Ellie Kesselman: Yes.
This is probably the best gift I ever received. At age 17, I wasn’t too impressed: I wanted something more delicate, traditionally feminine for a watch. It grew on me over time.
Rolex Perpetual Oyster
Perpetually beautiful, perpetually functional chronometer
Rolex Datejust Blue Arabic Dial Jubilee Bracelet Stainless Steel Fluted Bezel Ladies Watch
Other than replacing the crystal for $75 (my fault: I cracked it while rock climbing), my watch needed no maintenance for almost 20 years. I wore it every day, while swimming, on camping trips, at nightclubs, at work, even while showering or sleeping! My long hair never got caught in the metal wristband, nor did the wristband stick to my arm. I had that problem with many leather wristbands. By my standards, it kept good time, although I reset it at least once a month due to travel.My watch somehow matched casual AND dress clothing. I received so many compliments on it! I loved the blue face. The watch had resale value too, well over 75% of what it was purchased for, even after all those years of use. I should have taken much better care of my watch, nevertheless, it took very good care of me.
Rolex is a well known brand and a fantastic luxury watchmaker, but is not considered the best watchmaker among purists in the industry. The best -also called the holy trinity, the big three- in luxury watchmaking are:
Underneath these players comes:
Underneath these comes watchmakers like:
Most people have heard of Rolex, but never heard of any of the other manufacturers above because of the extensive effort Rolex put into marketing and promoting their watches through movies and celebrities since the fifties. It is also the most copied watch brand in history.
You didn’t define ‘best’ by what exactly in your question, for example they are doing the best in market share, but generally speaking the word ‘best’ = ‘Patek Philippe’, hands down.
Rolex is a universally well-recognized brand whose name is synonymous with success to most people.
Unlike most super-hyped things, Rolex watches are high-quality for the price. Their craftsmanship combines the best of man and machine. They have made several significant horological developments (e.g., the “oyster” water-proof watch). They do it all in-house.
They are reliable, durable, and many have remarkably held (or sometimes even increased in!) value over time. Yes, a depreciating asset bought for conspicuous consumption can somehow become worth more — or at least not lose much of its value — over time. Tell that to the E-class.
Styling is conservative, yet subtly updated to remain contemporary and classic at once. The submariner is James Bond’s watch.
Their line of offerings is somehow simple yet broad, from the straightforwarx Datejust to the super-geeky radiation-resistant Milgauss.
Nonetheless, there are better watches. Brands like Patek Philippe and A. Lange und Sohne make better prestige dress watches. Avant garde ultra-luxury watches like Richard Mille and MB&F are much higher in cutting-edge concept and execution.
Of course, instead of Rolex’s $5-10k you are looking at $20-500k for the kind of watches that have some sort of clear edge over Rolex, and there you’re pushing toward a very high niche in terms of aesthetics and brand recognition.
Rolex has the best marketing, I’ll give them that. They utilized a flawed rotor from the early thirties until last year, and even then, it is still being used on certain models. In the late 70’s they glued the hairspring to the stud. The glue will eventually fail in all these watches. I do not expect to see this sort of thing in a watch that costs this much, sorry.
Rolex has only recently become an in house manufacture. Before this, they utilized ebauches by other factories, like Aegler (they had ⅓ ownership in this, along with Gruen) Cortebert, FEF and others. Most 19 and 20th century watch companies did this, there is no shame in using what you perceive to be an excellent quality movement made by someone else, but don’t try and pass it off as your own. Rolex basically took the general design of the famous Harwood automatic and made the first oyster, which in itself was developed by someone else. Rolex bought he patent. Rolex has absorbed many patents and companies over the years, and the end result is a very high degree of quality and design.
Except for the rotors failing and the glue. To be fair, they stopped using the glue after a few years, but it was a dumb thing to do. In comparison, Eterna patented their ball-bearing rotor system in 1948, and it is this system that can still be found in all ETA automatic movements as well as other brands. Some patents can and do pass in public domain, and that is what happened here. That is why you see Chinese and other clones of famous ETA movts, but I digress..
Rolex replica makes a solid product, especially these days, and they can certainly hold their heads up as possibly the most easily recognized entry level luxury watch. As far as longevity, there are many other examples of watches that can outlast a Rolex, and already have. Ones that don’t have failing rotor axles, for a start. One of Rolex’ ‘fixes’ for the rotor getting loose and wobbling was to reinforce and protect the balance so the rotor wouldn’t crash into it. That’s just bad engineering. Fix the problem, and they have done that with several models as of the past year or so.
I would be extremely hesitant to advance a single brand as ‘the best’ in the watch world. There have been many amazing developments by many amazing makers over the years. I like bang for your buck, so that rules out most of the so-called ‘luxury’ brands, you are paying for the name, and paying dearly.