Friday, June 11, 2010

rolex watches buyer guides

What is it about Rolex watches? They cost obscene amounts of money and yet they don?t keep time as well as a five quid quartz from down the market. In truth they are an anachronism, a throwback to a different world. One where cheap quartz watches didn?t exist and truly accurate timepieces were works of art, requiring vast numbers of man-hours to manufacture and many dollars to acquire.

Up until the First World War, wristwatches were not fashionable amongst men. However Hans Wilsdorf, a German watch merchant living and working in London around the turn of the twentieth century was ahead of his time when he decided that Gents wristlet watches (the early name for them) were going to become the next big thing. He commissioned a low-cost movement from Hermann Aegler, based in Bienne, Switzerland and had these incorporated in to an early range of Men?s wristwatches. A brilliant marketeer, years ahead of his time, Wilsdorf decided to concentrate his efforts upon producing wristwatches which were as accurate, durable and user-friendly as possible. Rather than register his own name for the watches he registered a made-up name for his new range. He called it Rolex.

However, it was not until 1926 that the first ?modern? Rolex was born; it was called the Oyster. Legend has it that Wilsdorf was hosting a dinner party and having a particularly hard time opening an oyster. He made a comment to his guests that he hoped the design of his new watch would prove to be as resilient as the mollusk. The name was born. This was a watch that would be totally watertight whilst still continuing to offer precision. On October 7th 1927, Mercedes Gleitze, an English typist, swam the channel wearing an Oyster. Thereafter, the watches were displayed prominently in jewelers shop windows, inside a fish tank totally sub
mersed in water; a powerful image that would forever link the Rolex brand name to marine and sub-marine applications.

The Oyster has survived, in various g
uises, to this day. In 1945 the ?Datejust? was born, the world?s first watch to show the date. Twelve years later the Day-Date was released (Rolex doesn?t rush into things) and almost all subsequent watches in the range were based upon these three basic variants: Oyster, DateJust & Day Date. Additionally, there are only a couple of case types called simply Oyster and Oyster Professional and two bracelet types; Oyster and Jubilee.

Finally, you can specify the metal from which your watch is made. Each is available in either steel, Rolesor (a mix of steel and 18 ct gold or platinum), 18 ct gold, white gold or platinum

There are five Oyster and six Oyster Professional models in the range. Unless you are a big bloke with Schwarzenegger sized wrists then you might want to give the Professional models a miss. These are seriously big watches and they demand big egos to go with them. It?s not until you actually try one on in the store that you realize just how big and heavy these timepieces are. Of course that is exactly the reason why many people buy them. Discrete they are not. The Oyster is not quite as ?in your face?, although you can still show just how lacking in taste you are by specifying the solid gold case and strap complete with diamonds, instead of numbers, adorning the watch face. Outrageous! A plain steel Oyster is about as discrete as a Rolex ever gets.

Bottom of the range is the Air King, next up is the Oyster Perpetual followed by the Date, Datejust and Day Date. In the Professional range we have the Explorer, GMT Master II, Sea-
Dweller, Submariner, Yacht Master and finally, the Cosmograph Daytona.

So what should you pay for one of these dubious masterpieces? An obscene amount of money is the short answer, but before we get into that it?s worth discussing the general marketplace because it is quite unique. A Rolex is as good as cash in most countries, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon how you look
at it and what kind of neighborhood you happen to find yourself in. As long as you look after it and have it regularly serviced (once every four years), your Rolex should appreciate in value over time. The secondhand market rises in line with inflation and the price of new equivalents. This means that after about three years, your Roly should be worth what you paid for it and it will continue to appreciate thereafter. Unfortunately, it follows that a lot of Rolies, particularly the brasher models, are bought for cash as an alternative to using a bank. I?ll leave you to work out the details for yourself but it doesn?t take an Einstein to figure it out. Businessmen, particularly company directors, tend to wear the more discrete Oyster, other kinds of "businessmen" don?t. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that any big bloke wearing a Professional is dodgy, but I'd keep the bugger in line of site if it were me!

