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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The ancient fable says: Fox persues many little ideas and the hedgehog moves towards one big clear idea.The fox wants to hunt down the hedgehog and tries in several ways consistently,but the hedgehog protects itself everytime with its instincts by simply rolling and erecting it's spine and needles.

This story has become a business model in the last decade,identifying vertically developed and diversified companies.

When talking about vertically developed companies who do one big think, Rolex comes in mind in horological circles. Often attracting marginal opinions on what they manufacture and how its priced, Rolex is an important player with appr. 1M watch production per year.

Starting in England, Hans Wilsdorf struggles with British juweliers to put his own brand mark on the dial. Slow but surely he succeeds to name his timepieces 'Rolex' in the market. He choses the name 'Rolex' because he believes that the pronouncation will be the same in many languages. In his early years, his relation with Swiss Rebberg/Aegler ateliers develops to a point where exclusive manufacture for Rolex watches takes over.

Within years, Rolex acquires the screw down patent and develops the decades long used water-tight proof casing to 'Oyster' case brand. Not hesitating to apologize from John Harwood for the self-winding watches hype and pioneership, Rolex aggresively exposes its timepieces wherever possible. Reaching the highest amount of chronometer certification in manufacturing parties, Rolex positions itself in precision timekeeping on the top.

The birth of the 'Submariner' model opens a wide page in this companies' history, which will be continously produced since 1953/54 without many changes in design-however components will be continously developed.The model 'Submariner' reflects the 'hedgehog' structure of the company. Considering that even now Rolex has only 2 model lines 'Oyster' and 'Cellini',it choses to go vertical direction.

The company is known as not exposing official information and most information available in the market are enthusiastic and professional researches,which adds mistique to the company.

Rolex builds durable watches, this is maybe a good point to start describing the company and its products.Sometimes the hyped enthusiasm within collectors and buyers can go so far that a faulty dial can be re-named as it was manufactured for that purpose: Spider Dial

Not matching inner case-back numbers are another 'let's close our eyes, it's fine' point with this company. Adding 3 more jewels and date function ( 1575 ) on existing ebauches (1570 ) and casing them without changing any marks on movement is another interesting point with Rolex.

This thread is not to bash Rolex, it is for us to discuss this company thoroughly.


A lot more to say about Rolex, but comments will talk for itself and we can contribute much more as the thread continues.


Mind that most information available is built non-officially, so not everything on the ground is actually what Rolex wants or does. It is still a private trust organization and manufactures nearly 1MIL watches per year.I am not very well educated about Rolex,some facts and history in comments are very welcome,just wanted to make an intro for us to discuss.


Let's talk Rolex, what's your Rolex opinion and experience ?
 

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Interesting game to think what the watch world would be like without Rolex ?

Because I like to collect the little horological steps I would love to add an early rotor to my collection.




I would also like to add an early Datejust ref 4467 - I think!
These are two steps that Rolex seemed to have made thier own. (!) If I'm careful and lucky they are both get-able. These two I would be very happy to add my collection. Then there is the superstar Paul Newman Daytona. This I know is not get-able. Would I like one? Yes. Do I pine for one? No.

I think the trick is with Rolex is to look at the History and see if there is something there for you. It cant be denied that they are a significant part of the History of the wristwatch.

Regards,
 

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I've a lot of respect for the brand, its history and its watches. They never really appealed to me on a personal level. The "modern" tool watch line up anyway. They're too bulky for me. Don't suit my "look" as it were. As a kid, even though I was mad into watches I had an image in my head of gold ones worn loose on the wrist by dodgy used car salesmen and dictators of small countries. :) They were an "oulfella" watch in my head.

I've handled a few and back in the 80's was tempted a few times. In the height of the digital age, the steel ones were quite "cheap" when they came up in general auctions. Locally anyway. To give some idea; I lusted after a Seiko digital with all sorts of bells and whistles, but couldn't afford it as a teenager, so to feed my habit I bought a steel Tudor Oyster, no idea which model, at a local auction for next to nothing(I know, not a Rolex, but just an illustration of the low point of "old watch" values). I didn't pull the trigger on any Rolex though. Oh how I kick myself about that. :)

