Moneycontrol
Last Updated : Sep 27, 2018 12:20 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Why does a Rolex cost more than a car?

Rolex is one of the most recognizable and sought-after luxury brands worldwide. But have you ever wondered why this thing of beauty, in most cases, costs more than your car?

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When it comes to the finest wristwatches in the world, one doesn't need to look beyond the Swiss luxury watchmaker - Rolex. Adorned by legendary figures like Winston Churchill, Rolex is one of the most recognizable and sought-after luxury brands worldwide. But have you ever wondered why this thing of beauty, in most cases, costs more than a car? Is it down to brilliant marketing or does the brand's legacy of immaculate timekeeping weigh upon its hefty pricing? (Image: Rolex)
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When it comes to the finest wristwatches in the world, one doesn't need to look beyond the Swiss luxury watchmaker - Rolex. Adorned by legendary figures like Winston Churchill, Rolex is one of the most recognizable and sought-after luxury brands worldwide. But have you ever wondered why this thing of beauty, in most cases, costs more than a car? Is it down to brilliant marketing or does the brand's legacy of immaculate timekeeping weigh upon its hefty pricing? (Image: Rolex)

Historical relevance | Before we begin, it is important to understand why a Rolex is what it is - a well-crafted wristwatch that offers a superlative ownership experience. The essence of the brand lies in its unceasing quest to achieve chronometric precision. When Hans Wilsdorf founded Rolex in London, he wanted to make a wristwatch that not only looked elegant, but was also precise. (Image: Rolex)
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Historical relevance | Before we begin, it is important to understand why a Rolex is what it is - a well-crafted wristwatch that offers a superlative ownership experience. The essence of the brand lies in its unceasing quest to achieve chronometric precision. When Hans Wilsdorf founded Rolex in London, he wanted to make a wristwatch that not only looked elegant, but was also precise. (Image: Rolex)

To achieve the target he set for his then-nascent company, he began importing small watch movements manufactured by a watchmaking firm based in Bienne, Switzerland. A watch movement, also known as "calibre", is the power source that makes a watch tick. By 1910, the Rolex became the first of its kind to receive a Swiss Certificate of Precision by the official watch rating centre in Bienne. From this point, the brand was associated with quality. (Image: Rolex)
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To achieve the target he set for his then-nascent company, he began importing small watch movements manufactured by a watchmaking firm based in Bienne, Switzerland. A watch movement, also known as "calibre", is the power source that makes a watch tick. By 1910, the Rolex became the first of its kind to receive a Swiss Certificate of Precision by the official watch rating centre in Bienne. From this point, the brand was associated with quality. (Image: Rolex)

After moving its headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland, Rolex manufactured the first waterproof wristwatch called the Oyster. It soon came out with a "winners in life" campaign whereby global icons tested its products in extreme conditions only for it to pass with flying colours. Before leaving the factory, each Rolex is tested in rigorous conditions in order to live up to its title of 'Superlative Chronometer'. (Image: Rolex)
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After moving its headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland, Rolex manufactured the first waterproof wristwatch called the Oyster. It soon came out with a "winners in life" campaign whereby global icons tested its products in extreme conditions only for it to pass with flying colours. Before leaving the factory, each Rolex is tested in rigorous conditions in order to live up to its title of 'Superlative Chronometer'. (Image: Rolex)

The cost of design | Watchmaking is a very demanding profession and Rolex spares no expenses when it comes to it. Utmost attention is granted to craftsmanship. The watches are designed by experienced professionals and built by expert craftsmen. The materials used are also of the highest quality. Rolex also has several dedicated R&D departments which are considered to be one of the best equipped and most professional facilities around the world. The department not only spends time in honing the art of watchmaking but also tries to develop new manufacturing techniques to keep ahead of the curve. (Image: Rolex)
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The cost of design | Watchmaking is a very demanding profession and Rolex spares no expenses when it comes to it. Utmost attention is granted to craftsmanship. The watches are designed by experienced professionals and built by expert craftsmen. The materials used are also of the highest quality. Rolex also has several dedicated R&D departments which are considered to be one of the best equipped and most professional facilities around the world. The department not only spends time in honing the art of watchmaking but also tries to develop new manufacturing techniques to keep ahead of the curve. (Image: Rolex)

Mechanical watches are generally more expensive to build | As the name suggests, mechanical watches use components such as springs, balance wheels, and escapements among others, as opposed to modern quartz watches which function electronically. Hence, owing to the small size of every individual component, the margin of error during the manufacture and assembly of such watches is fairly high. The majority of the components are polished by hand and manually finished. The fact that they based out of Switzerland also adds to the price tag since labour cost in the Alpine country is relatively high. (Image: Rolex)
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Mechanical watches are generally more expensive to build | As the name suggests, mechanical watches use components such as springs, balance wheels, and escapements among others, as opposed to modern quartz watches which function electronically. Hence, owing to the small size of every individual component, the margin of error during the manufacture and assembly of such watches is fairly high. The majority of the components are polished by hand and manually finished. The fact that they based out of Switzerland also adds to the price tag since labour cost in the Alpine country is relatively high. (Image: Rolex)

They don't cut corners | Unlike most luxury brands, that work towards lowering production costs, Rolex has a completely different ideology. The materials that the watchmaker use are generally very expensive. For example, Rolex uses 904L steel which is leagues ahead of the industry standard, 316L. It uses molybdenum, chromium, copper and nickel, giving it improved resistance to acids. The dials are made of white gold and the bezels tend to be ceramic. The numbers on the dial are made of sandblasted platinum. (Image: Rolex)
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They don't cut corners | Unlike most luxury brands, that work towards lowering production costs, Rolex has a completely different ideology. The materials that the watchmaker use are generally very expensive. For example, Rolex uses 904L steel which is leagues ahead of the industry standard, 316L. It uses molybdenum, chromium, copper and nickel, giving it improved resistance to acids. The dials are made of white gold and the bezels tend to be ceramic. The numbers on the dial are made of sandblasted platinum. (Image: Rolex)

Precision as an obsession | Rolex does everything with extra care and this attribute has set them a notch above their closest competitors such as Omega and Tag Heuer. Unlike most companies that want to push out as many watches as they can, Rolex only makes between 800,000 and 1 million watches every year. Rolex watches also hold their value in the resale market. In some cases, they are passed down multiple generations as an heirloom.  (Image: Rolex)
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Precision as an obsession | Rolex does everything with extra care and this attribute has set them a notch above their closest competitors such as Omega and Tag Heuer. Unlike most companies that want to push out as many watches as they can, Rolex only makes between 800,000 and 1 million watches every year. Rolex watches also hold their value in the resale market. In some cases, they are passed down multiple generations as an heirloom.  (Image: Rolex)

First Published on Sep 25, 2018 03:23 pm
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