March 28, 2020
Rolex: Where $50,000 Watches Really Come From

Rolex: Where $50,000 Watches Really Come From


Think of everyone who wears a Rolex:
your ex-wife’s lawyer, your boss, your boss’s boss. The luxury watch brand is a magnet for
people with too much money, a need for social validation or just regular
collectors who appreciate the watches
for what they really are: exquisite
pieces of art, not symbols of wealth or power. For most people owning a Rolex is
like checking off the first item on their how to be a rich guy list, but
having a luxury watch for such a reason is really missing the point. that small tick-tocking device on your wrist
carries with it over a hundred years of history, and in this video we’ll see just
how deep the rabbit-hole goes. The company Rolex is really the brainchild
of one German orphan: Hans Wilsdorf. Having lost his parents at the age of 12,
he was sent to a boarding school in Coburg by his aunt and uncle. There Hans learned to speak English and
he was so good at it that after he graduated he got a job as a translator
at a firm in Switzerland. The firm’s name was Cuno Korten and it was one of the
biggest watch exporters in Switzerland at the time. While working there Hans
was exposed to some of the most influential people in watchmaking. One such acquaintance was Hermann Aegler,
who had recently inherited a large ébauche factory after his father’s death. Ébauche is a French word and it refers
to the unassembled components of a watch mechanism. With his newfound friends in
high places Hans decided to move to England and in 1905 he founded his own
company called Wilsdorf and Davis. Davis was the name of Hans’
brother-in-law who had lent money to finance the whole thing. Hans’ first
order of business was to get watches that he could sell. Now wristwatches
weren’t very popular at the time: they were flimsy, accurate and worn mostly by women. People of the higher class preferred pocket watches, which
were seen as durable and would often be passed down generations. Hans saw a lot of
potential in wristwatches and so he got in touch with his friend Hermann Aegler.
Aegler’s factory would produce high-quality wristwatches and Hans would import them
to England, where he would sell them to local retailers. Wilsdorf and Davis was
pretty successful early on mostly due to the higher quality of
their Swiss-made mechanisms. Hans had a good sense for marketing though, and he
quickly realized the importance of brand recognition. He wanted people to
associate their watches with his company not the retailers’ and so in 1908 he
registered his own brand name: Rolex. The name was short and easy to
remember, and so Hans started printing it on the dials of all his watches. To give
the Rolex name some credibility Hans decided to contact two time keeping
institutes: in 1910 Rolex was awarded the Swiss certificate of chronometric
precision, and a 1914 Rolex became the first wristwatches in history to receive
a Class “A” Precision rating by the Kew Observatory in London. The real catalyst for Rolex’
popularity, however, was World War One Soldiers at the time didn’t have wrist
watches in their standard equipment. As you can imagine carrying around a
pocket watch was pretty inconvenient, and Rolex ended up being a favorite among
the military. The war popularized the brand name for its quality and
durability, but it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The British government imposed a wartime
import duty of 33% on all luxury goods, including watches. This
hit Hans’ business very hard and so in 1919 he moved his company to Geneva
where he incorporated it as Montres Rolex. The focal point of the new company was
evolution, and having already popularized wrist watches,
Rolex tackled the next big challenge: making them waterproof. Now waterproof
watches had actually been around for a long time. The earliest confirmed model dates
back to 1851. They were always custom-built, however, and had never been
a commercial success Rolex changed that when they released
their Oyster model in 1926. The making of the Oyster, or any waterproof
watch for that matter, really boils down to two things: making the case hermetically sealed and preventing the crown from unsealing it. The crown by the way is that small pin
on the side of the watch that lets you the time. Back in Switzerland Aegler’
engineers found a way to fix both problems. They also invented the self-winding
mechanism in 1931. Prior to that you had to wind your clock every day using
the crown or it would stop working. Hans Wilsdorf, being the marketing genius
that he was, decided to promote the Oyster by giving it to a young girl named
Mercedes Gleitze She became the first woman to swim
across the English Channel in 1927, but when people started doubting her
achievement, she decided to make the swim again. She almost made it the second time, but
in the end the Coast Guard had to pull her out of the water barely seven miles from
the other shore. She was still wearing her Oyster and it had
perfectly tracked her swim down to the minute. It was an enormous marketing
victory for Rolex and they used this event for advertisement well into the 1950s. This was the first time celebrity
testimony was used to promote a watch, but Rolex didn’t stop there. Lord Clydesdale became the first man to
fly over Everest in 1933. He was wearing a Rolex. Malcolm Campbell became the
first man to reach a speed of 300 miles per hour on land in 1935. He was also
wearing a Rolex. The Trieste became the first manned vessel
to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench in 1960. It had a Rolex
attached to its outside surface The list goes on and on and it shows
just how good Hans Wilsdorf was at maintaining his brand. He also wanted to expand his company’s
client base and so he created the Tudor brand in 1946. Tudor watches are pretty
close to Rolexes in terms of reliability, but they’re less expensive and are
generally marketed to the upper middle class. Hans Wilsdorf’s death in
1960 marked the end of an era for Rolex. The ownership of the company was transferred to the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, which still owns it to this day
and uses its income for charity. Hans’ death couldn’t have come at a
worse time, since the late 1960s and the early 1970s were the beginning of the
Quartz Revolution. The invention of quartz clocks, you know, the ones that run on batteries,
was a devastating blow to the Swiss watch market. Cheap quartz watches from Japan and the
US flooded the global marketplace and by the end of 1983 two
out of every three Swiss watchmakers had gone bankrupt. Mechanical watches
couldn’t compete with the low weight and high precision of their quartz counterparts
and so most of them fell out of favor. Rolex managed to survive the Quartz
Revolution by relying on its brand and reputation. It didn’t matter if a mechanical Rolex
was less accurate. The amount of effort put into creating and assembling the Rolex,
most of which is done by hand by the way, gives it a collectible value that no mass
produced quartz watch will ever have. The time it takes to produce a single Rolex
is over a year and unlike most companies Rolex doesn’t
outsource any of its production. Quality is everything to them, and when you look at
some of their recent models it’s hard not to think of them as works of art. Hell, I’d buy one just to put it in a
frame if it wouldn’t cost me a kidney. Even today Rolex is the biggest watch
producer in Switzerland, and although they account for only 1% of all
watch sales across the world, they represent 1/4 of the global
market’s value. They’re the official timekeeper for two of the four Grand
Slams, two of the four golf majors, the Formula
One championship and the 24 Hour Le Mans race. It’s truly impressive how Rolex has
managed to stay on top of the luxury watch industry for over a century. They’ve become more than just expensive
watches: they’re a symbol of wealth for both self-entitled rich kids and
powerful men alike. I hope you enjoyed a Rolex’ story. If you
did hit that like button and check out my other videos for the stories of more
cool companies. Tell me in the comments below which
company you’d like me to feature next and as always: stay smart.