In the 90's I had a couple of Rolex alright. Early Oysters. Bubbleback and non autos 1930's/40's ones. They used to be "cheap" too. Their size didn't help I suppose as they were tiny for a man's watch, even then. sub 30mm IIRC. They'd also be worth a few bob these days. Certainly far more than I paid that's for sure. DOH! Part Deux. :) Though the other thread concerning Tudor, did remind me I've a steel 50's one of them laying around somewhere in my attic. Radium hands and dial, oyster case. Cost me the grand total of 50 Irish Punts(pounds) back in 1998(less than 100 dollars at the time). The way prices have gone, it might fund something else, if I can find it. :s I think the crown or crown tube threads gave up the ghost(hand winder) and that's why it ended up in a box somewhere. Easy to sort I'd imagine. Kinda goes to show how values have changed with any watch with even the sniff of Rolex association. No way would I dump it in a box today.

If I could afford to jump into the vintage Rolex pool, I'd go for some of their 50's Oysters, or their 60's datejust type. I do like them. Understated and beautifully bolted together. Nice size for my vintage wrists too.

As for the Rolex "halo" and the prices these days of old and new examples? Just the nature of the post mechanical watch renaissance. Omega would be similar. Mid tier well made watches boosted up the ladder to luxury status by price increases and advertising. Regardless of personal affordability, my strong iconoclastic streak would baulk at the idea of buying one these days, vintage or new.

I have to admit some of their more rabid fans freak me out a little and do colour my feelings on the brand. Silly I know, but it's there. I recall reading one example where one such fan and bloggist was invited to the factory with a couple of others and the article he wrote had me thinking is he high, or am I? :D Stuff about Rolex inventing everything, including the smart watch in the 30's. I kid thee not gentle reader. Real near religious fervour with added drool. Seems to have been deleted since.
 

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I guess nobody will deny that Rolex make fine watches.

Are they worth the price asked for them?

Not to me.

Best,
Tomcat
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have one in my collection and admit it's the one worn most often.

Watch Analog watch Watch accessory Fashion accessory Jewellery

It's actually one of the newest watches in my watchbox(es). A 1979 make Submariner 1680.

I swim,shower go to picnic and cut wood with it - with axe,old style. I won't do it with any of the other vintage pieces,won't even try. Somehow this watch gives me the trust that it can go through abuse,and it does.

I just don't understand for example if this watch would have a 'red' colour 'Submariner' on dial it would be minimum 2,000 USD more then it's recent value. I think this and similar bits and pieces makes Rolex a dart board.And all this hype and inflation is actually on demand where buyers set the price.For me red or white Submariner mark on dial is not something I would pay 2,000 USD more.

Forget that it's Rolex for a while and put the company where it belongs,into the Swiss cantons. Where it went through challenges like any other watchmaking company in the '70s. Sometimes people are being merciless to Rolex and forget that it's just another watchmaker. They also had challenges in the '70s due to quartz crisis, this has reflected to poorer quality dials than we were used to see in Rolex.Luming was another issue in '70s, you can see many examples with hands and hour markers aged differently. Inner case-back reference numbers especially 5512 and 5513 were used instead of each other,whichever was available. All these inconsistencies including the 'Spider Dial !!' imperfection actually shows how human Rolex is and went through similar problems like any other company.

I think the buyers or collectors point and stand makes others hate Rolex, because everybody looks to the company through the brand,not its products.

When you look into what they offer,with a high production volume and related service center and spare parts available it's a success story.

Even though they have absolute different paths, I find Rolex and Jaeger LeCoultre best bang for bucks.
 

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Rolex, Rolex, Rolex... a name to conjure thoughts of fast cars, glitz and glamour.But also the military history of both Rolex and Tudor (sorry TC!:) ) are well known with navy divers from several countries wearing them "to work" shall we say.An extremely good watch, amongst many other extremely good watches.Solid, dependable, tough(insert superlative(s) of your choice).BUT, along with other manufacturers of watches of "cachet", they refuse an owner the right to have as little or as much work done to a watch sent in for repair/service.No matter what excuses are made, what reasoning behind it, or fan boy/girl support for this/these decisions, the fact is that it is YOUR watch that you wish to have certain things done to, and to be held to ransom by withholding parts and information is just wrong.I found it funny that Adam said "One should not be so critical until they have had the chance to see, feel and wear a Rolex", as I have been in many pawn shops, jewelers and dealerships and tried on many different top manufacturers watches, both new and vintage. It is nothing special, and I have to say I prefer something less "outre" as I felt rather self-conscious about wearing such a cliche as a Rolex.Yes, they are fine, well made and popular. But after wearing one for several days (a relatives), I took it off because I felt sheepish and ought to apologize if anyone were to notice it.That was the gutter boy in me probably! :)
 

