From the link:
The Big Four watch brands that drive most of the high-end collecting are all privately owned and have maintained their low production numbers despite huge demand, in order to preserve their storied quality and exclusivity. According to a report from Morgan Stanley, Rolex sold 810,000 watches last year, while Patek sold 53,000 watches, Audemars 40,000 and Richard Mille 4,300.
Which one of the big four named above is not like the others despite the characterization of the piece?
Why Rolex of course, the only mass produced watch of the lot. Patek, Audemars, and other haute horological stalwarts including, Brequet, GP, VC, and JLC, have held more to the traditional crafts of the masters like hand engine turned guillochè dials, hand finishing, enameling, and the hand engraved decoration of movements. Such techniques don't lend themselves to Rolex's scale of production, and these other haute manufactures are producing at their usual scale. And at least as of last year, despite widely held perceptions otherwise, so is Rolex.
If the Morgan Stanley report is correct, Rolex produced numbers - including several new models - commensurate with longstanding industry estimates that the tight-lipped Crown produces between 800,000 to 1,000,000 watches per year. In their recently released statement regarding shortages, Rolex said: “The scarcity of our products is not a strategy on our part." Such is not the case; no longer hindered by the pandemic, Rolex is again producing at their customary scale of underproduction to meet demand, a decades long strategy indeed.
So, while the cuts in production due to the pandemic led to the Rolex feeding frenzy, restored customary underproduction levels now exponentially fail to meet demand, more a perfect storm than a contrivance.
What then, are we to make of bare Rolex showcases in some markets, including the US, that haven't received watches in more than 18 months, while others, primarily in Asia and Europe, including the Middle East, are flush with pre-pandemic supply levels, or nearly so?
What else could we make of it other than Rolex is manipulating distribution to preferred markets and AD's.