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One brand wears the crown as the most recognizable and well-known watch company in the world: Rolex. The brand has rooted itself so deeply into the global culture, that Rolex watches today are much more than timepieces, but symbols of luxury, power, success, and prestige.
SwissWatchExpo carries a wide range of Rolex watches for men and women. From sport and professional watches, to elegant and classically styled pieces – we can help you find a Rolex watch for every lifestyle and occasion.
Rolex was founded by a visionary named Hans Wilsdorf in 1905. At a time when most men carried pocket watches, the 24 year old Wilsdorf dreamt of creating a brand of elegant yet high-precision wristwatches. With his brother-in-law Alfred Davis, he started the Wilsdorf and Davis watch company in London, which through a stroke of inspiration, would later be named "Rolex" in 1908.
Rolex went on to create resolutely innovative timepieces that would later set the standard for other watch brands.
In 1910, Rolex introduced the first watch ever to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision from the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne, Switzerland.
Then, in 1926, Rolex made the first waterproof watch named the "Rolex Oyster". It famously accompanied British swimmer Mercedes Gleitze as she swam through the English channel, and would emerge from the 10-hour swim in good working condition.
Rolex would go on to create the first watch with an automatically changing date (Rolex Datejust, 1945), the first watch waterproof to 100m (Rolex Submariner, 1953) and several more innovations and milestones in the history of watchmaking.
Rolex has been at the cutting edge of watchmaking technology, and continues to lead the way for other watch brands, until today.
Part of Rolex's ethos is to provide reliable timepieces for man's every pursuit. From the 1950s to the late 1960s, the brand introduced a range of timepieces designed not only to tell time, but to accompany its wearer even in the most extreme conditions. These included timepieces for people engaged in automotive and sport racing, diving, aviation, and even niche activities like spelunking and saturation diving.
These watches not only form Rolex's Professional range today, but are some of the most iconic sport watches ever made, each with their own cult followings.
The Rolex Submariner is the most famous luxury dive watch ever made. It was created to cater to the surging popularity of diving and sea exploration in the 1950s. It introduced the unidirectional rotating bezel which is standard in dive watches today, and was also the first watch rated as waterproof to 100m. Famously worn by Steve McQueen and James Bond, the Rolex Submariner is arguably the most recognizable watch design not just from Rolex, but in watchmaking history.
The Rolex GMT-Master was designed to meet the needs of pilots and long-haul flyers during the Golden Age of aviation. Pan Am Airlines commissioned Rolex for a watch that can display two time zones simultaneously, and the result was the famous bi-colored bezel with a 24-hour scale.
The Rolex Daytona was introduced as a mechanical chronograph that would meet the need of professional race drivers for a legible timepiece. Rolex had been producing chronographs decades before the Daytona, but moving the tachymetric scale from the dial to the bezel, resulted in its technical yet sporty aesthetic. Being the choice timepiece of actor and racer Paul Newman also propelled the Daytona into the premier luxury chronograph that it is today.
The Rolex Air-King was introduced as part of a group of watches designed by the company for the British Air Force and its pilots. It features large 3-6-9 markers, and a prominent minute scale for navigational time readings.
The first Rolex Explorer was introduced to commemorate the pioneering climb to Mt. Everest in 1953. The characteristic black dial, large hour markers, and contrasting 3-6-9 numerals were made to equip mountaineering and polar expeditions.
The second edition of the Rolex Explorer was equipped with a larger case, a 24-hour bezel, and a luminous 24-hour hand to help spelunkers and cave explorers to tell the difference between daytime and nighttime hours.
Created in 1956, the Milgauss (from French mille meaning thousand, and gauss the unit of magnetic field strength) was built to withstand magnetic fields of up to 1,000 gauss. It was designed to meet the demands of scientists, doctors, and engineers for a timepiece that won't be damaged when exposed to magnetism.
Rolex launched the first iteration of the Sea-Dweller in 1967. While Rolex had a very capable dive watch in the Submariner, the Sea-Dweller was developed for extreme depths and longer periods underwater.
