Rolex is thought to have lost around three months’ worth of production during a manufacturing shut down that began on March 16 last year.
Although the company began to reopen six weeks’ after it was mothballed, strict health and safety measures meant around one quarter of 2020’s expected production was lost to the pandemic.
That is thought to total around quarter of a million watches that would have been manufactured in a normal year.
It also delayed the launch of all 2020 watches from March to September.
The knock on effect of that closure is still being felt today, with authorized dealers, speaking to WatchPro on condition of anonymity, saying the drought has never been worse.
Although Rolex retailers were also forced to close in the second quarter, they continued to take orders through the lock down and sales exploded as they reopened.
This pent-up demand quickly ripped through retailers’ inventories, and Rolex was unable to resupply at the same pace as a normal year.
“I’ve got nothing in the cabinets,” WatchPro was told this weekend. “And we do not know when the first deliveries will be this year.”
Asked whether distribution was shifting watches to Asian markets, which are now almost back to normal, the AD replied that he thought the supply problem was global.