Why is Rolex so popular?

Hi, I’m new to the watch enthusiast land and, after finding out about brands such as Jager, Glashutte, Patek etc, I quickly found myself asking one question. Why is Rolex so popular, despite being so boring/unimpressive?

I get the whole ‘brand identity’, but they’re doing nothing new, and are clearly just ramping up their prices because they can!

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Brand identity is basically it. Think of them as Apple; they don’t do anything new, but what they do do, they do well, which has earned them a cult following that is nigh on unsinkable!

Long live the years where you could get a submariner for £1500!

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Long live those years indeed Toby, and welcome to our Club.
There are plenty of reasons, and a long story behind, that explain why Rolex is more than one step ahead of the rest.

It’s truly hard to summarize the Rolex saga in one go.

One major point is that they have always set up a clear strategy, offered a reasonable product portfolio and worked hard on producing sturdy luxury sports watches you can virtually wear under every condition, ranging from formal to business casual.

Also, they’ve applied a “continuous improvement” process. Take a look at a Porsche 911 as a great example: evolution rather than revolution paired to an upmarket communication strategy, in the benchmark.

Finally, they’re not a public company, which means they can manage the offer vs demand curve as they prefer, other than working hard with building the Rolex’s heritage and appeal over the years (thematic auctions, great celebrities of the past).

Again, please take the above a super quick summary of what I do think.

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Couldn’t have put it better myself!

What makes Rolex the best watch maker out there in my eyes is summed up entirely in the 126600. It’s a hardcore dive watch, that is so good looking and unobtrusive, I wear it to work having completely forgot that it has a crush depth of 10,000 feet.

Oh and the brand. Can’t forget the brand.

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Arthur, please take a look at the first-edition of the modern Sea-Dweller too, namely the reference 116600, hence the first to be equipped with the Cerachrom inlay.

It’s very refined and smaller too.

I hardly accept the cyclope lens on the Rolex tool watch par excellence.

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Ah, I see you’re a non-cyclope purist!

Whilst I do understand the argument that it’s not a hardcore of hardcore tool watch if it has one, Rolex have managed to design it to not impact the maximum depth. With this flaw removed, you then get a dive watch that can dive far beyond any competitor, whilst offering the utility of a magnified date window.

Therefore, I still stand by the 126600 being the best ‘wear it anywhere’ watch, and still my personal favourite from Rolex!

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Thank you!

In regards to the Porsche comparison, I thought Porsche’s 911 appeal was by making it better and better while offering it comparatively cheaper than their competitors!

Rolex seems to be thousands above anyone else!

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It was, but it is not any longer, in my opinion.
The current 911 has grown over the years to become more refined than ever before.

The old-school formula has gone.

I think they’re comparable for the following reasons:

  • they’re both high-volume luxury brands
  • Porsche and Rolex are successful with almost their entire line-up
  • they sell icons (the 911, the Daytona) in their respective class of products
  • they sell luxury yet industrial-based products at high price point, in the benchmark
  • they therefore feel exclusive, but they’re not
  • customers eagerly await for their new models from one generation to another
  • they’re ahead of the competition in terms of communication strategy

what do you think? Let me add @francescofalcone to the conversation since he is a long-standing marketing expert.



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