The addition of the helium escape valve let helium particles flow out safely from the watch, allowing divers to stay underwater for longer periods. The Sea-Dweller today has a depth rating of 1,220 meters (4,000 feet), while the Deepsea Sea-Dweller can go to depths of up to 3,900 meters (12,800 feet).
The Rolex Yacht-Master was introduced in the 1990s as a luxurious nautically-themed watch, aimed at yachting enthusiasts. In 2007, the Rolex Yacht-Master II was launched, this time as a professional regatta watch that can also be used as a chronograph. Equipped with the Ring Command Bezel, the wearer can accurately sync the watch with the starting sequence of a yacht race.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller is the brand's most complicated timepiece, combining Rolex's first annual calendar complication, with a dual-time function. Designed for global travelers, the Sky-Dweller displays an annual calendar, a second time zone, and a jump date, in addition to the standard time.
While making watches for specific activities, Rolex has also mastered the art of creating watches in their most timeless form. Rolex has a range of watches that are both reliable yet elegant in design, and look right at home in both casual and dressier occasions.
The Oyster Perpetual forms the essence of the Rolex watch as we know it today. It is defined by its discreet design, championing the waterproof Oyster case, and the self-winding Rolex Perpetual movement. It features a clean dial without a date aperture, creating a perfectly symmetrical look.
The Rolex Datejust made history as the first automatic wristwatch whose date instinctively changed at midnight, and continues to make waves today as the brand's best-selling watch of all-time. Available in a wide variety of feature sets – from different sizes, metals and dial designs, to choices of bezel and bracelet types – there is a Rolex Datejust to suit every wrist.
The Rolex Day-Date was created to symbolize the pinnacle of the brand's watchmaking prowess. Exclusively crafted in precious metals – 18k yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, or platinum – the Day-Date was the first waterproof and self-winding watch to display the day of the week in 26 different languages.
Equipped with the three-piece "Presidential" bracelet, it became known as "The President" in watch circles, when it became the choice timepiece of several US Presidents and world leaders.
The Cellini is Rolex's line of dress watches. Named after Italian goldsmith and sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, it is home to Rolex's non-Oyster watches, focusing instead on avant-garde designs for its vintage collection, and refined dress watches for its contemporary collection.
Aside from fan-made nicknames like "Batman", "Kermit" and "Pepsi", Rolex watches are easily identified among watch collectors through their reference numbers.
Each model has a reference number that provides information about which collection it belongs to, its material, appearance, and production period.
A Rolex reference number can be broken out into three sections: the first two to three numbers indicate the Rolex model type, the fourth indicates the bezel type, while the fifth and sixth number indicate the watch material. Below are the respective codes per Rolex model:
|Datejust||16, 162 & 1162|
|Daytona Manual Wind||62|
|Daytona Cosmograph||165 & 1165|
|Explorer I||14 & 124|
|Explorer II||16, 165 & 265|
|Submariner (No Date)||55, 140 & 1140|
|Submariner (Date)||16, 166 & 168|
|Sea Dweller||16, 166, 1166 & 1266|
|GMT-Master||16, 65, 167|
|GMT-Master II||167, 1167 & 1267|
|Milgauss||65, 10, 1164|
|President Day-Date||65, 66, 18, 180, 182 & 183|
|Oyster Perpetual||10, 140 & 142|
|Airking||55, 140, 116 & 142|
|Date||15 & 150|
|Yachtmaster||166, 686 & 696|
|Midsize Oyster Perp DJ||68, 682|
|Ladies Oyster Perpetual||67, 671, 672|
|Ladies Date||65, 69, 691 & 692|
|Ladies Datejust||65, 69, 691 & 692|
There are a number of ways to tell if a Rolex watch is genuine. One of the guiding principles is that Rolex watches are some of the finest made in the world. So, if any detail of your watch is sloppily or cheaply done, that is a sign that your watch might be counterfeit.
Be sure to check out our guide on How to Tell if A Rolex is Real, for hallmarks of a genuine Rolex. We also advise clients to only go to an official Rolex retailer for authentication.
