Why Are Rolex Watches So Expensive?

why are rolex watches so expensive
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We all love a good watch. A watch that says classy, fashionable, savvy and what watch does that more than a Rolex watch.  This privately-owned company can’t be compared to other companies in the watchmaking industry. 

It has been speculated that this company rarely allows anyone into its hallowed halls. And if you find yourself as a lucky guest at the company, there is a “no photograph” policy. 

Rolex is a well-known, respected, admired and valued brand across the world. It comes as no surprise that collectors love acquiring its amazing timepieces. The brand has so much history attached to it that its value has risen so high. Everyone wants a Rolex! Now let’s give you a little background story on this amazing wristwatch.

A Brief History Of Rolex

Thanks to the foresight and visionary spirit of its founder, Hans Wilsdorf, Rolex came into existence in the year, 1904. 

Hans Wilsdorf had a company in London that specialized in the distribution of timepieces but he had a dream to create watches that depict an accurate time and could be worn on the wrist as an accessory. 

The company embarked on an unrelenting quest for chronometric precision which led to staggering success. In 1910, a few years after it was launched, Rolex became the first wristwatch across the globe to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision, granted by the Official Watch Rating in Bienne. 

In 1914, four years after the first recognition, Kew Observatory in Great Britain awarded Rolex wristwatch a Class “A” precision certificate. Until that point, this was an exclusive certification reserved distinction for marine chronometers.

Rolex watches have also been worn by famous personalities from the world of sports, movies, politics, and business. Notable figures like Dr Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Victoria Beckham are some of the popular and proud owners of a Rolex. 

Statistics show that Rolex is one of the largest brands in the world with its watches being more in demand than other competing watch brands like Cartier or Omega. It is recorded also that it boasts of some of the most expensive watches in the world. Plus, we know for a fact that Rolex watches are so in demand that they are the most faked timepieces in the entire world! (Click here to learn how to spot a fake Rolex)

So, what makes Rolex watches special, why are they so expensive?

First, check out the video below for a brief overview of what we will be discussing. Keep what you learn at the back of your mind as we go into our article today

Why Rolex Watches Are So Expensive

The main reason Rolex watches are so expensive is the painstaking care Rolex puts into the making of all of its watches. This is a unique characteristic of the Rolex brand unmatched by precious few others.

But that’s just one reason. Here are other reasons Rolex watches are so expensive.

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We all know that without the pivotal role of Rolex, the world of horology would not be what it is today. Being able to singlehandedly develop new trends and concepts, changing the game by bringing industrial production into watchmaking, launching these concepts into the world and maintaining this standard for almost a century, are not mediocre feats.

If there is one thing that Rolex has in abundance, it is prestige. Literally, everyone knows what a Rolex watch is, its varying appearances and what it implies to have one on your wrist. The rich history behind the production of Rolex watches, and the fact that they produced entirely in-house which makes them independent. 

Also, being the first watch to get a chronometer certification in the world and has maintained a chronometer title on every watch produced has more than added to its prestige. Let’s not forget the exclusive Class A precision award that means that your watch is accurate. 

Even while a lot of people do not know all about these achievements, they will always identify a Rolex watch on your wrist. It does not matter if you are wearing the cheapest Rolex watch or the most expensive Rolex watch, people will want to talk about it. This admiration is not restricted to people that are ignorant about its history, it applies to the people in the know too. 

The Rolex is a universe on its own!


You may have wondered why people spend so much just to acquire another accessory. Purchasing a Rolex is beyond just adding to your stash of accessories. It is an amazing investment and one of most collectors’ favorite acquisitions.  

Rolex watches for sale in one year can easily be worth double the initial price you bought it. 

For example, Daytonas are always a favorite choice in the Rolex world and are usually in high demand. However, the Rolex Daytona Rainbow Everose from 2018 was exceptional.  It was originally bought for $92,000, one year later, the watch sold for a whopping amount of $292,000. That is more than three times profit!

So, while other watches may have their prices halved after a year of being on the market, Rolex can’t relate to this. It always retains and or gain more value. There is also a high possibility of it becoming a family heirloom as it is engineered to last you an entire lifetime. Definitely something worth investing in.

A Horde Of Gemologists Work At Rolex

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At this point, it is natural to assume that Rolex probably has the highest standards for the materials it buys from its suppliers. This includes material like metals and precious stones like diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. 

It is also definitely not a surprise that Rolex has a massive gemological department whose main task is to assist in buying, testing, arranging, and setting diamonds and other precious stones in a range of Rolex watches. By making use of equipment like an x-ray, they ensure that the incoming stones are real. Rolex claims that they have encountered only two fake diamonds in 20 million diamonds they tested over the years. 

