The Watch Appreciation Thread (Reviews and Photos of Men's Timepieces by Rolex, Patek Philippe, Brei

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by gdl203, May 20, 2007.

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  1. bawlin

    bawlin Senior member

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    Stunning! Seems like the 39mm model is rather polarizing, as people either love it or they don't. Unfortunately 36mm is too small for me and personally, the fact that I am considering a sub-40mm watch is surprising. Either way, I'll have to go to my AD and try it. That is if they decide to unlock the doors and let me inside.
     




  2. no frills

    no frills Senior member

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    Yeah, it's a very personal-preference thing. I believe the 39mm models are all that's available from ADs nowadays unless they have a 36mm lying around from days gone by.
     


  3. TheTukker

    TheTukker Senior member

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    Many thanks gentlemen - good to see it's getting some loving here. Does anyone have any personal experiences with the small portuguese (heard some negative reports about accuracy)?
     


  4. johanm

    johanm Senior member

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    You should be able to find a 36mm Explorer on rolexforums, either up for sale or by contacting one of the high volume grey sellers who are usually able to source upon request. For example here is one in decent but not mint condition:

    http://rolexforums.com/showthread.php?t=277408&highlight=114270

    As for perceptions on Rolex, it's a personal thing but watch aficionados tend to hold them in high esteem for reliability and classic styling. Here is an interesting forbes article on the phenomenon:

    The Rolex Problem: A (Semi) Rational Look At The World's Most Recognized Watch

    I have a friend who is a watch journalist (strange, but true.) This individual, who shall remain nameless, has been covering the watch industry for decades; there are few who know the ins, outs, industry gossip, and inside stories as well. And this person hates Rolex –the mere mention of the name is enough to evoke the visceral hostility most of us reserve for things like Bernie Madoff, or the DMV. The loathing this person feels for Rolex is beyond appeal, argument, or reason –to the journalist in question, they are an uncommunicative, arrogant, unimaginative brand the ownership of which marks you as hopelessly uninformed at best and a pathetic, tasteless, ostentation-loving parvenu at worst.

    I have another friend, who is a watch blogger (I know, what were the odds.) As with the aforementioned journalist, this is a person who has known and loved watches for decades –not professionally (this particular individual’s real occupation is on a much more global stage than watches) but as a collector, who has over the years amassed a number of the most elegantly crafted, classically beautiful watches –gorgeous openworked movements, exotic complications, drop-dead gorgeous classic time-only dress watches –I’ve ever seen. The last time I saw him, he was wearing a vintage Rolex Submariner on a NATO strap –a NATO strap, sacré bleu! –and looking at it with the uncritical adoration of a mother for a dewey newborn.

    Rolex Submariner, Model 16610

    The latter event was by far the more jarring –cognoscenti have loved to hate Rolex for years, but seeing that Sub on the wrist of a collector with undeniably great knowledge and indisputably refined taste was a bit of a shock; not because I dislike the company or the watches (I don’t) but because it was so out of character, and as such, a symptom of something very interesting. Rolexes, especially vintage models, have in record time gone from being –at least among many serious connoisseurs –red flags for the worst kind of tasteless conspicuous consumption, to being, for lack of a better word, cool. (And expensive.) The boom in interest in vintage Rolex is all the more fascinating for having been largely autonomous (not only did Rolex not have anything to do with it, the company rather charmingly didn’t seem to know what to make of it at first) as well as for having renewed enthusiast interest in its current collection.

    What gives?

    It’s one of the bigger ironies of the watch world that a company which is famous for its staid designs, glacially slow product evolution, and dispassionately frosty corporate façade (in a 2011 interview with Bloomberg, Rolex’s Jean-Noel Bioul, the firm’s international sponsorship director, said, “We have the reputation of operating like a Swiss bank,”) should inspire such diametrically opposed, apparently irreconcilable, and equally passionate views. For someone who’s just getting interested in watches, sooner or later the phenomenon that is Rolex has to be dealt with, and few leave the encounter unmoved.

    To some extent both the haters and fans are moved by the same lever: the sheer success of Rolex as a watch brand (the single largest luxury watch brand in the world, with an annual production approaching one million watches a year) as well as its habitual secretiveness (Rolex is privately held and notoriously reticent; one sometimes feels its entire global PR department consists of a solitary bored functionary in a small room with a well-worn rubber stamp that says “No Comment”) make it a lightning rod for comments fiercely pro and devastatingly con, and the incredible boom in the last few years in prices paid for vintage Rolexes has only made the arguments more heated. (In 2010, a Rolex model 5510 Submariner –a very early version of the company’s most bluntly utilitarian diver’s watch –sold at auction at Christie’s for $98,500, and prices have only gone up since then.)

