Authorized dealers are saying that Rolex demand is hotter than at any time in history, and that is feeding through to even higher prices for most models on the secondary market, WatchPro is told.
The release of new Rolex models in the first week of September had customers bombarding their dealers with pre-orders for the 2020 models, and also to see whether there was a chance of scoring some of the discontinued 40mm steel Submariners.
They were mostly met with the same response they have been getting for the past two years: there is no availability and, no, you cannot even get on a waiting list without buying something expensive and less scarce first.
“Rolex is still on fire,” says Paul Altieri, CEO of Bob’s Watches and one of the most respected collectors and experts on Rolex in the United States.
“If you think things were crazy last year, it is only going to get worse. I sold a 2004 Kermit for $26,000 the other day,” he reveals.
The black dialed Kermit Submariner with a green aluminium bezel was discontinued this year as part of a wholesale shift to a 41mm style with ceramic bezel.
Supply is thought to be down by 30% this year because Rolex was forced to close its factories for three months at the height of the Covid pandemic and production remained slow because of social distancing rules. The production loss could be as much as 40%.
While continuing Rolex shortages are keeping prices strong, most other watches— with the exception of sports watches from Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet — are suffering from falling prices on the secondary market, making them much tougher to sell at full retail for authorized dealers.
“Panerai, Breitling, IWC, Zenith, Vacheron … pretty much every brand, are off,” Mr Altieri reveals.
Collectors hoping that this year’s health crisis would take the heat out of Rolex prices will be disappointed. There was a dip in April, and many buyers took the opportunity to grab a comparative bargain, but that time has passed, according to Mr Altieri.
“Prices rebounded and are higher than ever now,” he says.
Speculation that Rolex’s steel Submariner with green dial and bezel — the Hulk — would be discontinued drove prices into the stratosphere. They have doubled in value over the past two years and risen by more than 10% in the past two months.
That has proved to be a good bet, with the 40mm Hulk iced and so far not replaced in the new 41mm form with the three-hander with date 3235 movement.
WatchPro is getting mixed reports about prices of Day Dates from the 1970s with vivid colored “Stella” dials. Rolex released a family of bright dialed 36mm Oyster Perpetuals this month, which could be mistaken, at a glance, with this year’s smaller models.
Dealers in the UK have said that Stella dials have fallen out of fashion, but Bob’s Watches says they have been given a new lease of life. “They are hard to find and going up in price,” Mr Altieri reports.