The price of a pre-owned Rolex watch can vary greatly depending on the model, its materials and design, and the overall condition of the timepiece.
It is not uncommon for pre-owned or used Rolex to cost significantly more than their brand new counterparts. This could either be because: the watch is rare or vintage and there are less of them in existence; or because there is an overwhelming demand for it, like watches with years-long waitlists at authorized retailers.
Rolex watches retain their value reasonably well. However, we don't recommend buying any watch for the sole purpose of making it an investment – that is, buying it only to sell it later for a profit – as it's not guaranteed that their price will appreciate later on.
It is generally recommended to have watches serviced every 3-5 years, but Rolex recommends professional servicing every 10 years. This all depends on real-life usage of the timepiece. However, there are tell-tale signs that your watch needs a service sooner rather than later. Here are Signs It's Time for Watch Maintenance.
SwissWatchExpo offers a full range of services, from basic maintenance to major repairs and restorations. We repair all Swiss luxury watch brands – and Rolex is our specialty! We have invested in a state-of-the-art service center, and are staffed with proficient horologists. When you choose SwissWatchExpo, your watch will be in the hands of a trained master watchmaker from start to finish. Find out more about our stringent Repair Services.
The cost will depend on the model and the state of your watch. Upon receiving your watch, it will be examined by our master watchmakers, who will draw up an estimate of the work to be done. Only when the estimate is approved shall we begin any servicing and repair work.
At SwissWatchExpo, we believe that buying a luxury timepiece pre-owned creates the maximum possible value for the customer.
Much like buying a car, watches can only be sold as "brand new" once by an authorized dealer. Once your watch leaves the dealership, it is already considered pre-owned, whether or not it is worn after that. Consequently, there will also be a certain level of depreciation when it moves from "brand new" to "pre-owned".
By buying a watch pre-owned, you avoid taking this initial depreciation. While this is not always the case – you'll find that vintage Rolex watches tend to soar in value over the years – the general rule is that a pre-owned Rolex watch is less expensive than a brand new piece.
Buying a pre-owned Rolex also opens up a wider range of models and price points. Buying brand new limits your choices to current models, whereas the pre-owned market can give you a vast array of models, including previous versions of watches, limited editions, and even discontinued styles.
Pre-owned watches can also be bought in mint and excellent condition. At SwissWatchExpo, we are committed to delivering watches in "like new" condition, so every watch that we offer for sale is first inspected, and restored if needed, by our trained watchmakers. Such restorations are standard in the industry, and we often hear from clients that they can't believe the watch isn't new! Lastly, if you prefer your watch to be as new as possible, there are watches in the pre-owned market that have been kept unworn.
Get in touch with our sales experts – we'll help you find the Rolex timepiece that best suits your needs, taste, budget and occasion.
A directory of the most frequently searched questions about Rolex watches.
Rolex’s most affordable collection is the Rolex Oyster Perpetual. This line consists of exclusively time-only watches without date displays, all crafted from 904L stainless steel (and more recently, Oystersteel). They feature matching steel smooth bezels and Oyster bracelets.
Because of its barebones and timeless design, it is considered the entry-level watch of the Rolex catalog.
The price of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual is typically correlated to its size. Current collections come in the following sizes – 28mm and 31mm for the ladies, 34mm as a unisex size, and 36mm and 41mm for men. There has also been a 39mm model of the Oyster Perpetual which was recently discontinued in 2020.
2021 retail prices start at $5,200 for the 28mm model, and $6,100 for the 41mm model. The least expensive models will be the smallest 28mm versions, while the most expensive are the largest models with 41mm cases. This holds true for both retail and pre-owned markets, but in general, a discount can be enjoyed in the secondary market.
In 2020, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual was introduced in bright new lacquered dials, that have made them more popular than ever, and therefore difficult to find at a retail level. If this happens and waitlists start to build, then it also follows that prices of pre-owned models will start to increase.
