Why Are Rolex Watches So Expensive?

Most people are aware of the Rolex brand; it’s synonymous with luxury. It’s common knowledge that owning a Rolex watch means owning the very best watch money can buy. But why are Rolex watches so expensive? Some wear Rolex and might not even be aware of the great lengths the company goes through to put the finest watch possible on each wrist.

Rolex 904L Steel

The steel in a Rolex watch is not just any ordinary steel. It’s not even the same steel other fine watchmakers use. In 1985, Rolex became one of the first watch manufactures to use 904L steel, which is highly resistant to corrosion and cracking. Its also known to hold polishing very well.

In 2003, Rolex moved all steel production to the 904L. This sets them apart from most other brands because they are one of the few to make the switch. Why wouldn’t all high-end watchmakers use the very best 904L steel? Because it’s more expensive and much harder to work with.

The upgraded 904L steel also requires different tools, skills, and equipment to manufacture. Changing entire production lines and learning completely new material skills would have a huge cost for other brands. This is a big advantage for Rolex, which produces all their watch parts in-house. Why are Rolex watches so expensive? 904L steel is a big factor.

Hand-Assembled Movements

You might not believe this to be true, but Rolex movements are assembled completely by hand, by highly trained watch technicians. They have machines that might assist with certain functions, like sorting, cataloging, and shuffling, but humans operate even most machines.

The actual assembly of the movement is done meticulously with human hands. This rules out the option of mass-producing watches with automated robots, where quality might become an issue. One of Rolex’s primary concerns is quality control, and everything is checked, double-checked, and then inspected again.

The process to assure the highest quality of every single watch produced is done by hand. Many companies might look for ways to remove labor costs by adding automated machines; Rolex relies on watch building experts to assemble each watch. The cost of this manual labor is enormous, but the quality standards will always paramount.

The Rolex Way – Made in Switzerland

Rolex is Expensive Because They Make Their Own Gold

At Rolex, they make their own gold with an in-house foundry. All the gold and platinum used in Rolex watches come from the foundry, where large kilns and hot flames melt and mix the metals to be used in cases and bracelets.

In the early 2000s, Rolex became one of the only watchmakers to build their own in-house, state-of-the-art foundry to cast their own gold. The purpose was to ensure only the finest precious metals will be used in each watch.

Highly skilled foundrymen use secretive formulas to produce 18 ct yellow, white and Everose gold alloys. Pure gold is not tough enough for everyday use on a wristwatch, so it must be mixed with other metals to improve resistance and make it harder. Once mixed, middle cases, case backs, bezels, and bracelets are produced to the highest quality standards. If you’re still wondering why are Rolex watches so expensive? An in-house gold foundry is one of the reasons.

Rolex Security

Another big reason Rolex watches are so expensive is the need for extremely tight security. Checking every employee with fingerprint scans and ID badges at all times is a must. The enormous amount of valuable watch parts, pieces, jewels, and material require the highest security at all times.

why are rolex watches so expensive
The Rolex headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

Not only is protecting watches from people breaking into the facility a huge concern, but protecting watches from people already inside the building is just as critical. Watch parts are scanned, cataloged, tracked, and monitored at every phase of the watchmaking process. Each movement includes a unique serial number, photographed and paired with a case indicating a different serial number.

Iris scanners are required to enter vault doors, where the scanner identifies eyes before it will allow entrance. Heavily armored trucks are used to move Rolex parts and material outside the headquarters. All of this security, as necessary as it may be, is not cheap.


If you still wonder why Rolex watches are so expensive, you might want to consider the cost for an entire Gemologist department to source precious stones. Diamonds, emeralds, and rubies must have the highest standards to be accepted for use in a Rolex watch, and sourcing these precious stones is a hugely important job.

Every diamond on a Rolex is selected by hand and hand-set. They must ensure these stones are not fake, so each one passes rigorous testing using x-rays and other methods to ensure they are the real deal. After inspecting 20 million diamonds over the years, Rolex has said only two have been found to be fake.

Research and development is a huge expense for Rolex. The company is focused on innovation and creating amazing designs to keep them on the cutting edge of the watch industry.

Why Are Rolex Watches So Expensive?

Each Rolex watch takes up to a year to build. The incredible attention to quality and detail, along with the finest sourced materials, plays a major role in the price of a Rolex. Assembling the entire watch in-house with technology and tools developed specifically for each step along the way.

The slogan, “Every Rolex tells a story,” applies to each watch from day one. Before the customer even sees their watch, there’s a year of painstaking design and assembly assuring rigorous standards are met.

If you should hear someone ask the question, why are Rolex watches so expensive, the price tag reflects the brand’s dedication to excellence in every way. This keeps a Rolex watch not only worth the price paid but also creates price appreciation over time.

The power of the Rolex brand is enormous and getting stronger over time. This focus on greatness will not only hold the value of your watch but make it more desirable in the future, for as long as you wish to own it.

Here’s even more reasons why Rolex watches are so expensive, if you’re still not convinced they are worth the price tag.

Where to Sell Rolex Watches

Now you understand a little bit more about why Rolex watches are so expensive; what do you do if you already have a Rolex and want to sell? There are many great options available when asking where to sell Rolex. From online retailers to brick and mortar stores and auctions. Understanding what you own is the first step in selling your Rolex.

Bob’s Watches

Bob’s Watches is one of the most trusted names is pre-owned Rolex watches. The company prides itself on paying full market prices for used Rolex watches. One of the first things you will want to do if you’re considering selling is to fill out Bob’s Watches free instant quote request form found on their website.

After filling out the instant quote, you will receive the estimated value of your watch. Next, answer a few additional questions, and you will get a free offer and a free fully insured FedEx label for shipping. Finally, you will receive cash or a check instantly for your Rolex.

Bob’s Watches is an online marketplace for resale and trade of luxury watches, focusing on Rolex. Headquartered in Newport Beach, California, the company was founded by Bob Thompson in the mid-1990s and has grown to over $50 million in revenue.

Used Rolex prices, an official pricing guide on the pre-owned market from Bob’s Watches.