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The tendency of modern Rolex's to be hideously overpriced isn't really specific to Rolex though, now is it? The industry as a whole pivoted to a market of elitism and emotion in order to survive the quartz crisis. One can't deny that it worked. However, one can certainly argue that the industry would have recovered on its own regardless. The disadvantage of hindsight is that it only shows one path. And by taking that path, they've inadvertently given rise to the current crop of low-end mechanicals out of Asia. $100 tourbillion watches would have been the distasteful punchline of a questionable joke fifty years ago, and look where we are now.

Rolex survives at the highest tier of consumer watches in large part because of their mystique and isolation. It's harder to respect the price of an Omega (for example) when you know that there are a hundred watches with the exact same movement and case out there for the same or cheaper price. But Rolex is Rolex; no one can say to you "Oh, I have the same watch from another brand". That, in turn, drives up the vintage prices. And that, in turn, drives up the prices of the sub brands.
 

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In my opinion Rolex is the 900lb gorilla in the room that every watch enthusiast tries to ignore initially because of all the offerings, the Bose effect, and all the stigma. Rightly or wrongly. The watch enthusiast tries and loves many brands and on a long enough timeline finds himself or herself looking down on their wrist and reading time from a Rolex. They don't know how our why and they have and have tried many but the quality and robustness have won out for wrist time. It might take a second or decades but even the most wis come around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Rolex, Rolex, Rolex... But after wearing one for several days (a relatives), I took it off because I felt sheepish and ought to apologize if anyone were to notice it.That was the gutter boy in me probably! :)
Come on Bob,sheepish?

Just because the Rolex on your wrist didn't match the Rolex you built in your mind and nobody recognized it,it can't be less Rolex.

In my non-WIS days I never saw even a Rolex. Just heard-city legend - that they are expensive watches and they are the best ( within my watch brand repertoire of those times from 4-5 brands which most were fashion brands- I always wanted a Camel Trophy watch for example,lol - I still should buy one to commemorate those days ) .I remember seeing one in real life ( Airking ) and looking at it front and back and saying:

That's it?

Yeah that was it.

I don't know exactly what I thought of Rolex but it should be something woow,which it was not- to my uneducated eyes. Obviously that 'city legend' is what makes Rolex stand up from the watch crowd and build unrealistic expectations.Then only when I went into watches and movement,and durability and,and,and...I started appreciating the most faked design on this planet along with the abuse-proof case and decades long ticking ability.

I think Hans Wilsdorf was a very smart man, at the very beginning he fought well in the British market and once moved to Switzerland bought future promising patents and designs. They've blent it very well with manufacture and marketing and have created one of the most valuable brands in the world.

I didn't see another maker,which has detailed analyses done by enthusiasts for return investments. I think the vintage Rolex community did a wonderful job by creating so much data available,and all that without the support of the company itself.

It is somewhere positioned that even the 'Sub' wanna-be models are pulled up in value,just because they look similar and grant a piece of Rolex satisfaction :)
 

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(...) I started appreciating (...) the abuse-proof case and decades long ticking ability. (...)
You're talking about Seiko, aren't you?

;-)

Best,
Tomcat
 

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The watch enthusiast tries and loves many brands and on a long enough timeline finds himself or herself looking down on their wrist and reading time from a Rolex. They don't know how our why and they have and have tried many but the quality and robustness have won out for wrist time. It might take a second or decades but even the most wis come around.
I dunno DC. IMH that's a bit of a cliche perpetuated by Rolex fans and picked up on by others. I'd know a fair few watch nuts and Rolex would be way down their list. It really would.

For myself I would be beyond shocked to end up wearing one. I've held enough of them in my hand, I could have bought them for significantly less than can be had today, more than once, but still didn't jump. And my only regret is from a pure monetary investment position, because if I had bought one and held onto it, it would be up on ebay in a heartbeat. Even the Tudor lookalike I got for a song was in my possession for about six months. It just didn't get the wrist time(another Tudor I got ended up in a box somewhere in my attic and when I find it that's getting sold). The couple of 30's Oysters I had lasted longer. I was going through a 30's phase :) and I did like them, but I gave one to an ex and sold the other. I wouldn't seek one out today. There are some Rolex models I like, like some of the 50's examples, but even then there would be a very long list of 50's watches ahead of them.