As of 2021, the most expensive Rolex watch in current production is the Rolex GMT-Master II “Ice”. This version of the GMT-Master II is crafted in 18k white gold, and entirely covered in brilliant cut diamonds on the case and lugs, and baguette cut diamonds on the bezel. The dial features a wave pattern of alternating white gold and pave diamonds. Retail pricing has set the value of this watch to $485,350 USD, making it the most expensive watch on the market.
If we are to consider all Rolex watches from past to present, then the Paul Newman Daytona earns the spot of being the single most expensive Rolex ever sold. The actual watch of racer and actor Paul Newman, a ref 6329 with an ‘exotic’ dial, was sold at auction for $17.8 million in October 2017. The connection with Newman himself, plus the popularity of exotic dial Daytonas, fetched the record-breaking price.
The Rolex President Day-Date is considered the flagship watch of the brand. These models are made exclusively in 18k yellow, white or Everose gold and in platinum, and paired with the famous three-link President bracelet. Its craftsmanship and heritage make it one of the higher-end watches in the Rolex catalog.
Prices for the Rolex President Day-Date are correlated with its size and materials. 2021 Retail prices start at $33,150 for a 36mm model in 18k yellow gold, while Everose and white gold models start at $35,850. Prices move up for the 40mm models, with a starting retail price of $36,550 for the yellow gold model, and $39,250 for the 18k white gold and Everose gold models.
Platinum models and enhancements such as diamond bezels and hour markers, and special dial versions (such as ombre, mother of pearl and turquoise) put Day-Date models into “price upon request” territory.
Prices for used Rolex Day-Date watches start at $17,000 for the 36mm models, and increase from there based on the metal, age, size, dial / bezel / bracelet configuration, and overall condition. With the exception of some very rare or collectible references or models, previous production and vintage models typically sell for less than brand new models on the pre-owned market.
Pawn shops are in business for people who need money in a hurry, but this level of convenience actually comes at a cost. The business model of pawn shops is centered on buying items at extremely low prices, then selling them significantly higher than the price they bought them for. For this reason, selling or buying your Rolex at a pawn shop means there is very little chance that you’ll get the true market value of your timepiece.
We recommend that you buy, sell or trade with a reputable watch dealer. At SwissWatchExpo, we have expert watchmakers and industry experts whose knowledge and experience allow us to determine the most accurate pricing information.
Rolex manufactures its watches using a wide variety of metals and alloys, but the most prominent material of all is platinum. It is considered the noblest of metals because of its rarity and radiant luminosity. Since the early 2000s, Rolex has been producing their own Platinum 950 alloy in their in-house foundry. Their proprietary alloy is mixed with ruthenium, which ensures a robust construction and long-lasting finish. That said, platinum Rolex watches are priced notches above their steel and gold counterparts.
Platinum Rolex models can be found in the Yacht-Master, Daytona, Day-Date, and Datejust 28 collections, with platinum Daytona models being the most expensive.
How much a Rolex Submariner costs depends on several factors:
Where you purchase it – Authorized dealers adhere to an official price list published by Rolex. However, getting your Rolex Submariner is not as easy as walking into the store and buying one. With demand currently outpacing supply, it is unlikely that a Submariner is in stock at your AD – the more likely scenario is that you will be invited to join a wait list. As of 2021, current production Rolex Submariners retail from $8,100 for the steel No-Date model and up to $39,650 for the 18k white gold model.
On the secondary market, you can browse through a wider assortment of Rolex Submariner watches – from previous and current productions to vintage and unworn models. Given that the secondary market offers hundreds of variations from almost seven decades of the Submariner’s history, the prices of a used model can vary greatly from four to six figures.
Material, age, condition - Prices for Rolex Submariners vary substantially depending on the following characteristics:
In general, prices are lowest for stainless steel models, followed by two-tone or stainless steel and gold models. The most expensive Submariners are those made of solid 18k yellow gold and white gold.
Provenance and collectability – While the model and reference number significantly determine the price of a Rolex, there are models that are exceptions to the rule. Collectible models such as green bezel Submariners (Hulk and Kermit), vintage models associated with pop culture (such as James Bond watches) or rare milestone models (such as the Red Submariner) fetch higher prices than their counterparts.
