Rick Ross’s Diamond-Set Rolex

On Sunday, the American rapper was photographed in Miami in an eye-catching street-style look that included a Louis Vuitton denim shirt, gray trousers, and multi-colored sneakers.

He upped the ante by wearing sunglasses at night, a chain-link necklace set with colored stones, a pinky ring, and a Rolex Datejust set with dozens of carats of diamonds for extra oomph.

Models like this, which are typically customized after being purchased from an authorized dealer, are coveted and can command up to $45,000.

A closer look at Ross’s eye-catching watch reveals its 41 mm case, which contains a dial that’s been pave-set with diamonds. Datejust signatures including dauphine hour markers, a date window at 3 o’clock, as well as the brand’s name and logo are also front and center.

For a similar model offered at the beloved Atlanta jeweler Ice Box, the case and bracelet require over 19 carats of stones for full coverage, and the dial takes over 5 carats. It’s all tied together with a fully gem-set Jubilee bracelet.

If the flashy timepiece is anything like most Datejust 41 models, it runs on a calibre 3235. The self-winding movement was developed in-house by Rolex, and runs at a frequency of 28,800 vph.

It also features 31 jewels and provides the “Hustlin’” rapper with a 70-hour power reserve. The watch may be the latest show-stopper we’ve seen on Ricky Rozay’s wrists, but it’s far from his only diamond-set piece of wrist candy.

Source: finance.yahoo

What the Rolex-Bucherer Deal Could Mean for the Watch Market

Rolex’s pending acquisition of watch and jewelry retailer Bucherer could fundamentally change the luxury watch industry, according to industry observers.

There’s concern and speculation throughout the industry regarding how the purchase will alter Bucherer’s relationship with its competitors, how it will affect “grey market” watch sales, and how it will influence Rolex’s relationships with its retailer network in the US, UK, and Europe.

In fact, the impact on Watches of Switzerland (WOS), Bucherer’s biggest competitor, was immediate, with its shares on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) plunging nearly 21% on the day after Rolex’s August 24 announcement.

WOS — which numbers more than 200 retail outlets, including 87 mono-brand boutiques — issued a statement on August 25 to reassure investors. Rolex will not have operational involvement in the Bucherer business, it will elect nonexecutive members to Bucherer’s board, and there will be no change to how Rolex allocates products, the retailer said.

Omega, Rolex’s closest competitor, issued a vaguely worded statement congratulating Rolex and Bucherer on the acquisition, pointing out that Omega generated nearly 40% of its sales from its own global network of stores.

“We do not have many points of sale within Bucherer’s stores, nor do we need many. There are also no current plans to increase that number,” the release read. “Naturally, we make regular adaptions and updates within our distribution network. However, our strategy is completely independent of other watch brands and is solely considered around Omega’s own planning.”

Bucherer operates more than 100 stores in Europe, the UK and the US. A total of 53 Bucherer stores distribute Rolex products and 48 offer the Tudor brand, Rolex’s sister company.

Rolex, in its brief statement about the acquisition, tried to assure the industry there would be no dramatic moves.

“Bucherer will keep its name and continue to independently run its business,” Rolex said. “The group’s management team will remain unchanged. The fruitful collaboration between Rolex and the other official retailers in its sales network will remain unchanged.”

Whether Rolex will manage to limit its influence is questionable, particularly in the long term, according to industry observers.

“Some people have faith the company can put up a firewall,” said Brendan Cunningham, professor of economics at Eastern Connecticut State University and founder of horolonomics.com, a website that specializes in the economics of the watch industry. “I don’t know how they are going to work that out. Over time there will be a temptation to do more through that relationship and leverage it a little more.”

“There is no reason Rolex will not push its watches into all 100 [Bucherer] stores,” added Alexander Linz of WatchAdvisor, a YouTube program about watches and the industry. “It won’t be tomorrow, but it will happen.”

In addition, this acquisition will likely allow Rolex to sell its most sought-after watches exclusively through Bucherer stores, Linz continued.

