A random Rolex adventure you say, yes, I say, but it was actually an official exhibition, to which I had an invitation in fact, a real one. Oooh fancy. I guess you can guess what a Rolex Exhibition is? I also guess you didn't expect me to be invited to one, or for me to go to one!? This is a random post in that regard, I get that it's not what you might expect, but this is the watch life...anything can happen. Considering my previous purchases and collection (the state of which is coming soon, I think and hope), such events weren't on my radar, though my purchase of the Tudor Black Bay Red Bezel was my introduction into the world of Authorised Dealers (AD) and big boy watches. Prior to that purchase, almost all of my watches have been bought online, both new or pre-owned, oddly the Shinola Runwell is the only other watch I have bought at in a real world shop, weird. Also weird, I am wearing my Chinese Tourbillon whilst writing this Rolex post, I know, I'm so edgy, inclusive and cool. It's still looking good on the blue strap (YouTube link) and still going strong - review coming by the end of this month - he says!
So, a Rolex exhibition then! Don't worry I'm not going completely upmarket (I wouldn't even if I won the lottery - imagine all the Seikos you could buy), but it is very cool to have access to such events. A Rolex Exhibition is when Rolex send out their new Rolexes to the AD and customers can go in and have a look, drool a little and then get put on the long-ass Rolex waiting list - did I mention it was for Rolex. I'm kidding, I have never been that bothered about Rol'eez, as you might know. They make great watches, super marketing, corporate savvy, but they have been over my budget and principles in the pre-owned market. I really like the old 369 dial ref 114200 Oyster Perpetual and the new GMT-II Masters but they aren't at the top of my list, I am not the type to succumb to hype (am I?), I buy what I like and can afford, usually... Saying that, I wasn't going to turn down the offer, even though I initially did. The email invite to make an appointment came, I read it, was glad I got it, pondered and then ignored.
JUBILANT TUDOR TIMES
Soon after this, my assigned salesperson, a lovely lady, let's call her LAyDee (Lady AD, get it, haha I'm well clever) emailed me saying my Tudor Black Bay Red Bezel with jubilee bracelet was ready to collect. I was pretty surprised as it's only been three months since I was put on the list, and it's my first AD ordered watch. I was planning to get rid of my current oyster bracelet version M7941A1A0RU-0001, for the 0003 with jubilee, but the LAyDee made me an offer I should have refused...
She suggest that we contact Tudor and request the purchase of a jubilee bracelet for my 0001. I knew it would be a pricey option, but I guess it's the perfect solution for all of us; I get my jubilee bracelet and 'spend' points, she gets a mini-sale, someone else on the wait list gets their 0003 and then she woos me into buying another watch cos she saved me £3k, everyones a winner!
I could have walked out with both of these and sold one of them, but I think having both bracelets would be very cool and something that not many people would have - probably because they are not bonkers watch-loving imbeciles. Anyway, short story long, the jubilee bracelet is on order and when it arrives hopefully within a couple of months I will have it fitted, shame it isn't a quick release strap system! No, I will not mention the price at this time as it is a bit much for a bracelet...to be continued.
MY ROLEX ADVENTURE
I rocked up and strolled in like I was something special, the greeters took my name and showed me to my seat, on the way I spied a Greubel Forsey behind glass, it was probably worth more than my house, humbled much, I played it cool. I'm hoping the prestige of the AD will allow me to sidle into the Rolex waiting list crowd without too much fuss, the regulars are all waiting for Greubels and Pateks and maybe aren't too fussed about Rolexes. Saying that, it was rather busy for a Monday lunchtime, Rolex are indeed a special draw. I also stumble past a rose-gold Daytona meteorite dial (reference 116505), absolutely mind-blowing flex or drip, as the kids say.
It is unfortunate that the photos are taken with a faux nonchalance, and don't have much flex. I wanted some nice photos but I didn't want to appear more enthusiastic for the photos than the watches, be cool man, be cool (I didn't squeal once, ok once, maybe twice). The result is a few decent shots, and some rubbish ones. However, it's still nice that I got some. A number of the new 2023 line up were available in store. I had a few brought to my cosy corner (around 10 watches including the Tudor I think), starting with these two Daytonas and a bottle of still water. Lovely.
