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Which Rolex Watches Hold Their Value the Best?

Rolex’s history stretches back to 1950, and the brand enjoys ubiquitous recognition in the timepiece world. They are undoubtedly the most recognised name in watchmaking, not only desirable amongst the elite class, but their timepiece technology has been revolutionary, aiding the military, NASA and professional sports players.

Which Rolex Watches Hold Their Value the Best?

They distinctly reflect their prestigious status with a matching price tag. Since their start in 1950, the average price of a Rolex watch has increased steadily over time, and due to their worldwide popularity, there is no sign of this changing anytime soon. With people willing to spend more and more on a Rolex each year, the brand continues to grow and desirability remains high.

Why do Rolex watches hold their value?

Much of Rolex’s success is not just in their exquisite manufacturing and innovative technology, but with the brand’s ability to remain distinctive. Rolex stands out because they do what most brands cannot, they are popular, yet exclusive. Usually, when a brand receives huge popularity, there is less desire for them and they become devalued, however, this is not the case for Rolex. The brand continues to breed more following each year. 

Rolex wisely produces each watch reference for a limited time and in small quantities. This keeps their exclusivity intact and means each reference is widely sought after and difficult to procure. Thus, their value increases as there are far and few of them, which ultimately increases the demand and quality of the watch. 

Do Rolex watches always go up in value?

Although, no Rolex is the same, and so some will hold less value than others. As mentioned, exclusivity is a huge factor. The rarer the watch, the better. This is one of the most likely signs that a Rolex will increase in value and make a good investment. 

The same can also be applied to some second-hand Rolex watches. Although one might think buying a pre-owned Rolex means the watch has less value than a new one, this is not always the case. A pre-owned Rolex model may no longer be in production, or may even be a limited-edition design and so only a few were made. A Rolex in short supply is a sure sign of a good investment, as buyers, collectors, and investors are usually willing to pay a higher price for it. 

Here are a few Rolex watches that have been seen to do best in auction:

Paul Newman Daytona 

Nicknames are abundant in the watch trade. They have become a sort of horological slang created by dealers to easily distinguish between different versions of watches. The ‘Paul Newman’ Cosmograph Daytona gained its infamous nickname because the film actor was often photographed wearing a 1968 Rolex Daytona with a distinctive dial. Alongside being a prolific actor, Newman was also an amateur sports car racer and actually wore his Daytona when racing in the 24 Hours of le Mans and Daytona races.

The Daytona was specifically designed for motor-sport applications, featuring a manual-wind chronograph in an oyster case, with a tachymeter scale on the outer ring and a telemeter scale for distance measurements on the inner ring. The watch had three sub dials to measure elapsed time of up to 60 seconds, 30 minutes and 12 hours. 

The unique dial of Newman’s Daytona, reference 6239, was introduced in 1963 and dubbed as the ‘Exotic’ dial. Its quirky design was not to everyone’s taste, although Newman liked it, and so versions sold in far fewer numbers than the standard Rolex dial - one of the reasons these watches are so scarce and collectable today. Newman’s original Daytona sold for $17.8 at auction. 

Rolex Submariner 

The first ever watch worn by James Bond was a Rolex Submariner reference 6538. It was worn by Sean Connery in the first Bond film: Dr. No in 1961, and the watch’s presence in the film marked the beginning of the special relationship between Bond and Rolex. 

Introduced in 1955, the Submariner is a diving watch, fitting for 007’s screen debut. What’s more, diving had reached a significant high point in the early 60’s and was seen as an activity for the bold and adventurous to enjoy. The diving watch became a symbol of lifestyle. 

The Submariner 6538 featured a new Caliber 1030 movement, a thinner case, more bevelled lugs, and a larger 8mm winding crown. While all Submariner 6538 watches are highly sought after by collectors and watch aficionados alike, Bond’s particular version is unique because of the four lines of text on its dial, which indicates that this version is COSC-certified - compared to the two-line Submariner 6538 models which are not. Not only this, but thanks to its appearance on Connery’s wrist, it is now dubbed the ‘James Bond Submariner,’ making it popular with both Rolex and 007 fans. 

