Rolex is unarguably the world’s most famous luxury watch brand. No matter if you’re in Russia, France, or the USA, people, even those who don’t know watches very well, often know about Rolex.
Its history stretches far back to the end of the 19th century, and over the years, it has undergone huge changes, come up with revolutionary innovations, and had a huge impact on the luxury watch industry.
Rolex is one of the older watch brands in the world and today, Rolex watches have become a symbol of success, prestige, reliability and extreme quality.
It’s no secret that Rolex watches are expensive. While everything is relative, Rolex watches are among the most prestigious watch brands in the world, never compromising on quality, and being a luxury watch brand, the price of their products naturally reflects that.
But what is particularly interesting is that Rolex watches can actually be investments. In fact, the value of some Rolex watches have significantly increased in value, and if you buy the right Rolex watch, it can prove to be a great investment over time. And if you buy the right watch, you can wear it and enjoy it, and sell it for the same price that you bought it for.
But the value of Rolex watches is, like everything, decided based on supply and demand. Some Rolex watches have skyrocketed in value over the years more than others, and the reason for this is that the demand for them is extremely high, while the supply of them is rather “limited”.
This is also the reason why the Rolex watches that tend to increase most in value are watches that are now discontinued and have been made in limited numbers. It goes without saying that if there would be no demand for secondhand Rolex watches, they wouldn’t hold their value well, and they certainly wouldn’t increase in value. This is the case for many other watch brands, but not with Rolex. At least not right now, and it doesn’t look like the demand for Rolex watches is decreasing anytime soon thanks to Rolex’s strong brand, great brand-awareness, and importance in the watch industry.
In this article, we share the top Rolex watches for investment purposes, and go more into detail about what to think about when buying Rolex watches to make a good purchase, and give you our best tips what to think about to buy Rolex watches that increase in value, and which prove to be great watches for investment. The best part is that while owning them, they can bring you lots of joy, and be enjoyed, and not just be locked up in a safe.
The controversy of Rolex investments
Now, we cannot hide the fact that there is some controversy regarding the topic Rolex and investments. We will not discuss whether you should buy Rolex watches as investments, but the “controversial” thing about Rolex watches as investments is that some collectors argue that Rolex watches are meant to be enjoyed, and if you factor in the financial part of always looking to buy watches that will make good investments, you remove a bit of the charm of watch collecting, and you tend to focus more about the money than on the watches. Thinking about the best Rolex for investment means that you limit yourself in your collection, and resulting in you perhaps not buying the watches that you truly want simply because they are not the best investments.
Do note that this is only us sharing two sides of Rolex for investment. And since we are always looking to help our customers out as much as possible, we want to give a thorough answer to a question that we receive quite frequently. If you are looking for advice regarding the best Rolex to buy for investment, you are more than welcome to contact us!
Quick tips for Rolex investments
- Think about supply and demand
- Think about future collectability
- Professional/sport watches are the most popular and safest bets
- Consider the type of metal- steel is naturally the most timeless and safe as investment.
Think about supply and demand
Rolex, in general, is among the most popular luxury watch brands in the world. As a result, the demand for Rolex watches on the secondhand market is extremely high. But of course, not all Rolex watches are created equal, and therefore, not all watches hold their value equally well. As a result, not all Rolex watches can be considered ”investment pieces” if you’re hoping to own a Rolex watch that increases in value a lot over time. Rolex is among the best watch brands to buy if you want your watch to hold its value.
Of course, it is worth pointing out that just like with all investments, it is impossible to know whether or not a Rolex watch will actually increase in value over time. But the concept simplified is that over time, some Rolex watches can increase in demand for different reasons, and it is particularly when Rolex regularly increases its retail prices, and when the demand for models that are produced in limited quantities, often because of a limited production time, that the value tends to increase the most. As a result, this is something worth taking into consideration when looking for Rolex watches to buy for investment purposes.
The Rolex Datejust, for example, is one of Rolex’s most iconic and popular models, but because they were among the most produced Rolex watches back in the days, the supply of them is also high, and so, therefore, while the value of these watches have increased over time, the cost has not skyrocketed. This is why it is still possible to buy most vintage Rolex Datejust watches for well under 5000 euros. But while a Rolex Datejust certainly can be a good investment, it will most likely not be a Rolex watch that increases dramatically in value within the coming decades, and therefore, it cannot be considered an ideal Rolex model for investment purposes.
It is safe to say that vintage Rolex watches are the best timepieces to buy for investment purposes. The main reason for this is based on the supply and demand principle discussed earlier. Now, there are of course exceptions to this, but we are talking overall and over time.
Modern Rolex watches which are currently in production are just that – in production, and therefore, they’re currently not limited. When a Rolex model is discontinued, it naturally gets increasingly difficult to get a hold of the watch you are looking for as you have to look at different places than the authorized dealers. And while some models that are in production can be difficult to get even from an authorized dealer due to limited production or high demand (or both), they’re still possible to get from these sources, as opposed to discontinued models.
