It was announced last week that Rolex is to increase production of its luxury watches, in a bid to keep up with soaring global demand.
The move comes as Rolex timepieces have been tricky to buy from the manufacturer and its authorised dealers for a couple of years now. The shortage is especially apparent with sought-after pieces like the Daytona and Submariner (pictured below). But even models that are usually considered to be more accessible, like the Datejust, are also feeling the pinch.
It had been speculated in some quarters that Rolex was intentionally restricting supply in a bid to drive up demand, and therefore prices, on the secondhand market.
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Now though, it looks like Rolex production will increase and the bottlenecks should begin to relax. The company had already planned to build a new production site, but before that is complete it will now create three temporary facilities to help boost its output.
According to Bloomberg, the three temporary sites will begin producing watches in 2025, ahead of the permanent new facility, to cost £900m, that will come on-stream in 2029. As Hodinkee explains: “This is not a sudden decision by Rolex but rather the first step in a much larger, and long-planned process”.
It's also understood that, while no doubt useful for increasing demand, the production bottlenecks we've seen in recent years are far from intentional. They might increase the value of second hand Rolexes, but that doesn’t help a company trying to sell newly-built ones at their standard retail price.
This is good news for just about everyone. It is clearly a sign that Rolex demand remains strong, but also means customers unable to buy one today should see availability of the hard-to-get models improve in the coming years.
It’ll be a slow change, and is unlikely to cause the secondhand market to crash any time soon. But it at least means those who want to buy a new Rolex at retail price (and keep it rather than flip it) will be able to do so more easily later this decade.
As for how many new Rolexes will hit the market annually from 2029, we can’t say just yet. It is widely claimed that Rolex currently produces about one million watches annually. This will surely increase, first with the three temporary facilities, then with the major new plant and its expected 2,000 staff, sometime after.