Hopes that the current Coronavirus crisis will make it easier for customers to get their hands on unicorn watches like the professional steel sports models from Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet look certain to be dashed.
Authorized dealers speaking to WatchPro have said that inquiries are still coming in for watches such as Rolex’s steel Submariner, GMT Master II, particularly the Batman and Pepsi; the Daytona 116500LN; Patek Philippe’s Nautilus and Aquanaut; and Audemars Piguet’s steel Royal Oaks.
Deliveries for these watches have been suspended since March to authorized dealers, and what stock there was in the channel before lock down has been sold to the best customers.
Distribution is expected to restart in June, now that manufacturers are back up and running in Switzerland, and in-country offices operating, albeit still working from home in most countries.
One authorized dealer, who spoke to WatchPro on condition of anonymity, said he did not expect Rolex or Patek Philippe to significantly ramp up production of unicorn watches, adding that he thought it was good for the market that they remain too rare to be sold to walk-up customers.
“I don’t want to see [Rolex Submariner] Hulks in windows. Demand should exceed supply for these special watches,” he suggests.
“I expect the balance between steel professional watches and DayDates, etc, to remain about the same,” he added while stressing that nobody outside the Rolex citadel really knows.
Waiting lists will not get any shorter, he predicts. “Nobody has asked to come off my waiting list, and there are plenty more would want to take their place, but we will only really know when we fully reopen and see how customers react.”