Rolex is synonymous with luxury watches. It’s one of the few high-end brands in the watch industry that produces instantly recognizable timepieces. The perception of the brand’s value is so high that Rolex watches are veritable status symbols.
Most people buy their first Rolex to commemorate a milestone in their life while collectors opt for specific models like the Rolex Submariner. The Submariner, for example, is one of the few Rolex models that tend to increase in value. The company is also much appreciated for its vintage watches as well.
Guide To Rolex Watches
The History Of Rolex
The Rolex Watch Co. Ltd. formally came into being back in 1915 when it was set up in London. The company’s co-founder Hans Wilsdorf later shifted base to Geneva in 1920 and registered the company as Montres Rolex SA. The idea behind the company’s name was that it should be easily pronounceable in multiple languages. The name also happens to be short enough to fit on the dial of a watch easily.
It isn’t just hype that drives up the prices of Rolex watches. The company has made some truly iconic products. The Rolex Oyster was the first waterproof and dustproof watch that the company produced back in 1926. It had a hermetically sealed case that provided robust protection for the movement.
That was merely the beginning of Rolex revolutionizing the watch industry. The company invented the world’s first self-winding mechanism with a Perpetual rotor in 1931. This came to be known as the Rolex Oyster Perpetual. The Submariner was introduced in 1953, and it was the first wristwatch with a case that was waterproof to 100m. Then came the Rolex GMT Master in 1954, a watch that was capable of showing two time zones at once.
What’s particularly impressive is how the collections that got their start decades ago still thrive to this day. Rolex continues to launch updated models of the Oyster Perpetual, Submariner, GMT Master, and others, and they’re still some of the most highly sought after watches. The company has expanded its collection over the years, with additional product lines as well.
You’re getting a quality timepiece when you purchase a Rolex. The company is known for using some of the best materials available for its watches. Even the entry-level steel models use Oystersteel. That’s the name that Rolex gives to the 904L steel that it uses for these watches. This particular family of steel is more resistant to corrosion and is capable of sustaining a high polish, ensuring you keep the watch clean.
Rolesor is the name that Rolex gives to the combination of 904L steel and gold. Some of the most iconic Rolex watches are two-tone that feature a steel case and bracelet with 18K gold bezel and links. The bezel inserts on Rolex’s sports watches have their own proprietary material. It’s not just any old ceramic bezel. Rolex’s unique material is called Cerachrom, and not only is it highly resistant to UV rays, but it’s also scratch-proof.
Rolex has its own proprietary iteration of rose gold that’s uniquely warm. The 18K Everose Gold finish is achieved by adding copper and silver. The iconic 18K Yellow Gold is excellence in its purest form. The company uses Platinum rarely, but when it does, it uses 950 platinum exclusively. This high-concentration alloy is put together with ruthenium for added shine and strength.
Clasps and Bracelets
The Crownclasp looks very classy, and the mechanism blends in nicely with the bracelet, so much so that the Rolex five-point crown seems just to disappear. The company’s most secure deployment clasp is the Oysterclasp, as it includes a secondary mechanism that folds over the primary clasp. The company also has Easylink and Glidelock expansion mechanisms, which allow for up to 20mm of bracelet extension, perfect for getting the most comfortable fit.
Rolex’s bracelets are in a league of their own. Instantly recognizable, no other watch manufacturer makes them entirely as the company does. The Jubilee bracelet is perhaps the most popular among all with its five-piece links. The Oyster bracelet is a staple among Rolex’s mechanical watches and diving watches. It has significant three-piece links that provide a sporty look. The President bracelet is available exclusively on more high-end models. It has rounded three-piece links and is only possible with Crownlock clasp, much like the Pearlmaster bracelet, which uses refined five-piece links.
The Top Professional Models
Rolex watches may be status symbols, but they’re authentic professional watches. They’re robust and can last a lifetime, so you don’t have to baby your timepieces. The company’s Oyster Perpetual Professional collection includes iconic models like the Cosmograph Daytona and the Submariner.
Rolex Daytona models are now among the most popular watches on the market, particularly the steel models. You’ll either have to wait a few years after ordering one or pay a substantial premium on the secondary market. Starting at $12,400, the Daytona has a 40mm case size and is water-resistant to 100m. The chronograph’s three sub-dials show running seconds, 30 minutes, and 12-hour totalizers.
