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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We all know Rolex occupies the position of THE luxury watch in the public mind, but why?

Even if we totally take this for granted today, it is pretty strange. After all, Rolex movements are not particularly beautiful, and their designs are often functional, no-nonsense and in some cases one might even argue a bit pedestrian (and even Rolex fans have to admit they make quite a few watches that are downright ugly).

I don’t write this to denigrate Rolex, not at all. Rolex are a very fine manufacturer of very tough, reliable, no-nonsense watches. But that being said, why would this brand, in particular, be associated with luxury and the display of status amongst people in general?

People who want something cool causal might as well buy an Omega, people who are after something blingy should buy a Breitling, people who like design should buy an IWC, people who want high status or a particularly fine watch should logically buy a PP, VC, AP, or even JLC. Etc.

Who would one expect to buy Rolex? People who want something tough, reliable, and very well crafted, but not exactly ”luxurious”. People like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, staid US presidents like Eisenhower, people in the military, businessmen who want to emphasize reliability and functionality, etc.

I guess what has happened might be attributed to mistakes by other manufacturers, the quartz crisis, the consistency of Rolex over the years, etc. But it still strikes me as strange, even though we take it for granted.
 

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Two reasons:

1. The Sportura thesis, which is correct: they don't sell watches so much as they sell an image.

2. They used to make really cool watches and that was part of the historical foundations for 1.

Whether they can maintain 1 indefinitely when rivals make better looking and technically superior products is an open question - but I suspect they can for a good while yet.
 

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Marketing, my dude.
Even before I was into watches, I knew of Rolex. They are very good at selling the brand. The product could be anything. I see Rolex being the apple of the watch world. They're not the best, overpriced, don't offer an advantage to many cheaper offerings but they've sold people on the idea that this is it.
It's a positive feedback loop. You want it because the status it brings when somebody else has it ("You" not being literal).
When you think watch, you think Rolex. It's a allure they've created and done very well in. Perhaps one of the best marketing companies ever, second to de beers.
 

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I don't write this to denigrate Rolex, not at all. Rolex are a very fine manufacturer of very tough, reliable, no-nonsense watches. But that being said, why would this brand, in particular, be associated with luxury and the display of status amongst people in general?


Because it's expensive jewelry and Rolex has spent billions of dollars over half a century to make sure everyone on the planet knows this.

And as a result, when we flash one of these, fast food workers know their place, friends turn green with envy, co-workers cower in fear, and the ladies toes curl.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I realize the subject has been discussed before and that people will say "marketing", but my point is not simply that Rolex are popular. My point is that they essentially excel in making tool watches, and it seems strange that marketing alone could explain why people would associate that with luxury. That is like saying that with just the right marketing, I could make people think of luxury when they see my brand of sneakers and blue jeans. But they don't, despite shoe brands having excellent marketing. Yes there are very expensive sneakers and jeans, but when people think of luxury clothing, they still basically think of suits. That's why I raised this issue again: because I haven't seen a really convincing answer why, in the particular world of watches, it is possible to turn something that toolish into "luxury", when it doesn't seem to work when it comes to comparable products.
 

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I realize the subject has been discussed before and that people will say "marketing", but my point is not simply that Rolex are popular. My point is that they essentially excel in making tool watches, and it seems strange that marketing alone could explain why people would associate that with luxury. That is like saying that with just the right marketing, I could make people think of luxury when they see my brand of sneakers and blue jeans. But they don't, despite shoe brands having excellent marketing. Yes there are very expensive sneakers and jeans, but when people think of luxury clothing, they still basically think of suits. That's why I raised this issue again: because I haven't seen a really convincing answer why, in the particular world of watches, it is possible to turn something that toolish into "luxury", when it doesn't seem to work when it comes to comparable products.
Never the less, im enjoying the discussion. Have you seen some of the offering from "luxury" brands such as Gucci or louis vuitton?... To me it's hideous...but people seem to go gaga at it.

