The Rolex Boom: Why Are Rolex Watches So Hard to Find?

Rolex watches are not only more popular than ever, and now harder to obtain due to a combination of factors. In many cases, Rolex fans must place their name on a waitlist to purchase one of these exquisite timepieces. These waitlists can last several years, and often they aren’t based on chronological order. Preference given to those on the list depends on several elements such as buying history, referrals, and relationship with the retailer. Discover the many reasons behind the scarcity of Rolex watches and how you can buy one of these coveted timepieces.

Why are Rolexes So Hard to Find?

Rolex watches are a hot commodity because of their scarcity. The lack of supply is emphasized by supply chain shortages seen across many industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Pepsi Red, Blue and Black Rolex

Supply Chain Shortages

Due to supply chain shortages brought on by recent economic shifts, Swiss watchmakers have suffered production and distribution setbacks. Supply issues with precious metals and gemstones, along with stay-at-home orders, kept production numbers low in 2020. Rolex is creating new pieces in 2021, but these obstacles have lasting effects on the delayed manufacturing process.

In addition to supply chain issues, distribution problems have led to fewer watches in retail storefronts. In 2020, Swiss watch exports decreased by 21.4%, and although the industry is picking up, many companies like Rolex are still recovering from the pandemic.


High-Quality Standards

Horological fans value Rolex watches because of the exceptional design, craftsmanship, and quality they represent. Rolex watches are handmade and go through a series of tests to ensure each piece lives up to the company’s stringent quality and performance standards.

Creating each piece takes time and effort, which results in a manufacturing process that does not produce enough watches to keep up with demand. The company issued a statement through Yahoo Finance stating that it will not compromise Rolex quality standards to keep up with demand. 

This strict adherence to quality is why luxury watch collectors respect and desire Rolex pieces. The GMT Master II and Black Rolex Submariner are popular models that highlight the quality and elegance of the Rolex brand. 


Supply and Demand

Rolex watches are only produced at the company’s four Swiss manufacturing locations: Les Acacias, Plan-Les-Ouates, Chêne-Bourg, and Bienne. It is estimated that Rolex distributes one million watches annually (although Rolex is known for keeping their production numbers a secret.) However, demand for Rolex watches has risen significantly over the last two years and outstripped supply. 

Stay-at-home orders and wealth generated by record stock markets and stable cryptocurrencies have left many people with more disposable income to spend on luxury items. Some individuals are also looking to diversify their investment portfolios with physical assets, such as high-end timepieces. 

Popular Rolex models like the Submariner, Datejust, and Explorer are in high demand as investment pieces because there is a low supply and high demand, increasing their value.

Obscure pieces like the Milgauss are seeing a surge in popularity after being seen on celebrity wrists like Daniel Craig and Jennifer Aniston. 

Materials also play a significant role in controlling demand for Rolex watches. While Rolex produces watches made from precious metals, including gold and platinum, stainless steel Rolex models, like the “Batman” Blue and Black Bezel GMT-Master II, have become particularly hard to get. The increased demand for stainless steel pieces is due to current trends for timeless design with a modern aesthetic. 

High Market Value

The scarcity of Rolex watches is also due to their high market value. Market value refers to the value assigned to a product by the investment community. The market value of Rolex watches has skyrocketed over the last several years because a limited new supply is pushing the value of secondary models higher. Depending on the model, you may pay anywhere from 20% to 100% over the MSRP for a Rolex on the secondary market.  

For example, some vintage pieces, such as the Daytona “Paul Newman,” go for incredibly high prices because of their increasing market value. Rolex watches are considered valuable by the horological community. Their coveted status results in higher prices and makes them difficult for collectors to find. 

 Hand holding 3 coveted Rolex Models

Where Do I Find Rolex Watches?

Whether you’re an avid Rolex collector or a novice to the world of luxury Rolex watches, you may be wondering where to find an official Rolex piece. One of the best ways to get your hands on an authentic Rolex is to buy a pre-owned model. The pre-owned and vintage luxury watch market is booming due to reductions in manufacturing and distribution and high demand. 

Bailey’s Fine Jewelry is a North Carolina-based jeweler with the largest selection of pre-owned and vintage Rolexes in the state. We’ve been in the high-end jewelry and watch business since 1948 and have been voted “Best Place to Buy a Watch” by Metro Magazine. 

Our Rolex watch selection includes the popular Cosmograph Daytona, Submariner, Datejust/Lady Datejust, and GMT Master II. We carry several iconic models, such as the GMT Master “Pepsi” and the Yellow Gold Day-Date President. 

While our inventory continually shifts due to the demand for these popular watches, Bailey’s always maintains a wide selection for Rolex aficionados. We also offer other luxury timepieces from brands such as Tag Heuer, Cartier, Shinola, and Patek Philippe. 

Additionally, we provide watch repair services, such as waterproofing, restoration, chronograph repair, and crystal repair and replacement for any Rolex pieces you own by our in-house watchmakers. 

If you want to sell a Rolex watch, Bailey’s can offer you a fair price for your used timepiece. Simply schedule a consultation for our team to examine your watch and make an offer based on the assessed value. 

Find the Perfect Rolex at Bailey's

If you’ve been searching for the perfect Rolex watch for yourself or a gift for someone special, visit Bailey’s Fine Jewelry in North Carolina to find a watch you’ll love. We carry the state’s largest Rolex selection and can help you find the perfect watch for your collection.

Visit us in-store, reach out online, or give us a call at 919-829-7337 with any questions you have about buying or selling a Rolex watch. 


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