After decades as a collector, Paul Altieri turned his passion into a business by buying Bob’s Watches and turning it into one of America’s preeminent pre-owned luxury watch specialists.
His timing was perfect with the acquisition, as prices for Rolex watches rocketed on the secondary market, starting with the all-steel Daytona and spreading to every steel sports watch in the portfolio.
Now even precious metal or bi-colour Datejusts are selling for over retail.
Mr Altieri’s love for Rolex is unquenchable, but this year’s new models, revealed last week, have disappointed him.
“As a whole, the new releases were slightly underwhelming, but Rolex did just give us quite a few exciting and unexpected new watches in September of last year, so this year’s additions make sense and are largely consistent with where Rolex seems to be headed as a brand,” he tells WatchPro.
Only Rolex could get away with such a lackluster line-up and still see demand increase and prices rise on the secondary market.
“I think most of the Rolex’s most popular watches will only become more difficult to find at a retail level,” Mr Altieri predicts, because people are looking for enduring classics.
“Wait lists for them were already long, and with the relatively conservative batch of new releases this year, demand for the existing models that you already could not find at authorized dealers will only become stronger,” he adds.
Prices have been rising on rumors of Rolex watches being discontinued and, when the news is confirmed, they increase again.
“New releases typically generate interest in the recently discontinued models. The fact that the Explorer has returned to 36mm means that the now-discontinued 39mm model has become rather unique. Additionally, while the update to the Explorer II was relatively minimal from an aesthetic standpoint, the simple fact that you will likely not be able to buy one at a retail level means that more people will be searching for past references on the pre-owned market,” Mr Altieri suggests.
His favorite watch from Rolex this year is the new 36mm Explorer (pictured top), but he thinks it may be too small for many customers, which is driving up demand for the discontinued 39mm piece.
“The watch itself is a truly iconic design and its return to the classic 36mm case size means that it is essentially the modern version of the vintage models that are held in such high regard by collectors today. But some people still feel that 36mm is too small. Now that the 39mm Explorer has been discontinued, every person who wants a Rolex Explorer with a larger case size will be looking for that exact same reference,” Mr Altieri explains.