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There are many significant watch brands but it is inarguable that Rolex has achieved a pinnacle that no other watch makers have ever ascended. There are better watches and watches that are far more expensive but there is none as iconic and recognizable to the average person than Rolex. While a Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin can cost an order of magnitude more than any Rolex, only the well-educated watch enthusiast is going to recognize them as the icons they are while a Rolex immediately screams a certain level of success to almost everyone.

I often compare Rolex to Porsche. Both are immediately recognizable and carry the aura of success but a Rolex is to Patek what a 911 Porsche is to a 12 cylinder Ferrari or Lamborghini.

1968 Rolex Cosmograph Datona 6241_edited_edited_edited.jpg

That is not to say that Rolex lack anything in quality. Each is a masterpiece of design and artisanship. The movement within which are never viewed through a sapphire case back are exquisite in detail. It is a bit of a shame that the only one to enjoy the caliber of finish is the watch repair chap giving it a good cleaning every decade or so.

Rolex did not start out as a Swiss watchmaker. In fact, the company started in England in the early 20th century where they started to build their success. The British tax structure was what drove them to Switzerland and that was a rather happy occurrence as Rolex has flourished ever since.

There are two main contributing factors to the success of Rolex.

The first was the development in 1926 of the first successful waterproof case called the Oyster case that immediately put the company in a position to outperform all its competitors.

The second advance, which occurred in 1931, was the development of the perpetual movement. Rolex was the first to create a reliable self-winding watch. Since then they have never looked back, even during the horror years for Swiss watch makers during the introduction of quartz watches in the 1970s.

While there have been huge developments in their watches over the last century, the backbone of the company stems from the creation of those two advances.

Unlike many other companies that have chosen to try to surf the waves of current chic, Rolex has always been a staid and conservative manufacture of high quality timepieces and that conservatism seem to have reaped them huge rewards.

In this modern era, most of their high-end sports watches are so sought after that it is impossible to buy one from a dealer unless you have a longstanding and profitable (to them) relationship.

It is also true that if you are lucky enough to buy a new Submariner or Daytona at list the moment you put it on your wrist it is worth more than you paid for it. Not many manufacturers can make that claim.

On David Charles Collections Rolex commands its own special place where we acquire and curate not just modern Rolex watches but timepieces that stretch back to their earliest days. The great advantage with many of these wonderful vintage pieces is that they are purebred Rolex but in many cases far more affordable.

Another benefit to vintage Rolex is that men’s watches in the past were far smaller which means that women with their smaller wrists can wear an older watch in comfort.

If you ache for the thrill of Rolex ownership but don’t want to shell out enough money to buy a nice new car then a beautiful vintage watch offers a better way of achieving that goal without breaking the bank. A wonderful side effect is that they should never be worth less than you pay for them if kept in good condition and in fact, after a few years can very well be worth significantly more.

I hope you have as much fun selecting and owning your vintage Rolex as I have seeking them and acquiring them from all over the world.


David Charles Grainger

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