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11/18/2022
 4 minutes

3 Underrated Rolex Icons

By Donato Andrioli
Rolex-2-1
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In our article 3 Rolex Watches That Fly Under the Radar, we introduced three Rolexes that prove not every watch from the brand with the crown is trading far above its MSRP. Here are three more watches from Rolex that are comparatively less popular with watch enthusiasts (so far) and, therefore, available on the secondary market for prices much closer to their official list prices. Read on to learn more about an icon with deep roots, a two-tone rarity, and an absolute Rolex classic that stuns with its simplicity.  

Rolex Explorer Ref. 124270: Back to Its Roots 

The newest iteration of the Rolex Explorer didn’t go down with fans quite as well as Rolex had hoped. Discontinuing the popular 39-mm version and exclusively offering the sports icon in a 36-mm size came as a bit of a disappointment to many. Thus, the newest reference of the watch that once scaled Mount Everest is not nearly as popular as its predecessor; a phenomenon that is reflected in current market prices. Many listings are a “mere” $1,500 to 2,000 above MSRP. While this comparatively low markup is unusual for a classic icon like the Rolex Explorer, it’s great news if you’re looking to buy one. Purchasing this reference gets you a genuine Rolex sports watch that not only offers some of the finest quality in the industry, but also stays true to its roots. With a depth rating of 100 m (328 ft) and a 70-hour power reserve, the timepiece offers everything you would expect from a modern timepiece and, as you’d expect from the brand, the haptics are on point. Plus, the 36-mm size and dial design with the Explorer inscription at the top actually make this version even truer to the original model. The Explorer ref. 124270 thus combines the best of two Rolex worlds: the quality of today and the looks of yesterday. Do you have slim wrists? Looking for a Rolex icon that stays as close to its roots as possible? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you should definitely take a closer look at the current 36-mm Rolex Explorer. 

The current Rolex Explorer goes back to the model's roots.
The current Rolex Explorer goes back to the model’s roots.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Ref. 326933: The Most Innovative Rolex Watch 

When talking about coveted Rolex models, the first watches that come to mind are inevitably the legendary Rolex Daytona or Rolex GMT-Master II. But did you know that the Rolex Sky-Dweller is not only just as highly coveted, but also a good deal rarer than those other two sports icons? In recent years, the stainless steel version with a blue dial has become the grail watch for many fans. If you want to call this watch your own, and you don’t have an in at an authorized dealer, you’ll have to dig very deep into your pockets indeed. It’s not uncommon for these Sky-Dwellers to sell for double their official list prices on the secondary market. 

By comparison, the two-tone version of Rolex’s pilot’s watch leads a downright shadow existence. In fact, you can grab a steel and gold Sky-Dweller for relatively close to the MSRP. Regardless of whether you opt for the classic Oyster bracelet or the newer Jubilee style, a two-tone Sky-Dweller could be yours for some $3,000 over retail. Not bothered about dial color? Into two-tone watches? Definitely check out the Rolex Sky-Dweller ref. 326933. Even in the retro two-tone look, the model is the most innovative watch in the current Rolex lineup. The watch’s fluted bezel isn’t just gorgeous to look at, it is also highly functional, controlling the second time zone, as well as the date and month displays. The so-called Ring Command bezel is brilliantly executed and extremely practical, making the pilot’s watch a unique and innovative timepiece, even in steel and gold. 

The Rolex Sky-Dweller is the most innovative watch in Rolex's current lineup.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller is the most innovative watch in Rolex’s current lineup.

Rolex Datejust 41 Ref. 126300: A Rolex Classic in Its Purest Form 

In terms of popularity and performance, the Rolex Datejust 41 has made huge leaps over the past few years. Nevertheless, the most stripped down version of the Rolex icon remains unnoticed by the masses. Note: This statement only applies to the more reserved, traditional dial colors. Special editions like the “Wimbledon” or this year’s mint green version are as popular as ever, trading as robustly as the most beloved Rolex sports models. 

If you’re satisfied with a more traditional dial color, however, the sporty variant of the Datejust can be yours for a comparatively small premium. Versions with a white or silver dial are among the more affordable Rolex models on the market, starting at just under $9,000. The black, slate gray, and blue dial variants, in turn, tend to be slightly more expensive. Even if the timepiece is underestimated by many watch lovers, I personally prefer the Datejust with a white dial. Not only does the neutral tone suit almost any outfit or occasion, it’s also quite rare among Rolexes. The white dial looks very elegant against the partially polished Oyster bracelet, and the characteristic date magnifier is a bit more subtle than on other versions due to the reduced contrast. The plentiful all-around appealing qualities of Rolex’s sporty dress watch are well documented. With 100 m (328 ft) of water resistance, it is a robust enough watch for everyday use that can hold its own in almost any situation. You literally won’t have to take the Datejust 41 off your wrist once it’s yours. Searching for a practical timepiece for everyday wear? Are you a purist who prefers streamlined dials? If so, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Rolex Datejust 41 ref. 126300. Whichever dial color you opt for, you cannot go wrong with this simple Rolex classic. Sometimes, less really is more. 

If you stick with more traditional dial colors, you can purchase the Rolex Datejust 41 at a comparatively small premium.
If you stick with more traditional dial colors, you can purchase the Rolex Datejust 41 at a comparatively small premium.

About the Author

Donato Andrioli

With the purchase of my Tudor Black Bay 41, I discovered a passion for mechanical watches. I am particularly drawn to iconic watches with long and exciting histories.

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