Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Rolex & India: As Rolex Increases Supply, a New Market Emerges



As Rolex Increases Supply,

a New Market Emerges

By Danny Crivello

A year ago, the news broke Rolex would acquire 24 acres of land in Bulle, a Swiss town between Lausanne and Bern, and invest no less than 1 billion Swiss francs to build a 2000-employee manufacture, the watchmaker’s biggest move yet to increase supply.

Rolex has decided to set up temporary manufacturing sites, such as in Romont and Villaz-Saint-Pierre, which will be operational as early as next year and run until the new facility in Bulle launches in six years.   

This bodes well for aspiring clients of the brand. Rolex timepieces could soon be available for purchase at authorized dealers without much of a wait, if any wait at all.

But an emerging market has 1.4 billion reasons to temper our optimism. This year, India surpassed China as the world's most populous country and has overtaken China in economic growth.

India's 1.4 billion population, now the world's biggest since April 2023, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, has a per-capita income of just $2,300. Still, the country is home to a growing base of more than 800,000 millionaires. 

Real estate consultants Knight Frank estimate India will have 1.4 million millionaires by 2026, as the economy continues to strengthen. 

India's newest Rolex authorized dealer opened last month in Mumbai at a brand-new luxury mall, the biggest in the country, catering to India's expanding affluent consumer base. 

It is Mumbai's just fifth Rolex boutique in a city of 21 million people. To compare, for every 21 million residents, the U.K. roughly counts 30 Rolex authorized dealers.

India has recently surpassed the U.K. to become the world’s fifth-largest economy. India is the home of only 25 Rolex authorized dealers in the entire country. Britain has over 90 Rolex boutiques with less than 5% India's population and less than a tenth of its land mass. 


When it comes to fashion, Indian shoppers are a growing force, with the country’s levels of discretionary spending rising from 13% of household consumption in 2000 to 24% in 2020, and could rise to 33% by 2030, according to Macquarie, a bank.

Gucci, Dior and Louis Vuitton are among the brands that have recently expanded to India. Cartier opened its biggest store in India in November. 

Last year, the Indian economy grew faster than any other major market, a feat it is expected to repeat through 2024, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Four new airports have opened in the past 12 months, The Economist reported last month. Nine additional airports have been approved and many more are planned.

In less than a decade, India has grown from the world’s tenth-largest economy to its fifth. It could be third by 2027, a full two years before Rolex's Bulle facility starts gearing up for production. 

“India’s time has arrived,” India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently declared.

Veteran investor Mark Mobius told CNBC last month India is the biggest beneficiary of a slowdown in Chinese markets. “India is going to be getting a lot of money that normally would have gone to China,” he said. 

Rolex may choose to shift its expansion plans to India, as Chinese economic activities have sharply fallen short of expectations. Currently, China has already five times the number of Rolex authorized dealers found in India.

India has increasingly become a key partner in America’s pushback against China. Since Covid, Apple has grown its share of iPhones it is producing in India and is aiming to make a quarter of the word's iPhones there. In November, the news broke Tesla planned to double its component imports from India.

Pictures of Rolex watches on photo apps like Instagram reach Indians more than ever. To compare, in 2015, India was ranked 122nd for per-capita mobile data consumption. Last year, it was first, exceeding the consumption of China and the United States combined. India ranks first in Instagram users by country with over 230 million people. The leading photo-sharing application in the world is often credited for shifting the way people interact with luxury watches.

When asked for comment, a press and public relations specialist at Rolex in Geneva said the brand is monitoring the situation in India. 

The new Rolex manufacture in Bulle might be opening its doors at the perfect time to capture the fastest-growing major economy of the next decade. And the most famous aspirational watch brand will ineluctably have to increase the number of dealerships from 25 to cater to millions of nouveaux riches in the most populous country in the world. 

As for the rest of us, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of waiting lists has been greatly exaggerated.

—Danny Crivello

Jake's Take

Another brilliant story from our Captain Danny!!! Speaking of Rolex and India, it's worth noting that Rolex has been selling successfully in India for over a century. Below we see a photo of former Indian Prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, who was the 6th prime minister of India, and notice he is rocking his Rolex Day-Date back in the 1980s.