Don’t Buy A Rolex! Says Who?

Don't buy a Rolex - logo

Rolex are damn fine watches. They’re beautifully designed (with exceptions) and immaculately constructed. While there are plenty of alternatives (e.g., Rolex Daytona Alternatives), a Rolex is a Rolex is a Rolex. That’s a problem for the man who goes by the name WatchChris. His advice: don’t buy a Rolex . . .

In the video above, WatchChris lays out the reasons why he’ll never, ever buy a Rolex. Let’s do a deep dive on the curmudgeon’s antipathy . . .

Instagrammers are flexing Rollies!

Don't buy a Rolex blue

These are people who only purchased a Rolex because of the hype. The reason why they want a Rolex because they know when they put it on Instagram people will immediately know that they spent a lot of money for that watch.

That is the only reason why they’re doing it. They’re not doing it because they love the movement. They’re not doing it because they love the look of the watch. They’re doing it because it’s instantly recognizable . . . They have one and you don’t. 

Three Rolex

I doubt WatchChris surveyed Rolex-posting Instagrammers to ascertain their psychological motivations. But even if we accept WC’s contention that Rolex posters are posers, they may also admire their Rollie for its own sake – in the same way that someone who owns a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ can get off on both the attention and the acceleration.

Forgive the double negative, but just because someone owns a Rolex to flex doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t own one because it’s freaking awesome.

If someone thinks his/her/their Rolex is freaking awesome, is posting it on Instagram so terrible? Maybe they want to share the love rather than flaunt it. Who knows? Not WatchChris. He clings to his advice: don’t buy a Rolex!

“There are tons of better watches out there for way less money”

Vacheron Constantin Overseas - first good watch

When I bought my Vacheron – I have three Vacherons – I actually got it at a very good discount. And in fact I was considering buying a Rolex instead. And at that time, Rolex hadn’t skyrocketed to the prices that they are now.

However for a Pepsi GMT it was around $15k and I was able to get my Vacheron for just a little bit over that price . . . I really do like the Pepsi bezel GMT, I think it is a great watch, but it is not a Vacheron. 

Since when does “way less money” mean “a little bit more money”? Anyway, we explored this spend less idea in Three Inexpensive Rolex Alternatives. The key word: “alternatives.” Our recommendations aren’t necessarily better. They’re different.

Rolex hairspring

WatchChris defines “better” as better finished and better looking. He then returns to bashing Rolex owners for worshipping at the altar of conspicuous consumption.

While he’s right – Rolex are primarily valued as the world’s most identifiable luxury watch – they’re far from being a piece of sh*t. Anyone who’s handled one knows it.

In short, Rolex earned – make that earns their crown. Their fans are not wrong.

Rolex are a mass-produced product

Don't buy Rolex - mass produced

WatchChris compares “mass produced” Rolex to Porsche’s 911. He labels the 911 an “entry level sports car,” asserting that “everything above it is way better.” This ridiculous statement will win him no supporters.

Truth be told, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a Porsche 911. When it comes to reliability, handling and pedigree, Stuttgart’s “everyday supercar” is at least as good if not better than its “betters.” Measured in the same terms, there’s nothing wrong with a Rolex. 

Ladies Nautilus on wrist 7

Is a Patek Philippe an “everyday superwatch”? The Nautilus (above) or Aquanaut, maybe. Every Rolex (save the virtually invisible Cellini collection), definitely.

Note: automated production is not in and of itself a bad thing. Hand-built cars and watches are an anachronism for a reason, and it’s not just economy of scale. Speaking of money . . .

Rolex cost over retail!

don't buy a Rolex - they cost a lot!

I will not pay over retail . . . If it’s a watch I really want, I’ll find the discount [on the grey market]. If I can’t get the discount, I will usually not buy the watch. It’s just who I am. And unfortunately that actually prohibits me from ever buying a Rolex.

Don't buy a Rolex watchchris instagram

I get it. WatchChris resents paying a premium for a Rolex – or full retail on any watch ever. Not that the blogger would ever buy a Rolex or show one on his YouTube channel or Instagram page even if he could get suchadeal.

I don’t think retail-plus-equals-no-way-Jose is as a compelling a justification for WC’s “don’t buy a Rolex” message as his “they’re for clueless snobs” argument. Which isn’t all that compelling, really.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39

There’s a reason Rolex command a premium on the gray market: people love them! They’re willing to pay above retail to get something they can’t buy any other way.

While Rolex would be well advised to let their Authorized Dealers charge a premium to reduce demand and ensure inventory, I say God bless them and God bless free market capitalism. It’s WatchChris who’s the snob here, not Rolex buyers.