It is with the vintage watches the big Rolex investments can be made because of all the factors mentioned earlier.
These are the key reasons and factors that affect the value increase and ”investability” of Rolex watches:
- High demand
- Low supply
- Limited production
- Rare models with subtle differences (for example the Rolex ”red Submariner” which is a standard Submariner but has the Submariner lettering printed in red instead of white.
- Important models for Rolex and the history, for example, the ”Paul Newman Daytona”, which became popular among collectors after Paul Newman was seen wearing one, and thus also got greater historical importance.
Furthermore, another factor to take into consideration with vintage Rolex watches in condition. As time passes, examples disappear, break, are thrown away (by people who don’t know what they are), and maybe most commonly, are worn and thus get signs of wear. When this happens, parts tend to be changed during repair, the watch gets a worn condition, and most often, the case is polished.
All of these factors affect the value of vintage Rolex watches, as collectors are mainly looking for completely original vintage Rolex watches that are exactly the way they were when they were originally manufactured, with no parts exchanged.
But, as mentioned, because of wear and services, not only does the number of vintage Rolex tend to decrease over time, the number of fully original vintage Rolex watches in great condition tend to get increasingly difficult to come by.
Therefore, if you are going to buy a vintage Rolex watch for investment purposes, it is crucial that you buy fully original watches with all original parts as this tends to have a negative effect on the secondhand value of vintage Rolex watches.
In fact, the difference in value between a fully original Rolex watch and the same Rolex watch with exchanged parts, such as hands and bezel can be significant.
The reason for this is first off that the number of completely original vintage Rolex watches only decreases, but also because non-original parts can harm both the look and vintage feel of the watch.
Furthermore, another factor that affects the secondhand value of vintage Rolex watches is the accessories that come with the watch when bought new. When you buy a Rolex watch, you get a box, certificate, and other papers, such as a user manual. Vintage Rolex watches also come with other accessories such as a cardholder and a hang-tag.
These accessories tend to disappear in a larger degree than parts are being changed, for obvious reasons, and therefore, finding a vintage Rolex watch that is in its original state, including all its original accessories gets increasingly difficult the longer time passes from the time of the watch being discontinued.
This is why a completely original vintage Rolex watch with all its original accessories are the best watches for investment purposes as these are the hardest to come by. When talking about Rolex accessories, the more the merrier, and if you have all original accessories, in particular for watches that are becoming rare, and were produced in limited numbers, it can really have a huge impact on the watch’s value. Having this can increase your watch’s value with as much as 10, 20, 30 percent. Maybe more, depending on the model.
Professional sports watches from Rolex are the most popular and also most historical important timepieces. As a result, vintage sport Rolex watches have proven to be the watches that are the best for investment purposes. It is these watches that have seen the biggest value increases.
What is interesting to point out, though, is that the market changes. Back in the days, the vast majority of people wore smaller, more elegant dress watches, such as the Rolex Oyster. This was because mainly professionals who needed sports watches as tools wore them when they really needed them. Today, sports watches have become extremely popular, which has also meant that the price of vintage dress watches is quite low today. The point is that the market changes, and while sports watches could, in theory, go out of fashion, it is very unlikely, but it just shows that trends and styles change over time, and this is something worth factoring in.
The most popular sports watches from Rolex are the Submariner, Daytona, Sea-Dweller, and GMT-Master (II). To some extent the Yacht-Master as well, but this is far from as popular as the Submariner, for example. There are of course other Rolex sports watches which are popular such as the Sky-Dweller, but this model is still a ”modern” Rolex and has not existed long enough to become vintage, and has thus not lived long enough to see the vintage demand the other sports watches see.
The good news is that not only vintage Rolex sports watches can be investment pieces. In fact, modern Rolex sports watches which are still in production (or recently discontinued) can prove to be investments due to the high demand for them. And in this case, the best bet of watches with the highest probability of increasing in value over time is the sports models listed.
”While the Rolex Datejust and President are among some of the most iconic and recognizable watches in the world, it is Rolex’s sort watches that generally receive the most attention and the highest bids from serious collectors.”
With all of the things mentioned above in mind, another factor to consider is the metal type. Generally, steel watches are the Rolex watches that tend to increase the most in value. While some argue that if the demand for watches would completely disappear, you at least have the precious metal value left, however, that’s not something that the general market sees. At least right now.
The same thought could be applied to Rolex watches with gemstones, but the same thing goes here, where diamond Rolex watches don’t tend to hold its value very well. This could also be because most Rolex professional watches don’t have gemstones.
The fact that Rolex watches made of precious metals or featuring gemstones don’t tend to hold value as well as stainless steel watches is only tied to demand. The demand for precious metal Rolex watches is simply not as high as for steel watches.
So if you’re looking for the best Rolex watches for investment purposes, look towards stainless steel Rolex watches and have that as a rule of thumb, because the vast majority of them won’t skyrocket in value just because the market is not as big, and therefore, the demand isn’t as high. There are of course exceptions, but generally speaking.
