10 Things To Know About How Rolex Makes Watches

10 Things To Know About How Rolex Makes Watches

10 Things To Know About How Rolex Makes Watches Inside the Manufacture

Rolex really isn't like any other watch brand. In fact, the privately held, independently run entity isn't like most other companies. I can say this now with a lot more clarity than most people because I was there. Rolex rarely allows anyone into its hallowed halls, but I was invited to visit their four manufacture locations in Switzerland and experience first-hand how Rolex makes their famous watches.

Rolex is a universe of its own: respected; admired; valued; and known across the globe. Sometimes I sit back and think about all that Rolex is and does and find it hard to believe that at the end of the day, they just make watches. Rolex does just make watches and their timepieces have taken on a role beyond that of mere timekeeper. Having said that, the reason a "Rolex is a Rolex" is because they are good watches and tell pretty good time. It's taken me over a decade to fully appreciate the brand, and it will probably take longer before I learn everything I'd like to know about them.

The purpose of this article isn't to give you a totally inside look at Rolex. That isn't possible because as of now there is a strict "no photography" policy at Rolex. There is a very real mystique behind the manufacture because they are relatively closed and their operations aren't public. The brand takes the concept of Swiss discreetness to a new level, and in a lot of ways that is good for them. So since we can't show you what we saw, I'd like to share with you some interesting facts that every Rolex and watch lover should know.

1. Rolex Uses An Expensive And Difficult-To-Machine Steel Because It Looks Better

Many watch lovers are familiar with the fact that Rolex uses a type of steel that no one else uses. Stainless steel is not all the same. Steel comes in various types and grades... and most steel watches are made from a type of stainless steel called 316L. Today, all the steel in Rolex watches is made from 904L steel, and as far as we know, pretty much no one else does. Why?

Rolex used to use the same steel as everyone else, but in around 2003 they moved their entire steel production to 904L steel. In 1988 they released their first 904L steel watch with a few versions of the Sea-Dweller. 904L steel is more rust and corrosion resistant, and is somewhat harder than other steels. Most important to Rolex, is that 904L steel, when worked properly, is able to take (and hold) polishes incredibly well. If you've ever noticed that steel on a Rolex watch looks different than other watches, it is because of 904L steel, and how Rolex has learned to work with it.

A natural question is why doesn't everyone else in the watch industry use 904L steel? A good guess is because it is more expensive and much more complicated to machine. Rolex had to replace most of their steel working machines and tools to deal with 904L steel. It made sense for them because of the amount of watches they produce, and because they make all their parts in-house. Most other brands get their cases made from outside suppliers. So even though 904L steel is better than 316L steel for watches, it is more expensive, requires special tools and skills, and is overall more difficult to work with. This has prevented other brands (so far) from taking advantage of it, and is something special that Rolex has. The benefit is obvious once you handle any steel Rolex watch.

10 Things To Know About How Rolex Makes Watches Inside the Manufacture

2. Rolex Has Its Own Science Lab

Given everything Rolex has done over the years it shouldn't come as a surprise that they have an internal Research & Development department. However, Rolex takes it well beyond that. Rolex has not one, but several different types of extremely well-equipped professional science labs at their various facilities. The purpose of these labs isn't just to research new watches and things that may go into watches, but also to research more effective and efficient manufacturing techniques. One way of looking at Rolex is that they are an extremely competent and almost obsessively organized manufacturing company - that just happens to make timepieces.

Rolex labs are as diverse as they are amazing. Perhaps the most visually interesting is the chemistry lab. Full of beakers and tubes that carry liquids and gases, the Rolex chemistry lab is full of highly trained scientists. What is it mostly used for? Well one thing that Rolex stated is that the lab is used for developing and researching oils and lubricants that they use in machines during the manufacturing process.

Rolex has a room with multiple electron microscopes and some gas spectrometers. They are able to take an extremely close look at metals and other materials to investigate the effects of machining and manufacturing techniques. These large areas are extremely impressive and are used seriously on a regular basis to remedy or prevent possible problems.

Of course Rolex also uses its science labs on the watches themselves. An interesting room is the stress test room. Here watch movements, bracelets, and cases undergo simulated wear and abuse on custom-made machines and robots. Let's just say that it would not be unreasonable to assume your typical Rolex is designed to last a lifetime (or two).

10 Things To Know About How Rolex Makes Watches Inside the Manufacture

3. Rolex Movements Are All Hand-Assembled And Tested

One of biggest misconceptions about Rolex is that machines build their watches. The rumor is so pervasive that even people at aBlogtoWatch believed it to be mostly true. This is because traditionally Rolex didn't communicate much on this topic. Well the truth is that Rolex watches are given all the hands-on human attention that you'd like to expect from a fine Swiss made watch.

Rolex uses machines in the process for sure. In fact, Rolex easily has the most sophisticated watch making machinery in the world. The robots and other automated tasks are really used for tasks that humans aren't as good at. These include sorting, filing, cataloging, and very delicate procedures that involve the type of care you want a machine to handle. Most of these machines are still human-operated though. And everything from Rolex movements to bracelets are assembled by hand. A machine however helps with doing things such as applying the right pressure when attaching pins, aligning parts, and pressing down hands. Having said that, all Rolex watch hands are still set by hand via a trained technician.

It would be an understatement to suggest that Rolex is obsessive about quality control. A predominant theme in the manufacture is that things are checked, re-checked, and then checked again. It feels as though their goal is to ensure that if a Rolex watch fails, it does so before it leaves the factory. Large teams of watchmakers and assembly people work on every single movement that Rolex produces. This is before and after their movements are sent to COSC for chronometer certification. And on top of that, Rolex re-tests their movements for accuracy after they are cased for several days while simulating wear before they are sent out to retailers.

10 Things To Know About How Rolex Makes Watches Inside the Manufacture

4. An In-House Foundry Makes All The Gold For Rolex Watches

Rolex makes their own gold. While they have a small handful of suppliers that send them steel (Rolex still works the steel in-house to make all the parts), all the gold and platinum is made in-house. 24k gold comes into Rolex and it is turned into 18k yellow, white, or Rolex's Everose gold (their non-fading version of 18k rose gold).

Large kilns under hot flames are used to melt and mix the metals which are then turned into cases and bracelets. Because Rolex controls the production and machining of their gold, they are able to strictly ensure not only quality, but the best looking parts. To our knowledge Rolex is the only watch manufacture that makes their own gold or even has a real foundry in-house.

10 Things To Know About How Rolex Makes Watches Inside the Manufacture

5. Technology Is A Watchmaker's Best Friend

The philosophy at Rolex seems to be very pragmatic, if a human does it better, then let a human do it, if a machine does it better, then let a machine do it. In fact the reason more watchmakers don't use machines is two-fold. First of all machines are huge investments and in many instances keeping people around to do it is less expensive. Second, they don't have the production demands that Rolex does. In fact, Rolex is fortunate to have the ability to equip its facilities with robotic help where needed.

The epicenter of Rolex's automation prowess is the master supply room. Massive columns of parts are attended to by robotic servants that store and retrieve trays with parts or complete watches. A watchmaker needing parts must simply place an order with the system, and it is delivered on a series of conveyer systems to them in about 6-8 minutes.

Robotic arms populate the Rolex manufacture locations when it mostly comes to repetitive or highly detailed tasks that require consistency. Many Rolex parts are given an initial machine polish by a robot, but amazingly they are hand-finishing and polished as well. The fact is that while modern technology is a huge part of the "Rolex manufacturing machine," robotic equipment is there to assist what is a very real, human watch making operation... more »

  • Yeah, I’ve also felt that there is the watch industry and then there is Rolex. That they have machines do what they do best and humans do what they do best makes incredible sense. While  I may feel that their decades of (product)  innovation ended in the 70s, their manufacturing prowess is quite impressive and ongoing.

  • maggidan

    This is the reason for why Rolex is my favourite brand. I knew many of these things before as I am lucky enough to work for a Rolex AD.

  • Ulysses31

    Looks like Ariel stepped straight out of the Church of Rolex complete with a bemused Stepford-smile.  “Sponsored post” should be written at the top of this.  The article is peppered with hyperbole and some frankly dubious claims.
    904L steel was chosen because it looks better?  Really?  Corrosion resistance would make much more sense as the primary reason.  Your retinas must be fancier than mine because I don’t possess an organic tunnelling microscope with which to tell how much more atomically smooth their watches are than others.  A very subjective opinion to say the least.  There are newer alloys of steel that have both superior characteristics than 904L while being cheaper to produce – why don’t they switch to those?  Oh right, the huge amounts of cash they spent over the years marketing 904L.  It’s not even as hard as 316L.  I’d rather choose the superior polish of an Ananta.  
    Theirs are easily the most advanced manufacturing facilities in the world… again, really?  You have seen all the other major manufacturers’ facilities?  That’s a serious question, because if you haven’t you can’t make that claim.  I realise you’re a huge Rolex fan, and it might sometimes be hard to resist the glamour, but this article doesn’t sound objective; more like a sycophantic commercial.
    Rolex needs an innovative kick up the butt, and kowtowing to them at every opportunity isn’t going to deliver that.  They are too large, too wealthy and too decadent to care any more.  Companies that get like that stumble around like a drunk, wondering what to do with themselves.  There is no vision, no great desire to strive towards better things.  This is not the once great company of decades ago, it is something else now.  The world doesn’t stand still, but they have.  Most of all, it is this stagnation and what it represents that I don’t like.  It doesn’t matter how many research labs you have, if your competition continuously come up with more innovations on a regular basis than you do, then there’s something wrong with how you operate, unless all you care about is the cold hard cash in which case bravo Rolex.  When i’m old, sitting in a home and starting to smell a bit, then I might consider a Rolex purchase as we’d have so much more in common by then.

  • toptier

    Wow. What a great read. As an “uneducated” boy on watches before, I really looked down on Rolex as just a luxury watch brand that just rides on its heritage and maintains its popularity only through its name. Now this article all the more makes me want to own one.

  • trj66

    Ulysses31 I’ve been looking forward to read your comment, as I was sure it would be spot on… and it was.
    I respect the brand for producing so many high-quality items per year, but then again I have a big problem with the hideous amount of money the firm continues to use on advertising every year. And reading tests of the various models on the Internet and in magazines I often encounter words of beautiful craftmanship – but also of not very often “superlative” timekeeping.

  • LapYoda

    Very interesting article, and it really clears up the misconception that all their watches are built by robots.  I have a lot of respect for Rolex, and their vertical integration is amazing for what, as Ariel has pointed out, is *just* a watch company.  Despite all their innovations in production and their relentless improvement process for their existing watch lines, they still appear to be resting on their laurels for new watch designs.  Even the Sky-Dweller, which has an innovative movement, still looks like a Datejust.  A brand can still have a design theme without making their products all look the same but in different sizes, and I think that’s what makes it hard to get on board the Rolex bandwagon (at least for those of us who aren’t all about social peacocking).
    Ariel, did you have any time with designers or learn about new case designs?

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  • cermakhonzik

    Ulysses31 This came out of someone called “jealous not to have one”… Great article Ariel, very interesting indeed. Carry on posting some more interesting info from the rolex factory.

  • OmarB

    Very informative, thanks Ariel.  Can you tell us whether all the above is also true for Tudor, except of course for the movement?  I wonder whether Tudors are really made “alongside” Rolexes in the very same factories.

  • W.r.t. Innovation, I think they are more like Apple and BMW than say Google and Acura. What I mean is that, as Ariel pointed out, they are about constant refinement and evolution rather than revolution. That might put off some but it’s a strategy that works well when you have built a dedicated group of followers and a strong reputation. It’s best to protect the brand than taking risks with wildly interesting but risky new products.
    Hence why everything goes through such meticulous testing and attention. One thing that could help would be to have a far fledge R&D department to test out “NewRolex”, if you may, and allow for some experimentation. I have a feeling they likely do just that but mere mortals (like you and I) are not aware nor allowed to see or try then.
    All that said, as a proud owner of multiple Rolexes, I have to say that I can attest, first hand, to the quality, the feel, and passion that comes with owning and wearing their products. Sure not all of their designs sing to my heart, but the ones that do, do so with a melody that I keep humming when I am not wearing their watches at the time.
    Call me me a fan or whatever, guilty as charged; and I still have at least two more models way up my grail list, and this is someone with more Rolexes than I have limbs to attach them at once.