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The Submariner is a very fine, well-made watch, but it is essentially a robust, reliable tool. It is not actually jewelry. People who would never wear sneakers with a suit will gladly wear their submariners with one...Again, we take this for granted, but if you compare this situation to other areas, you see how weird it actually is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
"Never the less, im enjoying the discussion. Have you seen some of the offering from "luxury" brands such as Gucci or louis vuitton?... To me it's hideous...but people seem to go gaga at it."
No I never see them. My mind just...blocks them out...
 

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I realize the subject has been discussed before and that people will say "marketing", but my point is not simply that Rolex are popular. My point is that they essentially excel in making tool watches, and it seems strange that marketing alone could explain why people would associate that with luxury. That is like saying that with just the right marketing, I could make people think of luxury when they see my brand of sneakers and blue jeans. But they don't, despite shoe brands having excellent marketing. Yes there are very expensive sneakers and jeans, but when people think of luxury clothing, they still basically think of suits. That's why I raised this issue again: because I haven't seen a really convincing answer why, in the particular world of watches, it is possible to turn something that toolish into "luxury", when it doesn't seem to work when it comes to comparable products.
You're incorrect. I think people think of Yeezys at luxury shoes.

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I realize the subject has been discussed before and that people will say "marketing", but my point is not simply that Rolex are popular. My point is that they essentially excel in making tool watches, and it seems strange that marketing alone could explain why people would associate that with luxury. That is like saying that with just the right marketing, I could make people think of luxury when they see my brand of sneakers and blue jeans. But they don't, despite shoe brands having excellent marketing. Yes there are very expensive sneakers and jeans, but when people think of luxury clothing, they still basically think of suits. That's why I raised this issue again: because I haven't seen a really convincing answer why, in the particular world of watches, it is possible to turn something that toolish into "luxury", when it doesn't seem to work when it comes to comparable products.
I have a hard time saying that Rolex "essentially excel in making tool watches" only, when the day date and datejust are probably the watches most people think about when they think "luxury Rolex" historically. It just so happens that as the American business world is becoming less formal and the Subs and Explorers are now also more at home in a business setting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes of course. No I didn't say the ONLY excel in that, I just said they do excel in that in particular in comparison with other brands, and even their dressier watched are often toned down. I am not at all out to denigrate Rolex, or to condemn people who wear Submariners with suits. What I'm saying is they're a brand that's traditionally very good at making robust, reliable, not ostentatious watches, and they excel at tool watches. So it's strange that this brand in particular should have become THE "luxury" brand in the public mind.
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, or with Rolex, or with people wearing whatever they want with their suits.
 

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The Submariner is a very fine, well-made watch, but it is essentially a robust, reliable tool. It is not actually jewelry.
Nope, disagree 100%. It can be used as a tool but most people buy it as jewelry.

People who would never wear sneakers with a suit will gladly wear their submariners with one...Again, we take this for granted, but if you compare this situation to other areas, you see how weird it actually is.
If you're talking about the 50s or 60s, yes you're right. Styles have changed since then...
 
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Yes of course. No I didn't say the ONLY excel in that, I just said they do excel in that in particular in comparison with other brands, and even their dressier watched are often toned down. I am not at all out to denigrate Rolex, or to condemn people who wear Submariners with suits. What I'm saying is they're a brand that's traditionally very good at making robust, reliable, not ostentatious watches, and they excel at tool watches. So it's strange that this brand in particular should have become THE "luxury" brand in the public mind.
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, or with Rolex, or with people wearing whatever they want with their suits.
My point is that I think you're focusing too much on the Sub as the flagship watch from Rolex. I think that you're overlooking the solid gold Day Date as the pinnacle of historical Rolex luxury.
 

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What I'm saying is they're a brand that's traditionally very good at making robust, reliable, not ostentatious watches, and they excel at tool watches. So it's strange that this brand in particular should have become THE "luxury" brand in the public mind.
Not strange at all. Yes, they started that way but they have since changed course to focus on the luxury market. Targeting a different audience, that's all. A much larger audience, in my mind.
 
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