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Dino944

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I think they don't want to over-extend in terms of the capital required to significantly increase annual volume. Based on where we are in the economic cycle (long into the bull market) I don't think that's a bad decision. In terms of production mix, sure, they could make more SS sports watches and fewer PM datejusts and day-dates, but why? I would bet good money that the margin on ladies DJs and any PM model is well above what the margin is on an Explorer or Sub.
Not sure what your abbreviation "PM" means when you say, "PM datejusts" or "PM model." I'm sure its something I should know but I'm blanking out at the moment.

Yes the margin is far higher on Day-Dates than on a steel Sub or Explorer. Although, fewer people can afford a new $35K watch than a $8K-9K Sub.


I'm going to pitch in with things I know from collecting for over a decade and from very close relationships with two major Rolex ADs. This may be public and common knowledge at this point, but I know this stuff for an absolute fact:

1) Rolex, in fact, limits supply of all watches relative to the volume they pumped out pre-2018 (that's when the squeeze began). They send shipments to ADs that, as a whole, contain less watches, especially less steel sport models;

2) The watches everyone wants - those models on "allocation" - are sold to people on a "wait list." Here's the trick that list does not function in chronological order. It is fluid. You get preference on the list according to spend history and relationship with the AD. For example, I didn't like the Pepsi GMT when it came out. In fact, I hated it. Then, I saw it in person. I called my AD and had one in a month. Because of my history and relationship there, I jumped ahead of everyone on the line. That's how it works. If you don't have the spend history, you'll spend years on the list. Want to climb up the list? You have to buy more stuff, more of whatever is on the shelves.

3) ADs hoard desirable watches in their safe. None of the good stuff is on display. When someone tells you, "I'm sorry. All we have is on the shelves and display cases," they're lying to you. Every AD has a safe/vault. They keep Daytonas, GMTs, Subs, etc. in there. I've literally walked in, asked for a rare watch, had it pulled from a safe inside the manager's office, and then walked out.

It's all a game, a very expensive game.
Yes, that's basically what I have heard. I'm not surprised by any of what you have said, and I certainly understand ADs want to reward people who have been good customers. It's just sort of a shame that collecting and buying certain items has now become a lot of jumping through hoops, just to get what you want. Its also tougher for those who did a lot of business with certain stores for years and then Rolex cancels their contract. So all the money one spent there means nothing. It's not as though Rolex makes an introduction and says this is now your nearest AD, and they tell the AD this is a good client of the company treat them well. Anyway, classic first world problems.

Cheers and that GMT is a beauty! Enjoy it!
 

Journeyman

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Not sure what your abbreviation "PM" means when you say, "PM datejusts" or "PM model."
I suspect that PM = precious metal, as in gold or platinum models.

It's all a game, a very expensive game.
It certainly is. Personally, I think that the fewer who choose to play the game, the better. Far too many people stress about how to obtain their latest "grail" watch and consider buying watches that they don't even want, or even travelling to a specific destination for a holiday, in the hope that they might, just might, be able to purchase what is nowadays an entirely unnecessary, luxury item. If they've really got money burning a hole in their pocket, there are plenty of other things to spend the money on!
 
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MZhammer

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I imagine that it's basically increased demand.

Whether Rolex can increase supply, but chooses not to, I don't know. However, I think that it's clear that the past five to ten years have seen a large increase in watch collecting, mainly due to fashion/lifestyle websites, blogs and social media portraying watch collecting as a hobby and thus a concomitant increase in demand. Along with AP and PP, Rolex is one of the "it" brands to have and models such as the Submariner and GMT are the most popular Rolex models.

Also, of course, Rolex is regarded a luxury, high status item and so there's always demand due to that, particularly in countries such as China.
This is pretty much my take on the shortage.

As Dino pointed out, Rolex makes 900k to a Million watches a year and I've heard that number referenced for quite a few years now but the surge in interest in watch collecting as a whole, and the hype culture perpetuated by Social Media, along with the increasingly casual culture has led to steel, sport Rolexes to become the 'it' thing (along with AP and PP). As a private trust, my guess is that Rolex is more concerned about protecting brand equity from ramping up and thus creating oversupply, whenever this wave finally crests, versus chasing demand for what is a relatively new phenomena in the hobby.

We know they are aggressively chasing down ADs who sell to the grey market and are pulling their product. I have a buddy who is a known 'flipper' who got cut off by an AD because they told him Rolex is buying grey market watches and pulling ADs when they see watches coming from the same source time and again.
 
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Omega Male

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Seems like tough spot for ADs, Rolex won't give you much of what your customers actually want to buy and, when they do, you have to sell it for half of what other people are actually willing to pay you for it, or they'll strike you off the roll. The cynic in me wonders if they're trying to degrade the traditional channel to the point where they could justify moving solely to company-owned boutiques plus online? But I don't think they've got it in their DNA.
 

Dino944

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I suspect that PM = precious metal, as in gold or platinum models.



It certainly is. Personally, I think that the fewer who choose to play the game, the better. Far too many people stress about how to obtain their latest "grail" watch and consider buying watches that they don't even want, or even travelling to a specific destination for a holiday, in the hope that they might, just might, be able to purchase what is nowadays an entirely unnecessary, luxury item. If they've really got money burning a hole in their pocket, there are plenty of other things to spend the money on!
Thanks for clarifying what "PM" means...you are probably right. I just couldn't think of it.

I agree with your sentiments about how ridiculous some of the game playing to get what one wants has become. Over 20 years ago I walked out of a shop that told me if I wanted a steel Daytona (which they had in stock), I could either pay a roughly 72% premium over the list price, or buy a BP that didn't interest me and I could then get the Daytona at list price. I must admit I couldn't help but smile when a few years after that I learned that they lost their contract with Rolex, and eventually also with Cartier, IWC, JLC, Chopard, etc. I just can't imagine buying watches I don't want, simply to try to get one I do want.

While there are a few watches I would like to add to my collection, if that never happens, I'll be fine with that. I'm very happy with the ones I already own.
 

Dino944

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Seems like tough spot for ADs, Rolex won't give you much of what your customers actually want to buy and, when they do, you have to sell it for half of what other people are actually willing to pay you for it, or they'll strike you off the roll. The cynic in me wonders if they're trying to degrade the traditional channel to the point where they could justify moving solely to company-owned boutiques plus online? But I don't think they've got it in their DNA.
Yes, and its probably tough on their sales people. If you have customers that come in and you either don't have any Submariners, GMTS, Explorers, or the Submariners you have are sitting in a safe and reserved for sale only to their best customers, well that's a lot of sales/commissions you are not earning.

It is possible that Rolex is moving toward a boutique type of structure. They've seen AP go that route. Cartier has lots of boutiques and they closed accounts with many of ADs about 10 years go (although there are still plenty of their ADs). Rolex is opening a boutique about an hour from me (in partnership with an AD), and I always thought Boston wasn't a big enough city to justify a boutique. However, AP is opening one there too. It will be interesting to see what Rolex does in the next few years.
 

Texasmade

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AP pulled nearly all of their AD’s the last couple of years. There are a handful of remaining AP AD’s left in the US. They’re moving to a boutique only model.
 

BLAUGRANA

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A few things based on the Rolex discussion:
  • My hometown growing up, where my parents still reside, had the state's first ever Rolex AD. They lost their contract about 2-3 years ago. I'm guessing it was a combination of their selling to anybody regardless of if they'll flip it or not, or at least that's my understanding via a different AD in the state. I'm sure it also didn't help being in Midwest town of 30,000, within an hour of 2 ADs in the city and an hour and a half in another city, where the population is increasingly less likely to be interested in a Rolex if I'm correct. When that hometown AD lost their contract I was told that they thought Rolex was going to a more boutique model.
  • If an AD loses it's contract, they still might have inventory. At least the AD above did. They had a two-tone GMT (yellow gold), an Explorer I and a few other pieces in their case after the lost their contract.
  • As @George Red noted, I don't think the "waiting lists" are chronological at all. My AD had my personal list and when I got the BLRO in December I was told there were 70 other people on the list. I'm also expecting to get one if not two stainless steel sports models this Spring, one of which I'm pretty sure will be discontinued this year and the other I'm also somewhat sure will be surprisingly discontinued this year as well. I'll be very fortunate to get either of those I know, but on the other hand I've definitely "paid for the privilege." However I would be very frustrated if I didn't have the opportunity to buy if I had the means but weren't given the opportunity. I tried with two other ADs with no success, though they probably already have well established clients since they've been around forever. In fact one of the owners when I complimented him on his previous gen Explorer II said he could sell me that one, yes, his own personal watch...
  • I think it's great if indeed it's true that Rolex is buying pieces off the grey market and then going back to ADs and cracking the whip. My AD has told me that Rolex will also just show up unannounced and want to look at receipts.
 

