Guide To Buying Your First Rolex Part 1:
When To Buy

Guide To Buying Your First Rolex Part 1:When To Buy

Guide to buying your first Rolex - Part One

This is a two-part guide on buying your first Rolex watch. Our Rolex buying guide is intended for both novices and seasoned watch lovers. Part 1 discusses when you should invest in your first Rolex, while Part 2 discusses what specific Rolex timepiece to buy.

True story: When I first became interested in "nice" watches I had little interest in Rolex. Looking back, I think I found them a bit ordinary or too conservative looking. My 20-year-old self perhaps saw them as being "too safe" from a design perspective and not close enough the modern, experimental designs I was attracted to at the time. That was all true. Rolex watches are design monoliths. Due to Rolex's impressive marketing over the years, as well as the sheer popularity of their products, they have become the archetype of the "nice watch." And everyone certainly knows about them. My younger self was simply looking for something a bit more fresh. It was not the right time to get my first Rolex.

Over the years, my relationship with Rolex evolved. It is now one of admiration, appreciation, and certainly understanding. I know what Rolex watches are good at, I know what to expect from the brand, and I certainly know how seriously other people take them. And that goes equally for new and vintage Rolex watches that attract very distinct fans.

Guide to buying your first Rolex - Part One

Why People Want A Rolex

Rolex watches are perhaps the finest mass-produced industrial timepiece on the planet. They may actually be the finest mass-produced anything. And by mass-produced, I mean in terms of watch brand production volumes which for watches at the Rolex price point is most always less than one million watches per year.

Eventually, I came to approve of and even greatly desire one, then two, and later, more Rolex watch models. What really changed my perception of Rolex was being able to survey the competition. My status as a watch writer and expert affords me the opportunity to handle over 1,000 watches per year. I've reviewed a lot of watches and can say for sure that Rolex does a lot of things the very best. You also can't deny the communicative power a Rolex watch has when saying something about your status, wealth, and taste. None of it may be true, but years of work have given Rolex wearers a pretty good personality edge. Even people who think buying a Rolex is too easy a way of showing actual or apparent wealth can usually only fault the wearer and not the watch. I've come to find that a Rolex watch is infrequently a bad choice.

Guide to buying your first Rolex - Part One

People tend to want buy a Rolex for one of the following main reasons: to celebrate an achievement, to own a watch that appears to hold value, to communicate a level of career or life success, to own a luxury watch that is a simple choice, or to wear a timepiece with a lot of history. Most Rolex watch models would satisfy each of these needs. No reason is better or worse, but it is interesting that most people's desire to wear a Rolex falls into one or more of these categories.

The natural next question to ask is whether these are good reasons or whether these are just marketing perpetuated ideas to sell watches. That is a very good question, and I think the most simple response is that whether or not these ideas are perpetuated by marketing, they are true. Rolex watches are frequently given or purchased on special occasions. Rolex watches to tend to hold their value very well. And Rolex watches are a well-known luxury brand with a name lots of people have a positive association with. So marketing aside, they are true claims.

People have sometimes asked me if "Rolex watches are the best in the world?" Rolex is probably the most powerful luxury watch name, and their products are very well-made, these are facts. However, Rolex watches are the last timepiece some people will buy, and for others they are just a start. Rolex tends to make simple mechanical movements and a limited variety of core designs. There is an entire universe of more complicated, more expensive, and more thoroughly designed watches. Having said that, few will claim that a Rolex doesn't belong in a well-rounded watch collection... Next, other watch experts weigh in... »

56 comments
gemini13130
gemini13130

its great to see rolex bring back cellini line .. classic and great

WatchWatchAlpha
WatchWatchAlpha

Another reason why one might consider a Rolex as their first "real" watch is that they have been gaining in value in 2014. Especially the sub-US$6000 models. The asking price for some are up by as much as 40% year-on-year.

oinofilo
oinofilo

You are right, there are many reason why people want to buy a Rolex. Just one is missing: because they like it. That's why I'll never buy a Rolex.  I don't LIKE it.

frustin
frustin

"True story: When I first became interested in "nice" watches I had little interest in Rolex. Looking back, I think I found them a bit ordinary or too conservative looking. "


Snap! I'm now thinking either Panerai or GMT-Master II.  Since reading the 10 reasons to buy Rolex and this article my eyes are now wide open.

frustin
frustin

I tried on the Blue/Black GMT-Master II today.  It's lovely, but i didnt buy it.  I was this >< close though.  But I left the shop; went round the corner, took out my iphone and brought up a picture of the PAM00233.  I knew that I'd made the right choice and as I walked home, I felt better and better.  The reason: I'd have got bored with it.


The panny just has something else, then there is the strap choices, the lovely window in the back.  For me, that's 3 reasons more than the Rolex.