100 thoughts on “Rolex: Where $50,000 Watches Really Come From

  1. I’ve done pretty well for myself far from a multi millionaire but for my wife and I our 10th anniversary got us both Rolexes with engravings to me it’s not a status symbol it’s a symbol Quality Percision and for me that’s what makes a person successful Percision and Quality of what you do and of course third Reputation actually Reputation should be number one and the other two follow

  2. Your kidney wouldn't buy you a Rolex. You'll only get paid a few thousand for it on the black market. You could probably get a Tudor though.

  3. To quote something I heard once: "Every since the 70's and start of the quartz era there is no reason to own a mechanical watch. The only exception being if said mechanical watch is also a piece of art."

  4. There are so many watch brands, which went earlier on the market then rolex. Why not pick a brand, which where there from the beginning and still is here? (And actually is a more status time piece than a "simple" rolex.)

  5. Wow, when I spot a Rolex I immediately think, "There's a person who needs social approval and admiration." There is no way to justify the outrageous cost of Rolex watches, except to broadcast that you can afford the outrageous cost. Bling.

  6. The Rolex is what I would equate to the Cadillac of wrist watches.Its not a Rolls Royce , but for the money I think it's the best wrist watch that can be bought.
    The first time Isaw a Rolex of any type it was Submariner model ,and I remember thinking ,kan this is one chunky nice ass looking work of art and engineering. At that time I was only 11 ,and I had no idea that it was any costlier than a Timex. The only thing I knew ,was that it looked so neat and I really liked it. Later that year my aunt bought my cousin a Rolex chronograph .Well I couldn't tell you what type it was ,other than it was gold with 3 black little dial faces around the main face. Well I absolutely fell in love with it ,but there was something about it that wasn't quite me. I Never was a guy that wore Jewelry, just never liked it. However I have always been a lover of fine time pieces. When I turned 13 I told my Mom and Dad that I would love to receive a Rolex chronograph for graduation. Of course they laughed me off and I thought they never had another thought about it. Later on I told Dad that I hadn't forgotten about that graduation present I had requested for college and I thoroughly explained the exact type and model of Rolex chronograph I wanted. It had to be all stainless steel including a chunky stainless steel wrist band. It also had to have black faces on the small dials . Having no clue or idea what I had just requested other than a neat SE Rolex chronograph, I let it rest for the next few years. Well one day in early May 1986 my Mom asked me out of the blue ,if I still wanted that Rolex chronograph for graduation. I said of course. What happened next I would have never guessed in a million years.
    On the night of my High school graduation.My Mom and Dad handed me this small nom discript green box with a gold embossed Rolex insignia. I thought it was a joke. I was wrong and I will never forget when I actually opened it.
    It was exactly as I described and wanted , except for it was much much more than that and I didn't actually realize what I had or it's true value to many years later. It was a Big Red Daytona Rolex chronograph all Stainless steel. They had a good friend of theirs pick it up at The Carat Patch in Lexington KY. He had actually had to order it before November of 1985 and little did I know that he had a hell of a hard time getting it.
    I liked it so much that I couldn't bring myself to wear it Always afraid I would scuff it up or have the unthinkable happen It be stolen or Lost .So after only wearing it' a total of about 10 hours. I neartly reboxed it .I also put the receipt and all the original paperwork I received with it safely away ,in a small safe .
    Well I had no idea when I received it or even asked for it that I would be getting it for High school graduation and definitely had no clue that I had received one of the most valuable and rare time pieces that Rolex made. Add to the fact that the 1986,87 ish models were the last year(s) that Rolex made the true original chronograph.The Big Red Daytona was special ,and I had no clue when I got it.
    Well the first time I got an idea that it wasn't a run of the mill Rolex was when I took it to an authorized Rolex dealer in Palm Beach Florida , December of 2001 ,. Which was actually the first text I had removed it from the safe since 1987. I took it to have it checked out and to have any maintenance work that it may have needed . Well when I saw the Jewelers expression and reaction when he first removed it from the box and that he uttered "This is unbelievable" well I knew that it was either something great or really bad and considering the luck I always have.I figured the latter. This time I was wrong.
    He then asked me.Do you actually know what you have here? I said well I think it's a nice watch.Je said No my friend.This is a masterpiece and this almost looks to good to be true. However I suppose it is. At this time I just thought I must have done he right thing to have put it up and jept everything I received with it.Then he almost immediately started asking me if I might be interested in selling it I said no and the first number that came out of his mouth was $30,000. I knew right then I wasn't going to sale it to him.Well to shorten this already way to long of a comment. It's now 2018 and my Big Red Daytona Rolex is still locked away in the safe , and I'm not sure if I will ever let it go. I've seen outrageous asking prices for them that I know they will never realize on eBay. Maybe I will someday consider anything above $100,000 , but untill that day arrives. I know what started out as a nice Chronograph that seemed custom made to my description will be resting and becoming a little more rare and a little more loved.

