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How To Build A Rolex Collection

Before you start your Rolex collection, we want to offer you some tips and hints on how to build a Rolex collection, which are the must-have Rolex watches, and more.

Thinking about starting a Rolex collection? Maybe you have heard that Rolex watches hold their value and you are keen to get some great pieces into your existing watch collection.  Before you run right out to the nearest boutique, though, there are some things you should know.

For instance, even though this brand builds a million watches a year, with most watches taking a full year to come to fruition, they are in such high demand that you may not find your watch of choice sitting on a shelf somewhere. You may have to wait a few years while you establish a relationship with your local retailer before getting one of the Rolex watches that are worth investing in. This means you will have to buy your third or fourth choice Rolex watch first, as you wait it out.  You might even consider buying a vintage Rolex or two first.

Whichever way you opt to go, before you start your buying, do your research. You may have heard that the Rolex Submariner or the Rolex Daytona are the most sought-after watches, but remember, the key to buying a Rolex watch – or any watch for that matter — that suits your needs is buying what you like first and foremost. If you are a water lover, you may prefer the Rolex Yachtmaster or the Rolex Sea-Dweller, even if another model is more sought after.

Other things to think about when building a Rolex collection include being armed with information about supply and demand of the different lines. Remember that today the sport and professional watches, especially in steel, are in high demand. Here we take a look at six Rolex watch collections that should be on your radar as you embark on this exciting journey.  Remember, though, there are many other Rolex watch lines that you may want to take a closer look at to meet your personal tastes and your budget.

 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Considering a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona for your Rolex collection? You might want to get moving on this quickly because you most likely won’t get a new one for months or even years.  Rolex simply doesn’t make enough Daytona watches to satiate global appetites. While a Daytona is a Rolex watch that holds its value, don’t be fooled by the big million-dollar numbers of Daytona’s such as Paul Newman’s that sold at auction not too long ago. That watch commanded big numbers because of its provenance; it was owned by Paul Newman and was the watch that started the nickname “Paul Newman” Daytona. Today’s average price for an Oystersteel Daytona (if you can find one) is about $12,500. This is a Rolex watch that is likely to increase in value.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex GMT Master II

A Superlative Chronometer (like all of the Rolex watches), the GMT Master II is for people who travel and do business around the world.  It is an all-time favorite thanks to its bi-color ratcheted bezel that enables 24-hour time via a GMT hand. Typically offered on an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet, this is the Rolex watch that has earned the most nicknames because of its colorful bezel. The Rolex Pepsi features a bezel that is blue and red, while the Coke model is red and black. The most recent addition is the Root Beer, with two-tone brown and gold. Many versions are available of this watch, but that doesn’t make them easy to get. The retail price starts at just over  $9,200.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II
Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II

Rolex  Oyster Perpetual Submariner

Easily one of the most historic Rolex watches (alongside the Daytona), the Submariner has been in existence since 1954. The 300-meter water-resistant dive watch is made in multiple iterations, including date models and non-date models. The watch is equipped with a unidirectional 60-minute rotating dive bezel that has a high-tech Cerachrom insert – Rolex’s proprietary ceramic that is corrosion resistant and scratch-resistant. It is typically sold on an Oyster bracelet and further enhanced with a Glidelock extension mechanism that enables expansion for dive suits. Even non-divers love the look of this Rolex watch, which starts at about $7,500 retail.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date

Rolex Sea-Dweller

Another Rolex watch that is highly sought after is the Sea-Dweller. This is the watch that went to the depths of Mariana’s Trench with John Cameron not too long ago on an exploratory mission. A special-edition Sea-Dweller was strapped to the outside of the bathyscaphe. This is one power-house watch and is the largest watch in the Rolex line up at 43mm (44 if it is the Deep Sea edition). It is water resistant to an incredible depth of 4,000 feet (the Deep Sea goes to 12,800 feet and is considered a true king of the sea. It ranges if you can find one, for about $11,400 (more for the Deep Sea model).

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea Dweller
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller

Rolex Sky-Dweller

This is perhaps the most complicated Rolex watch on the market, making it very special. The only other complication as elaborate as this is the Yachtmaster II.  The Sky-Dweller holds several patents and offers an annual calendar and a second-time zone via a GMT function. Originally unveiled in 2012, it was not an immediate collector’s prize. However, once the complexity and technological advancements of this watch became better known and understood, it went into high demand. Its fluted rotating bezel is more than a simple bezel. It is a Ring Command bezel, meaning that by turning it to one of three positions, all of the settings (date, month, local, and reference times) are easily set. Water-resistant to 100 meters, it also offers a cyclops magnifying date window and the gamed Superlative Chronometer certification. Today, a new Rolex Sky-Dweller will set you back anywhere from about $15,000 to $50,000. Attesting to the fact that this Rolex watch holds its value, the same version on the second-hand market is just as expensive as a new one.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller

Rolex Explorer

The Rolex Explorer watch and subsequent versions have been seen on the wrists of many notable adventurers over the past seven decades. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary wore a Rolex Oyster on his wrist when he, along with his Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, became the first to summit Mount Everest. The watch had been developed in 1950, but Rolex wanted to test its performance at high altitudes and became the sponsor of the original Everest Expedition that year, giving  Hillary the watch to wear and test. It performed well and went on to be called the Rolex Explorer. The Rolex Explorer and Explorer II  collection today are still designed for rugged adventurers who go where others don’t. But that’s the charm of the watch to Rolex lovers, who want their own piece of the action. Made of Oystersteel, they are equipped with a Chromalight 24-hour bezel and are water resistant to 330 feet. Prices range from about $7,000 to $9,000 or so.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer II
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer II


About the Author

Roberta Naas - Watch Journalist
Roberta Naas

Roberta Naas is a veteran watch and jewelry journalist who began her career in the early 1980’s, and was the first female watch journalist in the United States. She is the editor and founder of the authoritative watch blog, ATimelyPerspective, has written six books on watches, writes for numerous consumer publications (including Forbes and Elite Traveler) – and always brings forth in her work the essence of what makes watches tick. She tirelessly travels the world in search of watch news and stories that she turns into compelling and enlightening articles.


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