When Rolex becomes an EDC
Well it’s not because people are getting richer, that’s for sure.
Coming full circle
The Rolex watch was created to be the every man’s watch - taken time extremes and finding their way onto the wrist of some pretty adventurous individuals
And then they were marketed as the successful man’s watch - a slew of sports celebrities were thrown watches to own and abuse.
And then there was Instagram, where the two ideals of the Rolex merged and borne a sickly ADSD child and giving a new distasteful meaning to a "sub"culture.
If I see another damn wrist roll with a Rolex Submariner...
So from EDC to rich, successful man's watch to EDC, the Rolex watch has indeed come a long way. But what doesn't make sense to me is the fact that these aren't really affordable watches. Collectors like me talk about "affordable luxury" and the "entry-level" pieces that already cost us a few thousand dollars. That is no chump change.
The Rolex Submariner and its venerable brood of stainless steel sports watches (plus the occasional DayDate) cost well over a common man's salary. So why is it that I see more Subs than Timex on the way to work?
1. Pride over practicality
Coming from a country in Asia, I'm used to seeing people spend mountains of cash on something that accords more status than sense - a simple automobile where I'm from can cost as much as $100,000, with prestige models from Mercedes and BMW costing upwards of $300,000 or more.
And when everyone who owns a Mercs or Beemer starts owning Pateks and APs, I guess the people who drive normal cars or take the train have nothing but Subs to pad their prides with.
For Rolex watches there's always going to be the one-up - the 5513 to the modern sapphire; a red to the 5513; a Sea Dweller to the Red; a Daytona to the Sea Dweller; a Val. 72 to the Daytona... until you become the one guy who owns the one Paul Newman. Does it make sense? Probably, but you have to be in the game to feel that.
2. Except it's not all cash
Banks are run by smart people. Not all people who buy Rolex can afford the watches. Math, done. Some even bank roll Submariners one after another to move up the chain. It's all in the management, like swimming against the tide - keep moving and you'll be alright.
3. Vintage for the win
I remember a few years ago when I started to look at Rolex watches. I was earning less then and the Submariner was really out of reach. Neither was I going to ask a bank to charge me money to use more money. Fortunately I was a vintage collector, and double fortunately, vintage Rolex cost considerably less than the modern ones (then).
So I got my first few Rolex watches - the classic 1601s. It was also about the same time Theo and Harris came about, and we started to see the social media browsers start spewing DateJusts and DayDates.
I spoke to a seasoned collector and he also told me about these 'waves' where young collectors all come in and drain the market of entry level vintage DateJusts before moving on to hunt down the 5513s and what-nots. That's how inflation and the supposed bubble happened.
The future is crowned
So what do all these mean for collectors like myself? A pretty lame used market. When everyone is only interested in the Crown, there's really not much else to get my hands on. Back in the day there were so many watches running around with passionate people taking them home. Fast-forward a couple of decades and you'e looking at our present time where we are greeted with so much choice.
So now with Rolex flooding the market interest, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's going to be a lonely world for collectors who are not a fan. When luxury becomes the everyday and uber luxury is for the ridiculously wealthy, we're left to either get good in the money department, or go find all the watches we like now before they're all gone.
Either ways, the price tags of vintage watches will no longer be as low as they used to be.
Woe is the bloke who bought and went broke, but glee greets the chap with the crown on his wrist. At least he's got something to flip.