This Is Why Rolex Watches Are So Expensive

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Rolex watches are some of the most sought-after timepieces in the world. Last year, a vintage Rolex Daytona worn by Paul Newman was sold at auction for $17.8 million. Cara Barrett, editor at Hodinkee, fills us in on why Rolex's are so pricey.

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Following is a transcript of the video:

Cara Barrett: There is a rumor that in order for a Rolex to actually leave the factory or be a Rolex design it has be to recognizable from 20 feet away.

Hi, I'm Cara Barrett, editor at Hodinkee, the leading online watch publication. Rolex is one of the few brands, if not the only brand that has a very specific aesthetic. They are sporty, they are active, they are tool watches that's kind of their main DNA.

In the 50's they came out with the Submariner, the Explorer, the Milgauss, the GMT and they were all watches that were designed and made to be used as tools. And so that's their bread and butter and it still is today. It kind of evolved into a luxury brand later in life which now is what they're known for. So that's kind of the interesting thing about them is they initially were tool watches which have now become luxury. Rolex is kind of one of those brands that sits on the lower end of the spectrum as far as luxury watches are concerned.

The Submariner's $8,000. The entry-level watch at Rolex is $5,000 with the Oyster Perpetual. Their three qualities are self-winding, waterproof and precision. And they really focus on quality. It takes one year to make a Rolex. They go through extensive testing. The accuracy, the chronometer, the timing, it's all about telling the right time, keeping the right time. They also have extensive service work after, so if you ever have a problem with your Rolex, you can take it to them and they'll fix it.

The clasp is opened and closed a thousand times before it leaves so you know that when you get it, it's not gonna break. The whole point of a Rolex is you buy one now, it will last you for 20 years if you take care of it. It will last you for 100 if you really take care of it. That's ultimately why they're so expensive because you're buying something that will last you a lifetime presumably. And something that you can pass down to other generations as well.

In the collectors' world, there's the vintage Rolex market. And there's a whole underground of different nuances and you know there's a GMT with a matte dial, a GMT with a gilt dial and there are all these tiny little details that change and they make a watch more or less valuable.

There's the Paul Newman Daytona which sold for $17.8 million last fall and that's the most expensive Rolex that's ever sold at auction. The Paul Newman Daytona is a really good example where they came out with a Daytona back in the 70s and they put these exotic dials on them and they couldn't sell them. And now they're the most collectible watches on the vintage market.

No one knows how many Rolexes are produced per year, no one knows how many Rolexes are produced per model. But there are specific ones, like the Rainbow Daytona that came out this year, rumored to have X amount made, but very small quantities. You don't ever know exactly what the number is, but you do know that there aren't that many. And they're hard to get.

One of the best things about Rolex is anyone can wear any of them. They're very unisex and I think that that's refreshing 'cause a lot of times brands put a lot of diamonds on watches and kind of brand it as a woman's watch. Whereas Rolex does the same thing, but it's kind of unisex. I wear a lot of men's Rolex. But the ladies Datejust is actually, in two-tone, is actually the most sold Rolex model of all time. Which is a really fun fact.
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