  • Ulysses31

    cermakhonzik Ulysses31 Why is it always that foolish people assume someone criticises something because they are “jealous”?  You see the same non-argument made time and again.  It’s quite predictable by now.  
    Did it never cross your mind that I (and many others, if the comments i’ve read on this blog and at Watchuseek over the years are anything to go by) may simply not like Rolex products and the brand for the reasons I stated?  I don’t like companies that foster cult-like followings by a clever manipulation of their image that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.  Perhaps that’s partially to do with the “underdog” mentality where people have a tendency to support lesser-known brands.  In my case I feel that the lesser-known brands offer more.  Rolex make good watches and have a slick operation, but it’s become so slick and routine that it all feels a bit beige.
    I pointed out that 904L is nothing special apart from corrosion resistance.  904L is actually softer and not as strong as 316L.  The finish looks different because 904L is slightly “whiter” in colour due to the addition of certain metals.  That might make it look subjectively brighter (and classier too because it can look a bit like white gold to some people) and lead one to the assumption that the overall finish and polish is somehow peerless.  Research other brands, learn how they do it, and you might be surprised.  Clever marketing creates myths and over the years people believe them.  
    Rolex is an off-the-shelf luxury brand.  It’s the first name any ordinary person thinks of when they are asked to name a luxury watch.  The average Joe isn’t interested in learning about the myriad other brands that could provide them with a superior product.  Someone with a little more interest might actually want to look deeper and see what other treasures are out there, but for me Rolex has become a stereotype.  Unless they change direction I don’t think i’d ever want to own one.  Their Tudor brand is everything they are not; refreshing looks combined with quality manufacturing and a willingness to try new things.
    There is no perfect watch, but I feel that Rolex are frozen in aspic.  It seems to me as though they think they found the perfect design years ago.  The truth is it is the journey towards that goal of perfection that tends to spit out all kinds of innovative new technologies and designs, and it’s something i’m glad to observe in other companies.

  • TimelyOne

    WOW a positive Rolex review, how rare! Some folks here really despise these timepieces. They all know that they are made in Asia from old Cadillac trim and dental fillings. One article surmised that they are only worn by retired car salesmen that drive older Cadillacs. I am sure that their Tags and Panerais are much better values….they are so much more innovative.

  • Ulysses31

    Maximilien You chose the perfect analogy.  Apple is a bit like that.  I can understand from a business perspective why they continue with a successful formula, and maybe I am a victim of equally cunning marketing that has taught me the Swiss watch industry is all about “passion” and such, but I don’t really feel it from this brand.  I may have a negative view of them for my own philosophical reasons but would never stop anyone from buying one.  I may, however, ask them first to at least consider other makes as well, as i’m afraid to say a lot of new Rolex owners make their purchase based on the kudos of owning one rather than the technical merits.

  • Ulysses31

    trj66 Ulysses31 I’m pretty sure they can achieve excellent accuracy, like a lot of other watches, if properly regulated, but I don’t know how they perform out of the box.  Most of the criticisms i’ve seen seem to centre around workmanship (which i’m sure no one else will believe but that’s just how it is).  I was wondering while reading about their elaborate “oil research” department why they don’t just switch to using silicon-based parts that need no lubricant.  Wouldn’t that make the time-keeping more accurate and less susceptible to magnetic fields?  Rolex is an odd contradiction of having cutting-edge facilities while not really trying very hard to be the creators of a “superlative” chronometer.  I guess it’s cheaper just to print it on the dial and hope people will believe it.

  • cedargrove

    Regarding the suggestion they switch to silicon, Rolex jointly created the silicon hairspring however it didn’t suit their needs, so they went on to create and use parachrom instead.

  • Ulysses31

    cedargrove I was thinking more about its use in other sliding parts.  I think Omega has a working silicon balance/hairspring but i’d be interested to know why Rolex didn’t think it was suitable for their needs.

  • DG Cayse

    Each of those innovative assembly robots (machines?) was designed, tested and built by Rolex. Also, each one is maintained and operated by human Rolex employees.
    Rolex uses a particular base material for each of its parts for very simple reasons – suitability and manufacturing application. As mentioned in the very well-done article;each part, other than the crystals and some hands, are made completely in house. What a tremendous  endeavour. I sensed a bit of…’bait’…in the comment regarding the use of 904L because  of “feel.” A simple check of the MDS (Material Data Sheet) for 904L shows it was created for specific applications,i.e. corrosion and oxidation resistance in a wide variety of uses. By the way, there are several iterations of 904L. An important factor is the machining capabilities and QC follow through demonstrated by Rolex in its watch manufacturing. Simply excellent.
    All of these items combined make a Rolex worthy of its reputation. It delivers what its buyers desire on a great many levels.
    Yes, I am a Rolex “fan.” Yes, I have several. Oddly enough, I was gifted my first one by a client, a DJ two-tone, and did not like it; attracted too much attention. I wound up giving it away. A few years later I bought my first one. The reason I purchased it – because the bracelet was well-made. I still have that Sub and the bracelet is still secure. 
    I find the anti-Rolex crowd humorous. Yes, there are a lot of other well-made watches using excellent technologies in the manufacturing process – a few German marques come to mind. And yes, there are other makers who push the design envelope to extremes (silly?). But there is a good solid reason that Rolex has the reputation for performance that it has – it has earned it and continues to do so.

  • JRGougeon

    I really enjoyed this article. When I first got into watches I stayed away from Rolex as they are the brand that non-WIS knew about and wanted; I wanted to be different and explore lesser known brands. Over the years though I have gravitated to Rolex because of the consistent watch design and quality. Sure they are conservative but they designed some amazing watches many years ago and in my opinion don’t need to change them.

  • cermakhonzik

    Ulysses31 cermakhonzik  However the fact that you dislike the company doesn’t mean you have to insult Ariel and say that he got paid for what he is writing… You are just being arrogant. I am not a great big fan of rolex either because I know that there are lots of other better companies out there that produce watches, however I just accept the reality and give them the credit for quality because they do produce some high quality timepieces wether you like it or not.

  • cedargrove

    Silicon could not be formed into a Breguet overcoil which Rolex uses in most of their movements. Their parachrom alternative is also resistant to magnetism and temperature and also highly shock resistant, but can easily be formed into an overcoil.

  • Ulysses31

    cermakhonzik Ulysses31 I didn’t say he got paid for it.  What I meant was that the tone of the article was just like that of a sponsored post.  I don’t immediately check who authors articles but a few paragraphs in I had to make sure it wasn’t one, because that’s how it was written.  An article that only reported the facts would be a dull read of course but as a long time reader of the blog, when he’s chronically overly effusive about one brand in particular it tends to stands out.

  • ocabj

    I love how polarizing this article has become. I think you wrote a solid piece and I enjoyed listening to the most recent episode of the Hourtime podcast which was also regarding the Rolex visit.
    I used to have an indifferent view of Rolex myself until the past couple months or so when I fell in love with the GMT-Master II Day-Night (which I ended up getting). I’m not a Rolex ‘fan’ now, but I do have a better appreciation of the brand, which is my goal as a watch enthusiast.
    The brand still on my list to learn to appreciate is Panerai. I still can’t get into their watches at all. But I’m sure in the next several years, I’ll eventually find a Panerai timepiece that speaks to me and will prompt me to purchase it.

  • JRGougeon

    Ulysses31 Do you have a link to information on the comparative hardness of 904L and 316L steel? I’d be interested to read it.

  • Ulysses31

    JRGougeon Ulysses31 Initially I found a thread discussing it on WatchuSeek, which is here:
    Later I found the next link through Google and it basically confirmed what was said in the thread, though I think there is probably some degree of variation.  Here’s the link, but there are others to be found.
    Then there are the duplex steels, some grades of which are superior in terms of corrosion resistance and strength.  904L actually is in that family but I guess it is a compromise between ease of machining and useful properties.  It’s an effective differentiator in the mind of the consumer.  Most manufacturers probably don’t use 904L not because it is overly hard to machine, but more likely because it offers very little advantage.  The plethora of dive watch manufacturers that don’t use it is telling, and i’m almost certain some of them could easily afford the necessary retooling if they wished to.

  • vmarks

    “One way of looking at Rolex is that they are an extremely competent and almost obsessively organized manufacturing company – that just happens to make timepieces.”

    This is a powerful statement. There’s almost an unspoken ‘want to buy one?’ that follows it in my head, one that says, “We make the best manufactured things on Earth, we’re fanatical about attention to detail and quality. Oh, and we make wristwatches. Wouldn’t you like to have one?”

    Not that I own one, I don’t. This same kind of statement would be just as powerful from TAG with their new calibre. But Rolex clearly know why they exist and aren’t afraid to invest in anything they perceive as quality. This shows in the application of robotization and in the research department where they have patent applications on better shock resistant movement mountings, down to the application on keeping the Rolex crown pointed up when you screw down the crown after setting the watch.

    It wasn’t always this way.

    Prior to 2000, Beyeler, Singer, Lemrich, ZJ, Metelem and Stern all did work for Rolex as outside suppliers. Prior to this, Rolex did not make dials in house. It used to happen that dial manufacturers would create speculative dials and shop them to the watchmakers, bringing around albums (a catalogue) of dials with new designs for the coming year. It wasn’t unusual for dial makers bring this round, let the buyers at Rolex peruse them and purchase an exclusive on a particular design.
    In 2008 Jean-Pierre Jacquet was sentenced to four years in prison for his company’s counterfeiting Rolex Daytona watches using some legitimate Rolex parts resulting in a counterfeit branded product that was assembled in Switzerland using real parts. The counterfeiting crime was discovered around 2002, but it’s possible it could have been going on earlier. Nicholas Hayek likened it to the Cardinals robbing the Vatican bank.

    It looks from my reading as if Rolex had already begun moves to prevent this kind of thing from happening, but this revelation probably accelerated their acquisitions.
    Rolex severed its relationship with Singer and Stern, and bought Beyeler, bringing their operations in house. Rolex went on a buying spree, acquiring:
    Beyeler – dials (cases and bracelets as well) – acquired 2000
    Bonchini – crowns – acquired 2003
    Gay Freres SA – bracelets – acquired 1998
    I don’t remember who they bought for making hands, or that they necessarily needed to- once they have the dials in house it’s easy enough to use many of the same skills to make hand sets.

  • vmarks

    Ulysses31 Investing in exorbitantly expensive testing equipment co-developed with Comex (who we last publicly saw as a Rolex-Comex relationship in the 70s with some dive watches) is too decadent to care? 
    I’d say that there’s a very conservative approach to outward design revisions, with Milgauss or the flowered dial Datejust representing the biggest visual move away from a traditional Rolex. But Yachtmaster II and Skydweller are engineering leaps away from the conventional Rolex, and Ariel’s trip shows the investment in manufacturing processes back up these engineering innovations.

  • vmarks

    Ulysses31 trj66 It’s a good question why Rolex hasn’t moved to silicon springs and parts. I don’t know the answer, but I do wonder what are the failure rates?
    Rolex has moved to their parachrom and paramagnetic branding around springs and anti-magnetic movements, and haven’t done so across their entire line. Parachrom is Zirconium and Niobium alloy fused at 2400 degrees C. The research that was required to make a hairspring like this is nothing to sneeze at- surely its an innovation. 
    I get it. Girard-Perregaux uses silicon. Patek Phillipe uses silicon. Ulysse Nardin uses silicon. Jaeger LeCoultre has a movement which requires no lubrication at all. 
    But Rolex gets some of the credit here, too – The Spiromax balance spring made of Silinvar that Patek uses? this patented silicon-based material is the result of research financed in partnership with the Swatch Group and Rolex.

  • Ulysses31

    vmarks Ulysses31 It depends on how much of a return on the investment you get, in terms of value not just to the company but to the consumer.  If you spend millions of dollars to generate a relatively minimal improvement, it could be debated if that were a wise investment.  Let’s say you invest in space-age manufacturing and materials research to shave a third of a millimetre from the thickness of say a cellphone.  Would you perceive that in hand?  Probably not, and yet this is what actually happens and that trivial improvement is marketed to us as a revelation.  People are sufficiently impressed and it sells.  I question the validity of investment purely for the sake of differentiation without clearly defined benefits to the user.  I can see a counter argument too; that some manufacturers perform technical gymnastics for the sake of their prowess (thinnest, lightest, weird material use etc) just to show how masterful they are, but I think that is a whole other topic of discussion.