There’s also a belief that the move will affect online retailers of “grey market” watches — authentic goods that are sold through unauthorized sources — with Rolex having more control over its own distribution. Some authorized Rolex retailers give the most coveted Rolex timepieces to grey-market sellers, where they could get much more than the authorized price. Rolex wants to stop this practice.

“If the distribution process is in-house, they will have more tools to determine where their watches are going and to mete out consequences if people are doing what they are not supposed to be doing,” Cunningham observed. “It’s kind of a tough situation for Rolex because it can either cancel the distribution agreement or deal with the reputational impact when it happens. If something like that happens at Bucherer, you can do your own investigation and get rid of people responsible.”

Another area where the Rolex-Bucherer arrangement could provide leverage over other retailers is through used-watch sales. Bucherer was the first retailer to be approved for the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) watch program, in which Rolex provides a certificate of authenticity, a two-year warranty and a wax seal tag for an approved pre-owned Rolex.

“The way it used to work is that Bucherer would send pre-owned watches for a once-over and service,” Cunningham explained. “They would charge Bucherer, and Bucherer would add it to the price. These transaction costs don’t have to happen anymore. That could make the Rolex CPO program at Bucherer a stronger competitor for the secondary market.”

One of the main unanswered questions is how this acquisition will affect the long-term relationships with its authorized dealer network. Rolex retailers include large luxury watch chains like WOS, German-based watch and jewelry retailer Wempe, and US luxury jewelry retailer Ben Bridge. However, the majority of its retail partners are independent retailers, many of whom depend on Rolex for a significant portion of their sales and as a way to attract people into their stores.

“I’m sure the authorized retailers are wondering, ‘What does this mean for us?’ I’m assuming those conversations, if they haven’t started already, are going to start soon,” Cunningham pointed out. “At a minimum, it puts folks on notice to have a ready alternative for distribution and maybe it will get some dealers to tighten up their businesses a little bit. Rolex is important to any retailer that has that dealer agreement. I’m sure having Rolex increases foot traffic.”

Source: Diamonds.net

Watches of Switzerland Annual Revenue Hits Record

Watches of Switzerland’s group revenue soared 25% for the full fiscal year as it expanded its store network and demand for luxury timepieces rose.

The UK-based retailer achieved sales of GBP 1.54 billion ($2.02 billion) for the 52 weeks that ended April 30, the company said last week. That amount is a record for the firm and has placed it “significantly ahead” of where it expected to be when it released a long-term strategic plan in 2021, it explained.

Sales grew 10% in the UK and Europe to GBP 890 million ($1.17 billion), driven by the opening of 15 new UK showrooms, as well as its first in Germany. In the US, revenue jumped 52% to GBP 653 million ($855 million), with the company opening six mono-brand shops and a Rolex store. The US now represents 42% of total group revenue, the company noted. The rise was also the result of increased appetite for luxury watches, which continues to outpace supply. Watches of Switzerland’s client registration for timepieces is growing, as is the average selling price per piece, it said.

Profit for the period advanced 21% year on year to GBP 121.8 million ($159.5 million).

“Luxury watch sales grew 28% year on year, representing 87% of group revenue,” said Watches of Switzerland CEO Brian Duffy. “Luxury jewelry sales increased at a more modest 10% in the year, reflecting a tougher macroeconomic backdrop and focus on full-price sales. Following two years of exceptional performance, sales are significantly ahead of plan, by over GBP 200 million [$261.9 million].”

During the year, Watches of Switzerland also opened five shops in Sweden and Denmark, and a boutique in Ireland. In fiscal 2024, it will debut a flagship Rolex store on London’s Old Bond Street and a shop in Manchester, UK, as well as a joint venture with watch brand Audemars Piguet. The company expects revenue of between GBP 1.65 billion ($2.16 billion) and GBP 1.7 billion ($2.23 billion) for the full year.

