It’s the age-old debate among collectors – it is Rolex vs Patek. Which is the better luxury watch brand? Obviously, Pateks are more expensive, but that doesn’t necessarily make them “better” in the grand scheme of things. “Patek has been making watches for 180 years, while Rolex has only been around for 110,” notes Bob’s Watches founder and renowned Rolex collector Paul Altieri. “But in that time they’ve eclipsed any other luxury watchmaker. Patek may still be tops in terms of pure prestige, but Rolex is more iconic and much cooler. Picasso wore a Patek, but everyone from Sir Edmund Hillary to James Bond and Steve McQueen wore a Rolex – men of action, with effortless style and lethal charm. The watches have a rugged masculinity to them, and they’re extremely capable tools as well. There’s really no other watch that measures up.”
Which brand gets your vote? Rolex or Patek?
Rolex vs Patek
Rolex fans would of course agree, but what about other industry experts with a more objective point of view? By chance the New York Times just became curious about the very same question, and convened an impressive panel including Saori Omura, director of Antiquorum New York’s watch department; John Reardon, international head of watches at Christie’s; and Daryn Schnipper, senior vice president and chairwoman of the international watch division at Sotheby’s, along with well-regarded dealer Matthew Bain of Matthew Bain Inc. in Miami.
Patek watches have a longer history than Rolex as well as culture. (Credit: Patek Philippe)
Vote for Patek
Patek fiercely guards its reputation and does not cater to market whims, as Patek President Thierry Stern made clear in our article recently. Schnipper notes that Patek takes very good care of its customers and supports its pieces with archival extracts and other material. “That’s a hard thing to get from other brands,” Schnipper tells the paper. “There’s that comfort level if you’re going to spend a lot of money: You have a lot more information about the piece. It’s very hard to have a fake Patek, an out-and-out fake.” While it is more common to fake a Rolex, there are still plenty of ways to counteract it. Patek “invested a lot more into the brand,” Bain adds. “Rolex does, with advertising, and so does Patek, but I think Patek invested in the heritage of their brand more than Rolex has.”
A Submariner 5513 is a solid choice for any collector.
Vote for Rolex
There was an interesting response when The Times posed the question, “Let’s say someone had $10,000 to invest in a vintage watch: What would you advise them to buy?” The three auction house bigwigs all answered Patek without hesitation. But Bain dissented: “I’d say a Rolex sports model would be a great investment. For example, if you get a basic Rolex GMT or Submariner for $10,000 from a trusted source” – such as Bob’s Watches – “a great example in mint condition, it’s going to be worth double in the next five to seven years. That’s my opinion. You can buy a mint condition Submariner reference 5513 from 1975 for $10,000.”
Vintage Rolex watches are significant investments with an ROI (possibly better than the IRA).
As far as the future for vintage watches, Ms. Omura of Antiquorum is fully in Rolex’s corner. “In the next six months to a year, for any one of us here, it’s the Rolex sports model — there’s no question,” she states. “People speculate: They’re looking for a lot of things as investments. They buy something because they think it’s going to double in value.” And a vintage Rolex Daytona, for example, is a pretty sure thing.
See more on the New York Times article.