Paul Altieri
Paul Altieri

Hi Ariel, you always do a topic justice.  Well done!  We ( at Bob's Watches ) have heard all kinds of wonderful stories of why, when and where people have bought their first Rolex watch.  We find some of the watches very interesting but the people behind them much more so.  For instance, we recently bought an uber rare Rolex Paul Newman 6263 from a couple from Canada who flew in to California to sell it in person.  He was a retired Colonel in the military and wore this watch everyday.  His wife decided to buy it from the local Rolex store back in 1969 the morning after he obtained his pilots license to commemorate the occasion.  She picked it out because she thought "it was pretty". The stories are fascinating and we love hearing them. 

jhofmannc
jhofmannc

HELLO looking for true  retail value of a 1983 rolex in box papers  with receipt purchased at Corbo Jewelers 32 years ago stainless Explorer 2 in near mint condition still has green sticker on back never removed ?????

Preownedwatchbuyers
Preownedwatchbuyers

Lets stop over thinking this question. People buy Rolex because they are or want to be what Rolex represents.  Watches and people are very closely related.  In the watch world Rolex is kinda like the business man or business owner who is confident.  He knows that he's the boss, well paid and very well respected.  He's not the sleekest dressed and he doesn't know 10 different languages.  He may not even be the best at what he does but he is the most well known and liked in his field,  He is very well connected and people trust his professional opinion.  Forget about all the complicated movements and fancy materials a Rolex is very similar to the person who wears it. They are  best in the biz and they know it.  I am one of those people.  I am a 29 year old woman who created Preownedwatchbuyers.com and I am a Rolex .  Don't get me wrong some days I feel like others but  right now I'm wearing my SS Daytona because thats who I am.  Thanks for reading.

aleximd2000
aleximd2000

Look guys! Whatever says one or another think about this!When I was in year 2 student I met a veteran Gynecologist and he was smoking Royal Rothmans! Only that brand! When I asked him why he is smoking only that he replied: Alex , when you'll be older , you'll see what addiction means for something that you know that is reliable! In the following years I learned my lesson! After a couple of dozen watches ,now I know that the most important thing is reliability, which means that under every circumstances and conditions you need a friend, in this case the watch, and he must be in time , working order . Once you are connected with him -the watch- he will never let you down and neither you. So , gather the money , buy a good quality watch and you'll see, you'll have a little soul that is thicking on your wrist once you gave life to him. Before I'll go to buy my rolex I think that the next will be an another Panerai because a bug just happened to enter my soul after my first Luminor Marina. All the best and hopefully not boring to read my craziness about my little companions   alex

becevit
becevit

what do you guys think about buying a used rolex and having it customised?  I used to not like rolexes but now I like them with the dlc treatment all blacked out. I have 3 other mechanical watches so its not a matter of buying for the status symbol it is, I just like the way dlc rolex looks.

QQQ
QQQ

Interesting comparison with those two brands, Omega and Rolex. To be clear, outside of a couple of vintage GMT Master II's I like only really like a few Rolexs. Of the current models, the only one I really like and would pay for is the Deep Sea. However, I can't see paying 10k for it. Omega has a few more I like. Not real big into the Planet Ocean line but I love a few of those Speedmaster chronographs. Espocally on metal bracelets. I think they are "priced well" especially when comparing them to Rolex. Anybody like the new IWC Ingenieur line? Really nice but really pricey.

Chr0matin
Chr0matin

Great article, but I have to say the only time in my life I would imagine getting a Rolex is as a retirement gift.   The current trend of younger guys wearing a vintage Rolex is admirable, but it's still fundamentally an older buyer's brand. 

mattsphones
mattsphones

Great article.  Though I'm a watch-lover, this article makes me feel like an outsider.  Though I can afford one, I'm far from being able to see what sense it makes.  The issue for me is the delta between the many $500 or less range watches out there, and a Rolex.  I don't dispute the quality of a Rolex.  I just don't believe it's 10x or more the quality of a watch in the hundreds of dollars range.  As I said in another post, I don't begrudge anyone who buys one.  Without you such watches wouldn't exist for me to read about and look at on the Internet!  I just don't understand it fully.

I do love reading about them, and look forward to more.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

Ah, Rolex.  The very name conjures up vivid memories of your grandpa, that old-man musk that infused his suit jacket; the same jacket he was buried in *sniff*.  

A mass-produced watch that no longer deserves the reputation it has built up - perhaps once it did but now they're just coasting.  Innovations and glories of the past don't seem to interest them anymore and don't appear in their current lineup.  I read on another blog recently that in the 60s they made a watch with a depth rating of almost 11000 metres.  Bloody hell, that's amazing!  Can you buy this engineering marvel, this Schwarzenegger of watches?  Can you f***.  