Scuppers

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A few things based on the Rolex discussion:
  • My hometown growing up, where my parents still reside, had the state's first ever Rolex AD. They lost their contract about 2-3 years ago. I'm guessing it was a combination of their selling to anybody regardless of if they'll flip it or not, or at least that's my understanding via a different AD in the state. I'm sure it also didn't help being in Midwest town of 30,000, within an hour of 2 ADs in the city and an hour and a half in another city, where the population is increasingly less likely to be interested in a Rolex if I'm correct. When that hometown AD lost their contract I was told that they thought Rolex was going to a more boutique model.
  • If an AD loses it's contract, they still might have inventory. At least the AD above did. They had a two-tone GMT (yellow gold), an Explorer I and a few other pieces in their case after the lost their contract.
  • As @George Red noted, I don't think the "waiting lists" are chronological at all. My AD had my personal list and when I got the BLRO in December I was told there were 70 other people on the list. I'm also expecting to get one if not two stainless steel sports models this Spring, one of which I'm pretty sure will be discontinued this year and the other I'm also somewhat sure will be surprisingly discontinued this year as well. I'll be very fortunate to get either of those I know, but on the other hand I've definitely "paid for the privilege." However I would be very frustrated if I didn't have the opportunity to buy if I had the means but weren't given the opportunity. I tried with two other ADs with no success, though they probably already have well established clients since they've been around forever. In fact one of the owners when I complimented him on his previous gen Explorer II said he could sell me that one, yes, his own personal watch...
  • I think it's great if indeed it's true that Rolex is buying pieces off the grey market and then going back to ADs and cracking the whip. My AD has told me that Rolex will also just show up unannounced and want to look at receipts.
That last point is very interesting.
 

Thrift Vader

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Rolex can eat a dick.

I went to a retailer a few days ago to look at some watches. They had a few Subs in stock, an Explorer and some Tudors. eh, nice enough. but nothing drool inducing. i couldn't relate to waiting for a long time, to pay so much for something so uninspiring. imho.

Some of the Omega's were nice. Breitlings seemed too "busy" to look at.
overall, it was nice to check them out. but i was sad i couldn't see any Ball Watches. or Oris.

a Local resale shop has a Ball for $800. it looks good. but isn't a Trainmaster.
Time to stop collecting sub $500 watches. and save a bit to level up.
 
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George Red

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Rolex can eat a dick.

I went to a retailer a few days ago to look at some watches. They had a few Subs in stock, an Explorer and some Tudors. eh, nice enough. but nothing drool inducing. i couldn't relate to waiting for a long time, to pay so much for something so uninspiring. imho.

Some of the Omega's were nice. Breitlings seemed too "busy" to look at.
overall, it was nice to check them out. but i was sad i couldn't see any Ball Watches. or Oris.

a Local resale shop has a Ball for $800. it looks good. but isn't a Trainmaster.
Time to stop collecting sub $500 watches. and save a bit to level up.
Only if it’s superlative.
 

am55

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As Dino pointed out, Rolex makes 900k to a Million watches a year and I've heard that number referenced for quite a few years now but the surge in interest in watch collecting as a whole, and the hype culture perpetuated by Social Media, along with the increasingly casual culture has led to steel, sport Rolexes to become the 'it' thing (along with AP and PP). As a private trust, my guess is that Rolex is more concerned about protecting brand equity from ramping up and thus creating oversupply, whenever this wave finally crests, versus chasing demand for what is a relatively new phenomena in the hobby.
I wonder if this year will be it. A good chunk of the PRC is in lockdown and much of the rest substantially lowered its activity. For example with the Foxconn factories effectively shuttered Apple is scrambling to move production elsewhere. According to this (from a quick Google) the PRC was over twice the US market in terms of top line in 2018. In Singapore which has much milder measures than the PRC, companies are already freezing pay and letting go of people. Don't know what the stateside situation is but the European governments are still stuck in denial mode which may be why this is not getting the visibility it should... this isn't SARS scale...
 

Thrift Vader

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Erm. . It's real.
And it's all the news is about. with constant live updates.

Today I went to look at some Heuer's. and wore a Bandana covering my face. nobody cared.
Paper masks are $30 a box. if you can find them.

We are not in denial.
 
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Journeyman

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I wonder if this year will be it.
A couple of different watch sites are reporting that SIHH (or whatever it's now being called) has just been cancelled due to the COViD19 corona virus:


Perhaps not that surprising, given that a few large exhibitors had already decided not to attend.
 

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