Why the Rolex Brand is so Valuable
Rolex has established a world of its own. It is arguably the most reputable and easily recognized brand in the entire horological market. It is actually quite strange that at the end of the day, you realize Rolex can still be as simple as any other timepiece. It has moving hands that point to the minute and hour markers, some letters on the dial, date and day windows on some models; they are basic formulas of a wristwatch. What makes Rolex feel different is the whole meticulous hard work put into the watchmaking process. Rolex tells time, but every single one of them has gone through an obsessive attention to detail for perfection. The value of a Rolex watch is determined not merely from its ability to tell time, but also the following points.
Just like most watch manufacturers, stainless steel is one of the primary materials used in Rolex watches. It is important to understand that stainless steel does not come in a single variety. This material is divided into multiple types based on their strength, color, durability, etc. Before 2003, Rolex used the same type of steel as everybody else does, the 316L steel. It is a time-tested and proven reliable stainless steel grade to withstand corrosion and damages.
A peculiarity in the Rolex facility came in the form of a few versions of Rolex Sea-Dweller in 1998. Unlike most watches, those Sea-Dwellers were equipped with 904L steel, a much better yet harder to process grade of stainless steel. One of the more impressive characteristics of 904L is that it takes and maintains polishes better than others. Finally in 2003, Rolex changed the entire steel production to only use and make the 904L steel.
Every single part of a Rolex watch is scanned for cataloging and future reference. Each movement has a serial number that matches a specific case, even when numerous models are being produced. The main purpose is that when the watch eventually needs a service in the future a watchmaker can learn everything about it. Not only general information about the model or movement but more from the reference number. When watch parts need to move to different facilities they are hauled in discreet yet heavily armored vehicles for safety reasons. Rolex watches do not come cheap so it is important to take security very seriously.
It probably sounds like a cliché now but every Rolex watch is indeed hand-assembled. Rolex does not brag about it to the media so it is not uncommon for people to assume that everything is machine-produced. Parts and steel are certainly made by heavy-duty machinery, however the assembly process is done by human hands. There are robots in the facility to handle repetitive tasks such as sorting and cataloging. Motorized tools also play their roles to make sure that every pin is applied with the right pressure, the hands are precisely mounted, and all markers are in perfect alignment. However those tools are all operated by humans and not pre-programmed to do things on their own. There is an intense interaction between watchmaker and watches in the Rolex facility; the kind of attention that you would expect from a real Swiss-made timepiece.
Laboratories filled with Erlenmeyer flasks and Liebig condensers are not only for chemical schools or pharmacy schools because you can find those and other medical-grade equipment in the Rolex science lab as well. Rolex Research and Development Departments are responsible for researching new watches and everything that goes into them such as lubricants and moving parts. New manufacturing techniques for better efficiency are also subject of analysis in the lab. For a factory that makes timepieces, this kind of organization and commitment to innovation is astonishing.
In-house Gold Foundry
Rolex does not have facilities to produce high-grade stainless steel for all parts. The company has a small number of suppliers to cover the demands for stainless steel materials, but Rolex makes its own platinum and gold. The company has a storage building that houses 24k gold before those precious metals are turned into 18k white or yellow gold. Rolex actually made Everose gold as well which is the fadeless version of rose gold.
Proper Teamwork of Human and Machines
Well, not everything is handled by human hands in a the Rolex factory. There is always heavy machinery involved in the production process of a watch. The stainless steel, gold, platinum, and all other metal materials need heat treatments that are only possible by using machines. The hands and case must be made in perfect uniformity by programmed robots and testing for pressure requires helps from machines too. With all the robotic arms and sophisticated engineering involved interaction between watch and watchmaker is still everywhere from assembling the parts to quality control.
Humans and machines work in harmony in the factory. When a watchmaker requires certain parts a robot will take the order and deliver the parts within minutes. Some robots attend the inventory while others retrieve the needed parts with zero possibility of mistakes. The basic principle is simple with Rolex: if something is best left to machines, let the machines do it and if certain tasks are best left to humans, the company has the experts for those.
Some watch enthusiasts love Rolex for everything mentioned above and more. Regardless of the opinion towards the brand, there is no one denying that Rolex watches stand on top of the horological kingdom, with reliable accurate movements complemented by superior materials in all parts. Rolex still screams respect and dignity.