In terms of materials, Grade 2205 steel has superior corrosion resistance, is much stronger and cheaper.  Why don't they use that instead of 904L?  Because it cost them a lot of marketing dollars to brainwash you into believing 904L was special and they don't want to spend any more when they already have the mind-share of so many.  If you want to impress someone who knows nothing about watches - in other words, the general public, then Rolex is the watch for you.  That's all they recognise.  If you don't live for others and what they think of you, make a wiser choice.  If this blog has taught you anything, it's that here are myriad better choices in luxury watches that are more innovative and exciting.  Rolex just doesn't make the pulse quicken.

I died a little inside when I read that a sixteen-year-old blew a thousand dollars on a Rolex; the Coca-Cola of "luxury" watches.  Oh hey Mark, does that Cholex Xtreme Superchunk come in chocolate?  I feel like a snack about now.

daottaway
daottaway

There really are several "good " things about Rolex. The main thing would be that they are a "HERITAGE" company, and that can afford them to charge whatever they want to charge to the "intro upper range watch buyer."  I highly doubt someone starting with a Greubel & Forsey.  If I owned a Rolex it would be my knock around watch because the company states they are tough and perfect  for extreme conditions, a real working watch, not just something you keep under glass. 

But the fact is that an Omega will do anyone as good or better than a Rolex. I actually have owned an Omega in the past, so as far as Rolex goes I am speaking from "others" stories.

rolex   

f15soloist
f15soloist

I have no faith in a 16 year old who buys a Rolex.  

arthurdavis
arthurdavis

I'm just brainstorming here. Cholex Extreme  Super Chunk, Your go to watch for the zombie apocalypse.

your welcome.

adisoon
adisoon

Great article Ariel!

I was given a Rolex when I was a teenager. A hand me down from my father. I treated it badly, but it did instill a love of watches which continues to this day. Every now and then, I veer away from Rolex, finding it too staid and boring. However I often come back, because old faithful never changes. Stability is a valuable thing when too much novelty makes my head spin. 

I'll have me a Rolex any day. 

Ayreonaut
Ayreonaut

I can't wait to read a guide to buying your first Cholex.

pmspice
pmspice

Interesting that you only chose 'expert' men to comment after your post

LaurentG
LaurentG

Tanks a lot for the article Ariel, i am a long time French fan of your blog. Let me tell you my Story. Ma father offered me a GMT back in 1985 when i passed succesfully my bachelor, or BAC as we say in French. This watch was my dream watch since i was 10 or 12. I was reading my father's magazine GEO and ROLEX was always advertizing the inside first page cover, always telling nice stories from adventurers from everywhere arround the globe. I was having no idea about the social status attachéd to the brand, and back in 1985 it was only one dealer in my home town that was selling the brand. My father did not undertand at this time that I was prefering to have such an expensive watch instead of a car, traditional gift when turning 18. Like Jake Ehrlich, the day finally my dad offered it to me was a tru moment of emotion. I'm stil a watch addict today, and offered myself a lot of watches some much more expensive, but I never felt again this émotion.I still have it today and my 9 years old boy not knowing anything about watch love this one only. That's maybe also the magic of the brand... Laurent G

MarkOs
MarkOs

In my first job the boss always wore a Rolex, then came the day it stopped and he sent the secretary to the jewelers to change the battery! She came back very red faced and said the jeweler refused to do anything with fake watches. The boss immediatly went out and replaced his fake Rolex with exactly the same model only real this time. The main problem is now he was wearing the real thing and everyone still looked at it and thought fake.

Now everytime I see someone wearing a Rolex my first thought is not "thats a nice watch" but unfortunately my only thought is  "is that a fake" . Personally having recently invested in a watch in the $5000 range I did not even look at Rolex as an option as in my mind it has such a high association with fakes and copies.

Probably my loss but hard to get past the feeling when you are spending your hard earned cash.

bichondaddy
bichondaddy

I have to say, when I was younger, and in my 20's, having a Rolex seemed like a big deal. Then one day I happened to be chatting with my Great Uncle and asked him why he still wore a Timex.  He knew my I loved watches and told me, and I am loosely quoting him,  " I still have my 1974 Chrysler, I wear a Timex watch, and I have lived very modestly my entire life, and yet I am man of great wealth and importance in the industry.  The most important thing to have in business is a nice personality, a great smile, and a terrific sense of humor. It's not what you wear that makes you a great salesman, it's who you are. "   I took his words seriously, and spent over 20 years in retail sales and sales management, and now that I am retired, I still take his words to heart.   Although I have had a Rolex in my collection, I did not wear it to show off or to impress others...I wore it because it was what I wanted to do at the time. 

