This is a two-part guide on buying your first Rolex watch. Our 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 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. Their watches are all design monoliths. Due to the brand’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 they 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.
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 this 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 the brand 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 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 one 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.
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 of their 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, and 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, their watches are the last timepiece some people will buy, and for others they are just a start. They tend 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… »