Free People

Being one of the most widely-recognized watch brands on the planet, Rolex can afford to be exceptionally choosy with its dealers. Even still, there are nearly 300 stores in North America alone that sell genuine Rolex watches. Free People ain’t one of them.

And, yet, the Urban Outfitters-owned boho-tinged fast fashion brand is selling Rolex watches for $7,000 apiece on its website. What’s up with that?

If you’re a Free People-obsessed TikToker, you make a video about it!

Immediate reactions from Free People customers were nothing if not incredulous. Free People selling Rolexes? What a world.

If you read the fine print, it becomes immediately obvious that this is not the case, though.

I mean, Free People is indeed selling Rolexes, it’s just that these aren’t new Rolex watches direct from the manufacturer: they’re vintage timepieces “customized” by a company called Chroma Vintage that seemingly specializes in purchasing old, affordable Rolex watches, painting the dial, and flipping them for $7k a pop.

People are apparently into it — a questionable, leopard-printed Rolex has already sold out.

Astute watch aficionados will notice that I haven’t mentioned the model of watch being used for these customs.

All of these $7k watches are made from old Rolex Air Kings, one of the most affordable and common Rolex timepieces on the secondhand market. You can find unaltered vintage Air Kings for well under $4k with ease, just by doing a quick search.

They aren’t necessarily “fakes,” in contrast to what cavalier watch TikTokers might assert.

True, Rolex would likely consider Free People’s painted watches illegitimate given how they alter the base model but they’re likely “real” watches, at least in the sense that these are genuine vintage Rolexes that’ve been irreparably altered.

Any value on the secondhand market that they might’ve had is gone but they seem to be worth something to someone, as over 1,000 people have apparently bookmarked the watches on Free People’s website.

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 Free People is selling Rolex watches but don’t call it a collab. The fast-fashion retailer is instead offering “custom” vintage Rolex Air Kings for $7,000.