J.Crew Wants to Sell You a Rolex, And Hopefully Other Vintage Watches Too

Who wants to buy a $6,000 vintage watch from a menswear brand? Apparently a lot of people.

A vintage Omega Seamaster Chronograph sitting on a red tablecloth on a dining table next to a fork, knife and plate. The vintage watch is currently on sale through J.Crew.
This Omega Seamaster Chronograph is still available at J.Crew.

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Not long ago I was perusing a sale over at Rowing Blazers and found myself on a peculiar product page, that of a Domino’s Pizza Rolex. As the listing notes, it’s one of a series of branded Rolexes that were given to pizza shop franchisees when they hit certain sales goals. It’s a fun watch with a backstory that makes a great icebreaker, all in keeping with Rowing Blazers’ aesthetic, but my bigger question was this: why would anyone pay $19,000 for a watch “curated” by a preppy clothing company? 

That’s a question many more people will need to ask themselves, as J.Crew has now decided it will step into the vintage watch arena as well. This week, the American brand released a slate of 18 higher-end vintage watches for sale on its site, including a $5,950 Rolex Datejust, $7,250 Certina DS-3 and $9,650 Omega Seamaster Chronograph. There’s nothing as audacious as a $19,000 pizza Rolex, but these aren’t insignificant purchases by any means.

It seems there’s an appetite for them, too. At the time of writing, three watches have already been sold, the Certina and the two Rolexes (including an Air King model). The latter purchases may be part of the current run on Rolexes wherever people can get their hands on them, but more likely, what’s happening here is that people who are interested in the idea of watches but not willing to spend their free hours poring over watch blogs and Instagram accounts are willing to accept J.Crew as a reliable authority on which ones are worthwhile and which ones aren’t. If it’s on J.Crew, it must be chosen for a reason — and priced to sell.

While J.Crew did dabble in vintage watches over a decade ago, this renewed interest is part of a larger trend throughout the menswear world where watches, and more specifically pre-owned watches, are in. It’s a symbiotic relationship: Diversification of revenue is always a welcome thing in the retail world, and the brands get the added credibility that comes with being a meticulous curator of coveted timepieces. Except if you look closer, most of these brands have help in the curation department.

At J.Crew, they’ve enlisted the help of vintage watch dealer Analog/Shift. Elsewhere, Rowing Blazers has Wind Vintage, Huckberry has teamed up with Bob’s Watches in the past, Mr Porter chose to partner with Watchfinder & Co. and that’s not even mentioning the actual watch people who have been getting into the pre-owned market in recent years, like Hodinkee’s expansion into the space when they bought Crown & Caliber at the start of 2021. 

In other words, you’ve got plenty of places to buy a vintage Rolex from in this day and age. If J.Crew is the place you feel most comfortable, more power to you and your burgeoning watch collection.

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