    The Skydweller was indeed quite a departure from the “norm” and as I recall wasn’t particularly well received, at least not on here.  As odd as it looks, I see it as a glimmer of hope for this brand.  I’d appreciate if they tried doing that more often instead of sticking with what seems “safe”.

  • Ulysses31

    vmarks Ulysses31 trj66 I looked it up earlier.  It’s accurately made to a few thousandths of a millimetre.  It’s a crucial part of the watch and i’m happy to give them credit for that.  Makes me wonder though.  With different manufacturers collaborating on research like this, does that mean it is economically unfeasible to attempt the research alone?  Research is inherently risky if it turns out not to bear fruit, unless you have enough in the bank to take the hit.

  • k7

    Ulysses31  A quick search of the internet reveals that Rolex has applied for at least 40 patents since 2000 and the Swatch group has around 200 applications based on a search of the same site.   There are plenty of methods to compare the two but on a headcount basis, Swatch has 10 times the number of employees as Swatch and many of their patents are based on factors that’s clearly outside of Rolex’s domain ie. electronic watches, displays, menus, etc.  I’d say that Rolex is anything but “frozen in aspic”.

  • Ulysses31

    k7 Ulysses31 Applying for as many patents as you can is insurance against your competition.  It sounds like a cut-throat tactic but many technology-driven companies do this.  Generally the number of patents that actually make it in to real-world products is very small.

  • jjnov

    Great article!! I wasn’t a big fan of Rolex but this info makes me look at them in a different light!

  • Will_F

    Great article. Thanks for doing it.

  • Will_F

    Personally I think all dive watch companies should move away from 316L. Titanium, ceramics, Chronidur30, 904L and the duplex stainless steels all have longer life not just in diving, but in hot, humid climates. I’ve seen many 20 & 30 year old watches with badly pitted seal surfaces and I prefer that my expensive watches are up for a lifetime of wear.

  • k7

    Ulysses31 Maximilien You stated that you have a negative view of them based on your own philosophical reasons and previously you stated that you don’t know how accurate they are out of the box yet you’re quick to criticize others for purchasing them based on the brand itself.  I’d suggest that those making the purchase are on firmer grounds that you – brands earn their reputation based on tangibles other than marketing since all the marketing in the world won’t make up for a bad product.  Bling, flash and fashion will only get you so far and a brand can’t survive on those alone.

  • Ulysses31

    k7 Ulysses31 Maximilien I never actually said it was a bad product – quite the opposite actually.  My main point was that I felt the company was staid and stuck in its ways, and I stand by that, even if it is an unpopular opinion.  
    I don’t specifically know how accurate a lot of different watches are.  Neither do you.  No one does, not off the top of their heads.  If I were to pick a random watch i’d gladly bet you didn’t know how accurate it was.  It doesn’t help that the accuracy varies greatly with position and use.  Anyway I’ll Google it using the term “rolex accuracy” in case you think i’d be so low as to manipulate the results… and the top-most result is:

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  • Ulysses31 cermakhonzik In that case don’t listen to the latest HourTime podcast U-31.

  • Ulysses31

    MarkCarson Ulysses31 cermakhonzik I’m way ahead of you there.  There’ll be another one in a few weeks :).  BTW, whatever happened to Cholex?

  • Fraser Petrick

    Rolex mystique.
    Inverse watch snobs – we are legion in number – can’t help but notice that on the Las Vegas Strip, every corner store short of Walgreens sells Rolex. To own a Rolex should require a Lord of the Rings quest, not a maxed out line of credit.
    I regret to suspect that a good percentage of Rolex purchasers just want to impress the guys back at the farm. True watch lovers have only one person to impress: themselves.
    The Rolex mystique is evidenced by the number of responders to this particular ablogtowatch article.
    P.S. I want a solid gold Rolex!  Badly!  I’d cheer for the Montreal Canadiens if it got me a free Rolex. Go Leafs, Go!

  • Shawnnny

    I do appreciate what Rolex is and what they have done. I just don’t personally care for their watches. I wish they made some different designs. I wish they made a line of pilot watches.

  • Shawnnny

    Pilot watches with a vintage flair, that is.

  • JRGougeon

    Ulysses31 Thanks for the links.

  • Shawnnny

    A little info on 904L. It’s very resistant to chloride, which can cause corrosion and pitting. It also is easy to polish and brushed finishes resist scratches well.

  • Shawnnny I don’t have an problem with nickel reacting to my skin, but since 904 has some nickel content (and 316 does not), I wonder if anyone ever has reaction issues to a 904 steel Rolex case or bracelet. I can’t recall hearing about it, but perhaps there are some cases of it.
    Knowing Rolex, I’d guess they went with 904 after having some customer complaints regarding corrosion (perhaps by failing to wash their Submariner in fresh water after a dive). Seems like Rolex hates returns or negative perceptions. So in true Rolex fashion, I’m guessing they turned a technical decision into a marketing ploy (above and beyond the limited scope that requires it).

  • Shawnnny Maybe they would tell pilots to just buy a Daytona (which has a tachymeter scale) and be done with it. But I know what you mean by a  Pilots Watch, and they don’t have it.

  • DG Cayse You sure Rolex makes their own robots? Or just programs them themselves (not that that is trivial).

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  • MID

    I respect Rolex watches, even if I don’t love them.  They do leave me kind of cold.  And, one has to admire Rolex for being the well-run company it is.  The make fine watches, but they are not the only fine watches.  And, if someone is to have one good watch, he really can’t go wrong with a Rolex.  (As to Rolex not making a “pilot’s” watch, as someone commented, remember, the GMT Master was originally made for pilots.)

  • MID

    Shawnnny Remember, the GMT Master was originally made for pilots.  It probably has as much of an authentic claim to be a pilot’s watch as many others.

  • Perdendosi

    Seems like an awful lot o’ love for good ol’ Rolex.  Not particularly “fair and balanced,” but I guess it doesn’t have to be.
    I wonder, though, how this compares to the other masters of haute horologie — PP, ALS, VC… certainly much of the same would be true, right, except at a much smaller scale?

  • KwekJooChuan

    I bought a brand new Rolex submariner from a local AD about 3 years ago.  When I got home an upon closer inspection, I saw a fine hair underneath the sapphire crystal.  Whilst I have no issue sending back to RSC and they removed it on the spot for me, I have reservation about the statement that they check, re-check and check again before the watch leaves their factory.  
    The fact that the hair (although fine) is visible by naked eye and is on the dial of the watch tells me that their inspection process may not be as good as it looked to be.  Maybe assembling 1,000,000 pieces by hand a year is straining to their resources…

  • DG Cayse

    MarkCarson DG Cayse Good Q. I confess it is a logical assumption on my part. They may well buy the basic robotic units from an outside source and then add the required components for their intended tasks. It is, I do think, safe to say that all maintenance and programing is strictly in-house. 
    As to building their own robotic tools; in some instances I would venture that they do. They certainly posses the technology and access to materials for this.  Shot-term costs may be high, however, Rolex does demonstrate time and again that they will pursue the best course for Rolex with immediate costs not being a primary factor.
    Perhaps Mr. Adams can speak to this point. Although, I think this might be considered proprietary info.

  • D S Vilhena

    Rolex deserves every single penny they charge for their watches. It’s great quality, reliable and consistent.
    My issue with Rolex is that I’m allegirc to their steel. i’m even allergic to 316L. I can’t have steel as an everyday watch, so I’d need to buy an white-gold one. Eventually I will. 
    Meanwhile I look for watches with titanium bracelets.

  • Perdendosi We have absolutely no pro-Rolex agenda. We do however have a pro “good watch” and “truth in advertising” agenda so we are simply expressing fact. People liked Rolex way before we ever discussed them. 
    It is the same at those other high-end brands? Not exactly. Each is a bit different and none have the volume of production that Rolex has. A. Lange & Sohne only makes between 5,000 – 8,000 watches a year… Rolex more like 800,000. So the scales are totally different. And assuring quality at that scale is an entirely different process that Rolex needed to develop itself.

  • Fraser Petrick Food for thought. Watch guys who get a Rolex aren’t lowering their standards because Rolex watches are good, despite being popular and perhaps the “obvious” choice. Some clueless guy getting one is simply doing so because it makes him feel more like us. Not the reverse.

  • vmarks Great points, and all true. I suspect Rolex will bring hand making in-house rather soon as well.

  • MarkCarson DG Cayse There are machines made to their specifications, they have processes they developed, and there is a lot of tech they that developed themselves – which they mostly get on custom order from other companies. For example, they have a lot of their own tools (which are neatly branded with the crown logo), that no one else can get.

  • OmarB Good question. I can’t say for sure, although I did some some Tudor parts being made new to Rolex parts. A good example is in their ceramics making department we saw Tudor Fastrider Black Shield ceramic watch cases being made new to ceramic bezel inserts for Submariner and GMT Master II watches.

  • toptier I admit that it would have been easy for a lot of people to come to this conclusion. Rolex wasn’t exactly shouting the contrary. But then again they don’t shout very much at all. The message to people such as me was “we will show you and you can tell people what we do here.”

  • Ulysses31 That is a fair reaction but there is nothing deceptive behind this. Rolex themselves understands that they need to be a bit more experimental in design, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of innovation in a lot of the behind the scenes stuff. I was impressed by what I saw, and wanted to give people a sense of what Rolex was all about. 
    Your main objection seems to be the positive points of 904L steel, which a lot of people seem to misunderstand. I looked into it heavily and there simply isn’t that much clear info online about things like how to machine it, the type of polish it can hold, etc… Rolex really gets nothing about of using it just to be gimmicky. In fact, they didn’t even really discuss the steel with us. It was more me probing and asking a lot of questions about the steel. They were more focused on showing us where they make gold. So while it may sound like Rolex fed me info about the benefits of their steel, it wasn’t like that. I asked a range of people there about it, not just one person. 
    After all that is said it is easy to come away being impressed with their factories but still not find an emotional interest in their watches. That is fine. I am not the world’s biggest Rolex fan, and it doesn’t bother me when people say they don’t like them. I just wanted to share the facts as I saw them. If you like Rolex this might make you like them more. If you dislike Rolex, at least you can evaluate your reasons. If you find no appeal in their designs, nothing I saw will change that (nor is it my intent to).

  • cermakhonzik Ulysses31 Thanks. Incidentally, I have been to most of the popular watch makers out there and it wasn’t a stretch to say that Rolex is the most impressive given their scale.

  • trj66 Ulysses31 Do you actually see them measuring timing a lot? I rarely see that unless a watch is really off.

  • Fraser Petrick

    aBlogtoWatch Fraser Petrick “…more like us.” ?   Us?    You mean, like, suave, sophisticated, erudite, above-the-crowd, knowing which fork to use for Dover Sole, and even damn good looking? Or like crows who love shiny things?

  • Ulysses31

    aBlogtoWatch Ulysses31 That’s fair.  I don’t have a beef with the steel.  I chose that as an example of several properties of their watches that Rolex likes to over-exaggerate in terms of significance.  It’s of value for them to do that as it helps create an impression, albeit one that doesn’t stand up to heavy scrutiny, of intangible superiority over other makers.  In Apple terms, it is what has generally become known as the “reality distortion field”.  Perhaps that is my real issue – that the intangible, the unquantifiable has such mind-share and such sway with the buying public beyond merely the sum of the parts.  They make solid, good quality watches but without a sense of that extra magic, to me that’s no different to what a lot of other manufacturers in Switzerland are capable of.  Maybe a serious collector would want one for the sake of completeness.

  • Kris C

    Cool stuff – all that, and they make such boring watches. Such a shame.

  • williamslerner

    I must first disclose that I am a writer at aBlogtoWatch.
    Having bought my first Daytona in 1993, a beauty in 18k, with a white dial. I was thrilled. It was virtually perfect. The rate results were spot on, and the movement (a Zenith), nor case never gave me an issue. Finally, when it did need service, I took it Rolex’s 5th Avenue Corporate headquarters. I went back four weeks later, and picked up my watch. That night, I noticed a small indentation where the top point of the crown on the clasp hit the bracelet. How could this be? I went back to Rolex. They denied doing it, and I learned that the links were actually hollow. I was then told they would repair it. They did, and the gold they used did not match. I was disgusted, and sold the watch.
    I then thought it was time to give them a second chance. I bought a stainless steel Daytona with a white dial that contained the in-house 4130 movement. Well, guess what? It is a lemon. Every four years, it goes back to their corporate offices, and it comes back running too fast, or too slow. I mean two to two and a half minutes too fast a week. It is unacceptable, and shameful since it goes to Rolex’s own service center. I have complained to deaf ears. So, Rolex, if you are reading this, you should exchange my watch for one that actually works, and one that you can fix. I would suggest you use my in-house Daytona as a learning tool. Ariel, I know you were impressed, but I will never buy another Rolex, nor recommend one to any one. I think they have some sort of cult following that is not justified, no matter how fabulous their facility is. They fail when it comes to consumer relations. They even now have a policy that they won’t service a Rolex that is over 20 years old. Seriously? Vacheron will service any watch ever made, and make the part if necessary. I do not understand the allure.

  • Ryan B

    I don’t have a problem with Rolex, it’s their fan club that I can’t tolerate.

  • Superstition

    vmarks Man, my crown points down when I screw it down. :

  • vmarks

    Superstition vmarks It does. But they have a patent application on a crown that will always point up when you screw it down. They haven’t made a watch with this implemented yet.

  • vmarks

    Superstition vmarks http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20130114383 is the link to the patent application that Rolex filed in May. They haven’t made a watch with this (yet) but it would keep the crown pointing up.

    The point of the application is to be able to have the crown pointing up without having to do intense quality work involved in doing this without the invention – it would mean indexing the tap that cuts the threads in the case for the crown tube, indexing the die that cuts the threads on the crown tube, and indexing the die that cuts the threads inside the crown. That’s a lot of work to get precisely right, and the invention in the application appears to solve the problem without making it this hard in production.

  • PetraHeiri

    I own a beatiful Rolex Sub, I love the site and absolutely like Ariel and will continue eagerly the reading the blog, but I agree, this article too much of an infomercial to me. Anyhow, keep ’em coming Ariel.

  • Ricardo Narchi

    Hi Ariel. Only a small question: Why Rolex didn’t start the production of Submariner, GMT and Daytona in 42mm or wider ? Did you have the chance to ask them that ? This is a global trend !

  • Ricardo Narchi The Submariner was introduced in 1953. The Daytona in 1963 and the GMT Master in 1954. Back then watch cases were much smaller. The big watch craze began in earnest in the 90s.

  • Ricardo Narchi

    MarkCarson Ricardo Narchi Thanks for your explanation, but it means around 20 years ! Only the Sea Dweller and the Explorer models are wider, but the frenzy is Submariner (or GMT). This is why I am very curious about keeping the 40mm size.

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  • AdrielWen

    Very informative post. Took me 3 yrs to appreciate Rolex.

  • naio21

    OK. Rolex has amazing manufacturing processes and machinery, but… how about their creativity? Their watches and movements (except materials) hasn’t evolved for decades!

  • JessePiatte

    wrong, Rolex uses movements made by companies like Zenith and ETA

  • JessePiatte

    williamslerner you should have written this post and how ddi this guy get to go there? he doesn’t know much about Rolex.  They should have stepped up and purchased the more expensive Zenith El Primo movement, but as your older Daytona holds a Defy Elite (Zenith’s bread and butter for the past 100 years or so) it is a really superbly crafted movement . When Zenith stopped production on that movement and introduced the more complex and expensive El Primo, Rolex refused to pay more and tried striking a deal ETA  (swatch) as the at the same time tried to haphazardly start production of their own in house. Rolex is a brand, that has a great job of placement. The Rolex Date just, submariner and all bracelet made watches came with hollow links for the longest time, actually up until the late 90’s early 2000’s. Hey just to let you know I do own one and I do collect and sell them, it is the mystic taht they have  created in the fashion world not the actual craftsmanship. Look at Carrier’s new line up of movements if you want to be impressed in craftsmanship ,

  • JessePiatte “Uses” or “Used”?

  • williamslerner

    JessePiatte williamslerner They are lucky that I did not go there! I agree with you wholeheartedly. I was a customer, who bought both watches at Wempe. An authorized, well respected, elegant store, with outlets all around the world. They should have snapped it up upon the second or third try. I think they think the rules don’t apply to them, and people are lucky to have their products. The comments about this article are shocking. They are not as universally loved as one may believe.
    Ariel did a great job with the article. I am sure that he was impressed, and Rolex is impressive. It comes down to customer care and retention, and no lab or machine is succeeding in that domain for them. If they were smart, they should contact me and replace the watch. Not just because I write about watches and review them, because I bought two of the same model. One was incredible, until they damaged it, and the second is defective by design. We will see, and my hopes are not high. Anyone else have issues?

  • JessePiatte

    MarkCarson JessePiatte Depends on which line of Rolex your referring to, it is simple the secrecy is not hiding some great watch mind in a jar somewhere it is really hiding how simple of a company they are.

  • JessePiatte Hmmm, not exactly the straightforward answer I was hoping for.

  • Emperius

    Ricardo Narchi Wider? no thanks. Glad Rolex realizes that human beings haven’t genetically enlarged the width of the Ulna and Radius in less than a century. Short lived trend will die soon.

  • brava

    JessePiatte williamslerner My goodness, there is so much nonsense in this post that I have trouble finding anything that is actually based on anything approaching the truth.
    A quick scan reveals:
    – There is no such thing as an El Primo movement, it called the El Primero. Zenith for a while called a handwound version of the El Primero Class chronograph the Prime before renaming it El Primero HW 
    – The Daytona is a chronograph, the Elite is not. It is originally a three hand, either central or small seconds at 9, time plus date movement with a second timezone option onto which later complications like a power reserve were added. Please research Elite 670/672 and 680/682. The Defy is/was the name of a particular line not of a movement
    – The Elite is far younger than the El Primero, which was introduced in 1969. The Elite is from 1994.
    – Zenith didn’t stop the production of the El Primero casusing Rolex supply problems, rather the other way round. After the production plans, moulds and tools were rediscovered, Zenith actually started up production in part to supply Rolex. Cost was never an issue. Rolex designed the 4130 as the Zenith/Rolex 4030 replacement in order to be fully independent as the article fully reflects. ETA is and never was a part of the equation. In as far as the fact that prior to the automatic Daytona, Rolex used Valjoux movements; Valjoux 72 and derivatives. Valjoux was later amalgamated into what became ETA

    – If you collect and even sell Rolexes I wouldn’t even buy a strap off you, you simple do not know of what you speak.

    P.S. what is a Carrier?

  • brava

    MarkCarson JessePiatte Ah well, only the 4030 was Zenith based. Rolex, as stated below has never used ETA movements although they did use Valjoux chronograph movements before the 4030. And if you dig deeper into the past you will find that they used movements from a plethora of suppliers.

  • brava JessePiatte – Carrier is a brand of air conditioner. Perhaps that is what he meant 🙂
    From what I can tell, and I’m certainly not an authority, the Val Joux 72 was produced until about 1974. Looks like the holding company that owned Val Joux only became  part of ETA around 1983. So if that is right, the Val Joux 72 was not an ETA movement (as Brava has noted). Cheers guys.

  • JessePiatte  – So “was” = “used”  (not uses) Zenith movements and never used ETA movements. Which is what I thought.

  • Inline5

    Your experience is indeed unfortunate. 2 years
    ago I purchased the 42mm Explorer II from an AD in Canada. 4 months
    later I magnetized the watch rather stupidly and as a result it kept
    incredibly poor time.  The dealer sent in the watch to Rolex. To my surprise they
    demagnetized it and regulated it at no cost to me, not even shipping.
    This is not considered a warranty repair and had every right to charge me. The watch now keeps
    +1 seconds consistently and is the most accurate piece I own. My experience in no way negates yours, but I thought I should add my personal Rolex interaction.

  • micropoint

    naio21Precisely that is the secret of Rolex success and great resale value

  • micropoint

    Emperius Ricardo Narchi  
     It is not the way how the world works. I will not defend the big watches but nowadays Rolex 36 mm and even  Daytona watches look like woman watches in a man’s wrist. Anyway the ceramics Sub. and GMT looks good.

  • micropoint

    Ryan B  
     Someone forcing you to be here?

  • micropoint Ryan B It’s one of the terms of his parole. (kidding of course).

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  • ChristianNyegaard

    JessePiatte Wrong on absolutely all levels. There are many years since Rolex used a Zenith movement in the daytona. Learn your facts.

    If you open up a modern Rolex and find an ETA movement you are looking at a fake watch.

  • ChristianNyegaard

    Ricardo Narchi MarkCarson Well, the Submariner outsells the larger DSSD by huge margins so why would they make them any bigger when they sell like they do ?

  • ChristianNyegaard So they could sell even more?

  • Ryan B

    MarkCarson ChristianNyegaard  I agree, the demand for bigger watches is very solid right now

  • Ricardo Narchi

    MarkCarson ChristianNyegaard  Why Not ? I would be one ! I have a Deepsea and an Explorer II because of that ! I am 6,6Ft. Smaller than 42mm ? No way… as I told you before, for more than 20 years this craze has begun . Emperius said that “…human beings haven’t genetically enlarged the width of the Ulna and Radius in less than a century…” probably not in US, the Europeans has grown 11cm (0.36ft) in 110 years, even in US the volume of tall people has grown during the last century.

  • Ryan B

    Ricardo Narchi MarkCarson ChristianNyegaard shaquille o’neal

  • Ricardo Narchi

    Ryan B Ricardo Narchi MarkCarson ChristianNyegaard  Have you ever seen the Shaquikke O’Neal Audemars Piguet ? Gee… 48mm !

  • ChristianNyegaard

    MarkCarson ChristianNyegaard The strategy Rolex has been using for many, many years have made them the absolute, undisputed best selling luxury watch brand in the world. I’m going to say that they know what they are doing. I, and about 1 million others PER YEAR, prefers the smaller watches and love the fact that the sub isn’t a huge monstrosity :).

  • ChristianNyegaard

    Ryan B MarkCarson And the demand for the sizes Rolex has choosen is about 1 million per year. There is a reason for these watches being as popular as they are.

  • ChristianNyegaard

    Ricardo Narchi MarkCarson ChristianNyegaard Again – your experience and wishes are not universal.

  • ChristianNyegaard

    Ricardo Narchi Ryan B MarkCarson ChristianNyegaard Yup and they are far to big for me. Doesn’t matter though, AP sells watches in a tiny niche whereas Rolex is selling to the mass luxury market. They need a broad appeal whereas AP can easily afford to do outrageous watches in the Offshore series.

  • Ricardo Narchi

    ChristianNyegaard Ricardo Narchi Ryan B MarkCarson  I fully agree with you, I just disagree when you say that “42mm is a monstrosity”. I said something bout AP to talk about other companies producing wider watches (since Ryan called me Shacq !). I really don’t know why Rolex doesn’t give us other options. I’m not talking about stop producing 40mm, but give us a chance to choose.

  • Ricardo Narchi

    ChristianNyegaard Ryan B MarkCarson  Look… I’m not talking about the Deepsea Challenge – Diameter 51.4mm and Thickness 28.5

  • ChristianNyegaard

    Ricardo Narchi Haha, now that’s a real monstrosity :). As for the 42mm comment – I’ve never bought the new exp2 because I find it a tad to big for the kind of watch it is. I’m guessing Rolex just doesn’t see a market yet. Maybe they’ll do one 🙂

  • Ryan B

    ChristianNyegaard Ricardo Narchi  Just for kicks I’ll mention the watch I’m wearing is an Android Divemaster Maxjet and at 48mm wide and 19mm thick I find it to fit perfectly in direct proportion to the size of my neanderthal / knuckle-dragging arms. Even the links are massive and not puny. It’s currently my fav.

  • ChristianNyegaard

    Ryan B ChristianNyegaard Ricardo Narchi Thats great though, please note that I’m not saying that there aren’t people who would love a (much) bigger Rolex, I’m just saying that for me and about 1 million others the size lineup as it is is perfect :-).

  • Emperius

    Good point. I guess it depends on how blended the overall face of the watch goes with not only the physical width but the glass face width. I have certainly seen watches of 43-46mm of interest and certainly to wear them on my wrist but I think it’s pushing it. But Ricardo Narchidoes have a point, your heigth and forearm thickness kinda ‘oomphs’ the watches looks. Or perhaps I’m just thinner in frame.. =|

  • teddyremillardlang

    teddy remillard-lang

    Rolex watches are pedestrian and commercial. Yes, they’re used as a substitute for cash because they have a consistent market acceptance among the people who are their target buyers. 