Source: rapaport

Secondhand Watches Are in Hot Demand. Is the Surge Sustainable?

Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet

Pre-owned timepieces are beating jewelry at auction and outselling hard-to-get newer models.

The pre-owned watch market is having a banner year. The five top auction houses for the category — Phillips, Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Antiquorum and Bonhams — finished 2021 with a combined total of CHF 634 million ($646 million) in watch sales, according to The Mercury Project, a study by auction-focused consulting firm Hammertrack. In the first half of 2022, the five houses sold CHF 379 million ($386 million) worth of watches — 47% more year on year than 2021 and 133% more than the first half of 2019.

This year is likely to set a new record, surpassing the $900 million mark, the study says — and that doesn’t include sales by non-auction dealers. Secondhand-timepiece vendor WatchBox, for example, posted sales of $310 million in 2021. Its tally for the first half of 2022 was $200 million, and the projected figure for the full year is $400 million.

A collector’s market
The boom is partly due to organic growth from a steadily burgeoning community of collectors with no qualms about buying pre-owned watches. Over the past five years, online resale platforms for luxury timepieces have evolved from bulletin-board-style marketplaces run by largely anonymous sellers, to organized professional dealers who own, authenticate, restore and service their inventory. And the scale of that inventory has exploded: A 2021 study by McKinsey & Company valued the secondhand watch market at $18 billion in 2019, predicting a jump to $32 billion by 2025.

In fact, watches now outpace jewelry at auction: Auction sales of pre-owned jewelry rose 55% in 2021, while watch sales doubled, according to Hammertrack. In 2022’s first half, jewelry sales were up only 8% year on year against watches’ 47%.

The other main factor driving the boom in pre-owned timepieces is the shrinking number of new ones at retail. Brands are producing fewer watches, mainly offering limited editions at premium prices, and that puts many new models beyond the reach of most collectors. Hot commodities like the Rolex Daytona are obtainable only through waiting lists, which can be decades long. In contrast, a buyer could get a nice secondhand Rolex Daytona or other coveted model right now, online or at auction.

Outrageous prices
The Rolex Daytona and Patek Philippe Nautilus are prime examples of how some watches have become commoditized. Patek discontinued the Nautilus Ref. 5711-1A with blue dial in 2021 — partly because it was overshadowing the rest of Patek’s collection, including the company’s elite complications, and partly because the hype was elevating prices to absurd levels, many times beyond retail. While the Daytona is still in production, it has been selling for up to five times its retail price, which makes it ripe for speculators.

That said, the Daytona and the Nautilus are exceptions, and over the past year, prices for these models have retreated from the all-time highs they reached in early spring 2022.

Some dealers welcome the correction.

“It’s been a wild ride the last few years, and I, for one, am looking forward to the watch market getting back to normal,” says Ken DeVaul, director of timepiece operations for retailer International Diamond Center (IDC) in Clearwater, Florida. “I got tired of talking about watches through the financial-commodity lens of resale value. I got into this business because I really enjoy watches, not because it outpaced the stock market.”

The era when a “few flippers” could buy a watch at list price “and make an easy $20,000 or more by selling to us dealers is pretty much over,” he continues. “In fact, all Rolex sports models have come down in price over the past year, inching back to [the manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP)], where they typically lived in the past.”

Dealer Eric Wind of Florida-based Wind Vintage describes “the pre-owned hysteria” as “not much different than people paying crazy amounts for cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The speculators were mainly active in the primary retail market, and they aren’t true collectors. The real collectors are in the vintage and independent markets.” His advice to consumers: “I personally would not recommend paying huge premiums over retail price for modern, currently produced watches right now. I am not bullish [about the value of goods on the secondary market].”

Steel and small brands
The Daytona and Nautilus hype may have subsided, but it’s left its mark: a lingering preference for stainless steel sports watches.

