Velociphile's Journey into Watches

Adhoc stuff about wristwatches. The technology of horology, escapements and patents to the industry and the market. Try me in Japanese or Chinese

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Does it take a year to make a Rolex?

Let’s take a look at the claim “it takes a year to make a Rolex.”

A Rolex factory yesterday where apparently Rolexes have to grow for over a year.....

Rolex submits about 800,000 watch movements to COSC test per year. However, this does not consider the watches that they produce that are not certified chronometers and I would think that a good number to work with would be around 1,000,000 units per year. Surely at 1,000,000 watches/working year you need 1,000,000 watchmakers for it "to take a year to make a Rolex!"

Using some simple arithmetic, you'd figure that Rolex pumps out in the area of 4255 units per day (assuming a 235 day production year), or 532 units per hour based on a single-shift eight hour day or about 9 watches per minute. So a Rolex is created every 7 seconds or so. Now, I heard somewhere that Rolex employs ~5000 people between their Geneva, Bienne and other satellite facilities.

Of course, “a Rolex is made every 7 seconds” does not quite have the same ring to it……. But, Rolex are to be lauded for literally punting out their level of functional quality; an impressive achievement. To me it is more impressive than actually trying to pretend that it takes "a year to make" one.

Compare Jaeger LeCoultre: Based on making 50000 watches per year with 900 staff (of which 200 are watchmakers) and gives 213 watches per working day, 27 watches per hour. One watch every 2 ¼ minutes - 20 times longer than Rolex. In JLC’s case, we know the number of watchmakers and can calculate on that basis: ~1 watch per watchmaker per day.

Remember on the one hand the average is across the model lines AND JLC provide movements (in various stages of finishing) to other watch firms; in other words tying up resource not making their own product. On the other hand something as complex as the Gyrotourbillon will take a lot longer than a day to put together, test, and send out the door…….


  • At March 19, 2005, Blogger Speedmaster said…

    Thanks, that was a greta post.

    I've always figured that the only way it would take a year to make a Rolex is if it spent 364 days in someone's inbox. :-)


  • At April 05, 2005, Blogger reeses said…

    Maybe they count the COSC certification, and the time to transport it back and forth across town by snail. :-)

  • At April 06, 2005, Blogger Velociphile said…

    Of course in the same way a pregnancy is 9 months but a baby is born every minute… or whatever, we can look at it another way.

    Assuming all 5000 staff contributes to making watches, 5000 people making 1000000 movements equals 200 per person per year. About 9 hours labour for a typical working year length of 47 weeks at 7.5 hours a day.


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