The Rolex Daytona collection offers a vast range of differences between models, with almost countless permutations of different metals, bezel materials, dial designs, gemstones, and varying degrees of collectability among the references.
Again, three major factors come into play:
Where you purchase it - Just like the Rolex Submariner, the Rolex Daytona is in high demand, and one cannot expect to walk into an AD and purchase one immediately. Due to this overwhelming demand for the Rolex Daytona, prices in the secondhand market can be almost twice as much as retail prices.
Model and reference number – while the general rule is that steel models cost less than those made of precious metals, and older models will cost less than new releases, the Rolex Daytona is an exception.
Two-tone editions are the most affordable and easily available entry point into the realm of Daytona watches. By contrast, stainless steel Daytona models are extremely in demand. As of 2021, the retail price for the stainless steel Rolex Daytona with a ceramic bezel (ref 116500) starts at $13,700, but prices on the secondary market can be more than double. However, purchasing it pre-owned means receiving your Daytona quickly, rather than having to wait several years when purchasing at an AD.
While less highly coveted, Daytona models in solid gold and platinum, and special edition gem-set models (like the Rainbow Daytona) are the most expensive editions due to their material’s value.
Provenance and rarity – Vintage Daytonas are much more expensive than their modern counterparts because a limited number of them were produced in the 1960s and 1970s. Moreover, select editions, such as the Paul Newman Daytona, come with exotic dials that are more difficult to find, and a storied connection to the famous actor and racer that has only fanned the flames of this Daytona legend. The Paul Newman Daytona chronograph is one of the most expensive vintage watches on the market, with prices reaching well into the six-figure range.
Since developing their own in-house foundry in the early 2000s, Rolex has created the 18k gold alloys and metals used for their watches.
Rolex exclusively uses 18k yellow gold, a princely alloy composed of 750‰ of pure gold, mixed with elements such as silver and copper necessary to produce different types of 18k gold: yellow, white, and Everose, the brand’s exclusive pink alloy.
The price of a vintage Rolex watch is influenced by many factors. This is why it is not unusual to see a wide range of different prices for the same exact reference of a vintage Rolex.
As with any watch, authenticity and condition are paramount in determining its price. However, when it comes to vintage Rolex watches, it is very important to distinguish between an authentic model and a period-correct model.
An authentic Rolex model has all of its components made by Rolex. Meanwhile, a period-correct model would have all of its components correct for the time it was produced. When Rolex parts are replaced over the years, it can happen that a vintage model is authentic, but no longer period correct.
A Rolex watch that is as close as possible to its original condition (with the original dial, hands, crystal, bracelet, etc.) will always fetch much higher prices than one with aftermarket or replacement components from another era.
The Rolex Datejust has been a staple of the Rolex catalog since its debut in 1945, making it one of the brand’s oldest models still in production. Its classic design – with an Oyster case, date aperture at 3 o’clock, and a choice between Oyster and Jubilee bracelets – has changed very little over the decades.
This classic design has allowed Rolex to make it one of their most comprehensive collections. It comes in a variety of sizes – from 26 to 41mm in diameter – and with seemingly endless combinations of metals, dial colors and textures, and a choice between smooth and fluted bezels, Arabic and Roman numerals, and Oyster, Jubilee and President bracelets.
With a classic design and a wide variety of styles on offer, the Rolex Datejust is a great watch for those who want an all-occasion timepiece.
The Rolex Datejust 41 is a modern iteration of the classic Datejust. Introduced in 2016, it replaces the Datejust II, whose bulkier case was streamlined to have the same proportions as the Datejust 36. It is available in a wide range of metals – from stainless steel, to Rolesor rose, or white gold, and with either a fluted or polished bezel. It also comes with the new generation Caliber 3235, whose blue Parachrom hairspring adds to the movement's robustness and precision.
The Rolex Datejust 41 is a good choice for those seeking the classic looks of the Datejust with modern upgrades - a larger size and an updated movement.
