HOW ROLEX BECAME SO SUCCESSFUL
Seven Reasons Why Rolex is Popular and Successful
Although there are many watch brands around the world, not many of them are as highly regarded as Rolex. Many luxury watch connoisseurs even view Rolex as the number one brand among Swiss watch manufacturers. But the question is: why is Rolex so popular and successful? What makes it stand out from the crowd?
Rolex is clearly the most well-known among the world’s luxury watch brands. Fundamentally there are two Rolex customer groups – those who know a lot, and those who know very little. Aficionados buy Rolex for its extremely high quality. They may be less interested in extremely fine, complicated craftsmanship in favor of having the best all-around watch for daily wear. Other Rolex customers don’t know much about watches, only that Rolex is the best. For them, the primary motivator is this: if you’re going to wear a watch, it’s got to be a Rolex.
The basis for Rolex’s success is its extremely high product quality extending over the many years of its existence. Rolex watches show time accurately and are robust, sturdy and reliable. Maintaining consistently high quality with estimated annual production numbers of about three-quarters of a million pieces is an art unto itself.
Design and recognition
The everyday wearability of a watch is a function of its design. The round shape of a Rolex contributes to its water-resistance and its superior legibility. Add to this a central sweep seconds hand and Cyclops date magnifier (another Hans Wilsdorf invention). Existing collections are maintained and continuously improved over the years.
Stability in value
The moment you buy a car, it drops in value by half. This fact is true to a lesser extent for watches – except for Rolex. For the high-demand sport models in stainless steel at least (though this is a stickier situation for gold Oyster models and the elegant gold Cellini watches) it’s possible to get just a little less, or maybe even more, than the original purchase price.
The pinnacle of desirability is achieved when the thing one wants is not available. The famous Daytona in steel is for many such an object of desire, ever since an early version appeared on the wrist of Hollywood star Paul Newman. Rolex brings approximately as many models into stores as it expects to sell. The result is long waiting lists. The (often unfruitful) hunt for the world’s most desirable watch only adds to the Rolex myth.
Communication and marketing
Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex, used many genius marketing strategies to make sure his brand was recognized around the world. For starters, he named the brand Rolex because it’s easy to pronounce in many different languages, and he also included the name on the dial of every watch. He named his water-resistant watch the “Oyster” and gave one to the swimmer who planned to swim the English Channel. When she wore it around her neck, it landed Rolex a full-page advertisement on the front page of the Daily Mail. To many, Rolex represents sports and success.
The price stability of used but still relatively new watches depends in great part on the high prices achieved regularly by older Rolex watches at auction. After Patek Philippe, Rolex is the next hottest brand. There are thousands of examples of auctioning success with Rolex watches over the last several decades. In some cases the prices have reached dizzying heights. Back in October, in fact, a Rolex Daytona owned by actor and racing enthusiast Paul Newman became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction, netting $15.5 million at Phillips’ New York “Winning Icons” auction. This beat the previous record for the most expensive Rolex wristwatch ever sold, a Ref. 6062 with its triple date display (pointer date indicator, weekday and month in window openings) in the one-time variation with a black dial and diamond markers that once belonged to Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam. It was sold this past May at Phillips in Geneva for more than SF5 million.
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