“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.
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 Chrono24.co.uk.
“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.