A Non-Rolex Owner Perspective on Waitlists

A Non-Rolex Owner Perspective on Waitlists

Nowadays, we hear as much about Rolex’s waitlists as we do their watches. That’s because of the brand and its retail partners' infamous waitlists which upset many watch enthusiasts who wish to own one of the models from the iconic Swiss brand. I’ve been thinking a lot and for a long time about this topic. I don’t own a Rolex—and probably never will—though I wanted to share my thoughts on the waitlists and try to put it into perspective to everything else we do in our lives, as well as what they mean about the health and growth of the brand. In general, waitlists indicate that the demand for a product is higher than its availability, and some other times they are just a marketing strategy employed to increase brand awareness and profitability. Today, however, we won’t talk about the sales practices some Rolex Authorized Dealers (AD) conduct. 

Everest Journal A Non-Rolex Owner Perspective on Waitlists Source: www.luxurybazaar.com

Putting Rolex Waitlists in Perspective  

I feel we need to look beyond the negativity created around Rolex and the waitlists and put things in perspective a little. First, people do decide to buy a Rolex and know about the waitlists, so it feels a little silly that some would complain as much as they do regardless. Nobody asked anybody to buy a Rolex, but for anyone who does, they should accept that this is the way the brand functions. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to the buyers as it is a well-known phenomenon in the watch community.  And one thing many seem to forget is that Rolex is a luxury brand which sells luxury products, and I would add, luxury products that are in high demand. True, not all luxury retailers have waitlists, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that some do, or that their products must be ordered in advance as they are made-to-order. 

Everest Journal A Non-Rolex Owner Perspective on Waitlists Source: www.watchesbysjx.com

Honestly, a $10,000 Rolex Submariner is not a $200 Citizen watch. Rolex manufactures everything in-house (at least that’s what we are being told), from the movement and the case to the crystal and precious metals used in many of their models, in other words, although Rolex manufactures somewhere around 1 million watches a year, we should see the brand as an artisan. Most of what is necessary to make a Rolex is handmade, and given that their watches go through extraneous tests to guarantee their reliability and durability, it is no surprise that making a Rolex takes time. When was the last time you bought a Ferrari? A yacht? I never did but I know that one has to get on a waitlist and…wait…before getting the Ferrari or the yacht. 

Why can’t we apply these reasonable expectations when it comes to buying a Rolex? 

Everest Journal A Non-Rolex Owner Perspective on Waitlists Source: www.slashgear.com

Waitlists Indicate Growth and Increased Demand 

Whether we look at watches or cars or the latest iPhone, the more popular a product becomes, the harder it is to get it because the more people want it. It is reasonable then to imagine that one has to wait in order to get a product in high-demand as a brand cannot match it. And it shouldn’t matter that a Submariner retails for $10,000 while it could be had for $6,000 a decade ago, the fact of the matter is, as I see it, that a brand like Rolex cannot double its production output that easily. If it did want to make more watches, it would have to decrease the quality of its products. While we hear a lot of negativity being spread around about waitlists, we don’t hear people complain about poor quality control coming from Rolex. Again, that’s because they maintain their quality standards regardless of how many people want to buy a watch. 

Simply put, Rolex could have put in place waitlists in order to better manage production and demand. From what I can tell, it doesn’t seem that fewer people want to own a Rolex, quite the contrary. 

Everest Journal A Non-Rolex Owner Perspective on Waitlists Source: www.windvintage.com

Could Waitlists Indicate Rolex is Going Green? 

This will sound perhaps far-fetched, but perhaps Rolex put into place waitlists in order to control production and reduce waste. This thought came to me when shopping for clothes online where I now reside, France. I came across a French brand that only sells clothes by way of a pre-ordering system. They do so to reduce waste by manufacturing the quantities they actually need, not based on some estimate. By making the appropriate number of garments, they won’t waste materials needed to make them, and reduce the amount of waste created by manufacturing the clothes and shipping them to France and to the customer. (The brand sometimes sells already made clothes which were returned by customers.) 

In that same vein, I could imagine Rolex having created waitlists in order to only manufacture the number of watches they knew they could sell. Though one could easily argue that Rolex never had—and never will—ran out of customers to sell watches to. Their models have always been in high-demand long before waitlists existed, though I could see this as a possibility given the fact that, in the past two-years years, the display cases of many Rolex ADs have been empty. The Swiss brand could be in the business of reducing waste and not promulgating the toxic practice of manufacturing more goods than can be sold. 

Everest Journal A Non-Rolex Owner Perspective on Waitlists Source: www.hodinkee.com

Final Thoughts 

All of what I articulated in this article are my own thoughts. I don’t have any insight as to how Rolex works, I don’t have insider information that would have guided the writing of this article. I was simply trying to provide objective explanations as to the reason for waitlists. It’s understandable that someone would get frustrated having to wait to acquire a watch he/she has been dreaming of for a long time. However, it is equally understandable that Rolex created waitlists for one or more good reasons which I explored in this article and not for nefarious ones. (Although the latter could be true as well, I will just never know.) 

Featured image: www.dubail.fr

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