Status symbol. Poster child of horology. Probably the only watch brand the average person can mention.
Rolex is a luxury brand that makes mechanical watches. That’s no big deal, since cheaper quartz (electronic) watches actually achieve far greater accuracy with far less complexity. That being said, mechanical is still celebrated as an art form or luxury these days.
Especially when you encase them in precious metals and give them the price of a car.
Given that, mechanical — Rolex included — is rather schismatic: Either you get it and you’re obsessed, or you don’t and you’re completely uninterested. If you’re hooked and nothing can stop you, this article is for you.
Want to skip the line and get your hands on your first Rolex already? It’s possible; in fact, I did it when I was quite young.
You know what they say: Every Rolex tells a story. And mine is certainly more than just a watch. Here’s how you can retrace my steps and get yours by the time you turn 20.
Step one: Don’t count on getting help.
In case you forgot, you don’t need a $4000 watch to survive. This is a bonus you’re trying to obtain, so it’s all on you.
I harnessed my own resources to make this happen. I didn’t pull strings, use financing, or ask for favors to buy my Rolex. I paid for it with my own cold, hard cash that I earned.
How do you gather so much dough by age 20? Spend years working on yourself and your craft. When all the kids are having fun, get to work. Learn to code. Start a laundry business. Build a design portfolio.
Whatever you can do to add value to the world, do it, and do it early.
Because it’s almost impossible to make Rolex money in two months when you’re starting out, it’s much easier to make it in four years. Spend 3.8 of those 4 years sharpening your proverbial axe, and spend the rest making money.
Why is it so important to earn this yourself? Because the process of earning the watch gives it value.
Truthfully, the things you’ll have to do to earn this by 20 will haunt you forever if you don’t lay them to rest. After all, the runway is short and the goal is lofty, so you’ll need to bend and twist here and there to make things work.
My Rolex is the hard goodbyes that changed me forever.
This small piece of gold and steel is the terrifying, lonely months I spent in Germany working my first job after dropping out of college at 19.
It’s the nights I toiled with no end in sight, back when no one knew my name.
The past will cling to you like a disease if you don’t do something about it. So once you survive everything that could’ve toppled you, celebrate with the most expensive timepiece you can’t afford.
By commemorating hardship, you make it a happy memory.
Sometimes, people will scoff when you say the watch celebrates a chapter in your life. When that happens to me, I just look down at my wrist and smile at all the lemons I’ve turned into sweet, shiny, rose gold lemonade.
Obviously, you’ll need to take a job (or four) to make this happen. But its primary purpose isn’t to earn you money, a job needs to earn you money so you learn what money is worth to you.
You see, it’s not exceedingly difficult to save a few thousand dollars for a Rolex by 20. A few summer jobs, some cutthroat budgeting, and several hundred hours at Walmart can make you that. But spending this money you saved for so long on something as unnecessary as a watch, now that requires more than having it.
There’s two possibilities here: Either you gather so much cash that a Rolex puts an insignificant dent in the pile — highly unlikely at such a young age — or you get a much smaller pile and you blow most of it on a watch.
The latter option is far more likely, but it requires you to know what money is worth to you. If you don’t, you won’t be able to spend it.
For me, wealth isn’t worth much. Anything past the point of survival is a bonus. The only things I really need money for is food, socializing, and watches.
Sure, my dream watch collection currently costs several hundred thousand dollars, but spread out over a lifetime, that’s cost isn’t high. Given that, I really don’t need much money. So if I have slightly more than the price of a Rolex, why not buy the damn thing?
Money is worthless until you use it. Understand that, then you’ll be able to spend your hard-earned money on a humble watch.
We can’t ignore the elephant in the room for much longer: Price.
A Rolex is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Even among luxury mechanical watches, it’s in the mid-high end — certainly out of reach for the average millennial. So you’re probably wondering, “How is this a sensible decision?”
Simple: It’s not. This is not a wise decision. This breaks every financial guideline you hold dear as a sensible, responsible young adult.
The truth is I got this watch so early because I need risk in my life. The stupidity was entirely intentional. I perform best while dancing on the edge, and this is a glorious way to put me there.
My finances are probably not okay after doing this. But that’s excellent, because it’s exactly what I wanted. I thrive on instability. After all, I sort of have to since I earn a living talking about my feelings on the Internet — risk is the first line of my job description.
You should only do this if an easy, predictable, stable life would be a disaster for you.
If you live for the thrill of brushing against failure as much as the satisfaction of the trophies, you’re all set.
Obviously, before you spend money on this thing, make sure you actually like it. It sounds ridiculous to mention this, but too many of us buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like.
Listen, buying a Rolex at 20 isn’t like going on a Target shopping spree to get over your ex. This will hurt you big time if you’re not absolutely certain about it.
In my case, watches are a no-brainer. I’m fascinated by the concept of time — its relentless nature is oddly inspiring to me. Time is the only rule we all have to follow, and watches pay homage to it.
My watch is a constant reminder of what actually matters. So I didn’t mind moving mountains to acquire it.
But it’s not always that deep. Maybe you just like the looks people give you. Maybe polished gold lights you up inside. Maybe the heritage of the brand has smitten you. Whatever it is, make sure you actually want this before you jeopardize everything to get it.
Because without your story, a Rolex is just a watch.