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 3 minutes

Rolex: The Ultimate Watch brand?

By Thomas Hendricks
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The watch industry wouldn’t be what it is today without Rolex. It’s the first brand people think of when they think of a high-end watch. Rolex created the first water-resistant watch, released the first automatic timepiece, and set the blueprint for the stainless steel sports watch that dominates today’s market. The brand is synonymous with dependability and prestige, and they’ve adorned the wrists of the bold and the beautiful for as long as anyone can remember. You know you’ve made it in life when you own a Rolex. So, while there is no general answer as to whether Rolex is the best watch brand, it is, without a doubt, the most famous watch brand on the market.  

Rolex has produced some of the most iconic and valuable watches of all time.
Rolex has produced some of the most iconic and valuable watches of all time.

Rolex: Iconic Models 

Rolex made a name for itself by outfitting professional adventurers across many disciplines. Our small introduction to the brand is too short to cover even a fraction of the brand’s history, so here’s a quick rundown of the who’s who in their steel sports line-up: You have the Rolex Submariner for divers, the Rolex Daytona for racers, the Rolex GMT-Master II for pilots, the Rolex Milgauss for scientists, and the Rolex Explorer for mountaineers. Not to be forgotten, the brand also has dressier models like the Rolex Datejust and the Rolex Day-Date for everyday wear. Every single one of these timepieces has only grown more collectible over time; as the saying goes, “The best time to buy a Rolex is yesterday.”  

Are there any affordable, entry-level Rolexes?  

Ok, here’s where things get tricky. Rolexes retail for roughly $7,000-§17,000, depending on the model. However, certain references sell for much more than that, even at retail. But as many people know, you can’t just walk into a store and buy one. The waitlists for these watches from authorized dealers are months (if not years) long, and prices on the secondary market go way above what’s listed on the Rolex website. This is a simple case of supply and demand. The company only makes a certain number of watches per year, and for better or worse, every watch that comes out of the factory has a long line of people waiting to buy it. So, your chances of getting one are low unless the balance in your bank account is high.  

If you’re trying to get a more affordable Rolex, you should consider buying a vintage reference. Certain Rolex Datejust or Oyster Perpetual references are available starting at around $5,000. If you are looking for something even more affordable than that, don’t forget to check out listings for smaller watches or two-tone models. Those are less popular and, thus, easier to get. 

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual has gotten more expensive over the years.

Why are Rolex watches so popular?

What’s left to say that hasn’t already been said? Rolex is king. It is the #1 all-around brand, where popularity meets prestige. For many, Rolex is the most exciting brand on Earth, but others feel that the manufacturer’s resistance to change makes it boring. After all, Rolex watches remain largely unchanged from decade to decade, and the brand isn’t known for adding complications like tourbillons or minute repeaters.  

A lesson that many seasoned collectors will share is that, before you know anything else about watches, you probably know what a Rolex is. As you learn a little more, you’ll discover other watches that are even more expensive and more impressive than Rolex; you might even vow never to buy one. But as time goes on, all collectors come to understand why the brand has the reputation it does and why even the most seasoned collectors who have seen it all still own a Rolex. Simply put, it’s a bucket list brand that every enthusiast should experience at some point.  

About the Author

Thomas Hendricks

I didn’t grow up a watch guy, but a few years after graduating from university, I landed a job at the online publication Watchonista as a writer and marketer. “Welcome to the watch world,” my colleagues told me half-jokingly, “no one ever leaves!” Now at Chrono24, I work as a private client advisor, helping people find the perfect watch for major life moments.

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