Cartier and Rolex are both well-regarded watchmakers. Both manufactures have their own range of iconic designs, from dress watches to purpose-built timepieces for scuba diving or racing.
Cartier’s edge over Rolex is its wider range of dress timepieces, from the iconic Tank to more recent models like the Pasha, Panthere, and Ballon Bleu. As a renowned jeweler, they have mastered the art of making watches that wear like jewelry.
Rolex, on the other hand, has an unparalleled portfolio of sports and tool watches. Every single one has been tested in the most extreme conditions, and yet their classic designs make them suitable enough to be worn every day. All Rolex watches are also certified chronometers, meaning they meet the highest standards for precision and accuracy. For this reason, Rolex watches cost considerably more and have better resale value.
That said, the best watch to buy comes down to what you want out of your watch, and what best fits your wrist and your lifestyle.
The Rolex Cellini is the brand’s dedicated line of dress watches. In contrast to the recognizable design of Rolex’s Oyster watches, the Cellini stands out with its traditional dress watch design.
The modern Cellini collection comes in a range of 39mm watches in 18k white and Everose gold. Finer details such as lacquered and guilloché dials, fine-tipped Arabic numerals and thin Roman numerals, and tapered lancet hands characterize the look of this series. The Rolex Cellini is a perfect finishing touch to a dressy or formal outfit.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is an undisputed classic. Defined by its discreet and no-frills design, Oyster Perpetual watches come in stainless steel and time-only models. They also come in a wide range of sizes for men and women – the 28mm and 31mm watches were designed with women in mind, while the 34, 36, 39 and 41mm watches are made for men, but lend a stylish oversized look for women.
The Oyster Perpetual’s versatility is further enhanced by the wide range of dial colors available – there are more conventional color options like black, blue, and grey; and in 2020, lacquered options were added in striking shades like yellow, green, coral red, candy pink, and turquoise.
With its versatile style and attainable prices, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is a great entry-point to the world of Rolex watches.
The Explorer is Rolex’s original sports watch. Introduced in 1953, it traces its beginnings to the prototype Oyster watch used in the pioneering ascent to Mount Everest. A black dial with large Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock, and a prominent inverted triangle at 12 o'clock have been defining features of the Explorer since its debut.
It has been made in stainless steel since its debut, but now comes in a two-tone steel and gold version introduced in 2020. Its no frills design and time-only dial makes the Explorer Rolex’s most affordable and wearable sports watch models.
The Explorer exudes a sporty character but still looks elegant enough to be worn with a suit and tie. This makes it a great choice for people who want an all-rounder watch.
The Rolex Lady Datejust is the brand’s most popular collection of watches made for women. These watches come in the timeless design of the Rolex Datejust, but sized down to 26-31mm sizes to fit women’s wrists. It comes in a wide array of materials – including 18K yellow, white or Everose gold, as well as 904L stainless steel or 950 platinum.
The classic construction is complemented by a variety of dial designs in different colors, textures, and decorations – each possessing its own character. Due to its diverse nature, there is a Rolex Lady Datejust suitable for almost any occasion, making it the top choice of women who want a Rolex.
Most Rolex watches come with self-winding or Perpetual movements, which use the motion of the wearer’s wrist to stay wound. If worn on a regular basis, a Rolex watch with a self-winding movement does not need to be wound.
However, if you don’t plan on wearing your Rolex watch regularly, it will eventually stop. In order to keep your watch wound, and to keep complications such as date and annual calendars set, your option is to use a watch winder. A watch winder is a box that gently keeps a watch in motion when it is not being worn. With the watch in constant motion, they help prevent you from having to wind and set the watch again, and this is certainly beneficial when it comes to watches that can take a long time to get right – such as annual and perpetual calendars or moon phases.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing a watch winder is to choose one with adjustable turns per day, so you can avoid excessive movements that can harm the movement.
Rolex does not recommend any particular watch winder. If you do choose to get a watch winder, our advise is to look for two important attributes: the ability to rotate in different directions (sideways, clockwise, counterclockwise) and one with a timer, to allow you to set the number of rotations and let the watches rest periodically. The former will ensure that the watch is getting equal amounts of movements across its surface, rather than on just one side; while the latter will allow you to prevent excessive movements that can harm the inner workings of your watch.
