When Ali’s father passed away last year, one thing that he inherited was a Rolex watch. Ali wanted to wear the watch in memory of his father, but it hadn’t run in years. He writes that he sent the watch off to Rolex for a repair estimate, but found a less expensive repair option and asked for the watch back. Having moved in the interim, he double-checked with Rolex to make sure that they would send the watch to his new address. They promised that they would, then promptly mailed it to his old address. The watch disappeared.
I’m writing to offer a story about Rolex. A renowned watch company, to be sure – but not one I can say is worth trusting with anything that is especially important or has any sort of value other mere monetary worth. In my case, they were simply careless and lost something that can’t be replaced. And that’s a damn shame.
Last year my father died of lung cancer. It was quick, and incredibly sad – he was 59, a smoker, and essentially aged thirty years in the last three months of his life. One of the things he left for me, his son, was a watch, a silver oyster quartz Rolex. He had worn it when I was younger but it hadn’t run in quite a few years. I wanted to wear it, to have something of his near me and to have something of his that I could some day pass on to my own son. So, to make sure it was repaired properly, I sent it in to Rolex to get an estimate. They took a look at it, and while they were getting me a quote, I found someone else to do the job for a few hundred dollars less – so I asked for the watch back. This is where the trouble started.
Between when I had sent them the watch and when I asked for it back, my wife and I had moved. We called Rolex about this, letting them know of the new address, and we sent them a fax, just to confirm. And they said they had received the fax, changed our address and would send us the watch. All seemed well.
Sadly, all wasn’t well. Despite promises to the contrary, Rolex sent the watch to my old address – where it promptly vanished. While the Postal Service can track a package to an address, they can’t see what happens to it if it’s rejected – as it was here. And that’s when my father’s watch was lost.
A few months of apologies, police reports and attempts to track down the watch followed. To their credit, Rolex sent me a replacement watch of roughly the same model as the one that was lost. But it was never about having a fancy watch, at least not for me. I’ve never been particularly sentimental, but that watch was something that was important to me. And thanks to what can only be described as surprising carelessness, given the valuable items that Rolex deals with, they lost something that I valued and that can’t really be replaced.
In sum, if you just need to get a generic watch repaired, go ahead and use Rolex. But if that particular watch means something to you – if it’s important in and of itself, and is more than a mere commodity – then I would avoid Rolex. What they lose often cannot be replaced.
Some quick research indicates that the lost watch is worth somewhere north of $5,000, so well done, Rolex, for replacing it. Even if you’re not about to inherit high-end jewelry, remember that it’s a bad idea to ship small, priceless objects if it can be avoided.