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Best Rolex Models for Investment: [year]’s Top Picks!

Chris, Chief Editor

Updated Feb 14, 2024

Human experts evaluate all our content

Imagine buying a watch today that could be worth double its price in 10 years. Intrigued? Me too, and I’m on the lookout for the best role models to invest in!

Historically, some Rolex models have seen appreciation exceeding 15% annually, offering a tangible quantification of potential returns. For instance, prices for Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet watches have appreciated by an average of 20% a year since mid-2018, outpacing the S&P 500 Index! 

The average price of a used Rolex watch has gone from less than $5,000 in 2011 to more than $13,000 by the end of 2021, and I’m for sure having a percent of my net worth in high-end luxury watches.

Rolex value increase over the last 10 years
source: https://www.bobswatches.com/rolex-investments.pdf

Just be aware that, as with any investments, watch values fluctuate based on market trends and global economic conditions. Another thing is the need to regularly service your Rolex investments by authorized Rolex centers (every 5-10 years), which adds to the overall investment costs.

Besides Rolex, luxury cars, art, and other collectibles can be viable investment options, each with unique risks and rewards.

best rolex model for investment

Should You Invest In Rolex For [year]?

Given their enduring appeal and consistent market performance, let’s understand why Rolex watches are considered investments to begin with, before you decide to include them in your investment portfolio. Or look into an affordable luxury watch at the $2000 price point.

Why Rolex Is A Desirable Brand

Rolex has always been THE luxury watchmaker, known for its precision, craftsmanship, and timeless design. Their watches embody prestige and status, serving as exquisite timepieces and symbols of success.

It’s a sign between high-value men that to afford a Rolex, you must be on a certain level, which gets you “into the rooms.”

Investing in Rolex is predicated on the brand’s historical resilience in the luxury watch market. Models like the Submariner and Daytona have seen considerable annual price increases—showing their unwavering appeal and solidifying their status as investment watches.

And we can’t forget that Rolex is always short on supply and high in demand, a synonym for the Rolex brand. This state has been kept throughout the years, much like gold and Bitcoin, with a supply never exceeding certain thresholds.

The Current Market State Of Rolex Watches

As of [year], the market for Rolex watches remains robust, with several hot models exhibiting strong potential for sound investments.

The current range of Rolex’s portfolio includes pieces known to hold or increase in value, such as the Air King and Explorer.

We also recognize pre-owned classics like the Daytona “Paul Newman” and the Submariner “James Bond” fetching impressive sums.

Analysis suggests this appreciation trend will likely continue, rendering certain Rolex models excellent investment choices and investment pieces likely to thrive amidst any economic fluctuations.

Rolex Models To Invest In

So the question begs to be asked: what Rolex models are the absolute best to invest in that hold value over time?

Our market analysis identified specific Rolex models that stand out for their investment potential, focusing on those with a blend of historical significance and market trends. Let’s go through these distinguished choices.

Submariner Models

Rolex Submariner

The Submariner is a cornerstone in Rolex’s range, particularly the discontinued 40mm versions.

For example, the Ref. 116610LN, with its ceramic bezel and luminous Chromalight display, offers the same features as newer models but at more accessible prices.

Those looking for a classic feel may turn to the Ref. 16610 or Ref. 14060, which are the final iterations with the original aesthetic before the introduction of the Super Case.

Two-tone aficionados will appreciate the Ref. 16613, with options for blue or black dials and bezels, presenting an attractive price point for stainless steel and 18k yellow gold Rolex.

Oyster Perpetual Models

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

With the 2020 updates, the Oyster Perpetual line saw a surge in attention. Notably, vivid dial variants of the 41mm Ref. 124300 and 36mm Ref. 126000 have seen significant market appreciation.

The discontinued 39mm Ref. 114300 comes as a highly sought-after piece due to its short production run and desirable size, while the previous generation 36mm Ref. 116000 gains recognition for offering comparative value with outstanding timekeeping.

Explorer Models

Rolex Explorer

The 50th anniversary of the Explorer II and the return to 36mm sizing for the Explorer have sparked interest in models like the Ref. 214270, now the sole 39mm model and, therefore, unique in the lineup.

The older Ref. 14270 has appreciated in value as well. Regarding the Explorer II, Refs. 16570 and 16550 remain cherished for their compact size and distinctive design contrasts compared to the updated Ref. 226570.

GMT-Master Models

Rolex GMT-Master

The GMT-Master II remains a beloved traveler’s companion, and values soar for vintage references and discontinued models.

The Ref. 16750, for instance, captures the essence of earlier GMT-Masters, while the Ref. 16710 impresses with its versatile aesthetic.

The Ref. 116710LN is now seen as a jewel among collectors, offering a classic look with the modernity of a ceramic bezel.

Datejust Models

Rolex Datejust

The Lady Datejust enchants with its elegance, catering to a broad audience, while the standard Datejust’s varied dial colors, materials like yellow and white gold, and configurations such as diamond bezels enhance its allure as an evergreen investment.

