A question that we often receive is ”Do Rolex watches hold their value?”.
But the thing is, the answer to that question isn’t as straightforward as you might expect.
But let’s start by saying that Rolex is undeniably the largest and most well-known luxury watch company in the world.
And when we’re talking about whether or not Rolex watch holds their value, we’re talking about Rolex’s secondhand value on the secondhand market.
The vast majority of things depreciate substantially on the secondhand market. The reason is that for most things, people don’t like the idea of someone else having used something before them, but also that they’ve used it and worn it -whatever they may be. Cars is a particularly good example.
Now, that is not the case for Rolex watches in general, but that does not go for all of its models at all time. If all Rolex watches would hold their value or even appreciate, a lot more people would buy them and then sell them instantly thereafter, and yes, people do that today, but they’re almost a non-identifiable of the total Rolex buyers.
With that said, just like anything, it’s difficult to predict the market and if and how well Rolex watches will hold their value. In this article, we’ll give you the definite answer to ”Do Rolex watches hold their value?”.
Why Rolex watches hold their value well
There are two ways to approach this question. First off, when most people ask ”Do Rolex watches hold their value?”, they refer to the scenario where they buy their Rolex watch brand new from an authorized dealer.
But to understand this principle, let’s go through the basics of what drives prices to decrease, increase, or remain the same.
At its core, Rolex prices are driven by supply and demand – like most things.
The catch, however, is that Rolex intentionally cuts the production of many of its most sought-after models. As such, they only provide a few of their most popular models per year to their authorized dealers. This mostly refers to the most sought-after, hyped, and desirable pieces. In other words, the demand is super high. More on specific models further on.
So what Rolex does intentionally is actually cutting the production of their most desirable pieces. What this leads to is authorized dealers having to create waiting lists for their customers, and with the highly limited production, this list only keeps getting longer and longer.
What the long waiting time does is it makes people impatient, and it makes people more and more eager to get the watch they’ve been looking forward wearing but just can’t get their hands on. As a result, what some of the individuals who get access to these watches decide to do is put them up for sale for more than they bought it for. In some cases considerably more than they bought it for.
And since the long waiting lists make people impatient, there are individuals who are willing to pay a premium just to get the watch right now.
Another factor that allows Rolex watches to hold their value well is that the Rolex brand is so well-known. Most of the time, a well-reputable and respected brand is what makes the value of their products remain stable, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Additionally, Rolex is certainly one of these brands.
With Rolex being the most popular, it naturally holds the value the best among its competitors (we acknowledge that there are a few exceptions here).
Mose watches can be seen as consumer goods, but while you throw your Chinese quartz watch because it’s cheaper than to change the battery, Rolex watches have proven to withstand the test of time and keeps on ticking year after year.
Today, Rolex watches are ranked 2nd among the top 5 best luxury investments. As such, you can expect that Rolex watches are generally good investments, however, don’t for one second believe that you can go into an authorized Rolex dealer, buy any watch you like, and then expect the value of the watch to stay the same or even appreciate.
Because again, the principle for appreciating prices is a greater demand than supply, but the vast majority of Rolex models are available by simply walking into the store, and as such, you may say that the demand meets the supply to a very large degree, and this also means that the prices in-stores will remain normal, however, since the authorized dealers feed the demand of that particular watch, the demand for it on the second-hand market won’t be huge.
Do note that there are several exceptions and caveats to this, but as a very simplified example.
For most things, the minute you walk out of the story with the product, in particular when you buy a car and drive the first miles, or when you put on an exclusive t-shirt from a designer brand. Rolex, on the other hand, if you buy the ”right” models, can actually appreciate in value in the short term, and who knows how the prices will change in the long term for the modern watches that are being sold right now. If you look at the previous Rolex sports models and their prices, it definitely looks promising.
Short term vs long term: Do Rolex watches hold their value?
It’s crucial you have in mind that there’s a huge difference between Rolex watches holding their value short term and Rolex watches holding their value over time.
If you look at Rolex watches’ value over 50 years, and then factor in inflation and other factors, you could say that essentially all Rolex watches have appreciated in value, with a few exceptions, of course.
But the truth is that some Rolex watches have skyrocketed in price whereas others have just slightly increased, and this brings me to another interesting point about Rolex watches and whether they hold their value. And this is vintage Rolex watches.
