Beverly Hills, CA—The Rolex shortage is real. Google it, and you’ll find article after article discussing it in a wide-ranging list of watch industry and business publications.
While for some that might come under the heading of a first-world problem, it’s not a laughing matter for authorized dealers who often have to tell shoppers they’re in for a long wait. Apparently there’s a shortage of the kind of stainless steel that goes into high-end watches in general, not to mention that Rolex and other high-end brands that rely on expert craftsmanship still can only produce so many watches at a time even with all the material in the world.
Some buyers will simply buy a gold or platinum watch instead; sales of gold watches were up 19% year-on-year by last summer, sales of two-tone watches grew 18% in the same period, and platinum watch sales leapt a staggering 33%.
But buyers that haven’t turned to gold or platinum are likely turning to the gray market or secondhand market, where they might have better luck scoring the model of their choice, although not necessarily at a bargain price. Prices of new Rolexes rose 3.4% recently but prices of gray market and secondhand models also are skyrocketing, sometimes above what the model would cost new, especially for the stainless variety. But an article from The Loan Companies, a family-owned luxury pawnshop operating since 1881, says consumers with access to high-end pawnshops might be the luckiest, as apparently that’s one sector of the resale market where it’s possible to pick up a used Rolex for a bargain price.