The Rolex Submariner is probably the safest bet when it comes to buying Rolex watches for investments.
The Submariner is Rolex’s most iconic and recognized watch, and it is also the Rolex watch which has proven to increase the most in value. The Submariner is sporty, robust, durable, and has a truly timeless design. The Submariner was first launched in the 1950s, but there are still clear similarities between the most modern iterations. This goes to show just how timeless the Submariner is. And therefore it is a great investment piece as the design will never go out of style.
Since the Rolex Submariner has been in production for well over 50 years, Rolex has made many different references and iterations of the Submariner. So while the model name is the same from the beginning to now, there are a large number of Submariner reference numbers, with large or subtle differences. Naturally, the demand for the different reference numbers varies depending on different reasons.
Some Submariner reference numbers are more popular than others and are thus more expensive, and more in demand. And in particular for the vintage Rolex Submariner watches, the production numbers are limited, and the numbers that exist will only become smaller. Therefore, logically, the Rolex submariners will continue to increase in value over time.
If you decide that you want to buy a Rolex Submariner as an investment, make sure you carefully research the serial numbers so you know exactly which reference you want, and so you can then factor in the nature of each reference and decide which references will most likely be best from an investment standpoint.
Obviously, the Submariner references which have been produced in smaller numbers are generally more expensive than those that have had long production times, and as you move further back to the earlier Submariner models, condition starts playing a more and more important role.
Today, it is not uncommon that some Submariner models sell for several hundred thousand, and factoring in that these watches cost a few hundred dollars originally (obviously have to adjust for inflation), it can be considered quite a profitable investment.
If you make the right purchases, modern Submariners can prove to be investments in the future, but right now, it’s difficult to know. For the vintage Rolex watches, on the other hand, you can simply look at how the value of them has increased over the years and then consider the likelihood of the value increasing further. For modern watches, you can’t do that in the same way. But if you look at the history, the Submariner has always increased its value above the retail price over time after the reference is discontinued. It may demand you to wait some decades, but the future will tell.
The Rolex GMT-Master is a truly iconic Rolex watch, and behind the Submariner, it is one of their most popular watches.
There’s a great demand for the Rolex GMT-Master and the GMT-Master II, and the vintage GMT-Masters have been models that have particularly increased in value over time. The first Rolex GMT-Master reference 6542, for example, has increased significantly in value over the years, and can now sell for over a hundred thousand euros.
The Rolex GMT-Master is a watch that plays a very important role in Rolex’s history. The watch was made for Pan American airlines to help the pilots flying across time zones to keep track of two time zones simultaneously.
At the time of its launch, the GMT-Master was a very technical feat, and it carved the way for other brands to follow.
Collectors and watch-enthusiasts alike are obsessed with the GMT-Master (and the later GMT-Master II), and therefore, there has always been a demand for these models.
Just like with the Rolex Submariner, there have been numerous references of the GMT-Master, and today, some are more popular than others because of the different reasons discussed.
Therefore, a Rolex GMT-Master is one of the best Rolex watches to buy for investment, but at the same time, it is important that you carefully research the different references that exist because not all GMT-Masters are created equal.
When talking about the best Rolex watches for investment, we cannot forget the Rolex Daytona.
The Rolex Daytona is one of the most iconic and important Rolex watches, and the world’s most expensive watch ever sold (which happens to be a Rolex in writing moment) is the Rolex Daytona ”Paul Newman”, which was owned by Paul Newman himself. This watch sold at auction for a whopping $17.75 million.
Talk about a great investment.
The Rolex Daytona is a popular watch among collectors, in particular, the vintage Rolex Daytona watches, and just like the Submariner and GMT-Master, the Daytona has many different reference numbers, which, again, have different demand.
The Daytona was first launched in 1963, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, and inspired by racecar drivers and enthusiasts. The value of Rolex Daytona
So, with all of these things in mind, which Rolex to buy for investment? What Rolex is the best investment?
The real answer is that it varies over time. For example, in writing moment, the 50 anniversary Rolex Submariner ref 16610LV has skyrocketed in price over the years. Today, we’re looking at a price of between 10k and 20K euros. Only a few years ago, the Kermit could easily be bought for around 4K to 6K euros. Talk about a solid increase.
But things like these are generally quite hard to predict, and so when talking about the best Rolex investment, the way the market looks today, and with past events factored in, the sports Rolex watches in steel will almost with certainty continue to climb in value.
This article is not meant to tell you exactly what you should do when you want to buy a Rolex as an investment. This article only shares the basic principles of Rolex watches, and what can affect how the value of Rolex watches will evolve over time. Do not see it as a clear-cut guide for how you buy Rolex watches as investments.
Just like with any investment, it is impossible to know whether it is a great deal or not until the future tells.
The article leaves no guarantees on whether the watches mentioned will actually increase in value and prove to be great investments, instead, it is based on how the value of Rolex watches has evolved when looking back.