How much gold is in a solid gold Rolex?

By Montredo in Lifestyle
September 9, 2020
How much gold is in a solid gold Rolex?

In a world where many Rolex stainless steel sports models are either not available from the concessionaire at all or only after years of waiting, some of us may have already carefully adjusted the target – from stainless steel to gold models.

After catching ourselves letting a quiet “Well, why not?” slip from your lips, most of us probably came back to our senses after seeing the price tag: Way too expensive! Nevertheless, in the event of a potential lottery win, it would be interesting to know how much gold you actually get for your money if you buy a solid gold Rolex, wouldn’t it?

A small crash course on gold

Rolex is known to have its own in-house foundry, where the brand exclusively casts 18-carat yellow, white and Everose gold alloys with the help of experienced foundrymen.

The stuff that dreams are made of. © Rolex

Also the indication “18 carat”, referring to the actual gold content of the final gold alloy, is crucial. Rolex uses mainly 18-carat gold for its watches, which has a purity of 750 ‰ (thousandths) of pure gold, i.e. three quarters. The remaining 25% consists of other elements such as silver, copper, platinum or palladium, depending on the alloy to be achieved.

However, Rolex does not do this to save money, but to make its gold watches more robust: 999 fine gold / 24 carat gold – virtually pure gold, of which 99.9 percent per gram is pure gold – is considered the highest quality gold alloy, but would be far too soft for a wristwatch in everyday use.

All that glitters is not gold

Gold watches are heavy, but not the entire weight traces back to the shimmering precious metal. Components such as the sapphire crystal, the dial or the caliber must of course be taken out of the equation – although François-Paul Journe would certainly disagree with the latter. In a solid gold Rolex, the case and its back, the bracelet and the bezel are thus the most important components.

A staple since 1956: the Rolex Day-Date.

Members of the English-language The Rolex Forums picked a Rolex Day-Date and determined the weight of its gold components. (Note: These are only approximations, as the exact weight varies from reference to reference). Attached is an overview of the corresponding gold values:

  • Case: 18.5 grams (13.88 g fine gold)
  • Case back: 7.21 grams (5.41 g fine gold)
  • Bezel: 5.30 grams (3.98 g fine gold)
  • Bracelet: 68.85 grams (51.64 g fine gold)

Based on a current market price of EUR 52.97 per 1g of fine gold (as of August 2020), the following prices result:

  • Case: 13.88 g fine gold → 735.21 EUR
  • Case back: 5.41 g fine gold → 286.56 EUR
  • Bezel: 3.98 g fine gold → 210.82 EUR
  • Bracelet: 51.64 g fine gold → 2,735.34 EUR

In purely mathematical terms, this results in a gold material value of EUR 3,967.93 for a Rolex Day Date with a total of 74.91 g of fine gold (and almost 100 g of 18-carat gold).

So, how does the final retail price come about?

It goes without saying that the RRP of a gold Rolex is not the result of its raw materials. Nevertheless, the delta of almost 30,000 EUR between the material value and the current list price of a Gold Day-Date is astonishing. The reasons for this are manifold:

  1. One of the reasons is that gold watches are somewhat more difficult to manufacture than stainless steel watches. This, in turn, requires more expensive machines and longer production cycles.
  2. Furthermore, Rolex does not use off-the-shelf “standard gold”. Their proprietary in-house alloys are the result of Rolex’s own foundries and own talented foundrymen. Malicious gossip has it that it is a marketing trick, but certainly one that Rolex can heavily capitalize on.
  3. In addition, it is in the nature of things that gold jewelry, whether it is rings, necklaces or watches, is proportionally more expensive than its material value would suggest. This is thanks to the image it possesses and the positive, forecasted long-term performance of precious metals.
  4. Last but not least, the specific example of the Day-Date adds another factor: Rolex is aware of the reputation of its “President’s watch”, which has been loved by politicians and leaders alike for decades. In 2000, the brand put it very modestly as follows: “A Rolex will never change the world. We leave that to the people who wear them.” Anyone who wants to join the circle of Day-Date wearers has to pay a little premium to do so.

At the end of the day, the only thing that counts is what the customer is willing to pay – and in the case of gold Rolex watches, that is quite a lot.


Previous comments (4)

  1. Interesting read Montredo!

    September 9, 2020
  2. I miss those kinda quotes these days 🙁
    I feel like watch brands used to have way more cojones back in the days, now it’s all vanilla and love, peace, and harmony.

    September 14, 2020
  3. Good wacth

    September 23, 2020
  4. Although I didn’t know the exact numbers of course, I think it’s safe to say that everyone knew that a Rolex’ worth is not the result of its raw materials. Shocked about that massive difference, though.

    October 23, 2020

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