I am reliably informed by LAyDee that the steel Daytona is nigh-on impossible to get hold of, no harm in being on the waiting list though I guess, and if you get lucky just get a loan and buy it then, sell it for double...joke, wear it and love it. It's lovely on the wrist, at 40mm, surprisingly compact though there is a lot going on. The skinny wrist has never been treated so well. The weight of the white gold model is apparent, I love a big hefty watch but I prefer the styling on the steel model. The detail on the silver sub-dials of the gold one is awesome but I'm not keen on the reflective bezel. A good start indeed, yet these Daytonas' are not for me, bring me something worthy of my time, take them away...
Now for something completely different. The Rolex 1908 ref 52509, which is the new dress watch and replacement for the long standing Cellini. It is only available in precious metals, and this is the white gold version, it comes in at 39mm and a cool £19,600. And of course it has the, rarely-seen-on-the-arse-end-of-a-Rolex, exhibition caseback, it's pretty pretty. I think there are only two Rolexes with the glass back, one of the new Daytona's and this. It's a stunning watch with great detail, the hour hand, the second tier of the case below the bezel and the matte black/grey dial, lovely. I don't like the 12 o'clock indices with the crown logo underneath, it's too busy. Errm yea, I won't be buying it because of that, get it out of my sight. By this time I was feeling at home so I sent one of the underlings out to get me a grey poupon (iyktyk), smoked salmon, caviar and quail egg sandwich. Come along now, I'm a VIP.
While I liked the previous three watches, the next one is something that I didn't think I would like before I saw it and tried it on. It's the gold and steel combination, black and yellow, GMT Master II (126713GRNR), bit flashy I thought. However, I was surprised at how good this looks on the wrist. Sure I was encouraged by the LAyDee, this comes in at a £13,850, but it was really well balanced and solid, the jubliee looks fantastic and offsets the bold but simple dial and bezel with balanced flash. I like the Pepsi with jubilee (a bargain at £9,150) and trying this on makes me want one more but it's close to £14k pre-owned. The yellow and gold one has been nicknamed/called the Dark Knight, the Bumblebee and the John Players Special, all good names, but as a mild superhero fan, I prefer the 'Black Adam' (the DC comic/animation version, not the poor 'Rock the Dwayne Johnson' version). It suits it very well, dark, mysterious, powerful, just like me muwhaha.
Also, if I was to purchase a Rolex it would have to be a more Rolex Rolex.
After this we went down the scale as I wanted to try on a smaller watch. I went for the Oyster Perpetual 36mm with the celebration/bubble dial, I was thoroughly underwhelmed as was the skinny wrist. It's almost like my brain takes offence when a small watch is put on the wrist, it's a complex I think. I just don't like small watches - I won't accept that they might suit me, because it means accepting that I have a skinny wrist or two, Wow, who needs a therapist when you have a blog!? The OP was cool and fun, but it didn't float my boat, I guess the design is aimed at the younger folks (I forgot to take a photo of that). Next came the Rolex Explorer which is a really simple and clean looking watch, I love a 369 dial, if the crown logo was at 12 it would be great. It was nice, but didn't wow me, also the first links of the bracelet aren't flexible and make the lug to lug longer. Also, if I was to purchase a Rolex it would have to be a more Rolex Rolex. It makes me think of the Seiko SARB033, which has an immediate impact and aura, for me this is missing from the smaller Rolexes. For Hans Wilsdorfs sake, throw them in the trash and bring me something special, will you!
Right then, now we get to the big surprise of the visit, and it wasn't even a watch I asked to look at. I knew it was the most complicated Rolex but I didn't know the details (again Rolex apathy prior to this visit), however, LAyDee knows I'm a proper watch fan and she likes the watch too, so she stuck it on the tray for me to look at. It is the Sky-Dweller Green dial reference 336934. Did I get upsold? A little bit yea sure, but the watch is very, very cool.
