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Why Are Rolex So Expensive Revealed: New & Used Rolex Economics

Discover why are Rolex so expensive with our in-depth analysis and the economics factors for both new and used Rolex watches.

Why Are Rolex So Expensive

The reason why Rolex watches are expensive is because of the quality and value of their product. Both Rolex quality and value has created an environment where demand far exceeds supply and their watches are now considered investments, often selling for 2 to 3 times used than new at MSRP.

“Expensive” is a relative term. What is expensive to some might not be to others. What I think “expensive” means to many who ask this question is why do they cost more than what they really should. It’s not often that a product sells more pre-owned than it does new. We asked ourselves what causes this and we came up with a couple reasons why are Rolex so expensive.

For a full price list of current Rolex watches, check out our Complete Rolex 2022 Pricing Guide.

Rolex Demand Far Exceeds Supply

Demand for Rolex watches is incredibly high. It’s so high that universally all Rolex authorized dealers have empty cases. They are selling all their inventory, like the Rolex Submariner, before the watches even arrive at the store through Rolex Waitlists. This shortage has caused a frenzy among many collectors and enthusiasts of the brand but it’s a great problem to have if you are Rolex.

Discover our guide to the Rolex Waitlist & How Long You’ll Wait.

The evidence of this is the used Rolex marketplace. Before we wrote this article answering the question of why are Rolex so expensive, we conducted extensive research on used Rolex pricing. What we found was that all Rolex collections are selling above MSRP on the pre-owned market. It’s absolutely astonishing and the prices are only getting more expensive.

Rolex Watches Have Become Investments

Rolex watches have always done well at retaining their value. In the past it wasn’t uncommon to see a 20 year old Submariner selling for over what the owner bought it for all those years ago. In todays market not only will a 20 year old Submariner sell for what the owner bought it for originally, it’ll sell for more than what a new one costs today at MSRP.

The increased demand for Rolex watches caused an initial bump in pre-owned values and as it started to steadily climb it caught the attention of some savvy investors. Rolex buyers now have to compete with these Rolex investing operations when buying new from authorized dealers and trying to acquire one for a larger premium on the pre-owned market.

The introduction of business ventures and professional investors into the watch world has sent shockwaves through the industry. It’s not only Rolex that’s experiencing these types of premiums on the pre-owned market, other brands are as well. Anytime outside forces start manipulating the market and using it as a vehicle for profit, prices are naturally going to get away from collectors and enthusiasts alike. Personally I think this is the main reason why Rolex is almost impossible to obtain at authorized dealers and why Rolex is so expensive on the pre-owned market.

For more on investments, take a look at our Rolex 2022 Investment Watches article or What Is The Investment Value Of A Rolex.

Periodic Price Increases

As a brand, Rolex does fantastic work at strengthening their product’s value. A lot of that has to do with brand perception but much of it has to do with pricing. Every now and then Rolex will institute a scheduled price increase of their watches, which does two things. Price increases obviously raise retail costs but they also swing used Rolex pricing up as well.

If you are fortunate enough to buy a Rolex new, it’ll be very rare that you’ll lose money during your ownership experience. This is because pre-owned prices typically follow retail prices. Value retention makes buying a Rolex a safer purchase. Therefore buying a Rolex at $9,000 is a much better buy than another lesser valued brand at $4,000.

On the opposite side of the spectrum it looks a little different if you’re trying to buy a pre-owned Rolex from 10 years ago. You are most likely paying double what it was originally purchased for because it’s gone through many different price increases. In this scenario it’s worth asking why are Rolex so expensive.

Rolex Produces Quality Watches

The fundamental reason why we are asking ourselves why are Rolex so expensive might simply be because they produce quality watches. After all who would pay 2x-3x retail for a watch that was poorly made and wouldn’t last 30-40 years.

Rolex is known for making excellent watches, timeless designs, and having impeccable quality control. When you get all three things right, like Rolex did, it’s not hard to comprehend why they are having the success they are today.

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