    Less rare vintage Rolexes can be had for less –recently pre-owned models for much less –but for older, more collectible vintage models in original condition –collectors want that yellowed, faded, scruffy-looking original dial and you can destroy the value of a $100,000 watch by replacing the old dial with a new one –the general rule of thumb is that the watch will sell for several orders of magnitude more than the original owner paid for it.

    Over the years I’ve been interested –in sickness and in health, for richer and (usually) for poorer –in watches, I’ve watched the attitude of the collector community change drastically with respect to Rolex, and it seems to me a good place to start is with as straightforward a statement of fact as one can: Rolex is the world’s largest manufacturer of mid-priced luxury watches, whose most popular models have changed relatively little in design over several decades, and which makes extremely reliable, accurate watches with durable, well-designed movements.

    With that basic proposition in place it is possible to characterize three basic levels of Rolex appreciation.

    1. Rolex Is The Best (New Guy Version.) The fact that Rolex designs evolve so slowly has done something very important –it’s ensured that if you have one on, a disproportionate number of people are going to know you are wearing (a) a Rolex and (b) an expensive watch. The upside is that it can and does say you’re a person of means (there is nothing wrong, per se, with conspicuous consumption if that’s what you know you want) but the downside is that a certain percentage of observers will conclude, rightly or wrongly, that advertising your affluence is the only (or at least the main) reason you bought the watch. You may have bought a Rolex simply because you’ve decided you like watches, and you’ve heard Rolex is a good watch –unfortunately, that’s not going to stop some people from assuming you had more ignoble motives. Sooner or later, though, the new owner may wonder why so many self-styled watch experts are sneering, which leads to . . .

    2. Rolex Is For Suckers (New Connoisseur Version.) This stage of appreciation –well, of recognition, anyway –is usually the result of one’s first exposure to the enormous range of other luxury watch brands, and the onset of suspicion that what you get when you buy a Rolex is an overpriced, uninteresting watch from a company that is too lazy to update its own designs, too rich to risk change, and is generally happiest resting on its generously proportioned laurels. This stage is often marked by a discovery of, and fascination with, the vocabulary of hand-finishing of movements, largely absent in Rolexes; one swoons to the alluring exoticism of côtes de Genève, anglage, oeil-de-perdrix, and the whole rich world of finissage. The awareness that Rolex, rightly or wrongly, is associated with a certain kind of person in many minds –generally male, American, McMansion-owning, loud, golf-obsessed, sartorially challenged and gastronomically undiscriminating, and fond of unnecessarily large and inefficient automobiles –merely serves to confirm the prejudice that unless one wants to be taken for an illbred, reactionary lout, Rolex and all it stands for is best avoided. This stage can persist indefinitely, potentially, but if one continues to inquire one may arrive at . . .

    3. Rolexes Are Actually Pretty Good Watches (Grizzled Veteran Version.) There are several paths that can lead to this stage. One observes bemusedly that it is, oddly enough, one’s Rolex –usually in the context of being worn when you don’t want to wear one of your “good” watches –that seems to keep time best. One observes bemusedly that it is, oddly enough, one’s Rolex that seems to be the most free of irritating and expensive prima donna temperamental behavior. One finds, bemusedly, that it is –quelle surprise –one’s Rolex which seems to be migrating more and more frequently onto one’s wrist, like a faithful Jeeves tolerant as the years go by of the mad whims and fads of its master. One may even find, as I did, that Rolexes are worn by a rather surprising number of watch industry executives working for other brands (on their days off, of course!) and are preferred, for their extremely reliable engineering, by an awful lot of watchmakers. And one discovers that what one thought was lack of personality was merely a refusal on the part of the watch to impose one on you –its very simplicity is what lets it become, as it develops its palimpsest of scratches, marks, and nicks through the slings and arrows of daily use, your watch, and not a brand billboard.

    The beauty of this last level of Rolex Appreciation is that it is a temperate one; you are not wearing a Rolex (or refusing to) because of what other people think –good or bad –but because you have made up your own mind, and for your own reasons. You like the watch largely for what it is, not what other people think it means, and you have the very special pleasure that comes from being well informed and doing what you damned well please anyway.

    Not everyone gets to this stage, of course –Rolex is not for everyone, first of all –de gustibus non est disputandum –and many want a watch that is rarer, or the subject of more hand-finishing, or any number of things that a Rolex is not. But a surprising number of watch veterans reach Stage 3 in the fullness of time, and find in Rolex a watch that rather refreshingly seems to have been designed to not “emphasize the heritage and integrity of the brand’s DNA” (as one particularly awful press release I’ve recently read put it; using “brand DNA” in what’s supposed to be a consumer oriented press release should be a hanging offense) but rather, to be a good watch.

