Despite being hardly worn for the purposes they were created for, many iconic tool watches today are more sought-after than ever.
The most coveted of these have surpassed their utilitarian purposes to become recognised stores of value.
One of the most famous tool watches of all is the Rolex Submariner.
Worn by many worthy legends from the likes of American film star Steve McQueen to reel spy Sean Connery's James Bond, the Submariner is just one of many Rolex models that have come to be associated with reliability, durability and success over the decades.
This reputation was sparked in 1927 when British swimmer Mercedes Gleitze, the first woman to swim the English Channel, took along with her on the attempt a gold Rolex Oyster watch that remained dry and accurate. Ever since, the fabled Rolex Oyster has become synonymous with waterproofness.
A crown for every achievement
In time, Rolex became famed for its high quality and dependable timepieces and grew to be one of the top brands globally.
The renowned coronet logo has become a symbol of stature and excellence.
The purchase of a Rolex timepiece marks a celebration of a milestone or life event. From first pay cheques and job promotions to weddings, anniversaries and birthdays, someone, somewhere, sometime had bought a Rolex to celebrate the special occasion.
The demand for Rolex watches today far exceeds the supply. Waitlists are the "new normal".
Unprecedented demand is driving up the market prices of the timepieces to multiple folds of their brand-new sticker prices. And, unfortunately, many of these watches end up on the grey market for a quick and tidy profit.
It is a shame that the romance of celebrating a milestone with a Rolex might become a thing of the past, as a purchase often supersedes the occasion today. Unless, of course, you choose to pay the resale premium, which will in turn fuel the speculative dark side of the market.
Live for greatness
It is human nature to seek out stories that inspire us and, as a horological enthusiast and watch lover myself, I have observed this and can relate to it.
Marking a life event with a sentimental timepiece is just one way to chart our individual legacies.
Moving forward, I can only hope that this sentimentality will still be relished, without one being caught up in all the speculation about resale value.
Every Rolex watch is made for greatness and should be enjoyed as such.
New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Everest with one. Film-maker and explorer James Cameron reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench with one. Former United States president Lyndon Johnson led a nation with one.
What will you do with yours?
- Tom Chng is the founder of the Singapore Watch Club.