Rolex demand hotter than at any time in the past 30 years says authorised dealer

Rolex GMT Master II Nespresso and Pepsi

“In my 30 years working in luxury watches, I have never ever seen the shortages of Rolex sports watches that are taking place now,” says Danny Govberg, chief executive of Govberg Jewelers, a luxury watch destination and authorised Rolex dealer in Philadelphia, USA.

His comments came after reading a letter to the New York Post that asked whether the current difficulty to find certain Rolex models is limited to Republican states, particularly California.

“When you talk with retailers you discover that since Trump’s arrival, Rolex watches have been flying out the door. Now remember, this is California, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 100 to 1 or something. I was wondering if that is true in New York City or another Democratic stronghold,” a letter from “J.K.” asks.

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Mr Govberg certainly sees the same shortage in Philly, and says it is actually a global phenomenon.

“It used to be just the Daytona model. Now it’s the entire sports line. And it is not just a United States issue, it’s worldwide,” he adds.

The story is not so much one of a Rolex drought caused by the watchmaker, but an astonishing increase in demand.

Mr Govberg believes this is part of a wider increase in the desirability of luxury sports watches that can be worn all day in the office or at the beach club and kept on the wrist at a swanky dinner event when in the past people might have switched to dress watches.

“Basically the industry is moving to what I call beach-to-tux usage,” Mr Govberg opines. “A customer wants to wear the watch to the beach, on the tennis court, and then a fancy dinner.”

It isn’t only Rolex benefiting from the ‘beach-to-tux’ phenomenon. Richard Mille is the most expensive brand that is worn during sport and dinner by the likes of Raphael Nadal and Bubba Watson. Audemars Piguet and Hublot are also showing strong growth with their sporty mechanical pieces and association with the likes of golf and football.

The shortage of sports models is driving up prices on secondary platforms like Watchfinder, Watchbox and Chrono24 where models like Rolex’s Submariners and Patek Philippe Nautilus pieces are changing hands for more than double the retail price of the same watch bought new.

The hottest watch of 2018, Rolex’s GMT Master II is priced at £6,800 by authorised dealers in the UK, but waiting lists are several years long. To jump the queue, the same watch is selling for £15,250 today on

“Pre-owned is off the charts, particularly for Patek and Rolex models, followed by Audemars and Hublot. Omega is gaining ground at a nice pace,” reveals Mr Govberg, who is also a founding partner of Watchbox, which sells certified pre-owned luxury watches worldwide.


The same GMT Master II that has listed for £6800 is being offered on for £15,250.


  1. The advantages that the secondary/grey marketeers have over Rolex AD’s include being able to source their watches globally and retail them online, at the same time hiking up the second-hand prices so high that consequently there is a huge demand for these easily resold watches by many people wanting to flip them and make a quick big profit. Look at the watch Forums and see all those agitated “victims” of Rolex not making enough steel Professional watches for them to get their hands on!
    This is at the expense of people wanting to wear them for their own pleasure, and we’re all victims of the power and influence of the internet. In 2017 a friend of ours in the industry who sells pre-owned Rolex sold 20 steel Daytona’s. As an AD we sold 3 and of course we cannot sell online!
    As a Rolex AD I get as many requests daily for as many steel Professional watches that I get annually from Rolex and have to spend an increasing amount of time telling people what they can’t have! It is very frustrating.

  2. It goes round and round, in 2001 there was a seven year waiting list for a steel Daytona, they were £3,600.00 and you could flip an unworn one for over £5,000.00 to a dealer who would sell it for £7,000.00. By January 2016 the list price was £8,000.00 and there were no lists, dealers were lucky if they could get £250.00 over list for one. So watch out if you are carrying lots of inventory, the watch market today is driven by blogs, rumours and trends, if you get caught behind the curve with over priced unwanted pieces your going to burn!

  3. What a load of BS. Rolex is choking the supply and everyone knows that. Of course an authorized dealer isn’t going to say that and potentially piss off the mothership.

    1. “Rolex is choking supply”
      – Does Rolex generate any revenue from the pre-owned market or the higher prices by ADs? If yes then it would make business sense to limit demand, if not why would they reduce supply?
      – Are they cutting down production or are they not increasing it to keep up with demand.

  4. Choke supply to increase scarcity value which is what luxury goods are all about.

    And Rolex is privately owned and managed by trustees so does not chase growth for revenue/profit maximisation reasons, as listed companies such as Richemont, Swatch Group and LVMH to a larger extent have too. Instead, it can take a much longer term view to build brand desirability by limiting availability during the good years.

  5. List of AD’s I’ve visited in 2018:
    – 3 in Montreal
    – Miami
    – Boca Raton
    – Aventura Mall
    – West Palm Beach
    – Monaco
    – Paris
    – Cannes
    – Nice
    – Burlington

    All bone dry.

  6. How long to receive a Datejust ? My AD did not have the dial I wanted but said the 18k gold and steel is available to order. Cannot order stainless though. Anyone know how long until I receive it from my AD?

  7. Ugh, I’m just about done with Rolex. As a non collector and current owner/wearer for enjoyment the brand is becoming too much baggage. Forced to a flooded grey market to overpay or dealing with a unknown AD selection process for who gets what. There’s no satisfying experience from a store, just uncertainty in its place. It’s weird even talking about watches over empty display cases. Customers who wear them are the true ambassadors of Rolex but sorry there’s nothing for you from us..

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder