Why the “Sub” is not for me.

Well it had to happen, someone asked me that perennial question: Why don’t you have a Rolex?

The Submariner - but not for me.

The Submariner – iconic, expensive – but not for me.

The answer is complicated, though I hasten to say that I actually DO have a Rolex, a vintage one from around 1928 – a Rolex Oyster, plated case, 15 jewels, bi-metallic balance, Breguet hairspring and in mint condition.   I bought it many years ago as a vintage piece and funnily enough not because it was a Rolex, but mainly as it was a highly water resistant cased model of it’s day.

Rolex Oyster 1928

Rolex Oyster 1928

In fact I bought 3 other models with regards to water resistance – a super old Seawolf Zodiac and a Movado and another one that now escapes me – I must have sold it on.
But these and the Rolex were bought for what they represented in technical terms and of a period and not because I had to have a Rolex.

So the question I suppose is in relation to the fact that in my “modern” collection, it is quite correct, I don’t have a Rolex represented at all.

The problem for me is that the questioner was talking specifically about the model that dominates the Rolex look – the Submariner – and the trouble here is that I really don’t and never have liked the styling of it at all and ever since it appeared all those years ago, this model is synonymous with that “look I’ve got a Rolex” persona.

At a watch auction recently I saw literally dozens of them, all very similar models and after an hour or so watching these amazing and in my opinion unjustified prices – it was frankly – boring!
I mean marketing aside which is brilliant of course, Rolex have turned a fairly ordinary watch by today’s standards into an iconic fashion statement, which is pretty much unsurpassed by any other product I can think of.   If you want to be noticed get a Rolex.   It shouts a certain status, though completely fashion and celebrity driven, but it’s that sameness and the sheer numbers that are around that by the same token actually puts me off.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I don’t dislike Rolex as a brand, it’s just that ubiquitous “Submariner” that always, always typifies Rolex.   It’s also been copied by almost everyone and his dog at some time and do I want one on my wrist – well no is the answer.  And as to the “are they any good?” question, well my personal opinion is, they are OK and quality and technically I would estimate mid range, nothing more.   Status wise and fashion wise, well that’s another thing altogether and in that game, they are the high flyers.

Another Cellini Rolex - and so unlike that submariner

Another Cellini Rolex – and so unlike that submariner

Prices of course are status fed and from a technical viewpoint somewhat overinflated to say the least – and of course these prices are like paintings, they are driven by the movers and shakers of this secretive world of market manipulators and little to do with real value at all.

Nothing wrong in that (well there is actually but that’s another argument) but I have never bought any watch because of the name – I buy because I like it.

The Cellini

The Cellini

In regards to owning a Rolex, today I might be interested in something that doesn’t start with “sub” –  the Cellini range for example and there are other models too – ones that have sort of broken away from that boring and obvious Rolex look and instead have an elegant and individual style of their own and surprisingly there are quite a number around that are really much more interesting.

To get past the usual Rolex advertising and hype is also quite a challenge and not helped by one comment I read recently.   One advocate of Rolex implied that a Timex would be lucky to last 25 years unlike his Rolex – which says to me the writer is a little overexcited as to ignore simple facts.   Now I’m not a collector of Timex as such, but in my collection of well over a hundred watches I have (and this was a surprise to me) actually 4 vintage Timex models ’63, ’67, ’74 and 1982 and 3 or 4 modern models.   And not a problem with any one of them.   Of course the commenter omitted to mention the slight price differential between the brands – and neither will I.  😉

Now this is a proper Rolex

Now this is a proper Rolex

However it’s all a bit of a shame as there are some Rolex models around that are very different and do look good, but you rarely if ever see them.   Instead you’re fed the same old diet of that boring Submariner this and submariner that.

I’ve included some of the models I do like here in this Post –

So no I won’t be buying the ubiquitous Rolex classic “Subby” model any time soon, nor will I reach the age (I’m well past it!) as some say where I’ll feel I’m ready for one – have you ever heard such pretentious claptrap –  used of course (and why not) by those clever marketing people perpetuating the Rolex myth.

But as I say, the Cellini and a few selected others are a certainly worth considering.

And not because of the name but because I rather like them and OK they’ll say Rolex on the dial, so I’ve satisfied the followers, but at least not with that iconic boring same old model I see day in and day out and worn by the “look at me I’ve made it brigade”.

They should perhaps change the marketing blurb and try highlighting individuality – I mean we don’t ALL have to wear blue denim do we?

Of course at the end of the day, what do I know?  Rolex have carved out a fantastic iconic product and made the name synonymous with style, ambition, status and wealth.   The fact they’ve managed this successfully for all those years basically on the merits or otherwise of one particular model, has to be admired, though for me, Rolex should be and actually is more than that, but you’ve actually got to look hard to see it.

Categories: Commentary

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