“Steel sports models have been super popular for several years now,” says Leigh Zagoory, a watch specialist at Sotheby’s. “But trends are cyclical, and true collectors covet watches for different qualities. They’re looking for more rare examples of specific models, and those vintage pieces can only be sourced on the secondary market.”

The recent surge also shed some light on a hitherto more niche corner of the pre-owned market: independents and smaller brands. More collectors are discovering these watchmakers’ superior technical prowess and craftsmanship, especially compared to the hype models. As a result, interest in brands that were almost unheard of 10 years ago is soaring.

The top 10 watch brands that sold at auction in 2021 were a mix of established elite and smaller independents, according to the Mercury Project study. Patek Philippe was the clear leader, with 378 lots netting a total of CHF 338.8 million ($350.8 million). Next came Audemars Piguet, Rolex, F.P. Journe, A. Lange & Söhne, Richard Mille, Cartier, Greubel Forsey, Omega, and Vacheron Constantin.

Uptick in demand
Bidders are interested in rare, top-quality watches, especially those with private-collection provenance, and they’re still willing to pay top dollar. Last year at auction, 29 lots surpassed the $1 million mark — a result that would have been rare 10 years ago. Phillips, Christie’s and Sotheby’s saw record sales in 2021. Among the auction houses, Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo is leading the pack with a 33% market share, followed by Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Antiquorum and Bonhams.

“Over the last number of years, everything was seemingly on fire, with unprecedented demand across the board for both the primary and secondary markets,” says WatchBox CEO Justin Reis. “But we have witnessed a substantial increase in activity across the $50,000 to $100,000-plus spectrum. Consumer interest has markedly increased for high-end independent brands, with no signs of a forthcoming slowdown.”

Paul Boutros, head of watches for the Americas at Phillips, has found that “demand continues to be extremely strong for rare, best-quality collectors’ watches — especially in vintage and independents. For modern-production watches, prices achieved in our spring 2022 auction season were in line with the results we saw a year earlier.” Indeed, he adds, “those prices were more realistic than the peaks seen on the secondary market in early 2022 — though still significantly above retail in most cases.”

For dealers, the only downside of the surging secondhand market is keeping up with demand. There are rumors that retailers are training their staff in how to let customers down gently when their choice of model is not available.

“More people are interested in watches than ever before,” says Wind. “So my challenge is just continuing to engage with current and prospective clients. I get thousands of emails and messages each day, wanting to speak about watches.”

Rolex remains king
We asked three dealers to name their Holy Grail watches for collectors right now, and all of them chose models by Rolex, proving that the brand with the crown on the dial still reigns supreme.

“I predict the Rolex James Cameron Deepsea will be discontinued. When this happens, it will become an instant collectible.”

Ken DeVaul
Director of timepiece operations, IDC
In 2012, a special Deepsea model, the Deepsea Challenge, accompanied filmmaker and explorer James Cameron on his 10,908-meter dive in the Mariana Trench. The commemorative D-Blue version of the Deepsea was introduced in 2014 to mark the event. It goes for $14,500 at retail, while models on the pre-owned market sell for up to $16,000.

“2023 will be the 60th anniversary of the Rolex Daytona, so this model is my pick as the one to watch next year.”

Paul Boutros
Head of watches for the Americas, Phillips in Association With Bacs & Russo
Introduced in 1963 to mark Rolex’s sponsorship of the Daytona Speedway, the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona has become the world’s most coveted sports watch. The latest model has a black Cerachrom (ceramic) bezel, a state-of-the-art movement and a black Oysterflex rubber strap. It sells for about $46,000 at retail, and up to high six figures on the pre-owned market, depending on the model and provenance.

“Whatever Rolex comes out with will be hot, especially this year’s new left-hand GMT-Master II.”

Justin Reis
CEO, WatchBox
The new GMT-Master II is ideal for lefties, with the crown and the date window on the left of the case so it’s comfortable to wear on the right wrist. The green and black color combo is exclusive to this line, with the option of either a Jubilee or Oyster bracelet. It’s $10,500 at retail, or up to $40,000 on the secondary market.

