For years, Rolex has had to put up with accusations of artificial shortages. The reason: Popular models are hard to come by worldwide – so the suspicion is obvious. Rolex now wants to boost production with temporary locations.
Popular Rolex watches are a scarce commodity. For about five years, it has become almost impossible, especially for new customers, to get a copy at the list price – i.e. the price that Rolex officially charges for the watch. If you really want to buy a Rolex, the only option is often to go to the secondary market, where the prices are well above the new price of the authorized jewellers. A circumstance that Rolex now apparently wants to change with new production capacities.
Because for a long time one had to put up with the accusation that there was an artificial shortage in play. To date, the company has not responded with figures. Since Rolex is controlled by a foundation, the group does not have to disclose any business figures – and it does not do so. So how many (or how few) watches leave the factory each year is a closely guarded secret. Unofficially, there is talk of around one million watches a year.
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Despite this possibly large number, an order from a jeweler from the dealer directory is often unsatisfactory, especially as a new customer. The jeweller’s reply then reads, among other things, as follows: “The Rolex wristwatches are manufactured at four locations in Switzerland, supported by the know-how and commitment of the Rolex employees, which are based on the most modern state of the art of watchmaking. Through the uncompromising efforts Due to Rolex’s highest quality and reliability as well as the rigorous series of tests on each watch, production cannot meet the rapidly growing demand. This is why there are currently waiting times of up to several years for models that are particularly in demand.”
Three new locations in two years
What initially seems like window dressing and a series of phrases, Rolex actually seems to mean seriously – more is simply not possible. At least that is what an e-mail to the news agency “” shows, in which the company announces the construction of three temporary locations – in addition to a factory already under construction in Bulle in the French-speaking part of the canton of Fribourg.
According to this, solutions for the shortage of supply should be found in the canton of Friborg in Romont, Villaz and Bulle – and comparatively quickly. Work is scheduled to begin in Villaz as early as 2024, with Romont to follow in 2025. The third location in Bulle will serve as a recruitment center. The first watches from these factories are expected to hit stores in 2025, the report says.
For the new production lines, Rolex plans to hire up to 300 new employees, who will move to the new location in 2029 after the completion of the new large factory in Bulle. There are about 20 kilometers between the communities. “The new manufacturing facility in Bulle, as well as the three temporary facilities, will allow Rolex to expand its manufacturing capabilities, supporting growth and meeting ever-increasing demand,” the company said.
When supply increases, prices on the secondary market fall
This is not good news for the secondary market – at least from the point of view of profit-oriented resellers. Because the prices for the coveted models, i.e. “Submariner”, “Daytona”, “GMT-Master” and Co. have fallen steadily in recent months, but according to analyzes by the “Chrono24” watch platform, they have recovered somewhat. Should Rolex actually succeed in countering the enormous demand with a corresponding offer in two years, the group will completely remove the basis for surcharges from the gray market.
Of course, there will still be shortages of rare watches or highly sought-after models, but the implementation of the plans would probably put Rolex back where the market was about five years ago. At that time, models like a “GMT-Master” were occasionally in the shop window and the secondary market did not attract customers with the availability of the watches, but actually with small discounts – unthinkable today. A shrinking of the eternal waiting lists should be welcome news for new customers and collectors – especially since many entries in the order books are likely to disappear as soon as rapid profits of an enormous amount can no longer be expected.
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I am an author and journalist who has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. I currently work as a news editor at a major news website, and my focus is on covering the latest trends in entertainment. I also write occasional pieces for other outlets, and have authored two books about the entertainment industry.