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A Rolex And Cartier Story – Why Are These Watches So Expensive?

rolex watches

Rolex is a status symbol, a luxury icon, and the very face of quality high-end watches. The brand has been touted as many things on the recent past, but what it really is, is the greatest watchmaker to ever exist. Personalities such as Winston Churchill to James Bond have worn watches from this majestic brand. Did you know that Rolex watches are also among the most expensive ones in the world? The priciest Rolex timepiece sold in an auction was worth USD 17 million. Although this record was broken very recently, it was there for quite some time. 

Rolex’s Climb To The Top

Even today, these top-notch timekeeping devices cost much more than you might imagine. The popular James Bond Submariner would cost you about GBP 5,000, whereas the coveted Daytona steel would cost you about GBP 8,250. The story does not end here, though. The most expensive Daytona, that is, the Platinum Ice-Blue dial Daytona can cost you approximately GBP 50,000. Can you believe that? 

A History Of Excellence – Where Did It Start?

In 1955, the GMT-Master was brought upon the world. The watch was specially designed for Pan AM pilots so that they could keep a track of time while in different time zones. Today, the GMT-Master II is priced at around GBP 5,600. The story of Rolex began when Hans Wilsdorf started a watch distribution company based in London. At that time, wristwatches were not as reliable as they are today. But Hans had other ideas. He had a vision of making wristwatches that not only looked classy but were also ambassadors for precision and accuracy. He utilized watch mechanisms that were made by a Swiss firm in Bienne and coined the name ‘Rolex’ for the brand’s name because it was short, crisp, and catchy. 

In 1910, Rolex was the first watchmaker to get a Swiss Certificate for Precision also known as the COSC. This feat was followed by the Class A Certification from the Kew Observatory in Britain in 1914. This was also important as this certification was only awarded to marine chronometers for their accuracy in timekeeping. 

Looking Towards The Future

The year was 1919 and Rolex had shifted its headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland. By 1926, the brand had launched the iconic Oyster watch. The timepiece, as many would know, was the world’s first truly waterproof watch. It gained actual recognition when a British swimmer named Mercedes Gleitze covered the English Channel while wearing the Oyster on her wrist. The device survived the 10-hour long ordeal. The watch was not only working perfectly but also remained accurate when it reached the other side. This is precisely what Rolex has been doing when it comes to marketing. This impeccable and brilliant knack for branding is what has made the watchmaker a legend.

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Cartier – A Tale of Finesse and Class 

Cartier is very similar when it comes to legendary tales. The venture started off its journey in 1847 when a person named Louis Francois Cartier took over the helm of his father’s modest jewellery making shop. This was a time when the French Revolution was on the rise and the demand for gems and jewels was limited. Any man wearing a Cartier product would automatically become the enemy of the Revolution because, you know, the rich are always the bad people somehow.

Cartier’s Global Expansion 

This all changed with the rise of the Second Empire. Cartier’s business expanded and grew bigger. Pretty soon, it was Louis Cartier’s son Alfred Cartier who took over the reins of the business and moved it to Rue de la Paix in Paris. The expansion of the business was left to the grandsons of Louis Cartier. Since that time, the Cartier brand has expanded on a global level, much faster than Rolex. The brand soon climbed up the ranks and was named the best jewellery house in the entire world. But it was not long before Cartier recognised the future of luxury watchmaking and entered that domain too. Personalities such as King Farouk of Egypt, The Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, Clarke Gable, and Grace Kelly were among the many notable people who owned a Cartier. The watches that Cartier markets today are priced at around USD 5,000 and go up to a price point of USD 25,000.

But there is another reason why this master luxury goods manufacturer is so popular with the buyers and it is called ‘quality’. The level of quality that Cartier adheres to is just outrageous. Every Cartier watch, be it an old model or a new one, is designed and made by master craftsmen in Switzerland. Both the above-mentioned watches are terrific in terms of investment too. They are a solid example of how a luxury item can gain value over the years instead of losing it. Rolex and Cartier are almost neck to neck in terms of branding abilities and revenues. Rolex surely has the upper hand but Cartier is there at a very close distance. The watches from these watchmakers are absolutely fantastic and are proof of the persistence, struggle, and endurance that both these brand have shown. So, the next time you wonder why Rolex and Cartier timepieces are so expensive, remind yourself what these brands really stand for.

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