Source: Diamonds.net

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Rolex 2021 Collections Include An Out-Of-This-World Daytona, Two-Tone Explorer And Diamond Day-Date

Rolex Daytona

Two new 36mm Explorers, one of them two-tone, headline Rolex’s 2021 introductions, released today. Other new models include a Daytona with a meteorite dial, a diamond-studded Day-Date with orange accents and a fully set Lady-Datejust

The Rolex Explorer two-tone in  18k yellow gold and Oystersteel.
The Rolex Explorer two-tone in 18k yellow gold and Oystersteel.

The Explorer is sized down a notch to 36mm from 39mm. But it’s really back to the beginning – the Explorer was 36mm when it was introduced in 1963, which also bore the iconic 3,6 and 9 numeral placement. The two-tone 18k yellow gold and Oystersteel combo is new. The dial is lacquered now, in keeping with its notch up the scale into gold territory. Inside is the caliber 3230, featuring Rolex’s signature Chronergy escapement and a blue Parachrom hairspring, with a power reserve of 70 hours. $10,800

Rolex Daytona with meteorite dial in 18k white gold.
Rolex Daytona with meteorite dial in 18k white gold

The second new stunner from Rolex is out of this world in more ways than one. Not only is it likely to be even more unattainable than the standard Daytona at retail, but it has a solid meteorite dial. The 18k white gold version is the same size, same movement, same ceramic bezel, same Oysterflex bracelet as the standard model, but the meteorite dial somehow changes everything. It is now more than a sports watch, more than an investment piece. It is a fashion statement! There are also yellow gold and Everose gold versions, but this dial is more than perfect on the white gold version, which is priced at $34,050.

Diamond paved Rolex Day-Date 36 with coral enameled numerals and a coral alligator strap.
Diamond paved Rolex Day-Date 36 with coral enameled numerals and a coral alligator strap

Rolex is also demonstrating its metiers and gemsetting prowess with two jeweled watches this year: a diamond paved Day-Date 36 with orange enameled numerals and an orange alligator strap to match; and a fully set Lady-Datejust set with more than 500 diamonds – there are also turquoise and burgundy editions. The numerals on the Day-Date shine with the unmistakable glow of enamel. On the Lady-Datejust, the numerals are made of gold with a black PVD coating. The Lady-Datejust is set with 1,089 diamonds.

The Rolex Lady-Datejust is set with 1,089 diamonds.
The Rolex Lady-Datejust is set with 1,089 diamonds

Source: Carol Besler Contributor Forbes

Swiss Watch Trade Sees 12th Month of Decline


Swiss watch exports fell 11% year on year to CHF 1.59 billion ($1.78 billion) in January, the 12th consecutive monthly drop, as demand slowed in the US and in key Asian markets.

Shipments to the US declined 11% to CHF 183.3 million ($204.5 million), partly because strong figures in January 2020 created an unfavorable comparison, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Thursday.

Supply to Hong Kong dipped 9% to CHF 169.3 million ($188.9 million) last month as market conditions deteriorated, while exports to the UK and Japan slumped due to the tightening of Covid-19 measures, it added. January also had one fewer business day than the same period a year earlier.

The negative figures outweighed a 58% jump in orders from China, for a total of CHF 255 million ($284.5 million), mirroring a continued recovery of the retail sector on the mainland.

Globally, cheaper watches saw a sharper downturn, with shipments of timepieces priced under CHF 200 ($223) sliding 31% by value. Exports of watches with wholesale prices ranging from CHF 200 to CHF 500 ($558) decreased 26%, while goods valued between CHF 500 and CHF 3,000 ($3,347) suffered a decline of 25%. Shipments of items above that price level slipped 4.1%.

The numbers point to a worsening of the situation versus December, when the global decline was the mildest since the start of the pandemic as Chinese demand rose. The trade hasn’t witnessed a year-on-year increase since January 2020.

