In Apple’s keynote announcing its new smartwatch, the company claimed that it was the number 2 watchmaker in the world for watch sales in 2015, right behind Rolex.
Apple called this as a huge achievement – and it is. But many expected Apple to take the top spot with its irresistible gadgets that cost much less than most of its Swiss and luxury watch competitors.
So how does Rolex wins against a giant like Apple – Which sells a much cheaper, hyped up product – away?
“Ultimately, Rolex is the king of the watch world. In terms of mass produced luxury high-end watches, the only one that even comes close would be Omega,” Ben Clymer, editor of Hodinkee said. “And they’re really not that close at the end of the day.”
Rolex is Rolex for a reason. And that reason is the status and reputation the brand has earned over its 100 years of existence. Rolex’s cult of personality is no accident.
Actual innovation in the watchmaking field is what pushes Rolex to where they are now.
To stick to its status, Rolex never stopped inventing. They came up with the first water resistant case, the first self-winding watch, the first watch with a date, and (arguably) one of the first driving chronographs, which is used to measure lap times. On top of these innovations in watchmaking in the first half of the 1900s, Rolex developed a reputation being reliable.
Rolex now promotes this background in its advertising and marketing , attempting to make customers feel as if they’re buying into a legacy instead of just the hottest new thing.
This helps explain why earlier this year, despite the fact that a luxury brand report rated the Apple Watch the most talked about luxury watch, Rolex was still rated highest on the “passion index,” which measured how favorable that talk was.
The future, however, remains to be seen. With the launch of a completely new watch line, the Apple Watch Series II contains a few much-asked for features, like water resistance as well as GPS. The Swiss watch industry overall is likewise facing headwinds, though it’s tough to claim exactly how that is affecting Rolex especially.
For now, though, the king of watches keeps its crown.