Article By: Jordan Reifler
Growing up, my “frugal” grandpa bought my father and me multiple fake Rolexes as holiday gifts. I’m not certain why he gifted these atrocities more than once, but he did. I should note - these were not passable fakes. They weighed roughly as much as a Swatch but were far less tasteful than their plastic and rubber cousins. With bulky, wrong-sized cases, badly fake gold or two-toned finishes, haphazardly falsified dials and markers, these were the wares of Miami Beach street hawkers. Even as a child, then with no discernable appreciation of watches, I knew these were laughable imposters.
I must believe that this experience was pretext for my initial opinion of Rolex when I ultimately did develop a horological passion. Heuer was my first “real” watch purchase, and my first love as a collector. But even as I gained an appreciation for the intricacy and artistry of many different brands, and iterations within model families, Rolex remained to me the watch of the snobbish elite. That changed when a fellow enthusiast convinced me to borrow (and later own) a white, Roman dial Oyster Date 15000.
Within minutes of strapping the Date onto my arm, I knew it was special. Was it the subtle and understated elegance of the now relatively small 34mm case? The delicate black roman numeral printing against the contrasting white face with stainless steel applied markers? The effortlessly fluid and luxurious Oyster bracelet? The brilliance of more patented intellectual property nestled into one timepiece than any comparator? Yes. Yes, it was.
Since that day, I’ve amassed a small army of Rolex Oysters, Dates, and Datejusts, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon. If there is another watch with a larger sense of utility and purpose blended with seemingly limitless dial, finish, bezel, and bracelet options than the Date and/or Datejust, its existence eludes me. While I once regarded Rolex as the brand of the newly-monied, hurried status-seeker (seen also driving a Jaguar or Range Rover (but hold that thought)), I am now a brand champion.
I long for the day that I can acquire a heavily patina-dialed GMT 1675 without selling my constituent cellular fluids. I have saved searches in several websites for “tropical Rolex dial.” I’ve bought every 19mm original Jubilee bracelet I’ve come across on eBay, and no other manner of fastening a watch to your arm even approximates the perfection of that bracelet. As it turns out, Rolex is, in fact, the snob’s watch – the watch snob’s watch.