May 18, 2024

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The new Rolex watches for 2024 mark a “return to normalcy” after a “crazy” debut.

The new Rolex watches for 2024 mark a “return to normalcy” after a “crazy” debut.

After the watch-fueled hype of 2023, Swiss luxury watch giant Rolex is taking a step back with its debut in 2024, reflecting a watch market that is returning to normal.

The Watches & Wonders trade fair, held this week in Geneva, is where the industry's biggest brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe and IWC showcase their new models for the year. Rolex usually has a prominent spot for debuts at the show, and this year it introduced some of its most popular models with a refreshed look, precious metals and diamond embellishments.

Among these models is the new GMT-Master II stainless steel watch with a black and gray ceramic bezel that the brand introduced last year with a two-tone steel and gold bracelet. It comes with either a standard Oyster bracelet or the more elegant Jubilee bracelet, and will likely continue the trend of steel Rolex pieces like the GMT-Master II and the previous Submariner – being nearly impossible to find in retail locations. If you can find it, a new GMT will start at $10,700, depending on the band.

Rolex GMT-Master II 2024 stainless steel watch

Rolex GMT-Master II 2024 stainless steel watch. (Rolex) (Rolex)

The surprise was the new Deepsea, Rolex's most extreme divers' watch, in an 18-karat gold case and bracelet and a blue face and bezel. The 44mm watch is on the larger side, but the gold lettering on the dial and bezel gives this gadget a more luxurious appeal, and its sheer size combined with the heaviness of its gold case makes it a large Rolex watch. The new Deapsea is rated at 12,800 feet, and will retail for $52,100.

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Finally, there has been a major luxury update to the model that Rolex fans have been drooling over: the Cosmograph Daytona has become even more upscale. Rolex has added two versions with a mother-of-pearl dial and contrasting mother-of-pearl sub-dials, as well as diamond-set bezels. Both cases are made of 18k white gold and are fitted with an Oyster bracelet or the rubber Oysterflex version. The Daytona on the Oysterflex starts at a staggering $61,400, while the bracelet version is priced at $70,100.

Rolex Deepsea watch, model 2024, made of 18-karat goldRolex Deepsea watch, model 2024, made of 18-karat gold

Rolex Deepsea watch, model 2024, made of 18-karat gold. (Rolex) (Rolex)

While these new watches (and others, including the new 1908 in platinum and the new Day-Date in precious metals) are certainly eye-catching, they don't match the hype Rolex unveiled last year, when the Day-Date “emoji” “It's from Rolex that I get all the hype (and hate).

“I would say the collector community is generally frustrated with Rolex releases, but that's okay, the last few years have been pretty crazy in terms of highly desirable watches,” Eric Wind of Wind Vintage, a watch expert and retailer, told Yahoo Finance.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 2024Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 2024

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 2024. (Rolex) (Rolex)

“If anyone complained last year that Rolex had strayed too far into the circus of colors – and that the crown was having too much fun wandering around – this year proves that Rolex was always going to return to its quiet place in the middle of the city. Watch Galaxy,” watch expert And editor of Robb Report Written by Allen Farmelo.

There has also been weakness in the secondary market, which is often used as an indicator of the popularity of various luxury watch brands and models. the Bloomberg Subdial Indexwhich tracks the secondary market using a basket of the most popular watches such as the Rolex Submariner, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and Patek Philippe Nautilus, is down 40.4% in the past 24 months, though holding steady in the past six months with just a 2% loss.

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A visitor looks at replica watches at the Rolex stand at the Watches & Wonders exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, April 9, 2024. REUTERS/Pierre AlbouilleA visitor looks at replica watches at the Rolex stand at the Watches & Wonders exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, April 9, 2024. REUTERS/Pierre Albouille

Visitors look at replica watches at the Rolex stand at the Watches & Wonders exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, April 9, 2024. (Pierre Albouy/Reuters) (Reuters/Reuters)

Rolex, which has likely seen this weakness in the secondary market coupled with the lack of availability of its new models at the retail level, has been using its tools to get more exposure into the hands of buyers while the market for its watches remains strong. The company introduced its own Certified Pre-Owned program to get more warrantied Rolex models to customers in late 2022, announced plans to boost production with new factories last year, and bought jewelery company Bucherer, owner of Tourneau, to boost its retail presence.

It may seem strange that a Rolex is valued at Production of one million hours year with $10 billion in salesis still having supply problems, though, according to Rolex CEO Jean-Frédéric Dufour He told Swiss outlet NZZ on Monday That the good times may not last.

The strength of the Swiss franc, material costs, and rising interest rates are immediate concerns.

“Rising interest rates are also affecting people's spending mood and the geopolitical situation is not helping either,” he said.

Visitors look at models at the Rolex stand at the Watches & Wonders exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, April 9, 2024. REUTERS/Pierre AlbouilleVisitors look at models at the Rolex stand at the Watches & Wonders exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, April 9, 2024. REUTERS/Pierre Albouille

Visitors look at models at the Rolex pavilion at the Watches & Wonders exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 9, 2024. (Pierre Albouy/Reuters) (Reuters/Reuters)

Rolex's quieter 2024 models will likely still generate sales and investment.

Not surprisingly, Rolex opposes the pure investment model of watches, even though it boosts sales in the new and used watch market. “I don't like when people compare watches and stocks. It sends the wrong message and is dangerous,” Dufour said.

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Although Rolex and Dufour may not like it, they are likely to see the new models of watchmaking traded like hot commodities at retail and when they eventually reach the secondary market, with buyers implicitly calculating the return on investment on Deepsea's first-of-its-kind pure gold. Or the new stainless steel GMT.

“Will this return to normalcy make it easier to get any of these watches at retail? We'll assume the obvious answer is 'no.'” Farmelo quipped:.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow it Twitter and on Instagram.

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