I think it’s safe to say that the Rolex shortage isn’t a surprise to any of us. After all, we are the dedicated watch enthusiasts who scour the forums, read watch blogs like this one, and spend far more time looking at watches than anyone really should spend looking at anything. So coming across a watch article isn’t exactly news worthy in our niche corner of the world. But coming across an article on Yahoo Finance discussing the current Rolex shortage was unexpected to say the least. If anything, it proves just how mainstream watches are becoming to be covered by mainstream new sources (a point that Bob’s Watches CEO Paul Altieri makes during his interview for the article).
So what’s the big deal about this one article? Rolex actually made a statement regarding the scarcity of their product, addressing the concerns and questions that so many of us ask ourselves and one another. Why won’t they just make more watches?
"The scarcity of our products is not a strategy on our part. Our current production cannot meet the existing demand in an exhaustive way, at least not without reducing the quality of our watches – something we refuse to do as the quality of our products must never be compromised. This level of excellence requires time, and as we have always done, we will continue to take the necessary time to ensure that all our watches not only comply with our standards of excellence, but also meet the expectations of our customers in terms of quality, reliability and robustness. Rolex does not compromise on what it takes to produce exceptional watches.
All Rolex watches are developed and produced in-house at our four sites in Switzerland. They are assembled by hand, with extreme care, to meet the brand's unique and high-quality standards of quality, performance and aesthetics. Understandably, this naturally restricts our production capacities – which we continue to increase as much as possible and always according to our quality criteria.
Finally, it should be noted that Rolex watches are available exclusively from official retailers, who independently manage the allocation of watches to customers." - Source
One thing that the article does touch on, which is something that I’ve wondered many times, is what happens to those outside of this hobby trying to buy that first nice watch. Here in the United States, buying a Rolex has been ingrained into us as part of the “American Dream”. You go to school, work hard, get that big promotion, and when you finally make it, you buy a Rolex to celebrate. So imagine walking into a Rolex dealer, having no idea whatsoever about this market scarcity, seeing only a couple of watches in store and being laughed at when you ask to see the watch you’ve done your research on and told you have to wait possibly years to buy it. I can’t imagine the discouragement and embarrassment one might feel. And while I hope that person finds another watch brand to celebrate their achievements with instead, I don’t think I could blame them for writing off watches and this hobby that so many of us celebrate completely. As an enthusiast who loves seeing more people enter this hobby, I genuinely hope that ADs do better in regards to their attitudes towards consumers. This is the reality of where most of the frustrations lie, not with the brand.
While I wouldn’t expect changes to happen anytime soon, the fact that Rolex has acknowledged the problem gives me a bit of solace. It’s no longer us complaining to one another and dealers with no resolution. For the first time, Rolex has acknowledged the problem. And they’ve done so in a sincere way while managing the expectations of their consumers. Are things going to change tomorrow or even by the end of the year? No. But I am much more optimistic that they are working on ways to increase their production so that they can satisfy consumer demand.
If you’d like to check out the Yahoo Finance article, click here.
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Written by K. Wells