At 43mm, the Rolex Sea-Dweller is the largest watch that Rolex makes. It’s meant for rigorous divers as it boasts a water resistance of 1,220m. That’s quite the diving watch for $11,350. There’s also a Deep Sea version that has a 44m case size and is water-resistant to 3,900m. It made its way to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
Such is the popularity of this diving watch that you probably won’t be able to get one for a few years, even if you were to place an order for it now. The Submariner is perhaps the most iconic Rolex wristwatch ever made. Nailing the sporty look with its 40mm case size and 300m water resistance, the Submariner starts from $7,500. The Submariner No-Date is particularly popular as well with a cleaner dial as it doesn’t have a date complication.
The Yacht-Master is much more than just a dive watch. It has a bidirectional 60-minute rotating timing bezel. The bezel can be used with quick alignments with buoy passes and starting guns. It’s the perfect tool watch for those who’re into racing boats. The Yacht-Master can be had in 37mm or 40mm size with different metals. It starts at $11,000.
The Top Oyster Classic Models
This collection retains some of Rolex’s signature design elements from decades ago, even as the models are regularly updated with subtle design and internal improvements. They’re perfect with both casual and formal attire.
The Rolex Datejust is one of the most instantly recognizable watch collections ever made. It’s the perfect dress watch from Rolex and is available in sizes ranging from 28mm up to 41mm. There’s 100m water resistance as well, so water won’t usually harm the watch. The collection starts at $6,300, with the prices becoming significantly higher for larger sizes and precious metal variants. You really can’t go wrong with a Rolex Datejust.
Wondering what size and style Rolex will best suit your wrist? Check out our guide on measuring your wrist size.
Often referred to as the Rolex President, that’s because so many influential world leaders seem to love this watch, it’s essentially a Datejust with a day of the week complication. Rolex only offers it in 18K Yellow Gold and Platinum, so the entry point is higher at $23,550 for this watch that’s available in 36mm and 40mm sizes.
The Oyster Perpetual is the most attainable Rolex watch. The company has been targeting the younger demographic with some of the more recent models that include a 39mm case size. This collection can also be seen as a direct descendant of the company’s very first Oyster watches. There are no additional complications, but that’s to be expected from a Rolex that starts at $4,800.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller is the most complicated watch that this company makes. It has a non-concentric 24-hour GMT disc in order to display a second time zone in its 42mm case. The annual calendar is quite smart as well since it uses the 12-hour markers to indicate the month. Despite being the most complicated watch in Rolex’s collection, it’s relatively attainable at $14,400.
The Top Cellini Models
For those who are looking for a proper dress watch, Rolex offers the Cellini collection. They have an elegant and timeless design with a variety of material options. A few models have complications, as well.
Paying tribute to traditional dress watches with a modern touch, the Cellini has a 39mm case attached to a leather strap with a conventional pin-buckle. It’s even water-resistant to 50m, but you wouldn’t want to take a dip in the pool with that leather strap on your wrist. At $15,200, it’s quite the classy dress watch.
Retaining the same case size with a choice of materials that include 18K Yellow Gold and Everose Gold, the Cellini Moonphase has a unique double bezel. The Cellini Moonphase has the domed and fluted bezel placed on top of the dial. The Rayon Flamme de la Gloire guilloché motif is unique to this series, as well. The Moonphase complication here shows the lunar cycle with a meteoric iron disc representing the full moon. Prices for the Cellini Moonphase can go up to $20,000 on account of the precious metals and the complication.
Buying Pre-Owned Rolex Watches
There’s a massive secondary market where you can purchase a pre-owned Rolex. As always, one should exercise caution when purchasing a pre-owned watch. Counterfeit Rolex watches are straightforward to come by, and some even have off-the-shelf automatic movements to mimic the sweeping action of the original motion. It’s always better to purchase a pre-owned Rolex watch from a reputable dealer and insist on receiving the original box for your watch, and papers along with the timepiece. A little due diligence will undoubtedly go a long way in ensuring that you’re not scammed out of your money.
There are often good deals to be had on pre-owned Rolex watches. If you have a good eye for spotting fakes and know just what you’re looking for, you may find what you’re looking for. Models that are highly in demand like the Submariner and Daytona are also sold brand new in the secondary market with all of the original paperwork.
The only downside here is that you will be paying a significant premium over the retail price. But, then again, that’s the price you pay for not having to wait for your favorite Rolex watch. It’s either that or having to wait for a couple of years at the very least to get the same watch. This is what makes some Rolex models excellent investment watches. You could get a decent return on your investment if you happened to own one of the right models and were willing to part with it.
While not cheap, we’ve actually compiled a list of the cheapest Rolex watches. You never know!