    In the current hothouse luxury watch climate, where the scramble to distinguish oneself becomes more and more every year a scramble for novelty for novelty’s sake, such an approach is not merely refreshing –it’s positively revolutionary.

    Post Scriptum — Rolex Is The Best Stage 1 Subtype A. This is the diehard Rolex collector –the true enthusiast, the keeper of the flame whose heart is warmed by by a white hot passion not known by loose-minded types like me who tend to go soft-headed at the sight of all sorts of watches. This type may bypass or fail to fall into any of the classic 3 stages of Rolex Appreciation. Often younger (though not always) they’ve discovered in Rolex a history they admire and a sense of connection to a certain spirit of uncontrived, utilitarian honesty that at its best is . . . well, uncontrived, utilitarian, and honest, and at its worst is the kind of insultingly ironic appropriation of blue collar values that makes trust fund hipsters and young bankers with a fresh bonus buy workboots and Carhartt overalls.

    Seeing two such members of the species together is anthropologically fascinating, and marked by a virtually Masonic sense of ritual –there is the mutual exposure of some exotic vintage Rolex model, an almost avian explosion of excitement as mutual recognition ensues, and then an impenetrably rapid-fire, Cabbalistic exchange of reference numbers, years of manufacture, and minute variations in design which gives pleasure to the participants to the extent that it excludes non-initiates. (Unfortunately the cost of entry into this exclusive domain has skyrocketed.) Serious watch enthusiasts may bypass the conventional Stage 3 entirely before reaching this stage, or they may jump to it immediately from Stage 2 (see, vide supra, my buddy the haute de gamme watch collector) but even if the substance of the dialogue of this now-flourishing subtype is lost on those without a genius and motivation for memorizing the requisite minutiae, there can be no doubt about one thing: they’re having fun.

    No James Bonds were injured during the making of this review.

    Personally I would hesitate to wear one only because I've seen first hand how Rolexes are noticed in a bad way and associated with the fratty McMansion lifestyle, but I recognize this is silly. As for resale, judging by TZ and rolexforums, I think SS Subs and Daytonas are the only modern pieces that hold their value especially well, and even then only about as much as the popular Panerai/IWC/etc. models when compared to AD pricing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013


  5. dddrees

    dddrees Senior member

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    If you do happen to chose this watch, you couldn't pick a better seller.

    If you happen to chose another watch just make sure you check the Who's Who section on the web site and pick a trusted seller.
     


  6. Hayward

    Hayward Senior member

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    My Rolex advice, for what it's worth, is go vintage. Rolexforums is a great place for finding one.

    As for the Explorer, the 39mm has issues for me - hands are too small, no lume on the Arabics. Also the lume is blue, bot ppl seem to like that now. go 36mm.

    I'd like to see a 39mm with the ExplorerII hands and luminous Arabics. Maybe next year?
     


  7. no frills

    no frills Senior member

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    Oh yes, that's why I qualified my comment and referred only to ADs. 114270s aren't that difficult to find in the grey market - in fact, I got mine from a grey seller. I just wasn't sure if bawlin wanted to go the AD or the grey route.

    I haven't seen anything except glowing reviews for DavidSW myself.

    Great ideas here for enhancing the 39mm!
     


  8. Allez Allez

    Allez Allez Senior member

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    [​IMG]

    Well, I like mine.

    The small portuguese is 36mm, which is not actually small -- it really is just a normal medium size watch. But if you need a big presence on your wrist, then this ain't the watch for you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013


  9. bdeuce22

    bdeuce22 Senior member

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    Life Decisions.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     


  10. Dino944

    Dino944 Senior member

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    That is more accurate in the short term, maybe over the course of 2-5 years. In my experience, in the long term (7-10 years) the all steel sport Rolex watches (Sub, GMT, Explorer 1, Explorer 2, Sea-Dweller, and Daytona) increase in value beyond what the MSRP was, and well beyond what I paid for them brand new. On average the Sub,GMT, Ex1 and Ex2 can be sold for 20-25% more than their purchase prices, the 116520 Daytona 50% more, and a 16520 El Primero based Daytona could be sold for 2-3 times its original purchase price. The result of price increases and slow evolutions in design, has been to pull the prices of pre-owned pieces up substantially. Whether the trend continues only time will tell.

    Most IWCs of the same time period generally haven't increased in value. Maybe as a result of them drastically changing a models over the years and some pieces becoming dated...one of the down sides to major changes in appearance.

    Panerai usually have very strong resale, and popular or rarer pieces do appreciate in value. However, unless its a rarer piece it probably only had a Unitas or Val 7750 (which were often found in watches costing a fraction of what a Panerai cost...which might bother some people).
     


