Why are Rolex watches so expensive?

Posted by Suzie Kidger-Clarke

on 24th March 2022

To the untrained eye, Rolex watches can appear pretty expensive. So if you’ve ever wondered how come Rolex watches are so expensive, you’re not alone.

While purchasing a Rolex watch is certainly an investment, it can be pretty shocking to hear that vintage Rolex watches have regularly sold for upward of £1million. When it comes to Rolex prices, one, in particular, has always stood out about the rest: When the Rolex watch Joanne Woodward gave her husband Paul Newman sold for over $17million in 2017.

Crazy, huh?

Today we’re going to be digging a little deeper into these luxury timepieces to examine why and how they hold their price so well.

Why is a Rolex so expensive?

There are a number of terms frequently used to describe Rolex watches, from luxurious to classy, extravagant to expensive…

With reliable movements and exquisite design, there’s no surprise that Rolex watches remain highly popular and well-loved by high-profile individuals around the globe.

However, despite their luxury watch status, many of us have often wondered why Rolex prices are so high. Below, we’ll be covering all the reasons why Rolex watches have a high price tag, so you can be armed with the right information to decide for yourself on a potential Rolex watch purchase…

why are rolex watches so expensive

Rolex watches are meticulously made

In the watch world, the development of expensive watches – such as Rolex – doesn’t happen overnight. Watchmaking is both a meticulous and tiring process, as well as an expensive one.

In addition, Rolex has its very own research and development department, with groundbreaking tools and avant-garde equipment. Put simply, Rolex watches only use the best.

Aside from the materials Rolex use, and their skillset as watchmakers, they are also constantly innovating new manufacturing methods and techniques. This keeps them ahead of the game in the watch world.

These iconic watches cost a lot to design

As Rolex continue to expand their own methods and techniques, it comes as no surprise that a lot of their high price tag comes from their cost of design.

Part of which is down to the highly trained and experienced scientists they have working in their laboratories. Alongside this, Rolex’s innovative Oysterflex band is crafted from strong black elastomer, with its core created with flexible titanium and nickel alloy blades for extra definition. This combination of materials has allows the bracelet of a Rolex timepiece to be not only durable, but deliver the ultimate comfort.

All of these small, innovative details go into creating these luxury timepieces, making them a status symbol for luxury products.

Rolex use 904L stainless steel

Alongside the design techniques used to create these luxury timepieces, Rolex watches also utilise precious materials, including diamonds and gold.

As well as their materials, Rolex is famous for its use of 904l stainless steel, while other watch brands use 316L stainless steel.

In the world of Rolex watches, 904L stainless steel is often referred to as “corrosion resistant superalloy” and “Oystersteel”.

Of course, these precious metals and highly professional facilities come with a high price tag compared to other watches. The use of 904L stainless steel has become a trademark of Rolex watches, ensuring that their designs are long-lasting, tough and hardwearing and totally exquisite.

Rolex watches have their movements assembled by hand

Rolex do not use machines to create their classic timepieces, instead, assembling their watch movements and brackets is all done by hand. This allows for greater freedom in designing their watch engines and developing their own standards.

Of course, each Rolex is meticulously double-checked and tested before being sold. This craftsmanship ensures that every Rolex is produced to the highest standard.

Rolex watches stand up to the test of time

If you are looking for a luxury timepiece that is built to last, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything better than a Rolex watch.

Unlike a Rolex watch, any change in elements such as humidity, temperature, movement or altitude can be incredibly damaging to many watches.

It’s a part of Rolex’s ethos to push boundaries and explore, with their luxury watches built to accompany you on any adventure.

So much so, that a Rolex watch was what accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary on his quest to be the first person to climb Everest. Decades later, another luxury timepiece accompanied Ed Viesturs to climb the mountain.

But as well as safely standing high altitudes, some Rolex watches are able to withstand depths of up to 300m. Before being tested in real waters, Rolex tests their water resistance timepieces in pressurised tanks.

why are rolex watches so expensive

Which Rolex watches are water resistant/proof?

The Rolex “Oyster Perpetual” title is seen below the Rolex logo, referring to its hermetic case. Introduced in 1926, it became the first-ever waterproof case designed and developed for a wristwatch.

Through its patented system, Rolex watches are renowned for their ability to stand up against water. All modern Rolex watches are fitted with the Rolex Oyster case. For the following models, they guarantee water resistance up to 100 meters:

  • Rolex Oyster Perpetual
  • Rolex Daytona
  • Rolex Datejust and Datejust II
  • Rolex Air-King
  • Rolex GMT-Master
  • Rolex Explorer ii

Meanwhile, the Rolex Submariner has a water resistance of up to 300 meters. Made as a dive watch, the Rolex Submariner can handle diving depths that most “normal” people may dive to.

Rolex watches hold their value well

While Rolex prices may seem a little daunting, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll receive a return on investment if you were to sell your Rolex watch at a later stage.

Many Rolex models are seen as collectors’ items, with some, but not all, worn every day. In recent years, buying a Rolex watch as an investment has become more common than ever.

In truth, not all luxury watches hold their value, never mind appreciate over time. This is certainly not the case for Rolex watches, since their instantly identifiable appearance and brand is much-loved around the world and continues to keep a relatively high price tag. If you’re considering investing in a Rolex watch, we recently wrote a blog on the best timepieces worth investment.

Even a pre owned Rolex watch remains sought after

Today, the secondary market is booming with some of the best timepieces designed by Rolex. Their mechanical watches have proven to be long-lasting, meaning that even a pre owned Rolex can hold its high price tag.

If you’re seeking a pre owned Rolex, we can help you to find the perfect timepiece to suit your style and collection. Get in touch with us to discuss your requirements, or take a look at our current watches.

So, why are Rolex watches so expensive?

While it may be somewhat a surprise, a Rolex wasn’t always the king of expensive watches. When they were first introduced in 1905, their retail price was a slither of what it is today. However, over time, as their quality improved, their retail price also increased.

The great thing is, if you’re considering purchasing your first Rolex – or adding a new one to your collection – they will continue to appreciate in price as time goes by. This is why these luxury timepieces hold their price so well, and are sought after by watch investors and collectors.

Frequently asked questions:

How much is my Rolex worth?

It can be difficult to determine how much your Rolex is worth without determining its model and condition. There is a range of factors that affect pricing, including materials, new movements, collection popularity and so on.

If you’re looking to find out how much your Rolex is worth, you can speak to us here at LH Watch Trade for an accurate price.

Are there specific Rolex watch models to look out for?

Knowing the right Rolex to look out for can be determined by your goal. If you are looking to dive while wearing your Rolex, it’s important to seek one with high water resistance.

If you’re looking for the best watch to invest in, you can take a look at our recent blog on this very topic.