For decades, Rolex has delighted watch collectors with its timeless watch designs and all-rounders suitable for everyday wear. But not every watch enthusiast wants to wear such a well-known classic on their wrist – at least not the standard versions. Are you also part of the community of watch fans seeking to stand out from the crowd? Then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we present three Rolex timepieces that are anything but basic.
Does Rolex offer limited editions?
Unlike other brands, Rolex does not explicitly make special editions with production runs limited to a precise number. Nonetheless, Rolex watches are known to be quite exclusive due to a combination of high demand and the fact that some models are hardly available, or rather only available far above their list prices. These collector’s items are often highly coveted or extremely rare due to their unique details.
Now say you had $50,000 at your disposal and wanted to create a Rolex collection consisting of two vintage models and one modern reference. Well, we did just that. All three of our choices are coveted unique watches. They include an iconic timepiece whose rarity has helped make it an absolute fan favorite, a relatively simple watch that has recently experienced some serious hype among watch collectors, and a very special Rolex Submariner that you’re guaranteed not to see very often.
The One and Only “Kermit:” The Rolex Submariner Ref. 16610LV
The year 2003 was a special one, not least of all because it marked the 50th anniversary of the legendary Rolex Submariner, the watch that helped Rolex reach lasting worldwide fame. The Swiss manufacturer took this opportunity to introduce a special version of the legendary diving watch with a green bezel. The green is exceptional in this case because, besides the color’s association with the Rolex brand, the Rolex Submariner “Kermit” was the first time the brand had given a steel Submariner a colored bezel. Previous steel references of the Rolex Submariner had always been solid black.
Rolex produced the classic Submariner “Kermit” ref. 16610LV between 2003 and 2010, before replacing it with the entirely green “Hulk.” The “Kermit” offers you the usual Rolex Submariner experience: a striking Oyster case with water resistance to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), an automatic movement with a 48-hour power reserve (remarkable for the standards of that time), a sapphire crystal, and a date complication including a quickset date function. Of course, Rolex’s famous Cyclops lens over the date is also part of this iconic package.
At its core, the 16610LV is nothing more than a five-digit Rolex Submariner. However, like the 16610, the 16610LV counts as the last “real” Submariner for many fans and watch enthusiasts. As of 2010, Rolex replaced the 16610LV with a more luxurious, jewelry-like, six-digit reference. The “Kermit,” on the other hand, is still an authentic tool watch with its aluminum bezel, the old case shape, and the old bracelet. Of course, it looks a bit clunky by today’s standards, but that’s also part of its charm. Today, the tool-like 16610LV is a true collector’s item and a must-have in our three-piece collection of rare Rolex watches. Rolex brought back the green color scheme in 2020, but for many fans, there is only one true Kermit: the 16610LV. Market prices vary greatly depending on the watch’s condition and the delivery contents but start from around $18,000.
One of the Most Coveted Rolex Timepieces: The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 Ref. 124300 “Tiffany”
When Rolex introduced its new Oyster Perpetuals in September 2020, not all watch enthusiasts were thrilled. Although classic dial colors like black or blue remained in the collection, the colorful dials attracted almost all the attention. Clearly inspired by the so-called “Stella” dials, the eye-catching designs provoked a few critical glances and a smirk here and there. Funnily enough, the colorful varieties, in particular, have now become real collector’s items. These are almost impossible to get through official channels and already sell for several thousand dollars above list price. For a watch officially priced in the entry-level segment of Rolex, this is truly a remarkable development.
The Oyster Perpetual that has created the biggest stir, reaching market prices of around $18,000, is the variant with a turquoise dial. Fans and collectors refer to it as the and with a bit of luck, you can sometimes find this colorful Rolex watch starting from around $10,000.
While the high-end American jewelry manufacturer is not associated with the watch, the nickname derives from the dial color reminiscent of the iconic Tiffany blue. The watch itself is a classic Rolex Oyster Perpetual with some improvements over its 2020 discontinued predecessor. Rolex has slightly increased the watch’s diameter and now equips it with 70 hours of power reserve. They also took the modified dial design with double indices at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock from the Oyster Perpetual 36. This may not seem worth mentioning, but I find that the new dial makes the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 look a bit younger and more modern. I personally found the predecessor to be a bit too simple, bordering on downright dull. I also really like the new clasp with a raised crown in the center. The predecessor, by contrast, only featured a laser-etched crown, making the watch feel a bit less “precious.” Rounding out this overall successful design is the watch’s water resistance up to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft). Whether minor design improvements and the “Tiffany” dial are worth the high surcharge is ultimately up to the judgment of each watch collector. I personally couldn’t go without this model in our trio of rare watches: It is highly coveted at the moment and will continue to make waves in the years to come.
The Rolex From 1001 Nights: The Rolex Submariner Ref. 16613T “Sultan”
The Rolex Submariner “Sultan” is certainly not the most sought-after watch in the Rolex catalog. But you definitely won’t see this Submariner on other wrists very often because it is anything but ordinary. From a watch collector’s perspective, there’s only one way to describe the Submariner 16613T with the Serti dial: a unique collector’s item, which, in my opinion, absolutely belongs in our collection of three rare Rolexes. The specifications of this Eastern-inspired watch offer everything you’d expect from a five-digit Submariner reference: a 40-mm case, water-resistance to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), a sapphire crystal, the classic date complication at 3 o’clock, and the distinctive case design that makes the Submariner instantly recognizable.
The most striking aspect of this reference is the unique dial design, which looks straight out of the stories in Arabian Nights. With indices made of round diamonds and visually striking dark rubies set at the 6, 9, and 12 o’clock that perfectly set off the dial’s sunburst pattern and the bi-color watch’s gold accents, it becomes clear why this Rolex Submariner has also received the nickname “Sultan.” Personally, I think the version with the blue bezel most fully encapsulates the Eastern-inspired aesthetic. But for around $15,000, you’ll have enough choices at hand to find your own personal favorite. The Submariner with the Serti dial is available with both a black and a blue bezel.
Moreover, you can also choose between interesting dial variations, such as champagne or silver. Simply put, the Rolex Submariner “Sultan” is something else. With this unusual watch on your wrist, you are sure to attract countless glances. In combination with the Rolex Submariner “Kermit” and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual “Tiffany,” we’ve collected a great trio of rare and unique Rolex watches. And, with a bit of luck, you won’t have to spend every last dollar of your $50,000 budget, either.