Day-Date President Models

Rolex Day-Date President

Regarded as a symbol of success, the Day-Date President holds its status with presidential gravitas.

Its bold elegance, matched with options in gold and platinum, ensures this model’s position as a perpetual favorite.

Sea-Dweller Models

Rolex Sea-Dweller

Robust, functional, and iconic, the Sea-Dweller’s design and features, like the helium escape valve and substantial water resistance, mark it as an excellent investment, particularly in models that denote significant milestones in the brand’s history.

The demand for these professional dive watches among collectors is steadily rising.

Air-King Models

Rolex Air-King

With its magnetic field resistance and aeronautical heritage, the stainless steel Air-King with a black dial is favored for its simplicity and iconic design.

As a sports watch, it is both functional and historically significant, making it an attractive entry point for new investors.

What To Look For In The Best Rolex Watches For An Investment

When seeking the best Rolex for investment, focus on rarity, demand, authenticity, and condition, which significantly influence potential returns.

Rarity and Exclusivity

Rare and exclusive Rolex watches often carry the potential for higher investment returns. Identify models produced in limited quantities or with unique features, distinguishing them from standard collections.

For instance, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Ref. 114300 has gained attention for its rarity.

Popularity and Demand

Investing in a Rolex also depends on its popularity. Models in high demand, like the Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 16710, have a known track record for appreciation.

When assessing market trends, determine which models collectors and enthusiasts favor.

Original Parts and Documentation

Emphasize the importance of originality. Watches with original parts and proper documentation retain value better.

A complete set includes the watch, box, and papers, which verify authenticity and significantly enhance a watch’s investment potential.

Condition and Potential Future Appreciation

Lastly, the condition is imperative for future appreciation. Meticulously evaluate the wear and maintenance history to ensure the Rolex is in excellent condition.

We look for watches that promise value growth, considering historical price performance and brand prestige.

How To Sell And Profit From Your Rolex Watch

Selling a Rolex watch can be lucrative if you approach it strategically. We’ll guide you through the sale process, including timing, identifying the most suitable buyers, and optimizing your negotiation tactics to maximize your profit.

When is the Right Time to Sell?

The best time to sell your Rolex could hinge on market conditions. Often, we find that scarcity and demand elevate prices.

If your Rolex model has recently been discontinued or is a vintage piece in high demand, it could fetch a higher price.

We suggest monitoring auction results and watch forums to gauge when your specific Rolex model is in peak demand.

Finding the Right Buyer for Your Rolex Watch

If possible, try to differentiate between private collectors, professional dealers, and auction houses to identify the right buyer. Each has different advantages.

Private collectors may pay a premium for specific models. Dealers facilitate a quicker transaction but may offer less to cover their margins. Auction houses reach a broad audience, yet they involve fees and uncertainties.

We recommend researching to reveal the most profitable avenue for your Rolex model.

Negotiating the Best Price for Your Investment

Negotiation is where we build our profit. Initiate the process by setting a realistic yet ambitious asking price formed by current market analysis.

Documentation, box, and official papers significantly increase value, so present these alongside your watch.

When handling offers, maintain a firm yet polite stance and always be prepared to walk away if the value does not meet your target. Patience in negotiation often leads to the best outcome.

How To Maintain Your Rolex Watch Investment

Investing in a Rolex watch requires more than just a purchase; it entails a commitment to meticulous care and regular maintenance. This commitment preserves the watch’s value and ensures its optimal performance.

Proper Storage and Handling of Your Rolex Watch

Storage: We recommend storing your Rolex watch in a watch box or a safe with a soft interior to prevent scratches.

Keeping the watch in a dry, temperature-controlled environment is something to consider to avoid humidity-related damage. Additionally, watches should be separated from each other to prevent scratches.

Handling: When handling your Rolex, make sure your hands are clean to prevent dirt from accumulating.

Avoid exposing the watch to perfumes, solvents, or cleaning agents, as these substances can damage your watch’s seals and the finish.

Regular Servicing and Its Impact on Value

Frequency: Rolex watches typically require servicing every five to ten years. Sticking to this schedule is something you should spend time and resources on (just as with a car) to maintain the watch’s functionality and value.

Impact on Value: Consistent servicing by an authorized service center ensures original parts are used. Also, it preserves the watch’s authenticity and investment value.

An unserviced watch or one handled by an unverified technician may significantly decrease the value.

Chris Starkhagen MSc.

Entrepreneur and Founder of chrisstarkhagen.com

Chris writes for men about what to know and how to be a high-value man and networking with high-net-worth individuals. Chris guides readers on men’s business, men’s home office, men’s performance, men’s accessories, and the best products for men to craft a timeless style. Whether you’re already a high net-worth man seeking your next luxury watch or a young G who wants a lifestyle upgrade, Chris connects men with the resources needed to elevate life as a man.