In my example above, I spoke about buying and selling existing Rolex models and how a demand that is greater than the supply leads to increased prices, however, with vintage watches, it’s a different story.
The thing is, vintage Rolex watches are discontinued. They will never ever be manufactured again. This is an interesting thought, because only the vintage Rolex watches manufactured up until today exist in the world, and the number will only continue to decrease. At the same time, if the interest in particular Rolex models increases over time, so will the prices of those timepieces since there are only so many available.
As for Rolex watches, essentially all stainless steel sports models (mainly Daytona, GMT-Master II, and Submariner) have seen an increased interest and demand, and this has inevitably led to an increase in price – especially in more recent years.
Also, with Rolex having become a more reputable and prestigious brand, more collectors have gotten their eyes up for many of Rolex’s vintage watches, and other people have even turned to vintage Rolex watches when the waiting lists on modern Rolex watches are too long.
As for the case for vintage Rolex watches in general, they tend to increase somewhat by not dramatical. Of course, this depends on which models you talk about, and since Rolex has so many models which aren’t really hyped and sought-after as vintage pieces, which includes the Datejust, Date, Air King, and Oyster perpetual, these prices remain fairly stable, but as a whole, most of them haven’t really depreciated in value.
Which Rolex watches hold their value best and are likely to appreciate?
This is obviously the most common question when it comes to buying a Rolex ”as an investment”, or at the very least something that brings you joy but without costing you a single dollar.
But the thing with Rolex watches, just like anything, is that no-one knows in which direction things are going to go. If people knew that some vintage Ferraris would skyrocket in value over the years, wouldn’t everyone have bought them? Even taken loans to buy them.
And that’s the catch with trying to predict the future market in a long-term. It’s really difficult.
But one way to identify the Rolex models which are most likely to appreciate in value is to understand what drives prices.
First, we have supply. Then, we have demand. Then, we have a third factor which actually ties into the first, and that is total produced pieces.
Now, this has to do with supple, however, when we talk about supply, we often talk about how easy it is to get something right now. It’s a bit of a different story when a particular model is discontinued because there are a ton of examples of vintage Rolex watches that have been quite unpopular during their production years, and as such, few of those have been made, and thus, the supply of them is highly limited. At the same time, people’s tastes may evolve, and so the Rolex watches that maybe weren’t that popular 40 years ago may be extremely popular among collectors now.
This tends to be the single most important factor for dramatically increased Rolex prices of vintage watches because the total number of produced watches is highly limited, however, the demand all of a sudden peaks and increases dramatically.
The result is all of a sudden a demand that is considerably higher than the supply, and this is what drives prices the most.
Another thing to point out which maybe isn’t as common anymore for Rolex to be doing is that slight variations of the Rolex sports watches tend to play a significant role for collectors (and thus prices). Over the course of its history, Rolex has made a number of edition watches for various organizations.
Today, this is something that Role essentially doesn’t do anymore, but one example of a such is Rolex’s Submariner Milsub model which is one that has skyrocketed in value. The Milsub was made specifically for the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) and was used as official military equipment during a short period in the 1970s. Instead of making a completely new watch for them, they took a Rolex Submariner reference 5513 which had proven to be very rugged and thus a perfect candidate for a military watch.
The modifications of the watch are few, and for the untrained eye, you won’t even notice the differences at first between a regular 5513 Submariner and the Milsub, but some of the changes they made was to change to a unique set of hands, using tritium on the dial, and displaying all 60 minutes around the bezel.
For the untrained eye, this may sound like minimal modifications, however, since Rolex made these watches for the MOD, the production of this particular model wasn’t huge. And factoring in people’s fascination for watches with a great history and slight variations, the premium people are worth paying for the Milsub compared to the regular 5513 is humungous.
Now, with that said, one way to predict the future is to look at the past, and the Rolex watches that have shown themselves being able to withstand the test of time and appreciate in value are the Rolex sports models which are tool watches which feature particular functions. These are the three most popular models already mentioned.
Why do Rolex watches hold their value?
A very simple answer, which needs a more complex answer to fully cover it, however, there are a few factors that play the most significant part in allowing Rolex watches to hold their value.
1. They have a great demand.
The supply and demand principle is fascinating when it comes to vintage watches. While you see the prices of the more rarer versions and models skyrocket the most, you also see common sports models increase in value as well, and even though the supply is great, the demand is in some cases even greater.
