation. It was the first Cosmograph model with screw-down chronograph pushers, introduced in 1966. The brass pushers’ visible patina adds to their authenticity.

Is Rolex a Good Investment?

As long as you’re willing to keep the watches for more than a few months, buying a Rolex is a great investment!

Due to supply and demand issues, fans of the brand now have access to a world of investment opportunities that other types of investors do not have. The real problem arises when you go to get one.

The practice of “flipping” watches is typically frowned upon by the same markets where you’d be able to obtain the watches at MSRP anyway, which will present its own set of difficulties.

When you combine that with some of the more shady business practices and purchase history requirements, acquiring these pieces becomes difficult, to say the least. Then, openly (or not so openly) flipping those watches may land you on a maybe-it-exists-maybe-it-doesn’t (definitely does) blacklist for future purchases.

Does Rolex Lose Value?

The average price of a new Rolex watch has been steadily rising since the 1950s. There is no indication that this will change as a brand with global recognition. Every year, it appears that people are willing to pay more and more in real terms for a Rolex watch.

However, this does not guarantee that any Rolex you purchase will appreciate in value. While Rolex watches do hold their value well – as long as they are protected from unnecessary wear and tear – some watches have a better chance of increasing in value than others.

Purchasing a Rolex, like any other investment, should not be undertaken lightly, and you should conduct thorough research on the piece you intend to purchase.

Having said that, there are some general trends that tend to hold. The following guidelines should help you make an informed decision about which watch to purchase.

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