    Look at an Audemars-Piguet or a Vascheron Constantine or a Patek Phillipe and visit and revel in the craftsmanship, the genius of these masterpieces. For example, the 2120 movement of the above three watchmakers (designed by all three), which is the thinnest full rotor movement in the world is absolutely stunning and when this movement is in a skeleton it is astonishing. 

    Rolex did use Omega, Gruen, ETA, Zenith movements at one time or another; their first real factory was the old Gruen plant… Gruen was basically forced out of the watchmaking biz by their transition to making instruments for the Allies during WWII; their were one of a handful of war materiel suppliers who could not successfully resume production. 

    Nevertheless INMHO, Rolex watches are for those who choose to impress rather than those who respect the art of watchmaking.

  • ChristianNyegaard

    Emperius Ricardo Narchi It’s also very much so dependant on the design of the whole watch. A Sub-C wears lager then a 16610 even though they are both 40mm. An AP15300 doesn’t feel small at all even though it’s 39mm. The Roal Oak Offshores I’ve had at 42mm feels just as big, or bigger, then some 44mm watches I’ve had.

  • ChristianNyegaard

    teddyremillardlang I would have to disagree in the fullest. I’ve had many APs and I love the brand and I have both PPs and Rolex in my collection right now. I don’t really understand why you think you can say anything at all about what a person likes in a watch based on the brand of the watch. It’s a very flawed and prejudicial line of thought.

    Rolex needs to be respected for what they’ve done over the years, the lineage and the impact they’ve had. People complain about the lack of originality, yet, the generic look of “dive watch” closely resembles the submariner.

    Each to his own, but you (and others) really do need to stop believing you can read out any sort of information about someone based on the brand of watch they’re using. I find a lot of joy in the simplicity and solidity of a Submariner over the somewhat more frail feeling high end brands.

  • Ilijam

    About the 2120 movement you are refering to – you are completely mistaken. First of all, it wasn’t “designed” by PP, AP an/or VC, but by Jaeger LeCoultre as calibre 920 (they have never used it themselves in their watches – in fact, nobody aside from PP, AP or VC did). The number 2120 you mention was the number that Audemars gave to the calibre (after finishing it, of course), as well as 2121 and 2122. Vacheron named it 1120, or 1121 or 1122, and Patek Philippe had it in Nautilus as 28-255. The rest of your comment is full of flawed understanding of the way the Swiss watch world operates – or rather used to operate. Using parts from different suppliers was the way things were done basically always (hence the example you – unwittingly – came up with), and the “in-house” craze we are witnessing now is quite a modern conception. E.g., Patek Philippe is today owned by the Stern family, who were the owners of a company that produced dials for Patek and many others, and when PP fell into hard times, the Strens had enough money (and intelligence) to take it over. Want to know which company was one of the first to use most of their own components in watches – especially movements? Yup, Rolex. OK, they only developed their own chronograph in 2000., but other than that – they’ve done it themselves. The “Big Three” often used movements from other companies (JLC first and foremost).
    By the way – I don’t and I’ve never owned a Rolex watch – I’m an Omega man…

  • Ilijam

    The big watch trend is, IMO, slowing down and returning to normal. As for Rolex, they have answered that call not by engorging the cases, but by widening the lugs, which gives the watches a larger presence. If yoou compare a new Sub with some of the older iterations, you’ll clearly see the difference.

  • Ricardo Narchi

    ChristianNyegaard teddyremillardlang  Teddy, I don’t wanna “disagree”, but it “may be” and not “it is”… Rolex says: A Rolex can be recognized if you are in a Basketball Arena or in a black tie event” (something like that…). And it is true. Rolex is the TOP OF MIND in Luxury watch brand. Rolex is not the most expensive watch brand, but it can be recognized easier than the other brands by non watches fans. In this case, you are completely right ! We don’t have 2.000 people per day buying watches being who respect the art of watchmaking. What is undeniable the Rolex massive marketing investment and the material quality of the watches. Hublot is trying to do the same (F-1, Word Cup, tribute to personaliies, and so on), Breitling is going in the same way as well.

  • Ricardo Narchi

    Ilijam Omega ? Congrats ! Wonderful watch ! Have you ever seen the (Classic)15,000 Gauss ?…. Gee… it is marvelous !

  • teddyremillardlang

    Ilijam Yes it was originally developed by JLC… but it its design was implemented by the top three watchmaking *factories*… 

    As for Rolex, it’s a consumerism watch — Yes it is noticed…so are people with multiple hair coloring…  It’s a simple design; in the past, it used the mechanics of Omega, ETA, Zenith, etc; in fact any of the high end brand movements. I’m really happy you like Rolex, but personally, I find them rather pedestrian and a watch some dude that wants to impress some babe would have weighing down his wrist. 

    As far as being wrong on my facts, read betwixt the lines; I don’t have the time to explain the entire history of the World of watchmaking in three small paragraphs… but it’s clear what a Rolex is and yes they are as good as the gold that surround their movements and the Awe they create when worn in a social setting. I prefer craftsmanship….

  • Ilijam

    It is truly great, not to expensive either…

  • ChristianNyegaard

    teddyremillardlang Ilijam Implying that there is no craftmanship in a Rolex is just ignorant.

  • Ilijam

    As somebody here said, to each his own, and your opinion of Rolex is
    just as legitimate as mine is (and I do repeat, never have I had a Rolex, nor plan to) – but, once again, you are basing it on
    eronious facts. 

    Sure, Rolex is bought by very many people, and many of them are people who equate the name Rolex with “I have money for an expensive watch”. Among a million people that buy them every year, there will be at least a million different characters. As for Rolex using Omega or ETA movements, of that I am not aware. Really don’t think they did, but I could be mistaken (please post an example of such a watch here, I’d like to see it). They did use Valjoux, Angelus, Cortebert, Zenith (only El Primero between the years 1988. and 2000.). The only way it could be considered that Rolex used ETA is if we take into account that Valjoux, whose chronographs Rolex used, was folded into ETA – but that was only after Rolex stopped using Valjoux, so it would be quite a strech. But now I’m just nitpicking. 
    Rolex is a marketing wonder, and I must admit I don’t understand why vintage Rolex watches command such abnormally high prices, but they are fantastic watches nontheless, brilliantly conceived and executed, they have probably the best cost to benefit ratio in the industry, and the company has had some truly big achievements in the past (blown out of proportion by their superior marketing capabilities).

  • joe6263


    have you ever done a review on the new Rolex explorer I tried to find a review on your site but can’t find one. Thanks Joe

  • micropoint

    I’m just a guy who love Rolex but I don’t do reviews.

  • joe6263

    JessePiatte  Rolex have never used ETA never you must have seen a fake. They used zenith chronograph in the early Daytona and thats about it. Tudor uses ETA movements but that is not Role its a side company owned by Rolex but separate brands hence why the are cheeper.

  • joe6263

    micropoint  Thanks for your fast reply and great article I wish if I could go and visit Rolex. I think I will have to apply to be a Rolex trained watchmaker first before I get a look. 


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  • teddyremillardlang

    ChristianNyegaard teddyremillardlang Ilijam
    Of course there’s craftsmanship in Rolex… it’s just not to the level of AP, Patek or Vascheron…

  • teddyremillardlang

    Ryan B Amen…!

  • teddyremillardlang

    williamslerner The *voice* of sanity….!

  • teddyremillardlang

    brava JessePiatte williamslerner What is a “carrier”…?

  • ChristianNyegaard

    teddyremillardlang ChristianNyegaard Ilijam

    As I said, it felt implied. Of course the finishing on one of my Pateks is better then on my Rolex, but they are different beasts made for different things. I’d much rather have a sub on my arm doing quite a lot of things where I’m not going to put on a Patek.

    The craftmanship in the Rolexes that needs to be respected is the sheer quality per watch per dollar. They are rock solid (and of course there will always be some that malfunction with the volume of watches produced) and they do what you expect them to do.

    Where my previous APs have been amazing, but somewhat frail watches, the Rolexes I’ve had and have are beautiful in their simplicity and ability to just work without me having to worry about scratching up a bezel or intricatly finished bracelet.

    I love both approaches for various uses and reasons. Apreciating one does not have to exclude the apreciation of another.

  • JessePiatte

    Well it’s like coke vs pepsi, how does coke sell the same product for more money? MARKETING a built brand mystic, an image. Rolex has done just that. I mean would you buy coke from them if you knew the inside of the bottle was made by pepsi? Rolex has found away to get pepsi to make the inside and they sell it as coke

  • Hmmm, I was not aware that Coke was priced higher than Pepsi and was considered to be a premium product oeve Pepsi. So maybe not the analogy I would have used, but I understand your concept. And yes I would care if Coke put Pepsi in their bottles and sold it as Coke. Again maybe not the right analogy for Rolex. Cheers.

  • teddyremillardlang

    JessePiatte I use my AP skeleton, Classique, everyday in my chocolate factory(s); it has the 2120 movement and has been in continuous use since I purchased it. I have two like this and one AP with the lack of markers, so three 2120’s and they keep absolutely perfect time — Of course they have 38 & 36 jewels. They seem to be solid and can take a being worn daily.
    As for their craftsmanship, one only had to look at the incredible hand made movements thru their sapphire lens. 
    I do have Rolex’s but they pale by comparison — It’s a different class of watch; Rolex’s are very fine; I just object to the reason most executives flaunt this watch

  • beverlyhancock


    I found your blog really interesting to read. I had heard about the brand but I had no idea about the manufacturing process. The perfection involved into it is just amazing !

  • teddyremillardlang

    Ilijam  I love Omega — My first watch was an Omega. Now I have whole bunch of them; my favorite is the Pie Pan from the mid sixties with 24 jewels, etc. …the first expensive watch I purchased in 1971…

  • MounirSoughayar

    micropoint You better not with your bad English!!! “a guy who loveS Rolex” OK!!!

  • MounirSoughayar

    I truly think that it is a pity and a waste of resources to invest such big money in a timepiece!!! A cheap Casio does the same job that all watches are made for “TELLING TIME”. All other functions, complications and precious metals and gems are for show off ‘LOOK I AM RICH”…” please could anybody tell me how to use or make use of whatever this damn watch can do!!!!”
    For God’s sake!!! please stop this ordeal and invest your waste money in something useful and productive. Millions are starving to death and here we are worried about what a damn timepeice could do other than telling time.

    • Ezi Cucit

      Mounir – i agree with you completely that a $20 Casio will do a fine job and keep more accurate time than any mechanical Rolex – we all know that the well to do , would prabably never wear a Casio , there is no prestige in wearing a cheap watch. Personally i would never buy a Rolex even if i could afford it as to me a watch has to be “eye candy” and i find Rolexes ugly especially the ones with the ‘cyclops’ date magnifier – and i couldnt care two hoots about the wonderfully engineered mechanicals
      inside – the internals mean zilch to me , i know that my cheap Casio will give me 30 and more years service and then get another cheapy.

  • teddyremillardlang

    Ah…Yes… the voice of reason permeates the delicious silence of the Rolex Blog…! 
    So you ask: “..please could anybody tell me to use or make use of whatever this damn watch can do.?

    To a Rolex owner, you are the distant voice of the plebeian, the vassal washing the de-sandled feet of the wealthy Roman who has had to trek to the well from his carriage for refreshment..

    Fortunately (for you)… I can: 
    Let’s imagine you are out of gas, your wallet’s been stolen and decide to rent an Aston Martin from Budget Rent A Car…. Well… OMG — All you have to do is flash your Rolex President, constructed from solid 18K gold with a bezel containing 100 investment grade diamonds, and you’re on your way… sans watch, of course. 

    Let’s say the age restrictions of Obamacare is preventing you, now a wasted 70year old, from getting a new kidney, you flash the above watch and the greedy surgeon removes it from your wrist and attaches it to the many Rolexes he carries on his upper arm and… Voila — A new kidney…!

    Let’s say your wife of thirty years is running off with a new 28 year old punker… All a Rolex collector has to do is go into his closet and take one very small briefcase, containing his Rolex President watch collection and walk out the front door… He’s a millionaire…!

    Imagine living in a world without these possibilities..?

    How much can you get for a plastic Casio…?   Hahahahahaha, says the Rolex collector, sipping a mint julip whilst on the beach in the South of France… safe at last from the dreaded IRS who’ve been trying to figure where the hell this former pawn shop owner has been secreting his skimmed cash….

