Prices have skyrocketed for vintage Rolex sports models like the 1973 Submariner seen above.
Many traditional watch brands are struggling to survive or grow in an ever-increasing digital world. More and more high-income earners are increasingly opting for a naked wrist or a smart watch where they can listen to music, check emails, and monitor their physical activity.
The Rolex Gamble
In such a highly competitive environment, Rolex recently took a calculated gamble. They held back production and limited the amount of high-demand sports watches released to authorized dealers. The strategy worked. Demand for Rolex sports watches like the Submariner skyrocketed, along with their prices, versus the brands that used discounting as a form of increasing their revenues.
Rolex has always had a strong demand and brand caché. But a few impressive auction results of vintage, collectible watches hitting all-time highs (such as Paul Newman’s personal Rolex Daytona selling for $17.8 million) has added a bit of luster to the iconic watch brand’s image and a bump to their vintage collector model prices.
The Inevitable Rolex Bubble
All it takes for Rolex prices to drop back to their previous levels like a snowflake on a Swiss winter day is for Rolex to resume previous production levels and a fair amount of their customers switching over to buying some of the other equally great Swiss watch brands out there.
Using an artificial supply shortage to create demand and bolster brand image is a strategy that doesn’t always work for the long term. Eventually authorized dealers and the public get fed up.
We are in the midst of a Rolex bubble and our recommendation at Diamond Estate Jewelry Buyers is this: If you enjoy wearing your Rolex sports watch and have no reason to sell it, then by all means keep it and wear it. But if you have no attachment to it, or don’t wear it, and you would rather have the cash, then this is probably a good time to sell.
Rolex sports watches that we were paying $3000 to $4000 a year ago, we’re now paying $6000 to $7000 and up. We don’t believe this will last forever. If we’ve learned anything from the 2008 housing market or the gold spike of 2011 (when gold hit $1895), it’s that what goes up unreasonably usually comes down.
At this time, we keep our Rolex Submariners and other sports models moving, and our inventory lean to hedge our bet — knowing prices could be in for a downturn in the near future.
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