I'd be similar regarding Seiko funny enough. I have huge respect for them as a company. Real game changers. In house manufacture. They're the Asian Rolex in a few ways. I have two Seiko digitals, both family pieces. Dunno if I'd be too pushed otherwise. Maybe. I do have a fondness for their digitals. I've held various Seiko analogues over the years, from their divers through Kings and Grands and various chronos, I've bought a couple, but they didn't last long. Two years back I flipped a first year model "waterproof" Pogue chrono in under a fortnight. Just didn't get the feels for it. Again I would be beyond shocked to end up sporting a Grand Seiko.
 

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Let's compare apples to apples :-d
What about "watches with watches"? ;-)

Honestly, Seikos are built to last. They take a lot of punishment, and, honestly, I cannot imagine that Rolex watches fare any better in this discipline. I've seen forty-plus year old Seikos that never met a watchmaker and are still accurate. How does this work on a Rolex? Does it work at all?

Best,
Tomcat
 

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I guess nobody will deny that Rolex make fine watches.

Are they worth the price asked for them?

Not to me.

Best,
Tomcat
I'd definitely agree with that. If I would have to compare the current Rolex models and comparable models from other brands, it seems like everything Rolex offers can be had for less, just with a different brand tag. Look at the Submariner. Yes, it's already an icon, no doubt, but why not choose the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean? Higher power reserve. Co-axial escapement. Waterproof to a 600 meters vs Submariner's 300 meters. Of course, the practical application of that particular quality won't matter to some 95% potential buyers of any of these watches. If one doesn't care about the chronometer certificate stuff either, Longines will sell you the new Legend Diver with the same waterproofness of 300 meters... for a third, or even a quarter of the price.
If it was about dress watches, then why not choose the Omega De Ville Tresor instead of the new Cellini? Oyster case of the Cellini won't really be an argument, unless one enjoys swimming in a dress watch...
If we were to talk about vintage Rolex watches though, it's an entirely different story. I can't possibly find any single thing that would be wrong about them... Except their prices.
For example, the vintage Daytona. It's a truly beautiful watch, but is probably the most expensive Valjoux 72 around. Still, its direct competitor, the Speedmaster, was equipped with a Lemania, and so it remains until this day.
If we look how the two have evolved, it's the new Daytona with the Rolex 4130 in-house movement against the Speedy with the Omega 9300 co-axial... If I were to have any of these, it would be the Speedy. Returning to vintage watches, I'd also rather have a vintage Zenith Defy than the Submariner. Why? Not brand loyalty. Reason! On second thoughts, maybe the wallet...
To conclude my chain of thoughts... Vintage Rolex watches are great. But so are comparable models from Omega and Longines. Or Zenith. I'd love to have a vintage Rolex. But I honestly can find no argument, believing in which I could convince myself to, for paying so much for one knowing that there are lots of comparable and equally beautiful and collectible vintage watches from other brands out there.
 

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Yes they make excellent watches. Yes, they have a long history of making excellent watches. But the tipping point for me was when they became famous for being famous. Before the 70s when they were known as a top brand but was still affordable to mere mortals they were known for being tough and well made and worth the extra money spent. Now they are so much more money that they are just a lifestyle brand.....And that is how they are marketed.....and thats fine but there are some things that no matter how well they are built, are not worth the money for what they do (to me). If somebody wants to spend that kind of coin on something to tell the time then more power to them. If they want to wear it because they think it impresses the masses or because they think it makes them a smarter watch buyer, it does not matter to me because either way its not my money and none of my business. I have seen many threads on here where some Rolex owners imply that any disregard of Rolex is out of envy and that is just insulting. I dont care what the brand is, paying that much for a watch is something I will never do.
 

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The problem is that Seikos are designed, for the most part, around a completely different ethic. Rolex epitomizes the Swiss fascination with precision. Seiko's come from a more of a "durability" ethic. There is a lot of crossover, of course, but if we're talking broad generalities, the difference between Seiko and Rolex is the difference between Honda and Porsche. You can cherry pick any two specific vehicles from their respective line ups to make any point you want, but that doesn't really demonstrate anything other then an excellent grasp of those specifics.
 
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