Why Do Rolex Prices Keep Going Up In Singapore

by Charmaine Goh  November 25, 2021

“If you’ve never faced rejection before in your life, try walking into a Rolex boutique asking for a sport model”

Well, just look at the Panda

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Rolex Daytona 116500LN (a.k.a Panda)

If you ever walk into a Rolex boutique see one of these pieces lying around without an “Exhibition Only” sign next to it, you whip your credit card and you buy it immediately.

Or as my friend would say, “sell mother, sell father and buy”.

Released at Baselworld in 2016, this piece retails for about $18,140 SGD (as at Nov 2021) if you’re lucky enough to get it. On the grey market today, you’re looking at least double for this piece of stainless steel.

The last I checked, it’s around $43,000.

So why are prices just so ridiculous in the Singapore watch market?

I asked around and one apparently the secondary market for Rolex watches. has reached a fever pitch, says one of the dealers I checked in on.

“There was a week during the Circuit Breaker phase where I took 2 weeks off, when I came back, some of the sport models like the Hulk went up by around 15%”.

An answer? Revenge spending.

Amid global border restrictions, the island nation’s residents are diverting the savings they would have spent traveling to luxury goods such as Rolex watches. Why not since it’s considered more an investment rather than an expense.

“With restricted travel options in 2020 and the bulk of 2021, the affluent market of customers are shifting experiential purchases such as travel to material ones,” said Ng Kean Seen, deputy CEO of local pawnbroker chain Maxi-Cash. “At the primary market, demand is outstripping supply, causing the resale market to be very active.”

With more people looking to stash than splash, it’s no wonder why blue-chip watches like Rolex are the go-to investments for people to store their savings in.

Personally, I’ve met watch enthusiasts who would buy Rolex watches and keep them in a safe, unsized, and sealed until the price is right for them to bring it out and cash it in for a profit.

The Great Rolex Shortage

At the height of the pandemic, Rolex and many other watchmakers decided to shut their factories to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

And given the already shortage in supply for Rolex watches, this didn’t do much to help the situation.

“Supply to some extent due to COVID, where the factory was closed down for several months, that exacerbated the problem, but the [supply] problem had already existed before,” says Paul Altieri, CEO of Bob’s Watches.

“Global demand has steadily increased the last five years, and supply has kind of stayed constant, it’s a classic supply-demand situation going on,” he said, and this puts an “upward pressure on prices.”

It doesn’t just tell time, it tells status

Rolex watches are expensive because they are some of the very finest timepieces in the entire world.

In addition to the technologies and immaculate levels of finishing found on every single model, the Rolex brand itself is accompanied by such prestige and universal acclaim, that a Rolex watch is an internationally recognized status symbol that is synonymous with excellence, success, and exclusivity.

And Rolex’s reputation for producing expensive watches is one that the brand has cultivated.

Since the 1980s, Rolex has shifted its focus from being merely a manufacturer of high-quality timepieces to the purveyor of the ultimate aspirational lifestyle – and the average price of a Rolex watch has increased with it.

Will this bubble burst?

The short answer, unlikely.

Rolex has made it clear that they are not going to increase the production of popular watches to meet demand. And if you think about it, that kind of makes sense because they are trying to create long-term value for their clients, they don’t want to flood the market and reduce the value of these things.

Furthermore, the pandemic has reduced watch supply by 70%, so there are really fewer watches to go around.

Couple this supply shortage and demand problem with grey market dealers flipping watches, you’ve got yourself a Rolex market where sports models sell for double what they cost retail.

So unless you’re lucky enough to find one lying around the next time you walk into Ion’s Rolex Boutique, you’re better off like me staring and them on Instagram pages.