The Rolex Standard
Rolex is, by far, one of the most recognizable and collectible watch brands in the world, and due to those reasons and a few others, many Rolex watches hold value as time passes by. and was also ranked as one of the most powerful brands in the world by none other than Forbes. It is safe to say that Rolex has most definitely earned these accolades. Since founded in 1905, Rolex has steadily grown in relevance and recognition worldwide and will enjoy continued success well into the future. As one of the trailblazers in watchmaking history, Rolex has undoubtedly set the standard in many ways. Having accomplished many impressive feats like coming out with the world’s first waterproof dive watch, creating various other innovative features, as well as developing their very own in-house calibers and even many of their own materials – it’s no wonder Rolex continues to reign as one of the most respected names in the watch world and the hottest selling brand for luxury watch resellers.
Since the 1950s, the average price of a new Rolex watch has seen a steady increase. Despite the fact that more people own a Rolex nowadays compared to ever before – which, for most brands would result in devaluing of its product – the brand continues to grow as the value of Rolex watches continues to rise. And there is no sign of this changing in the near or distant future. Evidently, people stay willing to pay more and more for a Rolex watch every year.
Whether purchasing a brand new or pre-owned Rolex watch, it is almost a guarantee that it will hold its value greatly. What’s more, many models actually increase in value over time. If you can manage to get your hands on a limited-edition model, your chances of making a substantial profit when it’s time to sell your Rolex are certainly high.
Which Rolexes Have High Holding and Appreciating Value?
So what makes certain Rolex watch collection or models more likely to hold and/or increase in value over others? Several factors play into how likely a watch is to hold and increase in value over time. Perhaps one of the strongest indicators of a Rolex watch’s potential to be a worthwhile investment asset is its exclusivity. The rarer a watch is, the more valuable it tends to be. As evidenced at major watch auctions time and time again, the rare pieces that are harder to acquire are almost always the ones going for the highest bids – showing that when a watch is in short supply, it is more desirable to collectors who are generally willing to pay more for it.
Aside from exclusivity, a watch’s age, condition, specifications, complications, and materials are all indicators of how “investable” it is, as well as what specific features are currently trending and being sought out by collectors. The following list of Rolex watches are all known to hold their value well for various reasons specific to their particular type and models.
Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 116610LV featuring a green bezel, green dial, and oyster bracelet.
Several Rolex sports watches are known to consistently hold or increase in value. For example, the ever-popular Submariner is a good investment choice for its popularity alone. Easily one of the most recognizable Rolex watches, the Submariner is a highly coveted piece – especially on the secondary resale market. Features specific to the Submariner – like its sleek and sporty design, impressive water resistance, rugged durability, and its in-house Calibre 3235 movement providing a long power reserve – all attribute to its popularity. The Submariner is so popular, in fact, that there is an overabundance of counterfeits of this watch circulating in the resale market – really speaking to just how valuable this model is that so many would attempt to duplicate it. Naturally, rare and discontinued models attract the most attention from collectors – like both the green versions of the Sub: the “Hulk” and the “Kermit”, which has become much harder to come by, and thus more desirable, ever since being discontinued. While the changes between the Submariner 116610 and the Submariner 126610 are minimal, collectors continue to rave about Rolex’s attention to detail and the upgrades.
(Top Left) The newly released 126610LN (Top Right and Bottom) The discontinued 116610LN.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Another watch from Rolex’s sports series that holds its investment value is the Cosmograph Daytona. A truly state-of-the-art timepiece, the Daytona is a racing watch created by Rolex in honor of one of America’s auto racing capitals. It perfectly exemplifies speed, luxury, and top-tier performance, and has a unique look with a trio of sub-dials that distinguishes it from other models. Even as a premier sports and racing watch, the Daytona can easily be enjoyed in everyday settings, making it highly collectable to more than just racing professionals and enthusiasts. This particular Rolex is also very popular with celebrities, which is likely another reason why they hold value so well.
