Why Rolex Watches Are So Expensive

Everyone recognizes the name Rolex. It’s one of those brands that conveys unmistakable I’ve-made-it cachet. So if you’ve got a Rolex that you’re ready to sell, there’s no better time. Start by reading our primer on why Rolex watches are so expensive—and then discover how much your own will bring.

what makes rolex expensive

At auction, vintage Rolexes are regularly selling for upward of $1 million, while the Rolex Daytona that Joanne Woodward gave husband Paul Newman set records when it sold for over $17 million in 2017.

Get answers to the following questions:


Why Are Rolex Watches So Expensive?

The top four reasons that Rolex watches are so expensive:

1. Its Meticulously Made

Sure, everybody in the luxury watch business says that, but Rolex really, really means it. Rolex are assembled by hand and use nothing but the best, controlling both process and materials. If a watch is gem-set, then you can be sure that every gem is internally flawless (and that it was put there by one of the 20-plus specialists that Rolex employs just to sit gems).

Its only platinum is 950 platinum, its only gold is 18K. Its 18K pink gold is a proprietary alloy called Everose. Its ceramic is an extra-hard, proprietary ceramic called Cerachrome that is practically impossible to scratch and doesn’t change color with UV exposure.

Even its steel is proprietary Rolex uses only an alloy called Oystersteel, a 904L steel of the type also used in the aerospace industry for its resistance to corrosion.

2. A Rolex Will Last

These watches are not fragile. Changes in temperature, altitude, movement, and humidity that would spell the end of other luxury timepieces don’t seem to do anything to a Rolex. Edmund Hillary, the first man to summit Everest, got to the top with a Rolex Oyster Perpetual on his wrist.

Decades later, in 1994, high altitude mountaineer Ed Viesturs received a Rolex Explorer II after summiting three of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks—Everest included—and went on to wear it as he conquered the rest. He’s still wearing it today.

3. A Rolex Holds Its Value

Sometimes it even appreciates. Its collections have a consistent, identifiable appearance and the brand has never been out of fashion or embroiled in scandal. Men love them. Women love them. Customers the world over love them.

4. Every Serious Watch Collector Seems To Own A Rolex

Especially the celebrities. Justin Theroux, Rihanna, David Beckham, Bono, Drake, The Weeknd, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen, and Justin Bieber. Not to mention James Bond himself.

And then there are the people who get paid to wear the Rolex, who are arguably the most impressive brand ambassadors of any luxury watch brand, a list that includes Chris Evert, Lindsey Vonn, Sonya Yoncheva, Roger Federer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods.

How Much Is My Rolex Worth?

It depends on a number of factors: model, age, condition, box and papers, but also how and where you sell. Here are our tips to get the best price for your Rolex:

1. Sell to watch experts: this will allow you to get the strongest prices—along with faster payment and a safe, established service. Get your fast, free, no-obligations price quote from myGemma.

2. Hold on to any paperwork: Rolex is the most counterfeited watch in the world, so your watch will be worth more if you can document its authenticity and provenance. Paperwork will be paramount, so save it all: the certificate of authenticity, the receipt, the original box and packaging, and even the paperwork documenting when and where the watch was serviced.

And, of course, you’ll ideally need to know your watch’s model number, plus a description of its dial, bracelet, and any engraving or personalization.

Where To Sell A Rolex Watch For The Best Price

  • Pawn Shops/Jewellers: While few pawn shops or jewellers will turn down a Rolex, not all are motivated to give you a great price—especially since they make money from flipping your watch to a more specialized dealer or placing it at auction. So that means that the less they offer you, the greater their own profits will be. You may get a higher price with a trip to Hatton Garden, London’s jewellery district—but expect lots of haggling when you get there.
  • Consignment: If you consign your Rolex, you may—or may not—be able to set your own price. But you can’t guarantee how long it will take to get that price. And, once it does sell, you’ll end up paying a placement fee or a portion of your profits, or both.
  • Online auction sites: These are accessible but also don’t guarantee a sale. Some post your piece on their platform and take over the description and photography (charging you for the privilege, or course). Others, like eBay, let you do all the work yourself. Either way, their business model is to take a fee for listing your piece and/or a percentage of your profit.
  • Traditional Auction House: Your luck can go either way at a traditional auction house. A lot depends on the other pieces scheduled for the auction and whether or not your watch catches the eye of a collector. It’s not quick either. And once you do get paid, you’ll have to fork over a seller’s fee to the auction house.
  • Luxury Watch Experts: However, you can eliminate both the wait and guesswork if you sell your Rolex to myGemma. Created in 2012 as a 21st-century alternative to pawnbrokers and auction houses, myGemma can complete the buying and selling process in as little as 48 hours. Our watch experts will buy your Rolex watch. No hidden fees. No commissions. Only excellent customer service that has earned us excellent customer reviews.

Where Can I Buy An Affordable Rolex Watch?

On our partner site, myGemma, you can shop a selection of pre-owned Rolex watches. Find everything from a men’s Rolex Submariner 116610LV steel "Hulk" watch to a ladies’ yellow gold and diamond Pearlmaster. All authenticated and warrantied by our team of luxury watch experts.