  7. As a watch guy, I loved the video as much as your channel, perhaps , one day, you can do Omega

  8. ATTENTION! It doesn't take a year to make a Rolex watch. That is an urban legend xD it takes around 3 months maximum!

  9. This video is great but in 3:54 is not a perpetual system this is the "embrayage vertical" in the 4130 from the Daytona ^^

  10. WHY put up with inaccurate — a minute a day or so, and a $400+ overhaul every 2 or 3 years??

    I dumped mine.

  11. As a swiss watchmaker i always feel sad to see people giving so much importance to rolex and other big companies when the best watches, in my opinion, are made by independant watchmakers.

    These guys deserve more credits.

  12. A lot of great info but honestly the voice over wasn’t the best. He sounds like he’s rushing through

  13. Btw rich people, us Swiss laugh at any enthat owns a Rolex that isn't Swiss. Swiss would much rather spend their money on cars, houses, or vacations, if not investments.

  14. I had a Rolex Submariner for forty years. It never performed to even a Timex standard no matter how many times it went back to Rolex. Lost time, gained time all at random rates hardly a chronometer. Absolutely the worst watch I ever had. Finally got rid of it a couple of years ago and used my 15 dollar Timex which actually keeps very accurate time. What a joke! Take care. Doug

  15. I still prefer my Casio F91W which was approved by Al-Qaeda for keeping accurate time.
    Wearing a Rolex is just a fashion statement like buying an iphone.
    But for the practical person, buy a Casio watch.

  16. There has to be an easier way of getting a hold of one than paying a ridiculous price for one. At $30,000 a year my best bet would be buying a gun and force it off someone's wrist (joking). My wife the smart ass said or I could just ask him what time it is. It's not about the time! Woman???omg.

  17. I collect Swiss watches and Rolex is pure shit. If you want Jewelry, buy a Rolex… But if you want a Swiss timepiece there are 15 other brands that are better crafted that will last longer than a year before you have to get it serviced.

  18. Used to want so bad to have Rolex but time changed and now want so bad to have smart phone on instead. Not small watch like around but the size of smart phone. Sorry Rolex even love changes out of proper reason.

  19. Civilized society? Give me a break! Millions of people starving to death, whilst some dehumanized being pays 50K for a Rolex; 450M for Salvator Mundi; $10M for a copper dollar, $10M for a British Stamp; 400M for a diamond … I am sorry, but people that can do spmething to further the human race in knowledge, instead of preventing it, and ensure the prosperity of the human race, can never be considered civilized; the are barbarian of the worst kind and humanity would be much better off without them.

  20. There are far better watch brands than a Rolex like Ferrari a lot of hype not a lot else you can get a patek in Bonhams london watch auction for the price of a manky old rolex

  21. Financial parts of Rolex is not covered ,having something about it is very interesting .Same thing u did for nestle.

  22. Hello…! There I like ur videos a lot. my suggestion is make a video on D.C comics which was a company which do not need an introduction it may help ur channel too,hope so.thank u for ur videos and information.

  23. Your illustrations have a nice touch of humor and insightful approach. The channel is definitely a must-watch for business enthusiasts of whom I'll recommend. One thing that I'm sure you can improve on is the accuracy of tiny bits of information. if I'm not wrong, I believe that Rolex Watches don't tick-tock. Hope you keep posting more content like this since it's been helpful towards my expertise…

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