Why Are Rolex Watches So Expensive?

Rolex vintage wristwatch ceramic bezel model

If you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Details

When it comes to the world of watches, you will struggle to find anyone who has not heard of a Rolex timepiece. The Rolex brand is synonymous with luxury, elegance, and masterful craftsmanship. 
Rolex watches have been in popular culture for a long time and have been seen as a status symbol for decades. Diving deeper, we know that a Rolex watch is built to last and designed by experts in watchmaking, so it is no surprise that they are so desired across the globe. But why are Rolex watches so expensive? 
In this guide, we are going to have a quick look at the background of the coveted timepieces, some reasons they are so costly, and help uncover some of the mysteries surrounding their costs.

History of Rolex Cost

Rolex watch brand logo
Many people are shocked to hear that Rolex watches were not always considered a luxury item and did not have the price tag that we are all accustomed to in a modern watch market. 
At their inception at the turn of the 20th century, Rolex was just a fledgling company who were starting, they did not have their reputation or the eventual factors that would significantly affect the price. 
As they became more and more popular, the quality of the watches improved exponentially. As inflation and other extraneous variables affected the prices of everything, the gap between luxury goods and essential commodities broadened massively.
Many Rolex collectors or owners will tell you it’s one of the top watch brands that will hold its value, if not appreciate over time. If you are looking for a long-term watch investment, a Rolex is often your best bet.

Reasons Why Rolex are Expensive

Milan, Italy - September 24, 2017: Rolex store in Milan. Fashio
There are many reasons why Rolex watches have such a high price tag; we have collated some of the most common or popular reasons that luxury timepieces are at such a premium price.
We will briefly look at each of these to help break down the mystery surrounding the cost of these high-end timepieces that have encapsulated wealth and status for the best part of a century.


As we touched on in the previous section, Rolex watches were not always as expensive as they are now, and they started like every other company from the ground up. As the adage goes, Rome was not built in a day, and in turn, the Rolex legacy was not created instantly.
A legacy takes time, stemming from the Latin’ legatus‘, which roughly translates to ‘delegated by a person,’ implying that the process, whatever it is referring to, takes a lot of time. 
This is exactly how Rolex became so significant in the watch market, slowly building until it became arguably the frontrunner in the number one watch brand globally; at the least, it is the most recognized. 
Depending on who you speak to, they may argue that different watch manufacturers are more impactful in the overall watch market and the boom of luxury watches; No one can deny that Rolex is an important part of the legacy of luxury timepieces.

Value Over Time 

A Rolex has increased in value over time as a brand and slowly created its own luxury niche and market. A Rolex watch will hold its value over time and even appreciate under the right conditions.
There are a lot of factors that have affected the value of a Rolex watch. Some experts put it down to celebrity endorsements. In contrast, others focus on inclusion in popular culture and films, such as Sean Connery’s James Bond sporting his Rolex Submariner in the 1960s.
Other watch experts just put it down to excellent engineering and changing customer perceptions towards luxurious purchases.

Built to Last 

One of the things that makes a Rolex so valuable is that these timepieces are designed to last. A Rolex watch is created to be durable against multiple types of damage and wear and tear. 
Rolex watches are renowned for withstanding changes in weather, temperature, humidity, altitude, water, and movement, making them perfect for various settings.
Although Rolex has been known for being durable for most of its lifespan, newer watches are becoming even more resistant. With technology and innovations being more frequently updated than ever, the newer timepieces are often even more durable.

High-Quality Materials 

Rolex wristwatch in a display, Ref.6262
Many people overlook a fun fact when buying their Rolex because the brand has a whole team dedicated to incorporating precious metals and even making their own in-house metals to make watches.
It is not surprising that a high-end brand would look to use better quality materials, but the sheer lengths Rolex goes to is astounding.
Rolex is also one of the only watch companies to actually use gold in their watches, a lot of other brands will only use gold plating or gold paint onto other materials. This does make the watches heavy, but this adds to the cost, design, and overall feel of the end product.
Across the whole Rolex line, there are high-quality materials used, which further showcases the Rolex brand’s commitment to quality and high-end timepieces.

Hand Assembled 

It is no secret that Rolex does have some machines involved in their watchmaking process, but these machines are only used for simple tasks and not the actual assembly of the timepieces. 
All the work is done by hand when it comes to watch movements, straps, bracelets, and other elements. This complex and intricate job requires skilled hands to assemble the luxury watches correctly to keep in line with the brand’s meticulous standards.
Every hand-crafted Rolex is put through a series of quality testing and has to be signed off by the master craftsman, ensuring each Rolex is consistent and flawless.

Water Resistance 

The quality of a Rolex timepiece goes way past the watch’s physical look, and its actual durability and usability in a wide range of conditions, one of these is the impermeability of the majority of Rolex watches.
The line of Rolex dive watches has incredible durability and water resistance up to almost 1000 feet, which is remarkable for such a luxury-looking timepiece. With great function comes excellent wearability, and Rolex knows how to create a practical high-end watch.
With this being said, to hold up their standards, Rolex needs to test all of the water-resistant timepieces to ensure they are ready to be sold to the consumer, this, in turn, adds to the cost as Rolex does multiple stress tests in pressurized tanks and outdoors too.

Exclusivity & Status Symbols

Stock image of a rolex watch
Luxury watches are so expensive because they are a form of exclusivity. Only a tiny percentage of people can afford to own a Rolex or even understand the appeal of needing one.
The fact that something has a limited supply always appeals to us. Please think of the popularity of NFTs or numbered artworks. They are exclusive, they are finite, and they are a status symbol. 
A Rolex watch falls into this category; it is an exclusive purchase and seen as a status symbol. Many watch collectors and enthusiasts will either think of a Rolex as an aspirational purchase or a milestone that they want to attain. 

Rolex & Innovation

Another factor that comes into play when determining the prices of Rolex watches is the brand’s sheer commitment to ensuring they stay on top of their game. This means investing a lot of money into research, innovation, and development, allowing the Rolex brand always to be competitive, innovative, and relevant.
Rolex has huge teams devoted to finding new ways to improve their watches, whether it is through new materials, improving outdated methods, or new technology. Rolex is determined to continue to push boundaries and keep creating high-quality timepieces well into the future. 
This is exactly what a market leader should do. We have seen countless huge brands succumb to apathy and success and fall from grace; Examples of market leaders such as the phone giant Nokia or the global rental behemoth Blockbuster fell victim to being stagnant and not adapting to the times.
Although they are in very different markets, it is clear that Rolex is not happy to sit on their laurels and is constantly looking to adapt, evolve and improve. This is another way they stay relevant, popular, and a huge force in the watch industry to date.

Why Rolex Watches Are Expensive – Summary

BANGKOK, THAILAND - JULY 14, 2019: Rolex Submariner watch is equipped with a ceramic bezel with functions used in diving.
As we have alluded to in this guide, there really are a plethora of reasons that affect the prices of Rolex watches. With this in mind, hopefully, we have shed some light on a few of these factors and showcased the significance of Rolex amongst the most prolific watch brands ever.
The short answer to the whole question is actually just a business factor, if someone is willing to pay ‘X’ price for something then why would you sell it for any less? 
Luxury brands will rarely have sales or reduce the price of their products because it devalues the thing they are selling in the eyes of the consumer. The concept is rooted in buyer psychology and buyer behavior.
Luxury products act off of scarcity, high-quality materials, and being a status symbol, they are defined as a luxury for a reason, they are determined to be something supplementary that is not necessary but seen as a sign of wealth and pride.

Recent articles

Subscribe to our newsletter