    I hope this has been of help — We at The Rolex Blog have many more stories for your pleasure… Now… go down to your local battery store and change the battery in that damned Casio… Rolex’s never need batteries…lol…

  • MounirSoughayar

    teddyremillardlang HAHAHAHAHAHA this is what’s expected from void arrogant people hiding behind a piece of gold!!!!
    Go get a real human life and stop staring at your time piece wondering how it can get back your runaway wife who ran to rid herself of the void life  with someone who’s too busy learning things about his magic time piece.
    And by the way my Casio has a photo cell and doesn’t need battery change.

    • PeteNice

      A human life meaning what, being a slumdog in a feces-infested slum? Are we closer to “true humanity” then?


  • ChristianNyegaard

    MounirSoughayar teddyremillardlang Uhm while I don’t really agree with teddy in a lot of the discussion here, I’m quite sure what he wrote was irony.

  • teddyremillardlang

    ChristianNyegaard MounirSoughayar teddyremillardlang Far be it from Mounir to detect “irony” whilst he’s holding his Casio under the tanning light, hoping its second hand will continue to rotate… (maybe I should add an ‘lol’ here for him)   …lol.

  • teddyremillardlang

    MounirSoughayar teddyremillardlang  

    OMG…Mounir — Your perspicuity is astounding..! Are you a Psychic with one of those neon signs at the curb offering the lovelorn a glimpse into the future…?

    Well… yes …I am married to a “runaway” wife… 

    Ooops I thought you meant a ‘runway’ wife, you know one of those delectable women running up & down the fashion runways. 

    Yes, Mounir, it’s fun being married to a hot babe while wearing a Rolex or any one of the other fine watches that litter my collection.

    Which is ‘why’ I married her, of course. I needed a high fashion, exquisite blonde woman to compliment my 18K watch.

    Of course, monsieur, that is your fantasy about Americans who have respect for fine craftsmanship, wine and beautiful women. After all, isn’t that what everyone who comes to America imagines..? Streets paved with gold, expensive cars at their beck & call, ad infinitum..?

    But the reality is different: There are poor people in America and there are rich people, and it is the prerogative of the successful to buy an expensive watch… as opposed to a Casio. After all, who wants to wear a cheap piece of plastic, which is most probably poisoning one’s skin and body through osmosis…?  Damn those chemicals. Wow… you can’t even drink some bottled water without risking contamination… so imagine what poisons that Casio is pumping into your body as we speak? 

    So now we know it’s better to wear gold than plastic. Isn’t this a fun Blog, Mounir — You learn something new everyday.

    By the way, I have been married for forty years to the same exquisite woman (who by the way, has an MA in math — So she ain’t stoopid)… and we have raised beautiful, well-educated children who contribute to society.

    I have owned my business since 1966 and it’s very successful… so I can wear any watch I want because it’s the Raison d’être… 

    (I hope you ditch the Casio… or at least buy a stainless steel one…lol… you should live a long life, a life full of criticism of others so they can remember there are those out there who judge a person negatively when they’re “…hiding behind a piece of gold”)   


  • teddyremillardlangBack in the day Rolex made the “Oyster Quartz” so, while rare, it is possible to find a Rolex that needs a battery change. And of course the $7 “Rolex” watches in flea markets around the world  need new batteries every now and them. But it’s easier to just toss the watch out. Cheers.

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  • teddyremillardlang

    MarkCarson teddyremillardlang   “You are correct, sir,” as Ed McMahon would say to Mr. Carson.  It was a dark day when those few battery-powered watches his the scene. Even Patek, Audemars & most of the other watch companies made quartz watches…   Ah well…

  • MounirSoughayar

    teddyremillardlang MounirSoughayar OK guys am going to stop the irony and just say that everyone has his own personal whims and fantasies. I don’t wear a Casio, which I wore before when they were the first watches to display so many new electronic info like altitude, temp. and the like. I can afford a Rolex or more, but I wear since long a descent good quality self winding watch with day/date display, good font clarity, sapphire lens with enough water resistance for medium depth air SCUBA diving and this is all I require personally from my watch, as I would rather spend the extra money I need to buy a high end gold and whatever else watch, on my other whims and on the many other potential whims which are popping up like mushrooms nowadays in this over over-consumption society.

  • MounirSoughayar

    ChristianNyegaard MounirSoughayar teddyremillardlang Chris, are you related to David Nyegaard who was a colleague of mine at an agricultural research center in the middle eastt?

  • teddyremillardlang

    MounirSoughayar teddyremillardlang 

    Oh… thank God, Mounir — you have decided to put an end to the provocateur mode and evidence your true background and education — Thank you. 

    There are many on the I-Forums who ‘flame’ at others for this or that choice that fails to coincide with their own standards. I confess that I find such prattle argumentative and not productive. I also confess that I am not a major backer of the newer Rolex’s and I find some of the people who buy them to be superficial… but that’s my personal assessment and has little to do with the personal reasons this or that individual has elected to wear the Rolex. C’est la vie.

  • teddyremillardlangAmazingly insightful and humorous comments such as this remind me why I continue to blog about watches. It isn’t about agreeing with the comment or not, but rather the passion and personality behind it that defines watch lovers of all creeds.

  • ChristianNyegaard

    Nope, no relation :-).

  • teddyremillardlang

    aBlogtoWatch teddyremillardlang 
    I am pleased you mounted this Blog — Happy holidays to all….

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  • LTVN68

    Left Vietnam and the USArmy as a 1LT. Got my Single Engine Commercial Land and Sea License on the GI Bill.
    Took my newly acquired wife, MBA and Cessna 180 on floats to Alaska where I flew for Sportsman’s Flying Service. Bought a Rolex Submariner 16800 for just under $1,000 in Anchorge because I wanted a good, reliable watch. Others I had owned had failed me. After constant wear for 31 years and 1,000s of miles of flying, hiking, hunting, fishing and construction the 16800 is scratched, nicked, battered and worn. It has sheep hunted in the Wrangells, fished in the Tikchik and pulled crab pots in Kachemak Bay. It is now at RUSA for service only for the second time. The bracelet was declared by them to be unrepairable and the dents and dings unremoveable. I bought the Rolex to have a good watch.
    It has never failed me for 31 years. It became a constant companion. And while readings these blogs, I followed the asked question of why one would buy such a watch and began to realize maybe that is up to each of us. What I now see is that my question is rather what this watch has become for me. The answer is that it is a record of my life; every dent and ding. I realize I never feared it would not be there to tell me the time. I just always assumed it would, as it always had, remain faithfully ticking on my wrist. I am truly thankful that such a watch was built and that I came to own it. I realize that I have a deep emotional attachment to it because it really is more than a watch to me.

  • teddywga1

    LTVN68  What a great life your Rolex has observed.  I bought my AP skeleton in 1976 because I’m into mechanics and I can observe every tick it makes; I wear it all the time; I’ve worn it while I created my chocolate business and and worn it on the factory floors while I trouble-shot machinery that went down.; It’s a chronicle of my life….

  • MounirSoughayar

    LTVN68  I am very happy for you, you were so lucky to buy this Rolex for such a cheap price; cheaper than my non-Rolex brand new watch which I bought for about the same price as your Rolex and which I like the way you do like your Rolex.
    I wonder if you would have bought it if it were for $16800!! Maybe yes!!! As you said “that is up to each of us”. Also I feel and know that many cheaper watch brands can give the same performance as a Rolex but they are much cheaper because they are not charging us the exorbitant cost of advertisement making us unconsciously feel  that what they say is valid and true.

    • PeteNice

      I read your name and instantly realized at some point price would be invoked. All the same.

  • Clueless2

    What is the source of your claim that 904L is harder than 316L? If you look up its hardness values, it’s actually softer, unless Rolex actually hardens its steel. It is marginally stronger though, and there is a huge difference between hardness and strength. You also forgot the fact, that it has increased nickel content which is a real problem for people with nickel allergies.

  • teddywga1

    Nickel is not good for the body… that’s the reason I wear gold

  • jennerfris

    The Rolex Submariner reference 1680 in 18k gold with the blue “nipple” dial is my favorite Rolex Sub of them all.

  • muhammedflaifil74

    Listen dumb ass Mounir, and your slut with you, if you can’t afford a Rolex go buy your stupid Casio.

  • muhammedflaifil74

    Poor little Man, what Mommy didn’t buy you a teady bear when you were 4 yrs. old ? So your picking on the people who have Rolexes ? Your full of shit, at write something sensible on this blog, Idiot.

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  • MaxTait

    SuperSteel Superchorometre Supercosmograph SupergasescapeSuperlative ahahha

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  • jfd55

    I just have some questions:
    Rolex is such a marvel mostly done by detailed and expert watchmakers who pay
    attention to the upmost detail and only use machines to help and they check,
    re-check and check again each one of their watches… why, oh why most crowns do
    not align correctly? I’m sorry but 99% of Rolex watches I’ve seen the crown is not
    vertically lined up; while, say, a VC overseas is always perfect; even Baume & Mercier pay attention to it. (And yes, I do have one which is perfectly
    aligned: upside down!).
    math may be terrible; so forgive me, but, if they produce 1,000,000 watches a
    year, and they need a year to produce a watch, Do they employ a million
    watchmakers? With those numbers… I still don’t buy they really hand-made the
    watches. Sorry.
    By no means I think Rolex watches are bad; they
    are good watches created by a company using marketing and smoke and mirrors to
    maintain the glory it used to have and maintain high revenue; those ploys just
    reminded me the Disney vault. No wonder Rolex is usually at the top of the
    watch brands spending most money in advertisement.

  • jashotwe

    I do not own, nor do I plan on purchasing, a Rolex.  With that out of the way, I want to say that I really appreciate your article, very insightful info on Rolex’ s manufacturing process.  It’s always great to read or hear about the making of timepieces regardless of the brand.  Thanks Ariel for sharing!

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  • Jus_ad_bellum

    I enjoyed this, long read was worth it. With regard to the 904L steel; on either timekeeperforum or watchuseek forums there’s a great thread about the steel Rolex uses and what’s myth and what’s real about 904L steel. I do remember one need thing someone pointed out about Sinn, with one of their watches I guess the claim is that they’re using re-purposed German Submarine steel and get even better rust resistance than Rolex as a result.  https://www.sinn.de/en/Modell/U1.htm

  • Jus_ad_bellum

    jfd55 I’m sure the claim is in relation to the time taken from refining the steel on up to the final placing of the materials together and probably is halfway to being accurate if not bang on. There is a great short length documentary on the processing of metal and the steps taken to produce some high end straight razors. When you see how many hands are involved in just making those razors, I could see it taking an incredibly longer time to make a watch.

  • zilti

    Omega also makes their gold alloys in-house.

  • fortsonre

    Interesting article.  Thanks for posting it. 

    However, I still don’t see how each watch takes a full year to manufacture, and they make 1 million watches each year.  Any idea on how many people work at the company?  I wonder how many watches each technician is responsible for.

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  • JamesWilson4

    Nice write-up
    Want rolexbut I’m confused about the model… what do you suggest?
    this model: http://amzn.to/1uWDrbO
    or this one:http://amzn.to/1tapZol

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  • shangz1

    Interesting feature.  Would you say that the high standards of production (sans movement) are applied to the Tudor watches?

  • _Ronni_

    jfd55 #1 – this also really annoys me. Same goes for the often incorrect alignment of the bezel “blip”, that does not properly line up with the 12’o clock marker. Most Submariners has this, and it’s just sloppy work.


    jfd55 You are SO RIGHT…..agree with you  all the way….Perhaps Rolex is overhyped…….gloryfying with all those adverts….dont forget paying very high wages for swiss personels!

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  • schultzy

    First of all  these  are i think  only five things mentioned in  article rather  than  ten things.and  secondly  and most importantly the  Rolex watch-makers need to  be credited  because i  think the reason  why  they  have been   leaders in  the watch  making industry  for  such  a  long  time is that they have  continued  to  make  the superior  quality watches rather  than  dipping  down  on  quality.I  do  not  think  any sort  of advertising or marketing  is going  to help if   the  product  is  not  good enough
    Schultzy @      http://pawnutah.com/

  • rebove

    None of this explains why my 1960s era Rolex Oyster didn’t work and couldn’t be repaired.

  • notech47

    If Rolex is operating at least 300 days per year, they are shipping way over 3000 watches per day. That’s a big number in my opinion!