The winning bits; it's big and hefty, stunning minty green sunburst dial, fluted bezel, but the super win is the annual calendar and the way it is implemented with the ring command system, you know I love this kind of shitz, so check out the video which can explain it better than I can. Awesome.
It's such a solid watch, it's sporty and flashy, you can swim in it and GMT it, the central dial being a second time zone. Add to that the annual calendar and you don't need another watch (he says). You might need a loan to buy it and another loan to pay a bodyguard for when you're out and about. We are talking 42mm, steel with white gold fluted bezel, and I would go all out and have it on the jubilee bracelet (as seen below on the black dial version) which comes in at a lively £13,300. I actually properly love this Rolex, and for the right reasons. You can see the solid gold version below as well, that's a bit rich for my taste, £40k odd on the grey market - when I start my new career as money launderer for the cartels, I'll get one (terrible stereotyping but where is the lie?).
...come on groom me, grooooom me!
Well then, what an experience! I think the salesperson can make or break an experience like this. When I first called I was dealing with a guy and he seemed great but I never met him as he was on holiday when I first visited. That's how I ended up with LAyDee, and she has got me by the fluted bezel. I hope the fact she recognises me as a proper enthusiast will give me some sway on the wait list, she seemed optimistic about my chances to get a green dial Sky-Dweller on a jubilee, so I said sign me up! I'm guessing all their regulars have already got loads of Rolexes so maybe I'll get lucky, come on groom me, grooooom me! I am also on the list for the gold and steel GMT Master II, which I didn't really ask for but she just did (probs due to the look of love on my face) and I didn't stop her. I hope that doesn't arrive in first, but I figure they might test my enthusiasm and spending power, with my second choice. I have mentioned the much maligned "Spend" as a metric to classify customers and assess their worthiness in regards to new stock allocation, it's a shame, but it is the reality of things. It's fickle out there in the realms of luxury prestige haute horology. I haven't been given that idea or been asked to buy other brands or any diamonds etc, but JLC (Jaeger LeCoultre) were mentioned as a possibility due to how stylish and classy I am (she didn't say that but I'm assuming), let's see how it goes.
Coming back to real world. I guess I could afford to buy one if the call came in, but those funds are not really meant for a watch (or several watches). I could justify it for a watch that holds its value or is flippable but I wouldn't flip it immediately, just that comfort of a reasonably secure investment would be enough to sway me. It's a risk. I never considered Rolex before due to the grey market and mark-up but now with a potential avenue to RRP, I'm more than tempted.
In addition, it's nice to see the timepieces, and what the fuss is about. To hold/wear them and realise that Rolexes aren't all amazing. So, I am justified in my existing opinions about the design and pricing issues. The brand prestige and strategy is laudable, and their status is now more understandable. Some might say this is how it's supposed to be, this is a natural course for a watch fan, (potentially) getting a Rolex from the AD is a milestone to be celebrated and revered, and is what many a watch fan will be aiming for. I am grateful to be in a position where it might happen but it's not a big deal, if she calls and I decide not to buy because I'd rather buy a car or something more useful (he says) then that's fine. I think a major sway is the potential to make money from reselling, but that isn't what I'm about really, or will that sway really have a material effect. Or will profits from a Rolex flip or two simply be my way to an Omega Central Tourbillon or a CPCP (Collection Privee Cartier Paris)? Who knows, but it's very interesting to analyse the various dynamics involved, it is isn't it?
As a watch fan, I'm still hyped about it, not entirely bowled over though and we know we are in the realm of irrationality, I am wary of the traps - just don't mind if I get a bit stuck in them at this point. I accept I have been wooed let's see if the call comes in, not to mention the watch-priced Tudor jubilee bracelet I have paid a deposit for. It's all fun and games in RolexTudorLand, may the good times roll on.
P.S. you'll be reminded in the next post that it's not only the Swiss cogs that can get my blood moving.
GMT Master II
Daytona White Gold