Rolex, Looking at the Watch

Posted by Hans Zbinden on January 29, 1998 at 21:16:24:

In Reply to: ….so, what about Rolexes? posted by Paul Mealey on January 29, 1998 at 9:14:32:

Hi Paul

I own a few watches from Rolex, I still like them but don’t wear them very much anymore, my taste has changed over the years. I think much of the dislike for the brand doesn’t have anything to do with the watches

but more with their image, marketing and policies. Rolex do everything a little (and sometimes a lot) differently than any other company and they’re very successful at what they do. While other brands bring out several new models every year, Rolex stick to what they do best, making timeless and very robust watches with excellent (!) movements. What they aren’t (nowadays) is an inventive company, they haven’t brought out anything really new in years.

Looking at and comparing a Rolex to a watch from a top-name brand, you’ll find quite a few small points in detail where the Rolex definitely falls behind. (sharp lugs, crummy clasps on the Oyster and Jubilee bracelet, play in the hands when setting, crystal builds way too far over the bezel etc.). In other points though, the Rolex may prove to be superior, their screw-down crowns are perfect (especially the Triplock), the movements (which are double as high as a JLC 889) are built and designed to “military specs” and will be able to take a very hard knock.

For someone looking for complex fine watch making, there are no doubt many brands that surpass Rolex, if your in look for a reliable, precise-running “every-situation” type of watch that you want to wear for a long time, a Rolex is certainly an excellent, arguably even the best choice.



A Retrospect on Rolex

Posted by Justin Time on January 30, 1998 at 7:03:13:

In Reply to: ….so, what about Rolexes? posted by Paul Mealey on January 29, 1998 at 9:14:32:


You are absolutely right: Rolex typically elicits strong reactions from watch-lovers, positive and negative. I believe that the raves and the rants expressed are quite honest, or at least genuine. It’s the nature of the beast. Rolex has always done things differently from other watch companies, causing strong gut reactions from watch-lovers.


Once in a blue moon, a watch comes along with a groundbreaking style. Rolex was undeniably such a watch. The traditional dress watch had a slim case, plain bezel, simple white dial, and leather strap, a style perfectly embodied by the Patek Calatrava. Rolex style flew in the face of this norm and was considered either an abomination or a breakthrough. Like other distinctive styles (JLC Reverso, Cartier Tanks, Omega Speedmaster, IWC Mark XII, Breitling Chronomat/ Navitimer), you either love it or hate it. Rolex has made few changes to this style, a choice that some love and some loathe. Shameless copying by other companies further polarizes the opinions.


Rolex focused on building a basic automatic movement that is accurate, reliable, and robust. A Rolex movement is relatively bulky with an excellent balance wheel; it also has superior shock- and water-resistance. Rolex uses basically the same movements for years. So, if you like an accurate and robust movement for everyday wear, Rolex is for you. Those drawn to complicated movements, innovation, more features, or just plain variety naturally seek satisfaction elsewhere.


This is where Rolex differs most from other Swiss watch companies. Rolex rules over its distribution, retail sales, and even repair services with an iron fist. The control Rolex has on the importation of its watches into the US is astounding. Many love the fact that a new Rolex costs about same anywhere in the world. you rarely get much discount, but the losses on resale are also small. Many loathe Rolex for what they view as strong-arm tactics. But none can argue with the company’s success.

So if you want an automatic watch that is accurate, reliable, with instant name-recognition, a Rolex may just be the perfect ticket for you. If you prefer watches that are exclusive, exotic, complicated, or simply less common, look elsewhere. I think my watch experience is a common one. I started out with mid-price watches from Omega, Longines, Universal, then moved up to Rolex watches (mostly SS models). As I learn more about watches, my interest naturally widens. My watch world, once ruled by Rolex, is now an alphabet soup of companies: GP, IWC, JLC, AP, UN, PP, L&S, and even AS (?!).

As I spent more time with watches, I cannot help but feel that Rolex is neither the last word in Swiss watch, nor something unworthy of interest. Rolex watches are accurate, reliable, and excellent values, but hardy something to get riled up about, one way or another.

Is that common sense, or just old age?

Justin Time