Why has the price of Rolex increased?

In a world where the price of a Rolex watch is on the rise, it is tempting to see it as less of an investment and more of a risk; but this simply isn’t the case!

With its crown already in place, Rolex, the king of watches, is anticipated to raise prices once again in 2021. With an increase in both 2016 and 2018, and an average retail price upswing of 7.4% in 2020, Rolex isn’t hiking its costs for fun. It is a response to global inflation absolutely, but it is also the method by which Rolex makes sure its position at the high-end of the luxury market is ring-fenced. Smarter still, Rolex increases the cost of some models more than others, with a Rolex Daytona now costing around £1,500 more than in 2019, while the Rolex Day-Date has increased by £2,000. This is how you create a demand for supply.

But, of course, Rolex remains resolute in its production schedule, only making a certain number of watches every year. For those who already own a Rolex, the good news is that the value of a pre-owned Rolex watch will rise along with the price hikes.

What drives the demand for Rolex?

With a production schedule of around 1 million Rolex per year, and an active ready-to-buy market of many times more than that, it means that buyers are prepared to turn to pre-owned Rolex watch just so that they can seal the deal. For purists collectors, this means that they are in with a shout of sourcing a special edition, or a particular model, long after its initial release.

Consider the Paul Newman 1968 Rolex Daytona, which was sold in 2017 for $17.8 million in New York; It’s a Rolex owned by one of the biggest movie stars of his generation, but it is the combination of the watch and model pre-owner that sprinkles millions of dollars of glitter over this watch’s value.

Why do Rolex watches hold their value?

Rolex is like gold; two of the few commodities in the modern world that have gone up in price – even during the pandemic.


The Rolex brand name itself pushes the value up. Sometimes, mysterious even aloof, the brand ambassadors rarely seem to put a foot wrong! This dates all the way back to the origins of their brand in 1905. Rolex also refuses to compromise on the quality of its materials; and when you’re investing in a product that you need to see a good return on, quality is everything.

A simple figure, perhaps, but it is estimated that a Rolex traditionally increases in value by 5% - 15% each year.

Rolex Submariner Track Trace

Introduced in 1954, the Rolex Submariner has only grown in cost, value and esteem. Developed for the deep blue sea, you are as likely to spot a Sub around a dinner table or in the boardroom as 500ft under the sea.

  • 1950s cost – around £115. Taking inflation into account, that would be just over £1,100.
  • Early 1970s – 18ct Rolex Submariner sells for about £170 or £1090 with inflation.
  • 1980s – Rolex became both a byword for luxury and a must-have status symbol, reflected in the price (with a huge jump) of £8,350 or just over £20,670 with inflation.
  • By the 1990s, the stainless steel Submariner Date stood at nearly £2,580.
  • In 2008, the Rolex Submariner Date Reference 16610 was set at £4,618.
  • In the year of the London Olympics, the Submariner ref 116610V was around £6,966, the Submariner 116619 priced at almost £28,359, and the Submariner 116618 was around £26,362.

Today, you would be expecting to pay more than £6,880 for a brand-new Submariner Reference 116610, that is, if you can find one or somehow get moved to the front of a very long waiting list.

Rolex - A rise in cost is a rise in value

Let’s revisit some of our key figures. Even with inflation, a 1950s Rolex Submariner watch would cost around £1100 today; however, we can see that the modern Rolex Submariner in Yellow Gold is actually currently priced around £29,500 while a Submariner OysterSteel is £6450.00.

This rise isn’t inflation, but it is directly attributable to the level of research development that Rolex has poured into its watches. Yes, they can play with colours materials, but at the same time, they are also pushing the boundaries of the materials that they use. OysterSteel is not a Rolex invention, but the brand has taken steel from the 904L family – normally reserved for surgical use- almost appropriated it as their own through clever brand wording. Nevertheless, whilst Rolex didn’t create the 904L alloy used in OysterSteel, they certainly have polished it to perfection created strong, durable corrosion-resistant watches that endure the test of time.

Rolex - Get out more than you put in

Should I buy a pre-owned Rolex watch?

Here’s the rub with pre-owned Rolex – you will probably get out, often considerably, more than you put in. When you’re thinking about buying a luxury item, there are not many others that measure well against a Rolex. With a Rolex, you can buy it, love it, wear it, and leave it to the next generation and still get an expert valuation of your asset from S&R Jewellery with a Rolex. So yes, a pre-owned Rolex watch is a good investment.

Pre-owned Rolex Watches at Suttons & Robertsons Jewellery

Discover pre-owned Rolex watches for men and women online at S&R London Jewellers today. Alternatively, you can feel free to visit us in our London Showroom to view our range in person. If you can't find exactly what you are looking for, then you can get in touch with a member of our team at S&R, we can guide you towards finding your desired pre-owned Rolex timepiece. 

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