So, if you want to impress others, do it with who you are, not with what you own.  

Ryan B
Ryan B

I seem to have the same problem a lot of us have and that is the name carries a very pretentious reputation.

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

I don't have any "problem" with Rolex, I just don't understand the value proposition. When I forst started becoming interested in 'nice' watches, I decided that green sapphire milgauss was the watch for me. A few years later, along with a wealth of knowledge I didn't have back then, I was able to finally afford it, and bough... A Zenith. And thank goodness I did, at this point I feel like the milgauss would have been a regrettable action and might have even sold it by now (something I've never done). The Zenith will be with me for life, I just last year payed to have it properly serviced, and I considered it to be a worthy investment, not a begrudging expense.

If rolex is the watch for you, have at it. Just be as educated as you can be/want to be: I'm sure lots of rolex owners could care less about value proposition as long as their wrist says rolex.

QQQ
QQQ

I do like Rolex watches a lot. They are sturdy as hell and a great product. However, I don't look at a watch as a piece of jewelry. I find that many people do, which is fine. My only problem is that guy that refers to his Rolex as the "Roley". Hate that dude. To be honest, being associated with that guy because I would wear his watch is part of the reason that I haven't purchased one yet. I've looked at Omega and IWC. And for $8k I've seen a couple out of their shop that I would rather have then a "affordable" Rolex.

DCportraits
DCportraits

Great article @ablogtowatch  and looking forward to the second portion. I remember I bought my first Rolex, an explorer II 16570, for my 28 birthday. I was a submarine nuclear mechanic in the Navy and I've always coveted the submariner but could never afford it. After trolling TRF for a while I found a nice deal on the 16570 and pounced hoping to trade up some day. Awesome quotes at the end.

Zeitblom
Zeitblom

"I've reviewed a lot of watches and can say for sure that Rolex does a lot of things the very best."

For example? This is precisely my problem with Rolex --- for the same amount of money you can get many other watches that are superior. Which is precisely what you would expect --- Rolex charges a premium for the Rolex name. If you aren't interested in the status angle [and I'm not saying that anyone shouldn't be] then logically it makes sense to stay far away from Rolex

DG Cayse
DG Cayse

Another good reason(s) that was somehow left out: Durability and Depndabiity. From the movement to the crown assembly to the bracet and clasp, Rolex is built very well. Yes, it has the 'name' appeal;but as you mention, this has been built on the fact that Rolex builds a darn fine watch.

I ws given my first Rolex as a gift from a grateful client - a two-tone Datajust. Fine watch but I found it just attracted too much attention - and not all of it was good. So I gave it to a dear friend. A few years later I found myself at a local jewelers shop in the south of Spain trying, for the 3rd time, to fix a broken bracelet on a well-known (supposedly for its toughness) dive watch and seeing the very talented jeweler reduces to using paper-clips and telling that was the best he could do without ordering a replacement part or bracelet. I gave him the watch. In the duty-free shop flying back to America I spent all of 2 minutes looking at a Submariner and puled out the card and it was one my wrist for the next 25 yrs. And I still have it.

Thats a very good reason to buy a Rolex. 

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

I have zero problem with Rolex as a watch. The reason most people (that I have run into) want to have one is what keeps me from wanting one. 

If you have only heard of a single luxury watch - it is Rolex. If you need a watch to show that you have arrived but otherwise know nothing about watches - you want a Rolex. If you want to wear a watch that non-watch people will be impressed by (due to name recognition) - it is a Rolex.

So in a sense, I'm still where Ariel was at age 20, they are too ordinary and too much the standard issue watch for recently attained wealth. I understand why they appear to not innovate (why mess with a good thing that works exceedingly well from a sales/marketing standpoint), but I would rather see something more daring for that kind of money.

While I really do appreciate the iconic nature of some of their models and am amazed at their ability to produce such a quantity of quality watches annually, I still think they are the watch for non-watch people. Which is a crying shame as the watches are really great for what they are. Their marketing is so successful that it runs the risk of driving away serious watch buyers - until you stop and toss out what you think about the brand and re-focus on the watches themselves.

I really see the Swiss watch industry as Rolex and everyone else. Two completely different animals - yet the same species.


RobertLeeGarces
RobertLeeGarces

ahhhh great article! i felt like i was with the boys, chatting up about a few good time pieces. keep them coming ariel!

Robert Garces

robertleegarces@gmail.com

Trackbacks

  1. […] it more than black, but is it worth the price? Thanks :) have you looked at the green one?? Guide To Buying Your First Rolex Part 1:When To Buy | aBlogtoWatch Current: 116610LN; 116660 Flipped: too many to list…last count it was upwards of 110 […]