Rolex authorized dealers on both sides of the Atlantic are pleading for the watchmaker to increase supply of its most popular models to tackle an explosion in prices on the secondary market for this year’s hottest models.
The 2018 Rolex GMT Master II is priced at $9250 at authorized dealers, which are not allowed to sell the watches online. The same watch can be bought online today for $21,775 at Watchfinder.com.
An online auction at Bob’s Watches has the same GMT up for sale. With just over two days to go, the highest bid is currently standing at $20,000.
One AD in New York, commenting on a WatchPro story last week about a Rolex partner in the UK who is struggling with supply, says the current demand is handing the initiative to Rolex flippers and grey marketeers.
“I’m an authorized dealer myself in New York. We used to get many GMTs and we would sell them just fine, without needing to mark them down. These days, we might get one every 6-8 months. I’m not the only one — you could ask any AD in the area, and I would put money on any AD in the entire United States saying the same thing: Rolex scaled back inventory SHARPLY,” he states.
The situation is turning the market on its head, with Rolex partners that have invested in the brand for years unable to take care of their best customers and feeling under siege from flippers that are making a killing selling them online.
“As an AD, it means substantially less business for me. Not only am I competing with people flipping the watches, but now I cannot price the watches higher to dissuade such flippers. Don’t try to make Rolex SA angels out of this insane bubble,” the dealer urges.
Peter Mellor, watch brand manager at family-owned RL Austen, a Rolex AD in the South of England, also voiced his frustration after another British Rolex partner, David Alabaster, raised the issue. “Thank you Mr. Alabaster. I am the watch manager of an independent jewellers in Hampshire and a Rolex AD. Thank you for writing a bit of common sense. We are frustrated with the exactly the same situation you are experiencing,” he says.
Mr Mellor is a huge Rolex enthusiast, but feels the current shortages are damaging the brand’s greatest supporters. “Rolex’s product is amazing, but it seems a pity that its reputation is being tarnished by the frustrated comments of greedy watch dealers, who don’t really care about what is actually in the box.” he says.
Rolex ADs rarely voice their frustrations, so the current volume of concern is a sign of just how challenging the shortages are becoming. The story blew open on WatchPro last week after Danny Govberg, owner of Govberg Jewelers in Philadelphia and CEO of pre-owned platform Watchbox, said that demand is higher than he has ever seen in 30 years of working with Rolex.