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Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet waiting lists are just as long as before the pandemic say authorised dealers

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Hopes that the current Coronavirus crisis will make it easier for customers to get their hands on unicorn watches like the professional steel sports models from Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet look certain to be dashed.

Authorised dealers speaking to WatchPro have said that inquiries are still coming in for watches such as Rolex’s steel Submariner, GMT Master II, particularly the Batman and Pepsi; the Daytona 116500LN; Patek Philippe’s Nautilus and Aquanaut; and Audemars Piguet’s steel Royal Oaks.

Deliveries for these watches have been suspended since March to authorised dealers, and what stock there was in the channel before lock down has been sold to the best customers.

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Distribution is expected to restart in June, now that manufacturers are back up and running in Switzerland, and in-country offices operating, albeit still working from home in most countries.

One authorised dealer, who spoke to WatchPro on condition of anonymity, said he did not expect Rolex or Patek Philippe to significantly ramp up production of unicorn watches, adding that he thought it was good for the market that they remain too rare to be sold to walk-up customers.

“I don’t want to see [Rolex Submariner] Hulks in windows. Demand should exceed supply for these special watches,” he suggests.

“I expect the balance between steel professional watches and DayDates, etc, to remain about the same,” he added while stressing that nobody outside the Rolex citadel really knows.

Waiting lists will not get any shorter, he predicts. “Nobody has asked to come off my waiting list, and there are plenty more would want to take their place, but we will only really know when we fully reopen and see how customers react.”

3 Comments

  1. I have heard the same from several AD’s myself recently. Spending several 100’s of thousands of dollars to buy a steel Rolex at an AD does not appeal to me. I am still miffed that I can get the “Unicorn” watches on the secondary market if I am willing to pay a premium. This tells me that these watches are not rare, and are in production. The market is moving away from sourcing at AD’s and to secondary dealers being the driving force to fulfill demand. So if I want to buy a Batman or Pepsi GMT watch, and do not want to pay a premium, then Omega and other great Swiss brands deserve my business. Not sure how long the AD’s will stay in business at the malls and other high priced retail locations. If I could influence Rolex to rethink its strategy, then why not at least take advance orders directly, ala Tesla, and adjust production accordingly. I work hard for my money and do not need to buy a brand that thinks that “snob appeal” is a long-term strategy. Even Mercedes caters to the middle class with its C Class and other affordable models. I own many watches, and enjoy wearing each one.

    1. I totally agree with you Mr. Simenauer. Rolex should take advance orders directly. I`m waiting for my Yacht Master II Oystersteel and Everose Gold to come in through my local Rolex store. Rolex needs to become more accommodating as a company toward their customers.

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Tags : Audemars PiguetPatek PhilippeRolex
Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder