When Did The Rolex Madness Start? Timeline Of Buying A Rolex

When I mention The Rolex Madness, I mean the fact that we cannot get a watch from an authorised dealer and, prices go up like crazy. There was a time when you could walk into a Rolex dealer and get a watch, without a waiting list, or go search for one on the secondary market and not pay top prices for Rolex watches.

Can we pin a point on our timeline for when this Rolex madness started? Yes, it was in the year 2018.

Read on to find out more.

Rolex Sea-Dweller (116600)

Before The Rolex Madness

There was once a time in a far far away land where you could walk into an authorised Rolex dealer and pick out any new Rolex your heart desired.

A new submariner, a Day-Date, even a GMT “Pepsi” could be yours in a matter of minutes after walking through that door.

In the first half of the 2010s, everything was ok.

A collector stated I remember walking into an authorised dealer in 2014 for a GMT, they told me I could also get my hands on a Submariner Hulk as well.

Another enthusiast tells me that in 2016 he walked inside an authorised Rolex boutique and walked away with the watch he wanted back then.

So until 2016 and the years before it was all easy, dealers had stock and they were willing to sell you watches with a discount.

The Point Where It All Began

I remember watching a video one day after Phillips Auction sold Paul Newmans Rolex Daytona for a staggering $17.75 million.

It became the most expensive wristwatch at that moment surpassing the Patek Phillipe reference 1518 in stainless steel which sold in 2016 for $11.13 million.

After that day it all started, people started going after stainless steel Rolex Daytonas.

The Daytona was not the only model that became very desired.

Paul Newmans Daytona had sold in October of 2017.

At the beginning of that year, you could walk into a Rolex boutique and get your hands on a stainless steel Daytona.

In the early 2018s, you could not get your hands on a stainless steel Rolex Daytona, Submariner or Explorer.

Other models became scarce too.

It went so far that in 2019 you could barely touch a stainless steel Rolex at an authorised dealer.

The Moment It Blew Up

We all remember the beginning of 2020.

The Corona pandemic had hit the world, all countries around the globe were shutting down.

Like literal shutdowns, no leisure, no fun activities, no shopping.

You could sit at home and do your groceries.

In that year the production of Rolex watches went down.

But another thing happened as well.

A lot of people that were not able to afford a Rolex watch now had money saved up for one.

So the grey market prices blew up.

Everyone was paying top dollar to second-hand dealers to get their hands on a watch.

Between the start of 2020 and 2022, the price of a Rolex Submariner in stainless steel went up from $7.000 to around $11.000!

So while everyone was full of cash they crashed the watch market by buying everything they could get their hands on.

Prices of the Rolex Submariner (16610) between the end of 2019 and the start of 2022

Future Of Rolex Prices?

Some people say that we are inside a bubble which is going to blow up, the moment that bubble bursts it will bring all watch prices down to where they started.

Others say this is just the beginning and that in a couple of years obtaining a Rolex will be impossible.

I cannot predict the future but there is one thing I can tell you is that if you ever feel the desire for a watch and you can afford it.

Go and buy it, you won’t regret it.


The guy who loves to chat about watches.

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