Rolex stopped production of the 6538 in 1959, and today it remains an incredibly rare variation of an already highly collectable Rolex Submariner reference.

Rolex Submariner

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is an iconic Rolex watch and one of the longest standing in the brand’s collection. In 1926, Rolex released its infamous Oyster case. It was the first case in the world that was both water and dust proof. Five years later, Rolex released its first automatic self-winding perpetual movement. In combining these two inventions, the Rolex Perpetual was born and would serve as the foundation of almost every Rolex watch that has followed. 

Besides its defining hermetically-sealed Oyster case and self-winding perpetual movement, the Oyster Perpetual displays the time with running seconds and has no other additional features such as a date display. 

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is regarded to be one of the more entry level Rolex watches. However, the price for one of these wristwatches increases greatly depending on the specific model and its configuration. A solid gold Oyster Perpetual, or collectible vintage ones are amongst the most expensive and will command the higher price points. Furthermore, the current production of Oyster Perpetual watches features brightly coloured dials which is incredibly popular with buyers, and most models have a waiting list. 

Nearly all Rolex Oyster Perpetuals sell for a premium price on the open market and value significantly above their original retail price. 

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 

Rolex Datejust 

The Rolex Datejust is the best-selling Rolex watch of all time. It is regularly considered one of Rolex’s finest works and demand for the Datejust has steadily increased with its age, making it one of the greatest investment pieces in Rolex’s wristwatch collection.

The wristwatch is a strikingly understated two-tone masterpiece and has had many iterations over the years, all of which are sought after by collectors and buyers, making it a great investment. 

The Datejust became a sensation in the timepiece world because of its Oyster casing which was used for the first time in 1926 to become the world’s first waterproof watch. Certain models of the Datejust, such as the 116200, can be customised by choosing from a variety of bracelets, dial colours, concerning metals and more. Its availability in stainless steel was innovative for those who lived an adventurous lifestyle as the metal has a low-carbon alloy that gives the watch higher immunity against damage. The Datejust 4467 is another sought after model for its rarity, which cannot even be repaired by Rolex themselves due to the lack of available parts. 

The Datejust is expected to remain a popular choice amongst collectors worldwide decades from now. With its enduring design and appealing history and character, the Rolex Datejust will likely hold its value long-term.

Rolex Datejust

GMT Master 

Like the Rolex Submariner, the Rolex GMT Master has ties to the world’s favourite secret service agent. The GMT featured on David Niven’s wrist in James Bond’s Casino Royale. Its ties to 007 make it sought after by film fans and watch collectors alike. However, the GMT is in its own right one of the most popular watches in the world and remains one of the best investment opportunities. 

The GMT Master launched in 1955 and its roots can be traced back to the Rolex Zerograohe which was designed as a purpose-tool watch for pilots. The GMT Master however, developed as a navigation instrument for professionals travelling across the globe and was designed to show two different time zones simultaneously. The GMT transcended the purpose-built tool watch into a totem of cosmopolitan and well-travelled life. 

Older and discontinued models fare better at auction, and prices of vintage GMT Masters increase in value with every passing year. The watch collecting community continuously shows interest in the GMT Master’s vintage reference, and the GMT Master II models seem to turn the quickest profits, but some of the best value for money exists in the first two generations of the watch, specifically the ref 16760 and 16719. 

GMT Master

If you’re considering investing in a Rolex watch, keep in mind that the rarer, the better. Oftentimes this means you’ll have a better look finding a Rolex that will appreciate in value with a pre-owned model as they are usually no longer in production. 


Looking for a pre-owned Rolex watch to invest in? Browse our complete collection online today, or get in touch with our watch experts to discuss your unique requirements.