17.06.2022 - Rolex

All about Rolex production – and how to get your hands on one

Demand for Rolexes has risen to new levels – to the point where they surpass supply. But with soaring prices and decade-long waits for sought-after models, you might be wondering why Rolex doesn’t simply increase its productivity? After all, that’s the aim of most businesses, right?

Here we chat everything you wanted to know about Rolex production and what it takes to get your hands on one.

How many Rolex watches are made each year?

Rolex has not disclosed any information about its operations for a long time – it is a privately-owned company with no investors, giving it an air of mystery – yet room for speculation.

All Rolex watches are certified Chronometers which go through stringent tests but since 2016 these figures have not been published. In 2015, 795,716 watches were certified so one could assume approximately the same number were made.

The general belief is that Rolex creates around one million watches per year – and according to WatchTime, the brand owns 24.9 per cent of the luxury watch market.

Where are Rolex watches made?

Every Rolex watch is manufactured and assembled in Switzerland. A site in Plan-les-Ouates develops and produces quality cases and bracelets for Rolex watches, a Bienne site employs more than 2000 people to produce the movements and at Chêne-Bourg there is a dial and gem-setting development and production line.

Les Acacias, Geneva serves as the brand’s international HQ and houses the brand’s management, research and development, design and more.

If you’re in any doubt about the authenticity of a Rolex watch, one trait to check is that it says ‘swiss-made’ on it.

Rolex Acacias headquarters in Geneva

How long does it take to make a Rolex?

An advert once claimed it took 12 months to make one Rolex watch. While that sounds ridiculous, it’s actually true. Of course Rolex could speed this up for certain models if necessary, but each watch requires so many parts and virtually everything is made from base materials in-house. 

Once all the parts for a Rolex watch are completed, they are then mostly hand-assembled. The applied hour markers are set individually by hand – a time-consuming process – and so inevitable each part takes a very long time. And of course, there’s rigorous assessments to get through too.

Will Rolex increase production?

Clearly the demand is there but as far as Luxe Watches is aware there are no plans by Rolex to increase its production capacity, which inevitably will mean a growing supply shortage and further inflation of prices.

How do Rolex waiting lists work?

Some say the mad desire for watches and waiting lists started after Baselworld 2016 and the release of the Oystersteel case Daytona 116500LN. Social media sent demand through the roof and when collectors went to their trusty authorised dealer they were told it was sold out and stuck on a waiting list – creating yet more hype

If you did have your eye on that new Rolex Submariner – know that clients are ranked to receive them the new watches as they come into store. Some stores acknowledge the list, others don’t. Rolex dealers are obviously excited to sell their inventory before it comes to store but need to manage consumers who have thousands to spend on a watch they can’t actually hold yet.

If you do want a Rolex, you might consider a pre-worn timepiece from Luxe Watches. We sell lots of popular models and love a challenge if you do want us to pursue a popular model. Contact us today for an appointment.