15 comments

  1. I’m with you here, Robert. I think WatchChris has the issues. But I am also one who will not pay above retail for a Rolex – or any watch. I usually pay far less. In the case of Rolex, the only one that seriously interests me is the 41mm Oyster Perpetual in stainless steel with the silver dial and gold pips. No date. At an MSRP of $5,900, I think it is not only an excellent, low-key, luxury watch but a solid value in that market space. Perhaps I have issues as well. Because this is the only Rolex that doesn’t make me feel as though I would be trying too hard to impress people. Alas, one cannot even find that watch much less purchase it at that price. So I will do without.

  2. Oh, the backlash is beginning! Fun stuff. People should buy what they want. I personally wouldn’t spend the cash on Rolexes where they are right now but that’s just me.

    I do buy his argument about it being a real IG flavor of the moment…I personally rather not spend a lot of money to be associated with that whole subculture, and would rather buy something that reflects my own tastes. But again, anyone who DOES buy one, more power to them.

    Speaking as someone who owns a “hand-built” 911, well, I’m not sure that “mass-produced” is such a bad thing.

      1. I didn’t really get the line of argument that “social influencers like it so it must be trash.” I thought it was a very childish (!) way to look at it as well as ahistoric. A pepsi GMT will continue to look pretty slick even after the current crop of social influencers have moved on to something else, and Rolex has always gotten a boost from genuine social influencers. Just think of the Rolex nicknames: the Clint Eastwood, the Paul Newman Daytona, etc.

        1. The difference is that Rolex got a boost off of Newman, McQueen, Eastwood, etc.

          These Instagram weirdos, on the other hand, are trying to get a boost off of Rolex. “I am not talented or attractive, but check out my Rolex bitches.” Short term they boost Rolex demand as other people try to get on the bandwagon, but long term they are hurting the brand.

          1. This is a fine distinction, the degradation from those that truly appreciate the product and its inherent attributes to those that are mimicking the past and latching onto a signifier with little to no appreciation of the actual product.
            Years ago Jack Baruth said something similar of Land Rover, how some Brit nobleman would buy the thing because it best did the job he needed it to do whereas the choice by modern sheikh or footballer or soccer mom is using very different criteria.

        2. I would no more buy a watch because Paul Newman wore it than @Rolex420xXx69 or whatever. I don’t need or want external validation for my consumption. So for me, it’s not causal. Simply that if I am going to buy A Thing, I am buying it for myself; however everything with which we are seen in public carriers a message, and I would rather that message not be “I listen to influencers, no matter who they are”.

  3. The problem isn’t Rolex, it’s social media. And social media’s destructive powers have ruined many more important things than (arguably) any watch brand or watch.

    1. Some things needed ruining.

      The old way of doing things in the watch world – authorized dealers Uber alles, no price transparency and nothing but co-opted journalists – concentrated power in a very few hands. Stifling competition and innovation.

  4. I really like Rolex watches but given that I have no purchase history with an AD, nor could I afford the prices being asked on the grey market, I just have to hope that Grand Seiko or Omega catches up design wise. Those two companies are nearly there with some of their models, such as with the Acqua Terra or the GS 44 gs designs, but just come up a little short on the Rolex designs.

    1. I totally agree with your analysis. I was thinking much of the same watching this video.

      It’s silly to judge people who buy a luxury product for doing so – at least in part – for the social signaling. Yes it’s an unattractive aspect of human nature, this peacocking. But it’s there and always will be.

      This is true of any luxury product. Is a Gucci bag really so much better than a Coach bag? Of course a big part of the appeal and expense of a Gucci bag is the logo. Nobody will admit this (well, anyone with a modicum of class), but of course it’s true.

      Judging people for not valuing the true, authentic, intrinsic value of a luxury product is silly. The exclusivity *is* the point for most people who buy. If you’re not one of those people, great…you buy for other reasons.

      1. True, nobody has time to discern attributes of every product they purchase. This is the prime reason for branding in the first place, that reputation can serve as a shortcut to assurance.

        Normally, repeat normally, the fear is that rube conspicuous consumers lead a fine company to dilute and cheapen their items to do a cash grab once they realize the bulk of buyers value the name/logo more than the actual item. Rolex is not the typical company, of course. They have remarkable consistency and resistance to selling out.

        I can go either way on the anti-interloper sentiment. There is the “I liked this band before they were popular” conceit. Yes, it’s all vanity. People want to be more knowing, more cultured, more hip, or whatever than their peers. So they are annoyed when others jump on the bandwagon. On the other hand, a true believer cringes at seeing the apple of his eye being squandered on those he deems to have a lesser appreciation, and there is something oddly endearing about that.

  5. I don’t like the design of Rolex and the people I associate the brand with. Just as I would never buy an Audi. Now call me snobbish. But I prefer the lower, less blingy profile of Tudor. But each to their own, can’t really be bothered. And I’m too old to be influenced by some Instagram nobody. In fact, I removed both my Facebook and my Instagram accounts as fb and insta are knee-deep within the woke crowd for whom opinions are more important than facts.

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