Rolex Demand Is So Insane They’re Building Temporary Watch Factories

That's on top of a new $1.1 billion production facility opening in 2029

The Rolex headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The Rolex demand is getting so out of control that the Swiss watchmaker is building temporary production facilities.
Rolex is expanding its footprint in Switzerland to meet demand.
© Rolex/Cédric Widmer

If you watched the Oscars last night, you probably saw a classy ad for Rolex. The Swiss watchmaker has been paying for that distinguished partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 2017, which means they’ve got plenty of cash on hand that they’re willing to spend. What they don’t have on hand, as anyone who’s been interested in buying a Rolex in the last couple years knows, are actual watches. 

Amid a surge in demand that was supercharged by the pandemic and continues to climb even as other buying trends fall by the wayside, Rolex said it will add “three temporary production facilities” which will begin operations in 2025 to help increase output of its coveted timepieces, as reported by Bloomberg.

This is an incredible development for two reasons. First, by vowing to increase production (which, according to a 2021 estimate by Morgan Stanley, is around 1.05 million watches a year), Rolex is betting that the luxury watch boom will continue indefinitely. Second, these new outposts are in addition to a new $1.1 billion factory the company announced at the end of last year. But that production facility, which will be built in the city of Bulle, Switzerland, isn’t set to open until 2029. 

In essence, Rolex is saying it isn’t willing to wait six years to start sending more watches to market — so they’re accelerating the plan by introducing this stopgap measure until the new billion-dollar hub is completed. 

“Rolex officials said work on a 9,000 square meter facility in Romont, Switzerland will commence in the second half of 2023 with production expected to start in 2025,” Bloomberg wrote about the new expansion. “There will also be a temporary facility at the Vivier SA industrial park in Villaz-Saint-Pierre, Switzerland that will begin operating in 2024 as well as a recruitment center in Bulle.”

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This urgency validates a rare statement Rolex issued to Yahoo Finance in 2021, when the company said, “The scarcity of our products is not a strategy on our part.” 

“All Rolex watches are developed and produced in-house at our four sites in Switzerland,” Rolex added at the time. “They are assembled by hand, with extreme care, to meet the brand’s unique and high-quality standards of quality, performance and aesthetics. Understandably, this naturally restricts our production capacities — which we continue to increase as much as possible and always according to our quality criteria.”

Now we know what they meant when they said they’re willing to increase production “as much as possible.” While this doesn’t mean all official Rolex retailers will soon be flush with product at all times, it does mean that you should probably pass on paying quadruple the face value for a Dayton and simply put a reminder in your calendar to check back in on buying one in 2025. 

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