Every precious stone (no matter how large or small) on a Rolex watch is hand-selected and hand-set.

In addition, in their exclusive watches, the company enlists the assistance of traditional jewelers to help with hand-picking and hand-setting diamonds and precious stones. The attention paid to and level of artisanship on these watches is out of the world.

Multiple Research Facilities

Rolex owns an impressive internal research and development department. They also have varying laboratories where researchers and scientists work on developing new Rolex watches and manufacturing techniques. 

To ensure that they have the best team, Rolex always opts for highly trained scientists to conduct researches on oils and lubricants for their machines in their chemistry laboratories. 

It also has facilities that include a room with a lot of electron microscope to observe the effects of manufacturing techniques and a stress test room for observing watch movements. This is done by making the watches undergo simulated wear and abuse on machines and robots. We assume this screams expensive to you because it does to us, whew!

Mechanization Of Watches Does Not Come Cheap

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 Mechanical watches are expensive to build.  Creating mechanical watch movements is definitely not cheap. And due to the tiny sizes of these parts, there is a high rate of failure during assembly and manufacture. 

Also, Rolex extensively invests in machines, mostly, robots to assist in tasks like packaging, completing the assembly of a Rolex watch, retrieving trays containing parts used to create Rolex watches.  When a watchmaker needs any part, he or she simply places an order with the system and the needed parts get delivered to them on a series of conveyor systems in about six to eight minutes. 

These robots are also used in polishing watches at the initial stage before the human staff take over. It is understandable why their watches come out bearing expensive prices.

Rolex Uses An Expensive Steel

Rolex uses a type of steel that no one else uses. Stainless steel is not all the same, they come in various grades. Most steel watches are created from a type of stainless steel called 316L. However, all the steel in Rolex watches is gotten from 904L steel and so far, no other brand has come out to announce that they use the same.

904L steel is corrosion resistant and harder than other steels. It is also said to hold polishes better than other types of stainless steel. Naturally, no other brand goes for this steel because it is more expensive and is said to be more difficult to work with. 

To handle this steel, Rolex reportedly had to change most of their steel working machines. These challenges have effectively prevented other watchmaking brands to copy it, hence, giving Rolex a monotony over it. 

The use of this steel has not only made Rolex stand out but also allows for Rolex watches to have a classically unrivaled appearance. Rolex watches high prices are justified at this point, if you ask us.

Rolex Owns An In-House Foundry That Makes Gold!

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Just when we think nothing can top all the highlighted awesomeness, we discover that Rolex makes their own gold! All the gold and platinum are made by the in-house foundry.

Hot flames under large kilns are used in melting and mixing the metals meant for bracelets and cases. And thanks to the fact that they control the production process, they are able to produce top-notch quality parts.

So far, Rolex is the only known watchmaking company that makes their own gold or even has an actual foundry in-house.

Rolex Movements Are All Hand-Assembled

Yes, Rolex makes use of robots extensively in their manufacturing process and has one of the most sophisticated watchmaking machinery. However, watch movements and bracelets produced at Rolex are all hand-assembled by trained technicians. The robots only stick to simpler tasks like filing, sorting, and cataloging. Although machines are used to apply the pressure, apply pressure and hold down hands, Rolex still gives hands-on attention to their watches. 

It is also important to point out that these machines are mostly operated by humans. This hands-on human attention ensures quality control as products are repeatedly checked before being sent to COSC for chronometer certification. These Swiss-made watches keep giving us reasons why we can’t complain about their high prices. 

Rolex Does Water Impermeability Testing

Imagine a wristwatch that does not stop working even when you get caught in a heavy rain downpour or when it falls into water. Rolex watches come with amazing impermeability. Some of their products like the Rolex Submariner watches are placed in large tubes filled with water to see if they are water-resistant up to 300 meters. 

In testing for water-resistance levels, each Rolex dive watch is tested under pressurized tanks. After the exiting the pressure tanks, it is heated up and a drop of cold water is placed on the crystal to check for condensation.  

For testing impermeability in the Rolex Deep Sea watches, a COMEX re-developed high-pressure tank is used for depth tests. It is reported that less than one in a thousand watches fail the test.

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In Conclusion

What makes Rolex so special is the no expense spared attitude towards creating these watches. The quality of its designs and the rarity of its materials are definitely things to rave about. 

(By the way, if you want to know how much Rolex watches sell for exactly, click here to read our article – How Much Is A Rolex?)

Most importantly, the brand’s production process that ensures precise and accurate performances is commendable. The watches are authentic, have a requisite accuracy and a production process that’s no easy feat. 

Let’s not forget that it takes Rolex a whole year to design and complete a single watch. It’s only logical that such a painstaking process demands a commensurate high cost, no?

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