Article By: Logan Hannen

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re diving into the world of Rolex, the undisputed champion of what the mainstream thinks of when they think “luxury watch.”

Now, when you as your non-watch geek friends about expensive watches, you’re likely to hear only a few names. For example, let’s refer to my man Floss who has, in a number of videos unboxing and reviewing smartwatches, said, “if you want a nice watch, get yourself a Rolex or a Movado.” This comes from someone who is so far removed from the mechanical watch world as a tech YouTuber, so why are those the two brands that came to mind? In the case of Movado, I have a feeling that it’s probably to do with the fact that they’re a brand that can be found in every department store in the United States and, as such, are kind of thrust into public awareness. But what about Rolex?

Rolex, according to Forbes, is the 69th most valuable brand in the world, ranking smack dab between Hyundai and Red Bull as of a 2017 poll. The brand’s estimated value is right around the $8 billion mark, and that’s down only marginally from 2016. But that really doesn’t tell us why they’re so universally loved and respected by non-watch enthusiasts.

The reason, I think, is a simple one – to own a Rolex means that you’ve “made it,” so to speak. Wearing a $5,500 two-tone Rolex Datejust means, to a lot of people, that you have earned some kind of major success in your life. It’s the only brand that, to the public, makes sense at its price point even if they disagree with it. When someone sees that watch on your wrist, they know that, on some level, you’ve been successful in your career and in your life.

Rolex Datejust 1601
Source: Theo & Harris

The question then becomes – how did Rolex become synonymous with success? At what point did a brand known primarily for rugged, durable tool watches become the icons of luxury? Well, to a large degree, it has a lot to do with the fact that Rolex is known for being super high quality, but even more than that, they’ve done a stellar job of establishing brand value through their connection with their consumers. It’s not an easy thing to quantify, but Rolex was simply the best at making sure that they put all of their eggs in exactly the right baskets for things like marketing, production quality, and innovation.

And it goes a lot deeper than that. Rolex is a brand that, through every aspect of their company, from design to marketing, understands their consumer better than any other brand. Period. Take this year’s release of the Pepsi GMT Master II in steel – this was a watch people have been waiting years for, salivating at the thought of it after the final pre-ceramic model was killed off in 2006 (be sure of the year!) , and definitely after the Pepsi was introduced with a ceramic bezel, but only in white gold. Every Baselworld Fair since that white gold option was released, Rolex fans have been chomping at the bit, hoping to finally have their proverbial (and oftentimes literal) prayers answered in the form of a steel, ceramic bezel Pepsi GMT. And that wait only served to build up the hype even more. So when the release finally did happen this year, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, so to speak.

Rolex GMT Master II Ref. 126710 “Pepsi”
Source: HODINKEE

To me, this is the primary example of how Rolex not only hears what their fans and consumers want, but knows exactly when to deliver it. And when they do finally deliver, they do it better, in most cases, than the fans ever expected.

Then there’s the innovation and craftsmanship. Rolex watches have always been viewed, for at least the majority of the 1900s, as tools to be worn by professionals. As a result, they had to be able to perform superbly in the variety of environments they would be faced with. The thing is, though, that once Rolex started to become synonymous with “luxury,” they never gave up that commitment for quality and innovation.

And, last but certainly not least, the brand has had arguably the greatest celebrity endorsement of all time in the form of this guy below:

Sean Connery as James Bond, 007 w/ his Rolex Submariner
Source: Kronos 360

To have an endorsement in the form of the man that men want to be and women want to be with goes far beyond having athletes or comedians representing your brand – it became not just a status symbol in terms of financial success, but also in terms of your ability to be strong, independent, and just a tiny bit bada**. Factor all of that together, and it’s no wonder why Rolex is the “king” of luxury watches and, in my view, one of the best ways to keep it classy, watchfam.