It is not uncommon for Rolex owners to be without the paperwork. In many cases they have bought the watch pre-owned, or simply are not in the habit of keeping their watch’s box and papers.
Rolex will service a watch without its papers, but it will first go through authentication and a routine check to see if it has been stolen. Genuine Rolex watches will be serviced even without papers.
At SwissWatchExpo, we also stand ready to service your watch in our state of the art service center. We offer a full range of services, from basic maintenance to major repairs and restorations, all performed by proficient and trained watchmakers. Find out more about our stringent Repair Services.
A complete service at Rolex will involve the disassembly of the watch – from the bracelet to the movement. The movement, case, and bracelet will follow separate paths of servicing before being assembled again.
The movement will have all of its parts dismantled and assessed, and those that no longer fit Rolex standards will be replaced. Then, each component will be placed in an ultrasonic bath to remove dirt. They will then be completely dried and lubricated.
The bracelet, bezel, and case will be re-polished or satin-finished according to their original finish.
After all these, all the parts will be reassembled and tested for waterproofness and precision. A final control is performed on the reassembled watch to ensure that the watch is in perfect working condition.
There are several Rolex watches that have only been produced in a few pieces, but according to records, the 3346 ‘Zerographe’ Chronograph tops them all. This piece dates back to 1937, and was the first attempt of Rolex to create its own in-house chronograph movement.
It comes in a 32mm Oyster case and an Oyster screw-down crown. It is also the first ever Rolex fitted with a rotating bezel, and it comes with a series of intricate markings: Arabic numerals at 5, 10, 20, 25, 35, 40, 50 and 55; black markers for 56 of the 60 indices, then red markers at 60, 15, 30, and 45.
So rare is the Zerographe that only four references have been identified, and even Rolex literature does not fully explain the origin of the watch.
Rolex does not make all-black watches straight from its factory. If you do see them in the market, these are Rolex watches customized with PVD or DLC coating for a “blacked out” look.
There are two methods usually used to achieve this – the PVC or Physical Vapor Deposition, where coating is applied to a metal that happens in vacuum. The other is DLC or Diamond-Like Carbon, which is also a PVC process that creates a strong barrier between the coating and the metal, through the use of carbon.
It must be noted that such customizations, as with any aftermarket additions, can damage the resale value of your Rolex watch.
The largest case size offered in Rolex’s lineup is 44mm and only two models come in this size: the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller (ref 126660) and the Rolex Yacht-Master II (ref 116688, 116681, 116680 and 116689).
Before the famed ‘Oyster’ watch from 1926, Hans Wilsdorf’s first wristwatch chronometer was created in 1910. It was a watch supplied by a Swiss manufacturer called Aegler, and came with a ’11-ligne Rebberg movement with lever escapement’. Neither its certificate or the watch itself mentions ‘Rolex’ but Hans Wilsdorf had described it as Rolex’s very first chronometer.
It was followed up in 1914 with a ‘Keyless Crystal 11-Ligne Bracelet Watch’, a tiny ladies model equipped with a chronometer, which finally had ‘Rolex’ printed on the dial.
Rolex has never made a titanium watch for commercial release. However, in 2020, the company provided Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainslie with a titanium prototype of the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in a titanium finish. It looks very similar to the original 18k white gold model with an Oysterflex bracelet, only it comes with a matte finish and a NATO-style strap.
There is speculation that this prototype might mean that Rolex is considering making a watch in titanium.
The thinnest Rolex watch ever made was aptly called the Veriflat. The ref 6512 features a water resistant Oyster case measuring 34mm, but with an exceptionally thin 9mm profile. To achieve this, Rolex engineered a recessed case back so that the movement can sit flat. The Rolex Veriflat was produced from 1954 to 1962, and considering that Rolex was still manufacturing bubbleback cases during this time, it was quite an accomplishment.
