Rolex says it isn’t trying to make it tough for customers to buy the brand’s coveted watches. There’s apparently no official brand strategy to keep Rolex timepieces purposefully scarce, and the normally low-key Swiss luxury watchmaker just took the highly unusual step of issuing a statement to that effect.
Rolex issued the rare statement after Yahoo! News published a report titled, “Why the Rolex watch shortage is a ‘perfect storm.‘”
In that article, reporter Pras Subramanian interviewed ABlogtoWatch founder Ariel Adams, who said, “Rolex has made it clear that they are not going to increase production of popular watches to meet demand, and that makes sense because they are trying to create long term value for their clients, they don’t want to flood the market and reduce the value of these things.”
Adams also cited the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused multiple forms of scarcity in a variety of industries. As NPR reported Wednesday, pandemic-related supply chain problems have dogged the liquor industry as well.
But Rolexes are not crafted in a day and in its response to the article—appended to the Yahoo report after publication—Rolex made that clear.
Here’s the complete statement:
The scarcity of our products is not a strategy on our part. Our current production cannot meet the existing demand in an exhaustive way, at least not without reducing the quality of our watches – something we refuse to do as the quality of our products must never be compromised. This level of excellence requires time, and as we have always done, we will continue to take the necessary time to ensure that all our watches not only comply with our standards of excellence, but also meet the expectations of our customers in terms of quality, reliability and robustness. Rolex does not compromise on what it takes to produce exceptional watches.
All Rolex watches are developed and produced in-house at our four sites in Switzerland. They are assembled by hand, with extreme care, to meet the brand’s unique and high-quality standards of quality, performance and aesthetics. Understandably, this naturally restricts our production capacities – which we continue to increase as much as possible and always according to our quality criteria.
Finally, it should be noted that Rolex watches are available exclusively from official retailers, who independently manage the allocation of watches to customers.
The gist of the preceding could be summed up with, “Perfection takes time.”
Maxim asked Bob’s Watches founder and CEO Paul Altieri if he thought the statement was made out of corporate frustration. Via email, Altieri replied, “Not at all. I respect their decision to comment on the article and assure its customers that the current shortage of product is not any strategic initiative on their part. And that the quality of their watches is their primary concern.”
Rolex did not appear to directly address Ariel Adams’s suggestion in the Yahoo article about how they could cope with customer frustration—an official waitlist. Individual authorized Rolex dealers have customer waiting lists but there is no such corporate list that would, as Yahoo reports, be a “guaranteed way for people to buy watches they want at retail prices.”
That’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. With Rolex’s uncompromising devotion to turning out the best product possible and the lingering effect the pandemic has had on multiple industries in mind, it seems like customers will have to cool their heels for a while—or get into the booming market for pre-owned luxury timepieces.