The Daytona was largely made popular by actor, director, and race car driver, Paul Newman, who owned and frequently wore Rolex Daytona watches in movies and when racing cars. One of them, the Daytona ref. 6239, ended up being the most expensive watch ever sold – selling at $17.8 million at the Phillips Auction in 2017. The Daytona “Big Red’ ref. 6263, another one of Newman’s personal Daytona watches that he was gifted by his wife as a 25th anniversary gift, is up for sale at this year’s Phillips Auction in December and is expected to sell for “in excess of 1 million dollars” – in support of a number of charities founded by Paul Newman himself. Rolex has since modeled some of their rarest Daytonas after these famous watches, affectionately named Paul Newman Daytonas. These models are distinguishable by what is referred to as an ‘exotic’ or ‘Paul Newman’ dial, with a number of subtle features that only the keenest of watch collectors will notice. With only about 2,000-3,000 of these special edition vintage models in rotation worldwide, they are some of the most coveted Rolex pieces on the pre-owned market, consistently selling for as much as six figures at auctions.
< The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona featuring a black dial, silver subdials, and Oyster bracelet
One of Rolex’s most classic dress watches, the Day-Date, is another worthwhile investment. Designed to be the embodiment of prestige, the Day-Date was the first waterproof, self-winding chronometer watch to feature a day display – spelling out the day of the week on the dial, in addition to the date window. Hence the name, Day-Date. This was a revolutionary addition for Rolex and marked a significant turning point in the brand’s history. The Day-Date has since become a coveted collector’s watch, referred to by Rolex itself as “the ultimate status watch.” Several factors make the Day-Date a great investment piece. Day-Date watches are not cheap in any capacity – made in 18k gold or platinum, with price tags to match, giving them excellent resale value. Many Rolex Presidents are highly desirable and are consistent with holding the value such as the white gold Day-Date ref. 228239. Even from a material standpoint you can’t lose with this one. With its timeless aesthetics and sensible functionality, you can wear one for years and years and find that it depreciates very little, if at all.
Rolex Day-Date Ref. 126621 in yellow gold with a president bracelet.
Rolex GMT-Master II
As the ultimate aviator’s watch, the GMT-Master II is always in demand. Its specialized ability to display multiple time zones at once makes it a valuable tool for frequent traveling, business, and leisure alike. The GMT-Master II also comes equipped with one of Rolex’s very own in-house COSC-certified calibers – making it built to last and endure. Its distinct bi-colored bezel gives the GMT-Master series a unique look of its own, along with its bold large dial that exudes luxury and sophistication. Originally designed with the needs of international pilots in mind, its appeal has since expanded to attract watch collectors beyond the aviation community. Likewise, the GMT Master’s original usage as a travel tool watch has since evolved to make it more fashionable as an accessory to pair with both casual and formal attire alike. Specific models of the GMT series like the blue and black bezel “Batman” and the red and blue bezel “Pepsi” are highly desirable among collectors.
Rolex GMT-Master II “Batgirl” Ref. 126710BLNR featuring a black and blue ceramic bezel and 5-link jubilee bracelet.
Not All that Glitters is Gold
As mentioned, several factors play into how much resale value a Rolex watch will have. Materials used is a big consideration. While gold is usually the highest standard as well as the most expensive watches to begin with, the use of gold is actually less determining of a watch’s investable value than one would think. In fact, Rolex’s steel models are actually more sought after by watch enthusiasts, likely due to their versatility and classic look. The timeless appearance and rugged durability make many of Rolex’s steel watches some of the most popular choices among watch collectors. While it’s difficult to predict whether this will remain the case in future years, it has certainly rung true for quite some time now and will likely be the case for years to come.
Rolex Sky-Dweller Ref. 326934 featuring a blue dial, fluted bezel, and dual time zones.
Profiting From A Rolex Watch
Whether purchasing a brand new or pre-owned Rolex watch, it is almost a guarantee that it will hold its value greatly. What’s more, many models actually increase in value over time. If you can manage to get your hands on a limited-edition model, your chances of making a substantial profit when it’s time to sell it are certainly high. Of course when buying a brand new watch, you can expect that it will depreciate value within the first few years of owning it. Assuming you maintain the integrity and quality of your watch as best you can, and hold onto the original box, papers, and any accessories that came with the watch – you have a good chance of making a solid return on your investment when deciding to sell your Rolex.
Rolex Submariner Ref. 116758SARU in yellow gold, set with blue gems, pink rubies, and diamonds.