During the shutdown of 2020, many of us wondered what welcome changes might linger once the dust had settled. For some, that meant realizing they could do their job from home—or anywhere else they wanted. For others, it meant a dramatic career change, a decision to homeschool, a deeper commitment to their partner, or a renewed dedication to their health and fitness. For Rich Wight, those months meant shuttering his retail jewelry space and indulging his lifelong love of Rolex watches from his living room (in his sweats with a cup of coffee in his hand. The pandemic wasn’t all bad.)
By Meredith Knight
“My jeweler set up in his garage and we just kept chugging along,” Rich said. “I focused on buying and selling pre-owned Rolex and other luxury brands.” That’s because, as Rich explained, a Rolex watch is one of the few things you can buy that consistently appreciates in value. “A Rolex Submariner your father paid $150 to $350 for in 1970 is worth between $8,000 to $25,000 today, depending on the condition. It’s the same for any style of Rolex. There aren’t many other things consistently appreciating like that.”
Rolex is a unique company. Because it’s a non-profit organization, they’re focused on maintaining their brand rather than on profits. “The pandemic caused an unusual anomaly,” Rich said. “Where Rolex would ordinarily manufacture 500, 000 to a million watches a year with buyers eagerly waiting to buy them, they didn’t make a single watch for a year and a half. Meanwhile, there were millennials making money, the stock market was doing well, and a lot of younger buyers were eager to invest in their first Rolex. But because manufacturing had ceased, there was less inventory and a bigger demand.”
That hasn’t changed yet. “You can’t walk into a Rolex authorized dealer and buy a Rolex today,” Rich said. “They’re still not caught up and probably won’t be for a while. Because we focus on the preowned Rolex market, we suddenly had more work than we could handle. And before I knew it, my identity had changed.”
Once conditions were right again for Rich to open a retail space, he felt like he needed a new name for his new endeavor. He chose the name based on a frequent occurrence. “Often, I’m out somewhere, run into a customer, and they point at their wrist and say, ‘This is my watch dude!’ So, My Watch Dude seemed like the perfect name.”
An Investment Whose Time Has Come
“People are tired of their smart watches,” Rich said. “Here’s this thing on your wrist that buzzes every time you get an email or text or Facebook notification. It reminds you you’re not getting enough steps or didn’t sleep enough last night. It’s like you’re on a leash. Besides nobody gets dressed up for a wedding or night on the town and straps on their Apple watch. You might wear your Fitbit to the gym. But you’re not wearing it for a formal occasion. You’re wearing your Rolex, Omega, or Cartier. And nobody is leaving their smart watch to someone in their will.”
On the other hand, a Rolex or other luxury watch is an heirloom to be handed down to a child or grandchild. It’s an investment that appreciates even as it’s strapped to your wrist. “There are a lot of Rolex styles,” Rich said. “Some people want a stainless-steel version to wear every day, because it won’t get scratched easily and can withstand a lot of abuse, and one of gold or platinum that’s more for special occasion. My jeweler, Oscar Solis, has been in the jewelry business for 30 years and he can do it all. He can take a Rolex apart, down to the tiniest screw and gear, and put it back together like a new watch.”
At their storefront in League City, Rich and his team even offer a wish list where a wife can come in and make a note on her account of the things she really likes. “Then, before her birthday or anniversary, the husband can come in and ask if there’s anything she’s picked out,” Rich said. “And we can do the same for the husband, of course.”
More Than Just Watches
Although watches—and Rolex in particular—are Rich’s first love, My Watch Dude offers more—much more. “We also offer custom engagement rings, gold and silver chains, men’s custom wedding bands, and complete jewelry repair. We have a huge selection of really unique gold and silver bullion, and we are authorized Citizen, Bulova, and Freestyle watch dealers,” Rich said. “One of the things I really love to do is take an heirloom piece with sentimental value and repurpose it into something you want to wear today. You don’t lose any of the sentimental value of the gold and diamonds from your mother or grandmother but it’s a brand new piece that fits your style.”
They also buy and sell estate jewelry and gold. “Silver and gold do nothing but appreciate in value,” Rich said. “We have older customers who bring their grandchildren in to teach them about investing and collecting and we have really fun silver bullions in animal shapes and cartoon characters they recognize. Many are hard to find. Some are limited mint edition. To the kid, it’s just a fun thing to buy. But over their lifetime, it will steadily appreciate in value.”
When not on the job, Rich enjoys life with his soon-to-be wife Stacy and her three sons. “I’m marrying into three wonderful kids, two horses, eight goats, three dogs, two birds, a cat, and a flock of chickens,” he said. “I also have two amazing grown daughters and a one-year-old grandbaby. We love living and working in League City and are always looking for ways to give back to the community.” That includes being active with the League City Chamber of Commerce, supporting local nonprofits, donating to local fundraisers, and even serving as a Toys for Tots drop-off at Christmas time.
So, for at least one League City resident, the pandemic that nobody wanted has become a bridge to a life he loves in a field where his interests and passion never seem to wane. And he couldn’t be happier.