Humans are interesting in the way that we always want the things that we cannot get (or are hard to get), and as the demand and interest for certain models increase and these Rolex watches become harder to acquire, the prices and value of these watches increases as well.
2. They are iconic and classic designs
Rolex’s most iconic sports models in particular, but also many of their other models feature iconic designs which are not far from the design of the modern version of those watches. Rolex’s designs are timeless and have changed little in visual appearance over the years. Timeless icons, often built on heritage tend to hold value quite well, and Rolex watches has been and continues to be a desirable brand and a symbol of luxury.
3. They withstand time
Rolex watches do not only withstand the test of time through its timeless designs but also due to its quality. Rolex watches are known for its robust quality and for never compromising quality on any area. Rolex’s movements have proven themselves to be able to continue ticking year after year according to COSC, and Rolex’s watches can continue to work generation after generation.
You can find plenty of Rolex watches that are almost a hundred years old that still continue to work flawlessly. By regularly maintaining and servicing your Rolex watch, you ensure that your watch continues to perfectly operate year after year. With Rolex’s ever evolvement and innovation with watchmaking technology and the making of their watches, the modern Rolex watches will last even longer.
4. Vintage has increased in popularity
When talking about vintage Rolex watches, it’s a market that has increased dramatically in popularity over the years.
The vintage watch market is more popular than ever, and people are becoming more interested and fascinated by vintage watches and the great history they carry. This goes for most objects that are made with great craftsmanship, but not to mention watches.
If you look at the vintage watch market, you will find that it is the part of the watch market where prices have increased the most. Not every single Rolex model, but many of them, with the sports models in particular.
5. They’re ”the best” on the market
Rolex watches are considered by many people as ”the ultimate” watch brand. Of course, there are many watch brands that put considerably more effort into craftsmanship and creating exclusive and high-quality watches, but obviously, you have to pay accordingly.
In many people’s eyes, Rolex is the best alternative for money. If you are going to buy anything less than a Rolex, it’s not good enough, and if you are going to buy something better, it’s going to cost you a lot. Of course, there are many who would argue this, but it is enough that a large portion of the market has this belief to affect the secondhand market price.
Rolex retail prices
Something that affects how well an item holds their prices is whether or not the company have sales or discounts. While discounts and sales tend to increase sales in the short term, they tend to negatively affect people’s perception of the brand and give people a less ”exclusive” view of the company. You will never ever see Rolex having sales or any other discounts, and this is something that has contributed to Rolex establishing itself as a prestigious luxury watch company.
While it is possible in some cases to ask for small discounts, or more commonly, to ask for some ”bonuses” to your purchases, they’re quite uncommon. If you’re going to buy a Rolex watch at an authorized dealer, it’s the listed price that is the price. Nothing else.
Maybe most importantly is the fact that Rolex holds their prices very strictly and will seldom back down an inch of them. As for how well Rolex watches hold their value, something that tends to affect Rolex’s secondhand value a lot is the fact that Rolex regularly increases their prices.
And no, Rolex does not only adjust their price according to inflation, they also increase their prices to make their brand and watches more exclusive. Essentially every year, Rolex increases their prices with X number of percent. The price increase varies between the models, but the average price increase the last couple of years has been 5 or so percent.
With the consistent price increase of Rolex’s official prices, it will thus also affect the prices of Rolex watches on the second-hand market.
Do Rolex watches hold their value? A Rolex watch as an Investment
There is a lot of speculation about items, how well they hold their value, and if they are good investments for the future.
The real answer is that for the most part, Rolex watches are essentially just like other things that are speculated about whether or not they will increase in value. You will never be able to know whether or not something will increase in value over the years or if they will decrease in value.
The good thing about Rolex is that with all of the things mentioned, in mind, the value of second-hand Rolex watches tend to remain stable. While certain vintage Rolex models have skyrocketed in cost by many hundred or in some cases thousands of percent from original retail price (adjust to inflation), other models that people speculated would increase dramatically in value have not.
In general, though, Rolex watches have proven to be a great investment. They may not skyrocket in value, but the vast majority of them will hold their value quite well.
Among watches, however, Rolex is often considered the best watch to buy as an investment, however, whether or not your Rolex watch actually was a good investment or not, only time will tell. This obviously has everything to do with the model you buy since the Rolex prices are driven by what the market wants and which watches there’s a great demand for.