This Is Why Rolex Watches Are So Expensive

Rolex watches are some of the most sought-after timepieces in the world. Last year, a vintage Rolex Daytona worn by Paul Newman was sold at auction for $17.8 million. Cara Barrett, editor at Hodinkee, fills us in on why Rolex’s are so pricey.

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Following is a transcript of the video:

Cara Barrett: There is a rumor that in order for a Rolex to actually leave the factory or be a Rolex design it has be to recognizable from 20 feet away.

Hi, I’m Cara Barrett, editor at Hodinkee, the leading online watch publication. Rolex is one of the few brands, if not the only brand that has a very specific aesthetic. They are sporty, they are active, they are tool watches that’s kind of their main DNA.

In the 50’s they came out with the Submariner, the Explorer, the Milgauss, the GMT and they were all watches that were designed and made to be used as tools. And so that’s their bread and butter and it still is today. It kind of evolved into a luxury brand later in life which now is what they’re known for. So that’s kind of the interesting thing about them is they initially were tool watches which have now become luxury. Rolex is kind of one of those brands that sits on the lower end of the spectrum as far as luxury watches are concerned.

The Submariner’s $8,000. The entry-level watch at Rolex is $5,000 with the Oyster Perpetual. Their three qualities are self-winding, waterproof and precision. And they really focus on quality. It takes one year to make a Rolex. They go through extensive testing. The accuracy, the chronometer, the timing, it’s all about telling the right time, keeping the right time. They also have extensive service work after, so if you ever have a problem with your Rolex, you can take it to them and they’ll fix it.

The clasp is opened and closed a thousand times before it leaves so you know that when you get it, it’s not gonna break. The whole point of a Rolex is you buy one now, it will last you for 20 years if you take care of it. It will last you for 100 if you really take care of it. That’s ultimately why they’re so expensive because you’re buying something that will last you a lifetime presumably. And something that you can pass down to other generations as well.

In the collectors’ world, there’s the vintage Rolex market. And there’s a whole underground of different nuances and you know there’s a GMT with a matte dial, a GMT with a gilt dial and there are all these tiny little details that change and they make a watch more or less valuable.

There’s the Paul Newman Daytona which sold for $17.8 million last fall and that’s the most expensive Rolex that’s ever sold at auction. The Paul Newman Daytona is a really good example where they came out with a Daytona back in the 70s and they put these exotic dials on them and they couldn’t sell them. And now they’re the most collectible watches on the vintage market.

No one knows how many Rolexes are produced per year, no one knows how many Rolexes are produced per model. But there are specific ones, like the Rainbow Daytona that came out this year, rumored to have X amount made, but very small quantities. You don’t ever know exactly what the number is, but you do know that there aren’t that many. And they’re hard to get.

One of the best things about Rolex is anyone can wear any of them. They’re very unisex and I think that that’s refreshing ’cause a lot of times brands put a lot of diamonds on watches and kind of brand it as a woman’s watch. Whereas Rolex does the same thing, but it’s kind of unisex. I wear a lot of men’s Rolex. But the ladies Datejust is actually, in two-tone, is actually the most sold Rolex model of all time. Which is a really fun fact.


Wasp says:

“Remember, if it’s not something that is essential to your survival, you are not allowed to own or have an interest in it, as it is in no doubt worthless.”

Basically how this comment section is handling the video.

goarif1 says:

Why should you buy Rolex when you have Omega in half of a price. Quality is superb and keep some value as well. I am using inherited 70’s Omega Seamaster and serviced twice.

Coolie Alexander says:

I’ll buy one after I buy my house.

Rick West says:

Problem with Rolex watches these days is Far too many Fakes kicking around. You spend thousands and everybody thinks it’s a fake….

Mike Porter says:

So why are they so expensive?

porscheoscar says:

Forever watch? LOL. They require EXPENSIVE servicing and repairs are OBSCENELY marked up both in labor and cost of parts. And before you think you can buy it second hand and just take it to your local watchmaker think again. Rolex have begun a move towards using parts that are too expensive for watchmakers to purchase independently. It’s a clever push towards roping you into a long term commitment into Rolex servicing which will cost you a bundle. I expect you’ll see a lot of watches sold before the owner has to do a major servicing. And the resale on their best selling models is nothing spectacular, you’re losing money the minute you walk out the door. Rolex make a quality product that has a reputation established through very aggressive marketing, 50 years ago they were quiet affordable. But were never in the league of Breguet, Patek, Vacheron, Audemars Piaget and most recently A. Lange & Sohne. My big gripe with Rolex is that these watches at the end of the day are mass produced timepieces.. over a million a year are made, there really is nothing exclusive about them. You’re paying for a mass produced watch as if it were a limited quantity. And there’s little if any innovation like we see at Zenith where they really are trying to move the ball forward in horology and not just offering “ground breaking” bezel colors. Honestly I’d rather have a Grand Seiko Spring Drive than another ubiquitous Submariner.

Astolfo says:

Because people buy it

i am a human says:

Remember when watches were used to tell time not to “flex”?

W Davis says:


James Paul says:

I acquired my Rolex Explorer ll in 2002. It does not keep time accurately, losing 5 minutes a month on average. As a “tool” I would never use this watch to determine longitude. Or keep accurate time, for that matter. It is not worth its cost and I have not worn it in over a year.

john smith says:

God she mumbles, could we have sub titles please

simon smith says:

An advertisement for Rolex long ago claimed that it takes about a year to make a single Rolex watch. As suspicious as that sounds, it is true even today. Rolex produces almost a million watches a year, but surprisingly, no shortcuts are taken in the manufacturing process from what I could observe (and I’ve been to a lot of watch manufactures). Rolex is however interested in quality and efficiency. Basically, the entire company seems focused on producing the best watches, and continually seeing how they can make them better.

