Plenty of watch enthusiasts would love to make money buying and selling watches. The number one brand to make money with is, without a doubt, Rolex. Their timepieces have appreciated significantly over the last three or four years. So are there still any Rolex watches flying under the radar in terms of price? While none of them go completely unnoticed, here are some models that we think will increase in value.
Although there are no guarantees, we’ve come up with a list of five Rolex watches that could potentially go up in price over time. And here, we’re talking in the long term. There really are no quick wins when it comes to getting a serious return on your investment with just about every watch. This list is simply a selection of watches that will probably be more affordable now than in 12 months. Some of them are obvious, while others might come as a surprise. So let’s find out what we think could be good Rolex investment watches in 2022.
1. The Rolex Explorer Ref. 214270
We start our list with the popular Rolex Explorer. This timepiece set the standard for so many sports watches that came after it. Its iconic 3-6-9 dial layout has become a classic in the industry, and its 36-mm case size is hard to beat, even if it is a bit small for some enthusiasts these days.
Rolex acknowledged this when they introduced the 39-mm Rolex Explorer ref. 214270 in 2010. The first version was slightly misbalanced in terms of its dial and hand proportions. The second iteration, with its “Mark 2” dial, really hit the sweet spot. It’s the version that will probably become more and more popular over time because it’s the first and (to date) only 39-mm Explorer reference. Earlier this year, Rolex returned to 36 mm for the Explorer. Thanks to its rarity, the 214270 is the best reference in terms of both size and value. Prices on Chrono24 currently start at roughly $8,500 and go up to around $12,000–$13,000. These prices will probably increase over time, assuming no introduction of a new, larger Explorer.
2. The Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570
The second Rolex on our list is another Explorer: the previous-generation Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570 that was replaced earlier this year by the all-new ref. 226570. Well, maybe “all-new” isn’t the right way to describe it. Although Rolex changed the case design slightly to make it a bit more elegant and upgraded the movement to the Rolex caliber 3285, this has been one of the Swiss brand’s most conservative updates in recent history.
Due to the lack of any major difference between the current Rolex Explorer ref. 226570, and the well-liked ref. 216570, the latter might just be the perfect option for a modern Rolex sports watch, especially when you start comparing prices. The current model tends to go for prices of between roughly $13,000 and $17,000. With a $9,000 list price, that’s quite a steep premium. On the other hand, the previous generation can be yours for between roughly $10,000 and $15,000. So, buying the ref. 216570 might end up saving you quite a bit. And as the popularity of the Explorer II has increased over the last few years, it’s probably safe to say that prices for it will rise even further in the coming years. The only thing left for you to do then would be to choose between a black or a white dial.
3. The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116520
A Rolex Daytona? Can you still buy one and expect it to be a good investment, considering all the incredible sums they go for? It’s an excellent question, especially when comparing the prices of the different “modern” automatic Rolex Daytonas. The first of the modern Daytonas is the legendary Zenith Daytona ref. 16520. This generation Daytona gets its power from the iconic Zenith El Primero movement, making it Rolex’s first automatic-winding chronograph. This has been one of many factors driving prices up for this Daytona reference, which start at roughly $25,000.
The successor to the Zenith Daytona debuted in 2000: the Rolex Daytona ref. 116520. It was the first Daytona powered by the caliber 4130, an in-house Rolex chronograph movement. This model is quite a bit cheaper than the Zenith and a lot cheaper than the current Rolex Daytona, which starts at roughly $33,000. The prices for a Daytona ref. 116520 begin around $24,000–$25,000. With the ridiculously high prices for really any Daytona in mind, the ref. 116520 may very well increase in value as well. Only time will tell.
4. The Rolex Submariner Ref. 16610
Next up is the Rolex Submariner. The different generations of the world’s most famous diving watch have also drastically gone up in price. For this list, I’ll focus on the Rolex Submariner with a date function. The modern Submariners with ceramic bezels, in particular, have become pricy. On Chrono24, the current Rolex Submariner ref. 126610 starts at roughly $16,000, and the beefier previous-generation Rolex Submariner ref. 116610 begins at approximately $15,000. So if you would like to get your hands on a reasonably affordable Submariner, the ref. 16610 is a great option.
The Rolex Submariner ref. 16610 is my first recommendation for you if you’re looking for a Rolex watch to invest in. During the watches over two-decade production run from 1988 to 2010, Rolex released a string of updates. One of the most significant was the change from tritium to LumiNova, followed shortly thereafter by the switch to SuperLumiNova in the late 1990s. If you prefer a watch with a more vintage vibe, I suggest you look at the tritium models that are easily recognizable by the “SWISS – T<25” at the bottom of their dial. The models with LumiNova only say “SWISS,” while the later models with Super-LumiNova feature “SWISS MADE” on their dial. Overall, the prices for a Submariner ref. 16610 start at roughly $9,500 and can climb up to $17,000. It’s tough to find a Rolex for under $10,000 and even tougher if you are looking for a Submariner. And if the trend of overall rising prices for these popular models continues, you can be sure that the ref. 16610 will become even more expensive.
5. Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675
The last watch on this list is an absolute classic: the Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675. This legendary Rolex GMT-Master was in production from 1959 until 1980, making it one of the brand’s longest-produced models. It also means it is a bit tricky to say that this watch is a good investment because there are so many differences between the models with this reference number. Their prices are perfect proof of this: The cheapest ref. 1675 models start at roughly $12,000–$13,000, whereas the most expensive are listed on Chrono24 for around $90,000.
While it’s safe to say that older Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 watches are iconic vintage timepieces and will sell for a lot of money, later models are often the most affordable. Rolex enthusiasts all over the globe will recognize this watch as one of the most iconic the brand has ever produced. You can never go wrong with a Rolex GMT-Master with a Pepsi bezel, and the ref. 1675 is, for me, it’s very best iteration. What I particularly love about this reference is that it looks equally stunning in excellent and “beaten-up” condition. For me, this is the one Rolex that increases in charm with wear and tear. I’d be willing to bet that, over time, the prices for these vintage icons will go up the older they become. So don’t hesitate to get one while they’re still reasonably affordable.
That’s our list of five Rolex models that could wind up being great investments. This leaves me nothing left to say except: Happy hunting!