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

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rolex and Strawberry Yoghurt Syndrome

If you look left and think, "Hmmm nice watch, I wonder what Velociphile has to say about that stunner," then look away now and read no further. However, if you toss your cookies at the sight of it read on.

Or maybe you've always dismissed Rolex because you've never seen anything you like or you just feel Rolexes project the wrong impression with its sports watch range in particular. Well, it may yet still be worth your while to spend some time fingering through the pages of the AD's shop catalogue and unearth some real stealth pieces.

Why? Because it would be a shame to have to shun the really impressive Breguet overcoil, freesprung balance engineering, good timekeeping, excellent aftersales and good finishing inside (e.g. the 3130 cal below from Hannes' excellent resource) all for the lack of a pretty visage.

Unfortunately, Rolex seems to reinforce their "two tone datejust" image by populating every page of customer catalogues with these pieces.

Look at what they choose to show on their limited website to represent the face of Rolex - very limited styles and very few watches. Now, I think there is a bit of strawberry yoghurt syndrome going on here. The unfortunate self fulfilling scenario of "Rolex is the best, I want one, ah - so this is what is popular, so that's what I'll have, so that's what Rolex offer" tricks both supplier and consumer. This very real marketing effect created the situation where strawberry was the predominant flavour of yoghurt available in Korea for years - hence the name of SYS.

Impressionable customers who want to be told what to get follow in droves, the rest of us go, "Yuk, I hate Rolexes." So, are they genuinely people's taste, or is it because most people never get any further than the brainwashing and Rolex promote what's 'popular' created by this vicious circle?

Now, rather than the typical fluted-bezel-cyclops Datejust archetype Rolex, through judicious choice of the myriad bezel and dial options, it seems that it is actually possible to assemble some quite elegant looking pieces. However Rolex misses a trick by bizarrely restricting the options.

For example, it's tragic, that it is possible to assemble this piece, (the 15210 on the right with the black dial and fine engine bezel) but Rolex only make such an assemblage available in the ridiculous 'too small' 34mm case of the 'Date'. It's quite odd really. Take a chisel to the cyclops and it's even better ...

Why they 'hide' these elegant combinations I have no idea. Perhaps they are scared of losing their formula for success. It also might be why we never really see anything new from them?

For the moment, if you've ever wondered if there might just be more there than you think to Rolex's range, visit the AD's catalogue, or even better still Rolex, how about a microsite for 'watchbuilding' like Patek had for their annual calendar combinations?

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