If you look at Rolex watches over time, they are more about evolution rather than revolution. This idea of always improving versus changing goes right into their manufacturing process as well. They are constantly learning how to improve quality through better processes and techniques. The move from aluminum to ceramic bezel inserts is a perfect example. Nevertheless, from starting to shape the parts of the case to testing a completed watch for accuracy, the process takes around one year.

Of course Rolex could speed this up for certain models if necessary, but each watch requires so many parts and virtually everything is made from base materials in-house. Once all the parts for a Rolex watch are completed, they are then mostly hand-assembled and individually tested. The testing and quality assurance process is rather intense.

A good example is how Rolex makes each of their watch dials. All of the dials are made in-house, and one of the most impressive facts is that all of the applied hour markers are set individually by hand. Often times at other brands, machines perform this process, but Rolex learned that a human eye is better trained to spot problems. So individual hour markers are applied and riveted by hand. Dials are dropped from 20cm up in the air to ensure that none of the hour markers fall out. This is a careful and time-consuming process, and it is among the many elements of making watches at Rolex that is done by a skilled human being. Taken together, because of Rolex’s rather fanatical dedication to quality across their huge production, watches take, on average, about a year to produc

shino88 says:

Rolex is so expensive because humans are easily manipulated by marketing and social status.
A pen can last 20 years plus as long as it’s maintained and refilled with ink, this doesn’t mean it should costs thousands.

Sullivan Vega says:

Blah, blah, blah it’s just a watch.

Jyd Wkclooh says:

Youtube ads strikes again!!??

Jonathan Lynch says:

A veblen good.

Supreme Bape says:

One day I will own a couple!

Daniel A says:

This video sponsored by Rolex.

Wali Khan says:

Wrong. Almost all money Rolex makes goes to education in Europe. That’s why they are over priced

Sharky says:

She’s very loveable, I wonder if she’s single

tom thompson says:

because people will pay that price ,, thats all there is to it ,,, and yes , i wear a rolex

Turtles says:

This is a market Video!

PiranhaJaw22 says:

this wasn’t particularly enlightening..

PrincipalofPrinciples says:

So basically, it was established that Rolex was going to be high-class and sophisticated therefore, it became that? Makes sense. Great argument, thanks for nothing.

Hazrat Ali says:

Every watch will last you 20 years if you take care of it
Even the 20$ casio

StabbyRIPaChu says:

All watches look the same. Fight me.

Life In The Metro So Cold says:

Rolex trash bro.. audemars IS better

CHAL KIE says:


Gabriel Erlandson says:

I hate how she says suhmarina instead of submariner


i don’t know why but this made me feel like I had to do something in a hurry. like I felt like I was running out of time

Sam -_- says:

Am I the only one who would choose any other expensive watch than a Rolex? Hublot, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Jeager Le Cultre, Tissot, Cartier or Tag Heure

Heero Yuy says:

That hair tho she looks came out from 40’s maybe the effect of rolex time!

brock Lee says:

Shit I still have my Swatch watch from 1985. That bad boy still works 33 years later. Paid $20 for it. Rolex is nice but in my opinion, the fewer the parts the longer something will last!! Just saying.

auxmike says:

Takes a year to make? Lol! She’s totally on the Rolex bandwagon!

Arafat Khan says:

Rolex is toyota of watches

jarceo75 says:

I have a Seiko 5 my mother gave me back in 1990, it was pre owned like new. I worn that watch through high school, and part of my early 20’s, the only thing I had to replace was the strap. I still wear it once in a while, it is an automatic, as soon as I pick it up, it starts running. You can get a Seiko 5 for less than $100.00

DerHalbeEuro says:

Rolex? Who still wears that? Maybe tacky wannabe-rich people. These warches are out of fashion since the 80s…

Showtime Chris C says:

Get a gshock
Unless you’re crazy rich

The Emperor says:

stupid slag !!
This is typically as a symptom of mental disorder grossly overrated sick and tired of Rolex there is far better out their with out the stupid prices how do i know i own them !
A great watch gets its value from the workmanship and the various complications, not a bunch of blingy novelty to make them attractive to tasteless rappers, sports personalities et,c. A watch is not meant to be ostentatious, they are meant to be cherished by ladies and gentlemen of good taste. They are not billboards for screaming “LOOK AT ME !”
I just saw the emperor go by wearing no cloths as usual what a load of hype crap
Rolex is not that fantastic, try a Roger Smith watch that is a real hand crafted watch and really does take a year to make , and his output is about 10 watch’s a year, Rolex make a million watches a year were is the craft in that SCREAM !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Michael Kerr says:

Right at the end 3:11 – I don’t know how, but she manages to smile while frowning. I’ve never seen anything like it

Bona. says:

I wanna bang her, so bad…nice watches tho…

Juan Rodriguez says:

But will it fit in my Honda.

Sudhir Raghu says:

The mickey mouse dial Rolexes from the 60s/70s are the real collectibles! Rainbow Daytonas sound good too.
Also “V O C A L

First Last says:

Don’t need a watch. I just use the position of the sun and stars.

Travel World says:

In South Africa, if they see you with a Rolex they will follow you back to your drive way and shoot you dead until the get the watch we call them the Rolex gang!

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