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Rolex Authorized Dealers Can't Sell Watches Over Retail Anymore...

As I've been heavily involved in buying, suggesting, researching watches- particularly Rolex- over the past decade or so, I am glad to report that the days of jewelers and Rolex Authorized Dealers marking up their watches and selling them OVER the suggested MSRP are gone. Many Rolex customers or shoppers who once sought the most popular and elusive models, such as the stainless steel Daytona 116520, Green Anniversary Submariner 11610LV, Anniversary Green glass Milgauss 116400GV, DeepSea Sea-Dweller and Ceramic 116710 GMTs know that Rolex ADs were once charging significant and (some may say quite unfair) mark-ups on these hard-to-find watches.

The early innovators and impatient collectors paid top dollar- over retail for all these watches upon their respective introductions- while some unethical Rolex Authorrized dealers capitalized on the fanatical demand by charging over retail prices- which Rolex is rumored to frown upon.

But now that the global recession has pounded luxury goods, even the might stainless steel Daytona can be found at retail prices. The economically strong decades of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s were years where jewelers and dealers made a lot of extra money selling watches over retail price to their favorite regular customers.

The first watch affected wass the Green Submariner- which sold over its retail price in 2004 and 2005- even the used pieces. The Green Sub was a breakthrough for Rolex fans in terms of design as they slapped a green bezel insert on it and enlarged its hour markers. It wa also hailed as the "Anniversary Sub", signifying the Submariner's 50th year of production. Then a couple of years later, say 2007 retail and used prices started to really decline- making the watch available for much less money- even less than the retail price.

The same effect took place with the Milgauss- released in 2008's Basel Fair. The white, black, and green Anniversary models were so sought after by collectors because the Milgauss model was left for dead 20+ years ago- seamingly discontinued and now brought back to life with an orange thunderbolt second hand, larger polished case, new movement, and amazing solid bracelet. Some dealers even sold Green Anniv Milgauss pieces for as much as $14,000, nearly 2.5 times more than the retail price! Talk about gouging! The plain white and black dial Milgauss sold for as much as $8000! Now they can be found slightly used for about $4000- because the hype or interest level has dropped dramatically and supply has overwhelmed demand by a large margin.

The Daytona, which has always been the most coveted Rolex Sport Model has always had a long waiting list- affording dealers to mark them up for many, many years- sometimes 30-40% over the already hefty retail prices. Those days are no more as you can find steel Daytonas right around retail prices.

To me, this is a great thing. It forces these sneaky, adventageous dealers to sell the watches at the proper Rolex prices. Now, some say that the gouging is fair because it's the law of supply demand and is within the scope of free enterprise in this free economy, but I doubt Rolex approves of dealers selling their watches in this manner.

The latest, most collectible Rolex is the 116610 Green Submariner- with its Green Ceramic bezel insert, new udated bracelet, slightly bigger and heavier case and parachrom blue hairsping movement. The market simply doesn't move the way it once did- as these watches are selling under their retail price. This is great!

But, I hope it teaches collectors a lesson. The true watch enthisiasts and fanatics now understand that perhaps it's best to wait a few months before shelling out hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more just to get the latest and greatest watches first.

Patience, fellow collectors... patience! And Panerai, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet have been hit even more- with their prices plummeting even more heavily- but for the purpose of illustrating the end of the price-gouging effect on high-end watches, I chose to use Rolex as an example.

Lesson learned, watch collectors!