Every year, Rolex presents new designs and updated versions of its current catalog. Usually, the updates involve new and improved movements, refined and original dial designs, and tweaks to their classic designs.
The last time that Rolex released an entirely new collection was in 2012, with the launch of the Rolex Sky-Dweller. It took two decades for Rolex to release a new watch (the last time was in 1992 with the Yacht-Master). The Rolex Sky-Dweller also created significant buzz, being the first Rolex watch to feature a true complication – the annual calendar.
The very first James Bond, played by Sean Connery, wore a Rolex Submariner ref 6538 in four of the Bond films he starred in. In succeeding movies, Agent 007 has been seen wearing brands like Rolex, Gruen, Seiko, and Tag Heuer – but the most prominent of these watches was still the Submariner.
In 1995, the Omega Seamaster appeared on the wrist of Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye, signalling the start of Omega’s partnership with the Bond film franchise.
Omega has been known to manufacture special watches for the film, and release limited editions sold to the public in anticipation of the upcoming Bond film. The relationship continues to this day, with the latest James Bond, actor Daniel Craig, sporting a titanium Omega Seamaster in No Time To Die (2021).
The 24 Hours of Daytona race, also known as the Rolex 24 At Daytona, is an endurance sports car race. It is held annually at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. There is usually a live stream of the event that is aired on NBC Sports.
There is no official Rolex literature on Mickey Mouse watches. The consensus among experts is that Rolex watches with Mickey Mouse dials are genuine Rolex watches, but with aftermarket dials placed on the watch. Most of these watches are Rolex Precision Oysterdate models in steel, made in the 1970s, with Mickey Mouse printed on the silver dial.
The Rolex Submariner’s original design, introduced in 1954, has stood the test of time, and has become the reference for many diver’s watches.
Many refer to the Tudor Black Bay as the ultimate Rolex Submariner alternative. Tudor was in fact started by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, as a line of watches with the same quality as Rolex, but with a more affordable price point.
The Tudor Black Bay is inspired by the Tudor Submariner, a collection of diver’s watches produced by the brand from 1954 – 1995, which were adapted from the Rolex Submariner. The shape of its case, 60-minute graduations on the bezel, luminous pip at 12 o’clock, and black dial are strikingly similar to the Rolex Submariner, but the addition of the snowflake hands gives the Black Bay a unique look.
Rolex does not produce digital watches. However, during the Quartz Crisis, Rolex did make a couple of quartz watches – these include the Beta 21, and several versions of the Oysterquartz, divided into the Oysterquartz Datejust and Oysterquartz Day-Date lines.
There were a total of around 25,000 Oysterquartz watches produced from 1977 to 2001, which make them relatively rare Rolex models to own.
Invicta is technically not a luxury watch company, but a Swiss watchmaker that makes well-crafted and robust timepieces at budget prices.
The Invicta Pro Diver, specifically the ref 8926OB, is their homage to the Rolex Submariner. The design borrows heavily from the Submariner with its knurled bezel, bezel insert with 60-minute graduations, inverted triangle at 12 o’clock, and a date window with lens at 3 o’clock. It first appeared in the market around 1991.
It has become a trend for Apple watch owners to add custom faces to their watch. Apps like Clockology can be used to display designs from other brands such as Rolex on the face of the Apple watch. To do this, one must download the app from the Apple App Store and install it on their iPhone.
Similar to Apple watches, the Samsung Galaxy Watch allows wearers to display custom watch faces. Android apps like Watchmaker have a range of designs from brands such as Rolex that can be displayed on the Galaxy watch. To do this, one must go to the Play Store and download Watchmaker on your Android phone.
Generally speaking, Tudor is the brand that mirrors Rolex best. Established by Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, Tudor was launched as a sub-brand that offers the same dependability as Rolex, but at more affordable prices.
Tudor watches are made using similar materials as Rolex watches, but there are differences in style and design, and more importantly, with the movements used.
As Tudor takes a lot of inspiration from its heritage designs, it is more so that Tudor’s modern watches have more similarities with Rolex’s vintage watches.