  11. Dino944

    Dino944 Senior member

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    Nice options...however the decision would be easy for me...Speedy Pro !!!! Good luck and let us know what you decide.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013


  12. johanm

    johanm Senior member

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    It's hard to do an apples/apples comparison with these watches since IWC/Panerai only recently started competing in earnest for the segment that Rolex has dominated for decades - upper middle class professionals - with corresponding production volume, product range, investment in brand equity, etc. You don't really see too many 7-10 year old IWC/PAMs on the market, and the few that are there sell for easily more than the original asking price, when calculated according to original MSRP minus customary AD discount. For example, look at the prices for used IWC 5002 Big Pilots, 5001 Port, Mark XII/XVs, 3536, 3703, 3716, PAM 111/183, etc. 7-10 year old examples sell today for about 50-70% of current MSRP (depending on production volume and whether the models were discontinued), and all had original MSRP of 50-70% of current MSRP. Therefore, the AD discount at time of purchase is roughly similar to the profit margin at time of sale, at least on average, with variance depending on the desirability of the particular model (and to be fair, how much profit is anyone making off of a 10 year old Datejust, Airking, or any TT Rolex?). Also as you note, when you consider limited production models (IWC 5000/Jubilee, transitional 5002, PAM 127, etc), the profit ceiling is much higher.

    That said, I think it's a mistake to overemphasize historical results. Instead think about why modern Rolexes (<20 years old) have performed so well on the secondary market. My guess is that it's because the market is so broad, with so many people aspiring to Rolex ownership but unable to afford a new model. I believe that for reasons unrelated to the intrinsic quality of the watches, Rolex's brand equity is declining as some of these other brands are ascending - it's becoming less the classy alternative to Omega/Tag and more the dowdy and less glamorous alternative to IWC/Panerai/AP - and so the aspirational premium on the secondary market is shifting to the newer brands.

    JMHO
     


  13. Flake

    Flake Senior member

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    Same thoughts here. The Speedy Pro is the classic, between the two. And, I find it's easier to dress up the Speedy than it is a Seamaster. The Speedy looks fine with a jacket and tie, especially if you switch it to a black croc strap. The Seamaster somehow feels out of place with a suit. JMO, YMMV.
     


  14. Moloch38

    Moloch38 Senior member

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    Here's a good Rolex story from the winning driver at the Rolex Daytona 24 last week:
    http://jalopnik.com/5980884/the-funniest-story-youll-ever-hear-about-a-rolex
    The Funniest Story You’ll Ever Hear About A Rolex

    Dr. Jim Norman, One Hot Lap
    (Dr. Jim Norman, driver of the Napleton Racing #16 Porsche Cayman team that just won the GX class of the 2013 Rolex 24, has the funniest Rolex story you'll ever hear! In his own words — OHL)
    Funny story: Today I took my new Rolex to the jeweler right down the street from my house in Tampa to get a link taken out so it fits me better (for those of you who don't know, the winning drivers of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona are presented with a new Rolex timepiece in Victory Lane).
    The jeweler re-sizes it for me and charges me $8. I say "Wow, 8 bucks, that's not very much." The manager lady says, "well, if it were a REAL Rolex we would charge you more!" I chuckle and say "it IS a real Rolex."
    She says, "Nope it is not...We know Rolex watches and this is definitely a fake."
    My retort, "well, I guess you don't know these as well as you think!"
    Hearing this, the Jeweler comes out from behind his little glass window from where he is working on a frail, blue-haired lady's broach while wearing some very dorky-looking magnifying glasses and says, "I'll bet you bought that watch in New York." He puts both hands in his back pockets and sticks out his skinny "bird" chest in an attempt to be strong and assertive. "Nope" I say, "I haven't been to NYC in some time." He quickly replies, "I'll bet you $1000 you didn't buy that from a real Rolex dealer". I say, I won't take that bet, because you are right, I didn't buy this from a Rolex dealer."
    "AH HA!" he exclaims, "it IS a fake!! Where did you get it??" "I got it in Daytona this past Sunday." "HA! I am right!" he shouts, almost loud enough to break some of the crystal elephants assembled as a group on one of the overhead glass shelves. "I know all the Rolex dealers in Daytona, and none of them are open on Sundays!" He is quite pleased with himself and turns to strut back to his window-enclosed, nick-knack cluttered cubby.
    "Maybe I didn't get it from a dealer" I state smugly. He turns and says, "well then tell me, who DID you get this FAKE Rolex from?" "Well, I stated calmly and coolly, I was presented this beautiful timepiece from the President and CEO of Rolex Watches while standing on the podium at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona." "OH, Sure!" he says, "and I'm Santa Claus!!"
    And back into his cubby he went, oblivious to the REAL world around him. He doesn't get it... The world is passing him by and he isn't even aware that it is happening. You gotta love life and embrace life, even if it means you have to wear a fake Rolex.
     


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