Everyone has heard of Rolex and yet most people don’t own a Rolex watch. This is because Rolex is a luxury brand and their watches are extremely expensive, with prices reaching $17 Million at times. But as a common person, you might be thinking that, at the end of the day, it is just a watch, and how could it cost millions. Your question is valid because to the untrained eye, a watch just looks like a watch and there is no reason for it to cost more than a house.
But, watch enthusiasts and manufacturers know that the intricacies of watchmaking are very varied and some manufacturing decisions lead to a higher price. Following is a detailed discussion of the manufacturing practices at Rolex factories in Switzerland, and how these contribute to an extravagant price tag.
Using 904L Steel
Have you ever wondered why the finish on a Rolex watch is much shinier than other steel watches? It is because while other manufacturers use 316L type of steel, Rolex decided to use 904L steel. There is a big difference between these two types of steel.
The 904L is more rust-proof and tough than the 316L. It also holds polish very well, creating that signature shiny Rolex body. Other brands do not use the 904L mainly because it is very expensive and harder to mold and work with.
But Rolex spared no expense to ensure that the quality of their watches was unmatchable. Not only the outer body, but all the inner parts are also made of the same 904L steel, this is why you can only find Rolex replacement parts at high-end suppliers like Sofly watch parts sellers.
Assembling With Hands
Another manufacturing decision that contributes a lot to the overall production price is the practice of assembling the watch parts with hands. Rolex believes that watchmaking is an art and requires extreme craftsmanship, which is why human hands lead the manufacturing process.
The watches are wound by a technician, the bracelets and gears are also put in place by experienced workers. This does not mean that there are no machines involved as they are used for tasks like sorting and cataloging. They also help the technicians with technicalities like ensuring proper part alignment. Overall, it is the paychecks of the well-paid and extremely experienced workers that add to the price of a Rolex.
While Rolex believes in the magic of the human hand, it does not shy away from using machines when they are more efficient. An example of this is the robots in the master supply room who are tasked with managing, storing, dispensing watch-parts and finished watches.
Rolex decided to keep these machines because, unlike other companies, it has the funding to pay for them and the demand that requires them. While they speed up the watchmaking process, they are very costly and are also expensive to maintain. This is another expense that adds to the price tag of the watch being made.
Every luxury watch brand finds itself in need of gold from time to time. Most simply purchase it from known sellers. This is the most obvious option as it is cost-effective in the long run. But the Rolex decision-makers think it best to ensure the purity of the gold by making it themselves at their own foundry.
They take 24k gold and the foundry turns it into the classic Rolex 18k gold available in yellow and white variations. The foundry ensures all gold used in Rolex watches is pure and utterly beautiful. But it also adds a big sum in the production cost of each watch.
Perhaps one of the most expensive decisions at Rolex was the creation of their fully-equipped research labs. You might wonder what a lab has to do with the end-price of the watch. The answer is that Rolex labs research 24/7 on new types of metals that can be used to make better watches. They conduct tests, which cost lots of money, in hopes of improving their watch quality.
Not only do they research materials that go into making a watch, but they also spend a lot of resources in figuring out newer and better manufacturing techniques. The highly-paid scientists in these labs also research on lubricants that can be used to improve the performance of the machines used in their factories. The research leads to a lot of innovations that Rolex then gets known for but it is also a year-round expense that has to be paid by selling watches.
The high prices of a watch may seem like an enigma but once you realize that Rolex is not charging for just a brand logo but for craftsmanship and quality materials, it starts to make sense. If you want to buy a Rolex but can’t afford one, purchasing a used Rolex might be the right option for you. Owning a Rolex is a status symbol and shows a man’s taste and wealth. It makes a great impression on people at parties and meetings.