“The result for the month will nonetheless have only a limited effect on the upward trend seen since last summer, and a return to significant growth is expected over the next few months,” the federation noted.

Source: Diamonds.net

Swiss Watch Exports Down 81% in April

Swiss Watches

Swiss watch exports plunged in April as coronavirus lockdowns brought the entire supply chain to a near halt.

“Swiss watch exports were extremely low in April as a direct result of the standstill in production, distribution and sales, causing them to collapse,” the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported Tuesday.

Shipments slid 81% to CHF 328.8 million ($339.1 million) for the month, with nearly all markets declining significantly. Orders from Hong Kong plummeted 83% to CHF 42.2 million ($43.5 million), while supply to the US dropped 86% to CHF 27.9 million ($28.8 million). Exports to Japan fell 86% to CHF 19.5 million ($20.1 million).

The decline in China was more mild, slipping 16% to CHF 110.3 million ($113.7 million), and accounting for one-third of total Swiss watch exports in April, as the economy began to recover. However that compares with an increase of 11% to CHF 155.9 million ($160.6 million) in March. In February, shipments to China fell 52% due to the coronavirus.

All price categories “contracted sharply,” as exports of timepieces valued between CHF 500 ($516) to CHF 3,000 ($3,095) declined 72% by value. Watches worth more than CHF 3,000 dropped 86%.

Shipments of timepieces made from precious metal decreased 82% to CHF 102.4 million ($105.6 million). Supply of gold and steel watches saw the steepest decline, tumbling 90% to CHF 28.4 million ($29.3 million).

Source: Diamonds.net

Manufactured diamonds will be to mined diamonds what Tudor is to Rolex

Manufactured diamonds

It’s no secret that Israel is one of the largest suppliers of cut diamonds the world over. And, if you have ever bought an engagement ring, chances are you have likely been presented with the option of buying an Israeli diamond.

According to USTradeNumbers, Israel ranked 22nd in total global trade this year with a total of $18.37 billion. Of that, more than $6.5 billion came from the importing and exporting of you guessed it diamonds.

I recently read a story published in Canada’s Financial Post titled, “A diamond may be forever for some but for millennial it’s looking like not so much”, lamenting the potential demise of the mined diamond industry.

In it, the author states:

the millennial generation poses an existential dilemma for the industry: they tend to spend on experiences rather than luxury items, achieve financial maturity later in life and are less likely to get married than previous generations.

It’s an interesting argument to be sure. And, if true, this trend could pose challenging for countries like Israel who rely so heavily on the art of refining mined diamonds.

The story goes on to argue that it’s not just the lifestyle choices of millennials that pose a threat to the old adage that diamonds are a girl’s best friend it’s the growing popularity of something called artisan or lab created diamonds.

Yeah, I’m not so sure I agree with that.

Many in the media have been making the same argument about the luxury watch industry for years now. While quartz  and other digital offerings may well be more accurate than mechanical wristwatches, the appeal to aficionados and luxury buyers is simply not there. Same for smart watches, which, to be sure, have a place among the masses and those interested in fitness, but do not affect demand for brands like Rolex, Cartier or Patek Philippe. Someone who wants a Rolex simply will not buy an Apple Watch as an alternative and call it a day. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

While these manufactured stones may well be incredibly difficult to distinguish from mined diamonds, even to the most well trained gemologist, I am not convinced they will take much if any market share from those who truly want to buy a traditional diamond.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the mined diamond industry isn’t susceptible to demand changes. Surely the past few years have illustrated it is indeed possible. I’m also not suggesting no one will buy this new type of jewelry stone. Some people will choose man made diamonds over the mined ones. And, they’ll pay less money and get a larger stone too.

But I predict manufactured diamonds will be to mined diamonds what Tudor is to Rolex or what Acura and Lexus are to BMW and Mercedes a quality alternative with a comparable look and feel, but cheaper, less valuable and ultimately less desirable.

Time will tell.

Source: timesofisrael.com