Signs Rolex may not be the most popular watch brand after all - Chronoexpert

Even for watch collectors with an advanced collection, the world of luxury watches is confusing.  There are so many models to choose from, across 100 years of craftmanship. So, we decided to make it a little easier for you and put together this one page collection of Watch Brands, check it out!  It gives a great overview of the major watch brands in an easy to digest format.

During this research we had a surprising discovery, Rolex didn’t come up in our top 10 luxury watch list.  An icon in the luxury watch market, we wonder, is Rolex really as popular as the media suggest?

In Pop Culture

While Rolex is a brand known for its expert marketing, durable and everyday-wear watches, there are a few other factors that explain why it does not make the list for the most popular luxury watch brand. 

Compared to the other watch brands on this list, Rolex watches fall short in complications, haut de gamme tradition, price point, and production per year. Plus, given the number of times Jay-Z sings about Audemars Piguet in his songs, it’s clear that there is a shift in the popularity of luxury watches amongst Hollywood celebrities.

Rolex’s are by no means cheap, but inclusion in modern culture and exposure in the past by celebrities and iconic action stars has always been key to Rolex’s popularity. However, the watches on our list of “The most popular luxury watches”, put together by the team, are slowly entering mainstream.

In fact, a third of the top hip-hop songs reference Patek Philippe watches in 2017!

Holy Trinity of Watches

For the casual watch enthusiast, the Holy Trinity of luxury watches consist of Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin. These three brands have been around since the 1800’s and 1900’s (Vacheron Constantin has been around since 1755).

ed sherran patek phillipe
Credit PuristS

From the beginning, their goal was to make high end watches, also known as the haut de gamme. Rolex’s goal has never been to make watches such as these. In fact, the marketing of Rolex prides itself on being wearable, not just every day, but in every terrain.


Complications is one of the distinguishing marks of a luxury watch brand, along with the number of high-quality, hand-assembled parts.

The word “complications” does not mean problems, but the number of functions the watch has. Being able to show time, date, and other measurements under a case so thin that it’s measure in millimeters, is a design featured by many luxury watch designers. Piaget, for example, has a 2mm watch, the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept.

Blancpain boasts an astonishing 740 parts in the Blancpain 1735, and its complications are a tourbillon, a split seconds chronograph, a perpetual calendar and a minute repeater. Rolex mostly focuses on making simpler, three-handed watches, which means their watches take less time to assemble (about 4 hours); compare this to a Patek Philippe, which can take anywhere from 4-8 years to be presentable.


Luxury is often synonymous with exclusivity. Given the amount of time it takes to make a haut de gamme watch, high-end watch makers either limit their own production to keep demand high or are simply unwilling to give up quality over quantity.


Rolex makes about 800,000 watches per year while Patek Philippe limits its production to a little over 50,000 per year. Vacheron Constantin makes even less, about 20,000 in 2018.


With less production and higher demand, luxury brand watches have a much higher average price than Rolex. Most brand-new Rolex watches are priced under $10,000, with an average sale price of about $7500. Compare this price point with a Breguet or Audemars Piguet, where even resale values come in well over 10,000. At its lowest price point, Piaget (the Altiplano Watch) is almost double the price of the lowest priced Rolex.

Final Verdict

When you add up all the factors: history, complications, exclusivity, and price, it’s no wonder that celebrities are clamoring to own a Patek Philippe or an Audemars Piguet and leaving their Rolexes at home. Hollywood has always been about jumping on a new trend before anyone else. With social media the way it is today, new trends and pictures of celebrities wearing their luxury watches spread like wildfire. 

So, the question remains, which brand on our top ten list would you like to own?

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