Skip to main content


The Grey Market Rolex Discount

Today, I happened to notice that Jomashop is selling a large number of Rolex references, many at a discount relative to the official price. My subjective impression is that this does not happen very frequently, so I wanted to more formally tease out some implications of this development. I assembled a spreadsheet of the listings and ran some numbers. For this discussion, I will focus on the references which Jomashop identifies as "Men's" (due to the fact that I am unfamiliar with the other references which are listed). Jomashop lists 197 references for sale at a discount relative to list. This is a remarkable variety of watches on the grey market, expecially considering that Rolex contracts likely penalize ADs who resell through third party dealers. The average discount across these references is 10% with a minimum discount of 1% (mostly 36mm Datejusts in precious metals with unique dials) and a maximum discount of 31% (Cellini Pink Dial Automatic Men's 18kt
Recent posts

Stay Gold

I'll admit it: I had a negative initial reaction to Rolex' recent release of a "Rolesor" Explorer (aka two-tone in steel and gold). I wasn't alone. As I type this, I think to myself "they really ought to change that term. It rhymes with eyesore." A memeified version of Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay On the day of the release, I created a meme which I posted to IG, also offered here. It reflected my assessment at the time, which was that the adventure / mountaineering legacy of the Explorer really does not require precious metals, especially gold. It is soft. Climbing Everest requires hardness, so all we need is 904L steel. Not very sophisticated thinking, I'll admit, but I'm pretty certain that's what the "reptilian complex" portion of my brain was up to. It seems that certain novel watch releases kick off an emotional grief response in the watch community. Photo credit Wikimedia and Bertrand Grondin There a

The Tall Tale of Luxury Watch Sizes

Helmets of different size on shelving. I had the distinct pleasure of recently, and virtually, joining the Horological Society of New York for a lecture this week. The talk was entitled "The Ideal Watch Size: A Curious Case of Misperception and Missed Opportunities." The speaker, Mark Cho, is a men's fashion entrepeneur who co-founded The Armoury (with stores in New York City and Hong Kong). Cho also owns a men's clothing brand in UK: Drake's . I won't spend too much time describing, in detail, Cho's talk because it is recorded and currently available for HSNY members online (in the near future it will be publicly available on YouTube). Screengrab from Mr. Cho's talk. Cho collected some data online, using a survey, about people's perceptions of their wrist sizes as well as their actual wrist sizes. He also compared and contrasted those survey responses. The results are really interesting and worth considering. Plus, Cho mention

The Swiss Diaspora in America

Let's play a word association game, watch idiot savant style. I'll offer a word and try to anticipate your response. Bern? I'm guessing Switzerland, or Rolex, comes to mind. Geneva? Maybe you're thinking about the stripes on a movement, or the seal that's a hallmark of quality in watchmaking. Moser? I'm betting you might pull up the Instagram account of H. Moser or recall some of their vanta black dials. Baumgartner? Maybe this won't prompt any particular response, but for aficionados of the Urwerk brand it's almost guaranteed that Felix Baumgartner comes to mind. He's the watchmaker, and co-founder, of the manufacturer. I'm even more confident that, in response to any of these prompts, almost no watch enthusiast would think of the state of Indiana (located in midwest farmland of the United States). The Star Press, Feb 3, 1936. But what about this newspaper clip dated February 3, 1936 from The Star Press out of Muncie, Indiana?

Sorting the Novel Assortments

This is a short note on one of the more important recent innovations in horology. It pertains to the assortment, which is a collection of parts regulating the release of energy from a watch's mainspring. In detail, the assortment consists of the escape wheel, balance wheel, hairspring, anchor lever (usually) and pallet stones. I've now seen two similar, and major, innovations in this portion of a watch mechanism. I was initially confused about the similarities and differences between these two mechanisms, so I thought I would briefly outline them. Two watches represents the start of a potential trend, so this is probably worth doing. In 2017, Zenith announced the Defy Lab, a watch (pictured here with a black strap) featuring the wholesale replacement of a traditional assortment with an oscillating wafer of silicon (see picture). Top: Zenith Defy Inventor, Bottom Left: Zenith Lab,Zenith Bottom Right: Silicon Oscillator Credit: Zenith The price of this reference, ava

Absolving Quartz

Fables are amazing, powerful things. They take on a life of their own. They can play the role of social glue, binding a community together in shared understanding and belief. Fables can become so convincing that a community might become confused and start to treat fables as facts. This is particularly likely when a fable is built around a skeleton of facts, as is the case of the "quartz crisis" fable. The facts in this fable are as follows: in 1969 Seiko released the first quartz watch (the Astron 35SQ). The quartz movement of the Seiko Astron. The fable hanging off these facts: due to the high accuracy and low cost of this innovation, the Swiss mechanical watch industry experienced a downward spiral. Numerous brands folded and innumerable jobs were lost. I've retold this fable myself, taking it as factual. This week, though, I started reading some scholarship on the events of the 1970s, the period over which quartz reputedly claimed most of its victims.

The Shared Responsibility for Flipping

I've been an outspoken critic of flipper hate. A brief reminder: flipping is defined as a situation where a person buys a highly desirable watch at its retail price and then resells it, soon thereafter, at a higher price. As a result, the flipper earns a return on the timepiece. Flipping is the inevitable consequence of multiple decisions in watch markets. First is the fact that a manufacturer has set the retail price too low. As soon as this happens, rationing takes place: the demand for a watch model exceeds the available supply. Manufacturer contributions to flipping. As a result, some collectors are (possibly) left scrambling to get the watch. Are collectors responsible for setting the stage in this manner? So far, the answer is no. Brands set the retail price and decide how many watches they will manufacture. Now, let's turn to a collector who flips. Keep in mind that "flipping" is exactly why finance-types take a long position in an asset (f