I've been a fan of wristwatches and horology for a long time now. I'm in my late twenties but this love goes back to my late teens. Back then all I knew was different coloured G-Shocks and random quartz watches that my dad would give me when he got them as gifts. Being the eldest of all boys helped in that regard.
Fast forward all the way to 2016 and I started to really take this whole thing quite seriously. I learnt about movements. I learnt about what makes automatic watches special. I learnt what an expensive watch actually meant! Just imagine I thought £500 was an expensive watch!
As the past few years go, I have really enjoyed looking at Rolex and Omega watches. At the beginning, it was the aesthetics and the reputation. I saw people buying watches from decades gone by. I'd never heard of this before. I heard people passing watches down to their children. I thought this was amazing and I've ALWAYS wanted a piece of the action. You can probably guess that my obsession started at the Submariner, GMT Master II and so on. But my tastes evolved as I researched more, spent more time on YouTube and actually got budget pieces on my own wrist. I understood the aesthetic I was after.
Fast forward (again) to yesterday afternoon. After a few years of collection various Seiko 5s and Orients – I was finally ready. I'm ready to make the plunge and get into this game. I was ready to go into London (I live just outside London) and try and source a model I've been lusting after for the best part of 6 months now: the 36mm Oyster Perpetual with white dial. Something about this watch has me completely smitten and head over heels. Perhaps the lack of cyclops. Perhaps the symmetry. Perhaps the way the dial plays in different light. Either way, I thought everyone would be in a hilariously long queues for the Subs, GMTs and what not. It was my day. I went into London with my mask and gloves and set about spending an entire afternoon going to 12 ADs.
I really thought I'd find this watch somewhere. Even if an AD had to make a call across their network. I got the chance to sit down with people at ADs (some more friendly and informative than others) and actually get an explanation as to how the supply and demand of these watches actually work. The Rolex model has absolutely baffled me.
Two ADs said I had to buy multiple luxury pieces before I would get a sniff at a Rolex. They didn't even blink as they told me this. It was like being slapped across the face. Others said that the movement is probably being overhauled when new models are released in 2 weeks when Rolex makes its 2020 announcements. I was also told that Rolex production has been halted by COVID so I shouldn't expect much.
It was a bit of a shattering experience and more than half the people I sat down with were really blunt in the way they crushed my dream. They just said I didn't have a hope of getting anything in “that size” or “that colour”.
I really learnt a lot yesterday as to how Rolex works. I do lurk on the forums a lot and I have read lots of stories of people being in waiting lists and getting “the call” but I didn't think it would be this bad for a 36mm Oyster Perpetual. Needless to say – I'm left with a really bad taste in my mouth (probably more to do with the quality of service and disappointment in the brand's business strategy).
After I was done at the last AD, I was on my way back to the closest Underground train station and I walked past an Omega. The Aqua Terra is my second favourite watch ever. I've been lusting after it almost as long as the OP36. Out of curiosity (and because places were about to start closing) – I popped in and jokingly asked if they had any Aqua Terra 38mm. I was expecting to hear the same shit I'd heard all day long. A lady brought out every strap/bracelet variation with every dial colour available. She told me I can just buy them – I don't have to buy other stuff first. This was super refreshing and I enjoyed the experience as a whole. I walked out though. I held on. I want that OP36.
Honestly – I still want the Rolex. I respect it's toughness, beauty, movement and the whole rest of it. It is a really deep love I have for that thing. I don't want to buy grey market if I can avoid it. I bet its a fantastic feeling to get it brand new with your name on the warranty card. You guys on here are really in an exclusive club!
Does anyone have any advice on where to go from here? Do I need to build relationships with ADs? Dress nicer when I walk in? Do I need to buy a stopgap watch to carry me over? (I've always thought that to be the wrong way of thinking. I like waiting for the real thing!)
Should I wait to see if the OP36 gets a new movement? Even so – what kind of queue will I end up in for that? Will the white dial be discontinued? So many questions!
What would you guys do in my position? Is there a way to get around all of this, or is the Oyster Perpetual now just as unattainable as the Submariner or GMT Master II?
Appreciate if anyone made it this far. My writing is pretty poor. All genuine questions though. Thanks!