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  • mikarvey

    teddyremillardlang What are the age restrictions of Obamacare?

  • mikarvey

    MounirSoughayar A watch is a piece of jewelry, in many instances. A Daiwoo will go down the freeway at 70 MPH, just like a BMW. If one can afford quality, why not?

  • mikarvey

    MounirSoughayar micropoint Mounir criticizes a likely typographical error as bad English, yet says, in an earlier post, “display so many [MUCH] new electronic info”;  “I
    can afford a Rolex or more, but I wear since long a descent [did you mean decent”?] good
    Please correct your own English before being so rude.

  • mikarvey

    muhammedflaifil74 Why do you act like such a pig.

  • mikarvey

    teddyremillardlang Prissy-prissy! Sooo pretentious!

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  • avalaurie86

    It is amazing to know that Rolex really spends so much effort making their product. Just knowing this process makes their price justifiable. Thanks for bringing this to light, it is really interesting to know this. http://www.4mmc.com/custom-fabrication/

  • notech47

    The question is does all of this extra effort on the part of Rolex make their watches more accurate or more durable internally and cosmetically? Someone needs to do a comparison torture test of similar watches from Rolex and a few other luxury brands along with popular inexpensive watches from brands like Seiko, Orient and even Invicta. I would love to see the results!

  • DG Cayse

    avalaurie86 Nice looking bidness at MMC.
    Good 2015!

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  • guitarplayer572

    Their watches are not the epitome of fancy. However they are certainly the most diversely created time piece, in my humble opion. Being able to create everything but the crystals and some of the hands, the article didn’t mention the “O”rings for the back covers! I didn’t hear anything about a rubber plantation. But that being said, my favorites vacherron Constantine and Patek Philipe in the big money category, Rolex is the most reliable. For a lot less

  • rodgersstephanie6

    After reading this article I’m even more sold on wanting to get a Rolex. Knowing that all the watch pieces are hand assembled and that Rolex basically does everything in-house from making it’s own gold to working the special steel material that they make their time pieces out of. With all this delicate work, I am curious as to the maintenance and repair costs. http://arcwatchworks.com/repair/service

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  • JamesWWIII

    Guideaux Well, not everyone has good taste. Don’t feel too badly about being one of them.

  • JamesWWIII

    rebove Anything mechanical can be broken, sometimes beyond repair. There’s your explanation.

  • JamesWWIII

    schultzy Um…did you read both pages? Because I saw 10 things.

  • JamesWWIII Guideaux Thanks James for being the ultimate and universal arbitrator of good taste. How did we ever get by without you?

  • JamesWWIII

    MarkCarson JamesWWIII Guideaux Poorly, it would seem.

  • mikarvey

    JamesWWIII Guideaux Generally, good taste and good manners go hand in hand. Perhaps a person might prefer a Breitling, Omega or Patek. Rolex certainly isn’t the ultimate luxury watch.

  • notech47

    Rolex designs, manufactures and markets their watches in the manner that bests suits the company and their objectives. There are enormous choices for watch buyers and we are free to consider anything on the market. Isn’t that what makes watch collecting great?

  • DG Cayse

    notech47 One of the best comments I’ve seen.

  • JamesWWIII

    Guideaux JamesWWIII MarkCarson You’re welcome. And, I don’t think so.

  • JamesWWIII

    MarkCarson JamesWWIII Guideaux It’s “arbiter” not “arbitrator”. How DID you ever get by without me? Never fear, school is officially in session.

  • JamesWWIII MarkCarson Guideaux 
    ar·bi·tra·tor?ärb??tr?d?r/nounnoun: arbitrator; plural noun: arbitratorsan independent person or body officially appointed to settle a dispute.
    Arbiter or arbitrator, a person by whose decision the parties to a dispute agree to be bound in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbitration 
    So both are correct, but you would have know that wouldn’t you?

  • JamesWWIII

    MarkCarson JamesWWIII Guideaux Sorry, but you’re wrong. There’s no third party settling a dispute here, and here’s the definition of “arbiter”, which is the only word that applies in the context you were ATTEMPTING to use it.

    1. a person who has the sole or absolute power of judging or determining.

    2. a person empowered to decide matters at issue; judge; umpire.

    It’s okay, lots of people don’t know the difference. School definitely appears to be out for you, but I’d suggest some remedial classes.

  • mikarvey

    JamesWWIII MarkCarson Guideaux I wonder why it is so important for everyone to prefer a Rolex. I own a Rolex, which is a fine and handsome timepiece.
    However, it is not my favorite in regards to appearance nor craftsmanship. There are many with far advanced complications, and ffiner escapements. To be boorish has no place on this forum, and is offensive to all involved.

    Please try to conduct yourself as a gentleman.

  • JamesWWIII

    Guideaux mikarvey JamesWWIII You get an F in English as well. It’s sad that so many people don’t have a clue when it comes to proper vocabulary.

    An “arbitrator” of taste would be a neutral third party who would settle a dispute between two other parties. HE used the word in reference to ME, so who were the other two parties that I was supposed to be mediating between? Words have meaning, you’d do well to remember that fact in the future, lest you continue to make yourself look ignorant.

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  • mikarvey

    Guideaux “You get an F in English as well.” 
    ” School definitely appears to be out for you, but I’d suggest some remedial classes.”  “Never fear, school is officially in session.”
    “I think I’ll stick around. Looks like there is much educating to be done here.”
    It appears the callow youth’s life revolves around school, implying that he is unlikely to yet be employed, and also unlikely to actually purchase such luxuries of which he presumes knowledge.

    Young people, in an effort to somehow”prove” themselves, often do a bit of casual research on the internet, and then pretend to be authoritative in some field. Many uninformed people presume Rolex to be the crowning (no pun intended) achievement of horology. This is due, most likely, to product marketing. Some watches, such as Grand Seiko, A. Lange and Patek do not direct their advertising to the general public because of exceptionall high prices. They are, therefore, unfamiliar to the masses, or pretentious high school students with bad manners.

  • mikarvey Guideaux And remember, once someone is clearly identified as a troll, the best course of action is: “DO NOT FEED THE TROLL.” They crave attention and someone to fight with. So I’m no longer directly replying to him here or in any other posts.

  • JamesWWIII

    Guideaux So you’ve taken the time to post a comment to tell me you’re ignoring me? You do realize that by doing so, you’re not ignoring me? Not too bright, are you?

  • JamesWWIII

    mikarvey Guideaux Please point out exactly where I indicated that I thought Rolex was the “crowning achievement of horology”? I’ll wait while you get someone to read my previous comments out loud to you, since you obviously lack basic comprehension of the written word. Another “F” for you, I’m afraid.

    And sorry to disappoint you, but I’m long since out of school, having achieved my doctorate some time ago. I did have plenty of practice teaching during my time in grad school, so you’ll have to excuse the force of habit when I recognize someone in need of educating.

  • JamesWWIII

    MarkCarson mikarvey Guideaux Oh look, another genius who thinks it’s best to ignore someone by informing them that they are ignoring them. Brilliant.

  • TonyScavone

    JamesWWIII MarkCarson mikarvey Guideaux hahaha! Gotta love idiots who do that!

  • TonyScavone

    JamesWWIII Guideaux Sorry, but for all of you who were trying so hard to make JamesWWIII look and/or feel stupid…it appears to have blown up in your face!

  • Rano85

    You went onto an article about Rolex in order to post a sniffy remark about Rolex, and then have the cheek to call someone else a troll?
    And it’s arbiter.

  • mikarvey

    rebove Perhaps it could not be repaired for a price you’d accept. If you had sent it to Rloex for repair, they might have replaced everything but the dial, and the watch would run fine.But that would have been more expensive, most likely, than buying a brand new one.

  • mikarvey

    MounirSoughayar LTVN68 Perhaps $1000 was the price 31 years ago. My Rolex, which I bought last year, was only just over $6000. The price of a watch isn’t based on advertising; otherwise, you could buy a Patek for less than a Casio. Quality has value to people who want to pay more for it. To some people, a $49 watch is more than adequate. I have an old 1960s Caravelle that still keeps time.

  • I_G

    quintrent13 Stop spamming you scumbag.

  • qwer111

    It’s pinickity, but #9 might be a little clearer if it read, ‘It takes about a year to make *each* rolex watch’. If it took them a year to make *a* rolex, they’d have quite a backlog, no?

  • iamcalledryan

    notech47 There are some out there on youtube. The build quality and often the materials too are notably better when compared, as is movement performance/accuracy.

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  • Rano85

    dnlrytn  Perhaps Rolex wearers don’t get as tired of the watches… But if they do, they’ll have no problems selling it and re-investing the money in another, whereas you’ll have to give away your Fossil.

  • notech47

    I’ve heard that Rolex watches require expensive regular preventative maintenance. Other automatic watches run with similar accuracy for many years with very little maintenance. Is Rolex embracing old or obsolete technology that can’t be justified with current advances, particularly from the Japanese?

  • JamesWWIII

    dnlrytn I find the whole “Rolex hater” idea hysterically funny (seriously, you “don’t even like the name”?). It’s comical how envy of expensive things leads people to publicly vent nonsense on the internet in a desperate attempt at overcompensation. I own expensive and affordable watches, and I haven’t gotten tired of any of them. Perhaps you need to make better choices in your purchases if you get bored so easily. You might consider taking up a hobby, because the fact that you are making useless posts on the web like the one above indicates that you have far too much free time on your hands.

  • JamesWWIII

    notech47 I’ve heard that some people will say anything to make themselves feel better about not being able to afford luxury goods, so the only way they can ease their envy is to convince themselves and others that owning these items can’t possibly be a positive thing.

    On the off chance that you were being sincere with this post that looks suspiciously like a troll…EVERY automatic watch will need maintenance at some point in its lifetime, and the regularity of such work depends entirely on the owner of these timepieces. If you have one automatic watch that is your daily wearer, obviously it’s going to need that maintenance more frequently than a watch that is rotated as part of a collection. My oldest luxury brand is a Breitling Chronomat that is over 20 years old. It still keeps time to COSC standard, and would you like to know how many times it has been in the shop for maintenance? Zero. In case you think Rolex is any different, my Daytona has also never had a dime spent on maintenance, and it’s still running as accurately as the day I bought it. As soon as I notice a drop off in performance, I’ll have a watch looked at, but over the years I’ve had more than one watchsmith and AD tell me “if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it”.

  • notech47

    I’ve heard similar longevity reports from Seiko owners and you can wear them without fear of being robbed. I recall a story where people were regularly being taken of their Rolex watches when worn grocery shopping in a certain neighborhood. My father had a Rolex that was taken in a home burglary and it had great sentimental value.
    Without insurance you can’t safely wear them as daily watches. It’s almost like driving around in a Rolls Royce, except resale is probably much better on the watches and ownership costs are minimal for the watch. Isn’t documented scheduled maintenance required to keep a Rolex in warranty? I admit I own watches that are based on Rolex designs which I admire.

    • Grady Philpott

      “Isn’t documented scheduled maintenance required to keep a Rolex in warranty?” Not exactly. When a Rolex is serviced by Rolex or a Rolex-certified watchmaker, it comes back with a warranty of two years.

  • mikarvey

    notech47 There are neighborhoods where you’d be robbed of a Seiko. It’s doubtful that many Rolex wearers frequent a grocery in a neighborhood where they are often robbed. I wear a Rolex almost daily, rotating with a Breitling and an Omega.

    It’s not like driving a Rolls, as Rolex would be more like a Mercedes or BMW. (Intersestingly, you’d be much more likely to have a Nissan Altima ot Toyota Corolla stolen, than a Rolls.) Poeple with money to buy a Rolex watch, a BMW, and other luxury goods do not spend time or shop in neighhborhoods where robberies are frequent. And luxury watches are out of warranty long before any maintenance is required. 
    Seiko has, by the way, a number of watches in the $7,000-10,000 range.

  • Tony Carvalho

    I just would like to know why my daytona 116520 new randonserial get sooooo easy scratched.. That is true the steel used looks so cool as gold, but any how it is so easy to get scratched…

  • Colin101

    Grand Seiko does all this and makes the crystals (and quartz crystals) and hands too. As good or better unbelievable quality and I never see another one on someone else’s wrist. Rolex are nice, but for the money, no way.

