The watch above is the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39mm in white. It is the most watchy watch in the world and for a long time was the model I wanted above all others. At just above £4,000 it is entry level for Rolex, but of course is an expensive luxury item by any reasonable judgement.
Trying to buy one, however, has been near impossible and despite reluctantly being placed on a waiting list by an authorised dealer in London I never received a call to say one was available. I was then offered a place on the waiting list of a dealer from whom I had bought three Tudor watches in the past.
I declined because the notion of being ‘allowed’ to pay a company £1,000’s just for the privilege of owning one of its products felt more than a little one-sided by that point.
These waiting lists have created a desire among collectors and many Rolex models now fetch close to double their new price due to their scarcity. You literally could buy a Submariner today and make a few thousand profit tomorrow (if you could buy one of course).
The thing is that you cannot buy a Submariner, a Daytona, an Explorer and a multitude of other Rolex sports watches, and now the Oyster Perpetual (above) has been discontinued and replaced by a selection of boldly coloured larger OP watches. I could never buy one when they were available and now I have no chance unless I am prepared to pay much more for a used one.
Even worse, if you pop into a Rolex authorised dealer there are countless bi-colour watches and dress watches that do not sell. Rolex chooses not to spend more resources making the hard to get sports watches because the brand needs the scarcity, the forced scarcity, to keep the brand so exclusive.
You and I cannot buy the most desirable models, they go to those who have already bought multiple Rolex watches in the past of those who are more worthy (local celebrities etc).
It is a game and one that is so obviously played out, but it does not matter because those who love watches still want specific Rolex models and so it will continue. It has, however, turned me away from the watch industry completely and despite the fact that we know luxury branding has always been silly this feels like a step too far.