Also, before you go diving into the secondhand market, be aware that there are lots of good and not so good forgeries out there and it is easy to be conned. Every genuine Rolex comes with a certificate of authenticity and you should never buy a Rolex without one unless you absolutely know what you are doing. Even then you can still get bitten. Some years ago I foolishly accepted an Oyster (complete with certificate) in part payment on a business deal. It wasn?t until about a year lat
er when I sent it off to Rolex to be serviced I discovered anything amiss. I received a fairly stiff letter from the factory informing me the watch was a wrong ?un and that they reserved the right to destroy it since it infringed their copyright. I wrote a groveling reply explaining that the watch was of sentimental value and, as a result, they relented and returned it. I could, I suppose, have sold it on to some other poor schmuck but I don?t have the stomach for dodgy dealing so I never did and it remains in a jewelry box at home, a permanen
t reminder to my foolishness. Don?t mess with secondhand Rolies unless you really know what you are looking at.

The best way to buy a Rolex, new or used, is to visit an authorized dealer. You will find at least one in most cities. The next question is, how much should you pay? The good news is that Rolex do publish an official price list and you can obtain one by phoning or writing to the Rolex head office in your country. In the UK they can be found at:

19 St. James's Square
London SW1Y 4JE
Tel. + 44 (0) 207 024 7300
Fax: + 44 (0) 207 024 7317

They can also put you in touch with your nearest authorized dealer. It?s always best to ask for several because you will find that even large dealers do not stock the whole range and you may have to shop around to find the watch you want. However, they will often have a used example so it?s worth inquiring. The Rolex web-site is pretty cool and it has a ?design your watch? section, a bit like you find on the car manufacturers? sites so you can see the entire range and pick your watch from
the comfort of your own home.

Once you have decided upon your watch and located it, it?s time to schlep off to the dealer to make your purchase. The good news is that most are prepared to deal and they will be happy to discount up to around 10% on more expensive models if you ask nicely.

So how much is obscene? At time of writing, a basic Oyster in steel will cost around £1800 brand spanking new. A good second hand example (again, from a dealer) will run you about £1400. From here it?s just a question of how obscene you want to get. An Oyster DateJust Gold Rolesor with a Jubilee bracelet lists at £3350, the same watch in 18ct gold runs out at about £8000.

Some models, like the Submariner, particularly the blue faced Rolesor (Butch Wilkins wears one, as do a few other footballers) can bequite hard to ge
t hold of and many dealers will tell you there is a waiting list. However it pays to phone around. After a long search and many calls, I recently located one, at a jeweler in Halifax of all places. It just goes to prove the old adage; ?Where there?s muck there?s brass!? As to Submariner prices, I was recently offered a second-hand steel in A1 condition for £1600. A new steel runs about £2200 and a Gold Rolesor about £3600.

Oyster ownership is relatively hassle free, aside from the constant fear of being mugged! Don?t worry it wears off after a while. These are very well made, durable watches. If you tend to lead a knockabout lifestyle then I would steer clear of any of the gold models for the simple reason that gold scratches quite easily. Other than that, just wash ?em in mild soap and water every now and again (use an old toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies) and they should come up as good as new. The glass they use is some kind of highly scratch resistant c
rystal so you shouldn?t have any trouble with it at all. I?ve never managed to scratch one and I?m a bit of a clumsy bugger.

So there you have it; a quick buyers guide to the Oyster. Yes, yes I know the prices are obscene, but then so are houses and the Roly is just as good an investment if you look after it. Oh, and by the way, as well as the certificate of authenticity, do keep the box and everything in it somewhere safe. It does make a difference to the eventual second-hand value when you sell the watch on. Many people do end up trading their Rolies up. It?s quite common for folk to start with a bottom of the range model and then, as they acquire capital, trade up to higher and more expensive models.

One final point, and I am almost embarrassed to admit this, but wearing a Roly does make a difference. Ever walked into a posh car dealership in your jeans on a Sunday afternoon and tried to get a salesman?s attention? Ever been made to feel a bit second-class in a posh restaurant or at the check-in desk of a five star hotel? Strap a Rolex on your wrist (the brasher the better) and try again. The transformation will amaze you. Salesmen, restaurateurs and hoteliers can spot a genuine Roly at four hundred paces because big Rolies usually mean big spenders. It really shouldn?t matter but unfortunately it does. It?s a sad old World.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the information, this is a great collection of branded and stylish watches. I am also deal in designer and branded watches like. Breitling Watches, Panerai Watches, Rolex Watches Canada, Omega Watches Canada etc at Toronto.