  • MounirSoughayar teddyremillardlang Rolexes are for people who like watches better than the money they cost. Really, anyone can save a few grand a get one. If your poor take your tax refund and get one. seriously, people make a big deal outta this.

  • MarkCarson teddyremillardlang I was thinking the same thing while reading this lol.

  • DG Cayse

    Amazing – thread still kicking after almost 2 years.

    A ZOMBIE THREAD – shoot it in its head to kill it.

  • DonQ

    jfd55 The hours involved are not quite that simple. Example: A Rolex employee operates a machine that stamps out 100 cases at a time, and the process takes one hour. Each case has taken an hour to produce, but the employee has only worked one hour to produce 100 of them. This is hypothetical of course.

  • geerthesselberg

    I wear my Rolex ones a month just to keep it  lubricated after spending $ 900..on a overhaul , which is more than what i paid for back in 1967 ($ 165) It is an excellent time piece somewhat over rated  , On a daily bases I wear My Dads 1946 Election GP military watch bumper automatic  ,which has only been cleaned 4 times  total spends $150. and it keeps excellent time for such an old time piece .  GH

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  • Jesper Krogfelt Hansen

    Love for Rolex .. I cant get enough, only problem is i dont own one my self … http://watchfelt.dk

  • funNactive

    Great read – educational. Thanks.

  • Samouel Bernstein

    My Rolex Daytona has a ZENITH movement. Higher frequency than the newer Rolex made movements with higher accuracy. Much more sought after than the Rolex Daytona movements. Rolex HAS NOT ALWAYS MADE EVERYTHING. My President is nothing more than a piece of jewelry. The bracelets stretch out, the movements go sideways and the date-just feature is skunked. It needs more frequent maintenance than my Ferrari (but cheaper).

    • Stoli89

      If you really wanted reliability…you’d get a Porsche. Been to both HQ’s.. Ferrari’s was very nice…test track in an Enzo (lapped the prototype GranTurismo before its first Geneva debut)…even had a wonderful lunch with Todt and the F1 team. I was working for their F1 partner at the time…the one paying Schumacher’s salary. In any event, the Porsche production was more impressive IMO. Both are hand assembly operations…Porsche does use robots for the uni-body welding (safety, quality) and windscreen fit (precision)…but the rest is hand assembly. It was simply more organized…and from a manufacturing perspective…much better optimized. Of course, we’re talking about an order difference in scale.

      The strangest part was watching Ferrari deal with the Enzo production (399 in total). They were literally rolling the vehicles on steel wheel disks (no tires) from station to station. While literally side stepping one of these rolling works of art, I got to see one of the first 612 Scaglietti’s leave the line…that was pretty cool.

      IMO, the German’s had it more on the ball with their manufacturing processes. That being said…the food at Ferrari was off the charts terrific.

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  • Barney Frank

    Great article and very educational. In my case, I like the Submariner but just can’t see myself spending the kind of money demanded on a watch that in all fairness is a relatively simple piece with an albeit solid proven movement. Allow me to point out, I’m not one to shy away from spending big money on a watch if I feel it worthy. As an example, I own a Breitling 01 Navitimer which costs pretty much the same at the Submariner at over $8k.
    In my opinion, I would equate the Submariner to the Omega Speedmaster (which I also own). Both exceptionally well built pieces with tremendous history although from a horological perspective their movements are nothing “special”. However, the Speedmaster I believe is worth every penny of that $4k price tag while I can’t say the same for the Submariner at over $8k. So what I did was I purchased a Steinhart Ocean 1 premium blue which is a homage to the Submariner and a damn good solid watch. For me, it gives me the best of both worlds in the sense I get to own a beautiful watch which pays proper respect to the Submariner while not having to spend the money on a watch I believe is overpriced.

    • Jeffc2

      To be fair, the Rolex will retain, and appreciate in value on a far greater level. The no date sub can be had for $5500 or so on the used market. As a Speedmaster Pro owner, you’re very wrong. The Speedmaster is more in line with previous generation Submariners. The new 114060 is simply built on another level. No knock on the Speedy..its priced accordingly. Over 5k i’d expect the watches bracelet to match the build quality of the case, and not have a “parts bin” clasp with different curvature or finishing. The bracelet, Dial, Hands, Clasp, Lume, are a full tier below the new sub.

      • Barney Frank

        I understand where you’re coming from and I agree that an Omega is a “tier” lower than Rolex as a brand. However you need to check your facts on appreciation and to clarify, I’m not comparing Rolex to Omega.
        A brand new Speedmaster Pro can be had for roughly $4000 while a used one in excellent condition cannot be found for less than $3000 (most are over $3k). Of course I agree that the 114060 is a better built piece, but keep in mind it’s nearly double the price new and although refined, very similar to what it was 50 years ago. If you look for a used 114060 they can easily be found for $5k. You do the math, Omega at $4k new depreciates to $3k used or Rolex at $7.5k new depreciates to $5k used. Clearly the Rolex has a bigger depreciation.

    • Mr.Face

      Just another opinion. I bought my sub in1983 and since then it is the only watch I’ve ever worn….every day. Salt water, fresh water diving, oil rigs, deserts, rivers (Colorado)rafting, skiing, and desert backpacking…never been serviced…not once. Still keeps almost perfect time. I only recently became interested in watches and realized you’re supposed to take better care of them. I almost sent it in once, but, once I found out what it cost, figured I’d wait till there was a problem. That was 20 years ago. I bought it because lots of times I would be dressed more casual than others, but that Rolex just evens out the playing field…at least in my mind. Turns out it wasn’t just the prestige…the thing is a beast! The Omega is a great watch, but in my particular case, I sure don’t think my Rolex was overpriced.

      • Barney Frank

        Understand, but to be fair in 1983 the prices for Rolex watches were much more reasonable than today. You have a great watch, enjoy!

  • Annie Smith

    Good article. Makes the whole operation sound super impressive. Let me tell you about my attempt to buy a Rolex. I tried on several as I originally thought I wanted a certain size, metal, etc. and found that I liked something else altogether when I got into a store. Well guess what, the very watch I wanted to buy stopped working while I had it on! The saleswoman and the manager could not wind it and make it work. All that impressive attention to detail and the thing stops working before I even pay for it(and thank goodness I didn’t). This was at an authorized dealer too.

    • Jcat Board

      Tell me about it. In 1965s I purchased two. An Sub Mariner and a Sea Dweller, both watches spent the first year more at their service centre in Kent than on my arm…. In the end I settled for a Omega SeaMaster. Since then I have also had a Certina Turtle Case DS and a Seiko diving watch. The best watch has been the Seiko.

      • laup nomis

        My clock maker/restorer friend is full of stories about how unreliable, and poor-time keepers Rolex are. He says its because of there HUGE advertising budget, people think they’re Amazing. But they’re just machine made in enormous quantities, so a few are bound to fail
        Still I like them.

        • BigJimSlade

          I think the trifecta of rich ignorance would be to drive a Maserati while wearing a Rolex while listening to music through Bose speakers.

  • Omega does all of this as well. Nothing ground-breaking here.

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  • Justin Oliver

    No other Brand can spend so much efforts in creating a Watch. Thats why Rolex is always named the Most reliable Brand…Love you Rolex !!!

    -Justin ( http://www.bestwatchdeals.co.uk )

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  • Carl Lindberg

    Dear Team,
    To add some information on point 4, Chopard also have their own gold foundry at their HQ in Geneva.
    Cheers 🙂

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  • Charles Ford

    Everything said in this article about Rolex, could also be said about Seiko, except Seiko has surpassed Rolex in innovation, 1st Quartz Movements, 1st Kinetic Movements, 1st Spring Drive movements, etc etc, etc!

    All Seiko JDM models are completely in-house!

    • Sunghyun Ryu

      ?? the 1st quartz movements made from ETA isn;t it??

      • Nardo Nardalis

        First Quartz watches came from Japan, that almost completely collapsed the Swiss watch industry forcing even Rolex to make Quartz watches.

      • David Horgan

        No. Seiko did invent the quartz movement

  • christosL

    Nice ad

  • Andy Chen

    I would pay the money for only two of the reasons: 1 and 9

  • Thomas

    Anyone who argues against the price of a Rolex clearly has never owned one. You can take a magnifying glass to Rolex and you will see perfection and fine details all the way down to a minisucle level. I’ve owned many other luxury brand watches and nothing comes even close to the fit and finish of any of my Rolexes. So quit trying to say your Seiko is just as good for $200… it just simply isn’t true.

    • David Horgan

      Eh. It’s the people who can’t afford them who trash talk them in way they are trying to discourage themselves from wanting it. You see that a lot.

      • BOT

        No, that’s the same apple fanboys says about apple, and it’s not true at all!.

    • Nikos Samaras

      no other brand?You sure?There aee still better brands than rolex.PP,VC,AL&S,IWC

    • Nikos Samaras

      no other brand?You sure?There aee still better brands than rolex.PP,VC,AL&S,JLC

    • BOT

      That’s the lie you want to believe, but the truth is that there are “better” options out there, but what you care and the most of the people care is the brand’s name!.

  • 7541west

    Nice article and interesting but still…..its just a small machine…and hopefully your life is defined by more than what you wear on your arm.

    • Gorilla Guard_25

      True, but keep in mind that this small machine in your arm has the power of time and the power to cure depression, on the right person. All im saying is, i think the art of creating watches is by far the most advanced and most difficult to engage upon, no matter the artisan and machinery involved. It is truly art, an art that has to be fully appreciated to be understood properly, and sadly, 95% of the world wont understand why you would ever want a watch like Rolex, because for them a 100-1000€ watch would do more than well enough.

    • BigJimSlade

      The clock on my smartphone works just fine.

      I honestly can’t tell the gaudy Rolex my nephew seems to proud to wear from a cheap decorative watch you may see being sold on the street. Nobody in the family cares or understands why the dumb kid wasted his money on the ugly thing – but now he owns a Rolex!

      • Rob

        “The clock in my smartphone works just fine”.

        Right.. reach into your pocket, pull out a rectangular digital device and push a button just to see what times it is.

        I’ll just take a quick glance at my wrist…

        Your smartphone will be worthless, outdated technology in a year or two.

        The Rolex will last a lifetime.

      • Kara Seville

        It’s an investment, a work of art and a luxury item that makes it unique. Life is about splurging and enjoying finely crafted products every so often. You sound a bit jealous…

    • Aokia Honteg

      ……pointless, the article is just informative, not asking for your life philosphy nor the title is ” WHY YOU SHOULD WEAR A ROLEX BECAUSE IS BETTER TO DIE IF YOU DONT HAVE ONE”

  • Cindy Tesler

    I didn’t realize that Rolex uses difficult-to-machine steel because it looks better. You also said that stainless steel is not all the same. I think it’s important to choose a horology book that has plenty of materials listed as well as diagrams to follow. http://tedcrombooks.com/

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  • goju1

    I like my Rolex watches and have no complaints but that article is a bit over the top – The Rolex people are good at business they are not artisans. You have described, economics, applied science and engineering.
    Anyway, Rolex watches hold their value, so if you like them there is nothing to regret about owning one.

  • Jorge Cortés

    My personal point of view is that Rolex doesn’t make anything very different than other higher complicated (and even cheaper) watch manufacturers. 50% is the watch and the other 50% is the fame of the Rolex brand.

  • Susan A

    “In fact, each Rolex watch movement has a unique serial number that is photographed and matched with a case that also has a different unique serial number. In the future when the watch is serviced, a watchmaker can learn everything there is to know about it.”

    You mean, like Hamilton (and others) pocket watches from pre-WWII? You can even look them up online, today. My 1928 922MP, 917 and 1930 917 are laid bare online includimg the case numbers….Even the date they went to the finishing department and in the case of my 922, the name of the watchmaker who assembled it.

    Rolex is likely the best production watch company one the planet but, there are still one-offs by other companies that are probably better. It’s apples to oranges, I know but, it’s a point that should be made.

  • BOT

    Any comments on what this guy nav san says in one of the comments here:

    “Hywel Owen
    Hace 2 meses
    I always wondered where Breguet got their dials from.?

    nav san
    Hace 2 meses
    Hywel Owen ???? they didn’t let me film the Rolex watches because all the owners would cry?”

    He is saying that Rolex dials are made in that exact chinese factory!. By the record it is his youtube channel.

  • Raymond Urgo

    Rolex is just a over priced status symbol for rich people ,no one even wears watches anymore with smart phones.very very over priced but rich people got money to burn.