The economy may be exhibiting signs of a slowdown, but prices for luxury watches continue to soar.
Take the gold Rolex Daytona 116508. Like all of its Daytona forebears, it is a mechanical cosmograph that functions as both timekeeper and glorified stopwatch, with three subdials that racecar drivers can use to measure distance and speed.
Although it can be ordered with champagne-colored or black dials, the current frenzy is centered around an iridescent green version. Authorized dealers are sold out, and prices on the secondary market have exceeded $50,000 — seemingly a record for the brand. (The list price is $34,650).
By April, authorized Rolex dealers ran through their supplies. Earlier this month, prices on the secondary market were running between $50,000 and $70,000.
For Rolex, it heralded a milestone. Until then, its heftiest-priced watches either had a storied provenance (like the “Paul Newman,” a 1960s Daytona with an Art Deco-style dial), were made in platinum or were encrusted in jewels.
But Jean-Frederic Dufour, a former LVMH executive who became the chief executive of Rolex in 2014, has helped move the Swiss watchmaker further into the high-end luxury market. The company increased promotion for its most aggressively priced watches.
High demand for its sports models, particularly among millennials, drove up value on the secondary market and fortified a sense among aficionados that Rolexes are wearable stocks.
No one outside Rolex knows how many green 116508s exist. Rolex is owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, which is so private that it doesn’t even have a website. “It’s like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory,” Mr. Kozubek said. (A spokeswoman for Rolex declined to comment for this article.)
“My guess is no more than a few hundred,” Mr. Altieri said.
The company could increase production of the green 116508, but likely not by much. “Rolex is great at being everywhere and nowhere at once,” said Benjamin Clymer, the founder of Hodinkee.
William Barthman, an authorized Rolex dealer in the financial district of Manhattan, has a two-year waiting list. “I’m not even taking names anymore,” said Caitlin Hausser, the director of the store and the owner of her own green 116508.
She bought it in 2017 and gets constant offers from customers. “Three today!” she said on a recent Thursday.
Ms. Hausser has no intention of flipping it. “The feeling of having something that’s rare and that everybody wants is so much more valuable than ‘I had it and I sold it,’” she said.