Although a Rolex watch is a beautiful item to possess, it is as much an investment as it is a timepiece. Whether you opt for a brand new Rolex, or decide to purchase a secondhand option, one of the major advantages of buying the brand is that it is highly likely to appreciate in value. The challenge for a person seeking the best Rolex for investment is to find the model that’s likely to yield the largest return on investment, at the same time as being an attractive and highly functional watch. We‘ve taken a look at some of the general factors to consider when deciding on the best Rolex to buy for investment, as well as selected our top eight picks when it comes to the best Rolex model for investment.
Which Rolex holds its value best?
There are a number of different variables which can help to determine which watch is going to offer the highest Rolex resale value. Generally, exclusivity is critical to value: the fewer of a particular model that are produced, the greater the price they will command. A Rolex which has been custom built for a celebrity, for example, will have a significantly enhanced resale value compared with one that’s part of a larger batch. Usually, the closer to a release date a Rolex has been made, the more in-demand it is likely to be. Condition, age and technical specification also play a role, as well as the initial price paid. Fortunately, almost any Rolex can appreciate in value given time. Usually, the best Rolex to buy as an investment is one which has a range of innovative and exclusive features, was created as a unique watch, or as part of a small number of similar watches and which is in as near perfect condition as possible.
Although there are vagaries in the market when it comes to Rolex sales (as there are with any market), usually sports watches tend to do better at auction than Rolex models with a lower technical spec. Obviously the fewer watches of a particular model which were created, the bigger the rarity value. It is little surprise that a Daytona Rolex, possibly the only one of its kind, sold for CHF 5,937,000 earlier this year. That particular example, called “The Unicorn”, is thought to be the only Rolex Daytona made of white gold, rather than the more common versions made of stainless steel or yellow gold. Other examples of Daytonas which have an impressive Rolex resale value include: “The Golden Pagoda” (resold for CHF 948,500); “The Bumblebee” (resold for CHF 516,500); and “The Oyster Sotto” (resold for CHF 1,662,500). Rarer Rolexes will already have an impressive pedigree that will be shared with potential investors prior to an auction. If you have the necessary capital to purchase a Daytona in the first instance, it is highly likely that you will end up with one of the best Rolex to buy as investment material.
The GMT Master and GMT Master II
Originally launched way back in 1954, the GMT Master was developed in conjunction with Pan American airlines. It was distributed to crew on long-haul flights, enabling them to easily and quickly set their watch to a fresh time zone as they entered one. Early GMT Masters featured red and blue bakelite on the face, earning the watch the appellation “the Pepsi watch”. The GMT Master II was launched in the early 1980s. In contrast to the GMT Master, it had an added mechanical feature that enabled the hour hand to be adjusted to the new time zone without the need for minutes and seconds to be also reset. Both the GMT Master and GMT Master II are one of the best Rolex for investment, not least because they are extremely functional and hardwearing watches, as well as bearing the prestigious Rolex branding. Although it’s possible to pick up a GMT Master for just a few thousand pounds, rarer models can sell for tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds. Models which feature custom engraving or similar individual touches are likely to fetch a higher price, due to their rarity.
The Rolex Sea Dweller (Ref: 16660)
The Rolex Sea Dweller was first introduced in 1967, becoming one of the first watches designed for divers which became available for civilian use. Over the years, a variety of Sea Dweller incarnations were introduced. In each case, the watch benefited from technological improvements or other enhancements. The Ref: 16660 model was launched in 1978. Capable of continuing to work accurately to a depth of 4000 feet (1220m), this model featured an enhanced helium escape valve and a sapphire crystal. Because fewer of this model were sold than some of the other models, resale prices are enhanced due to the rarity of this timepiece. Arguably one of the best Rolex to buy for investment, prices for the Sea Dweller have been gradually rising as time has gone on. Today, a Ref: 16660 Sea Dweller is likely to command a price of between six to nine thousand pounds, depending on condition.
The Rolex Submariner
A popular choice for amateur and recreational divers, the Submariner was initially launched in 1954. A successor to The Oyster – the first Rolex that benefited from a case which was hermetically sealed – the Submariner’s major selling point is its ability to withstand compression and decompression during a dive. Although the earlier versions can’t be used for deeper dives in the same way as the Sea Dweller, by 1957 the Submariner was guaranteed to depths of 200m. Benefiting from the enviable construction which is one of the hallmarks of a Rolex, the Submariner was popularised as James Bond’s watch of choice, appearing in films which included “Dr No” and “Live and let Die”. Typical resale prices are anything from £6000 to £10000 +: much more if the watch has rarity value.
When it comes to the question, “Which Rolex holds its value best?”, the Day-Date is a firm contender. First appearing in 1956, the major difference between it and other models available at the time was a day display in addition to the date. Like other Rolex models, the Day Date is waterproof and self-winding. As time has gone on, the watch has become available in a selection of different finishes and metals. The most recent version of the Day-Date, the Day-Date 40, was released in 2013. Holding fourteen patents and showcasing arguably the best time-piece technology you will find on the planet, the Day-Date 40 certainly isn’t cheap. That said, although the initial outlay is high, it is a watch that will almost certainly appreciate noticeably as time goes by.
The Yacht-Master Rolex is primarily, as the name suggests, intended for use by mariners. Benefiting from having the only chronograph which operates with a mechanical memory, the Yacht-Master incorporates some of Rolex’s finest technology. Waterproof and extremely robust, the Yacht-Master was specifically designed for use during regattas and other sailing competitions. Originally launched in 1992, the aim of the watch is to provide an exceptional tool for sailors. Both the Yacht-Master II and the Yacht-Master 40 are likely to appreciate as time goes on. The current price for a Yacht-Master II is anywhere between £10,000 and £25,000, depending on the metals used in it.
The Air King
As the name suggests, the Air King was developed along with the GMT Master as a watch for flyers. First released in 1945, it was widely used by air force pilots and other aviators. It is the last of the “Air” series to remain in production. Other “Air” models included the “Air Tiger” and the “Air Giant”. Available in a range of different metals and designs, price is largely dictated by how rare the watch might be and the type of materials used to make it. The rarest Air King watch is the highly prized “double red dial” version. Prices vary enormously, but commonly found Air Kings are like to fetch somewhere around £5000 to £10000.
It is hard to decide on the best Rolex model for investment, but the Rolex Explorer is clearly a contender. Designed as a watch for explorers, adventurers and those working in tough environments, the Explorer and Exlorer II are rugged watches that are built to last! Features include luminous hands and numbers, allowing night viewing, as well as a stunning construction from Rolex’s 904L steel – a steel specifically designed and manufactured for Rolex watches. With prices for a used model starting at around £3000, this is one of Rolex’s more modest watches, but one which also has a good chance of appreciating over time.
If you are considering purchasing a Rolex as an investment, it’s important to do research on the various options within each model, in order to be clear what the guide price is and what the potential is for appreciation. Clearly, past performance can’t be an indicator of future price, but it may be helpful to find out how the watch has performed at previous auctions before deciding whether to purchase it for yourself.
Although Rolex watches can make excellent investments, this is by no means always the case. Remember to check the condition of the watch, its rarity and its authenticity before paying up for it. Fake Rolexes are common, so make sure you have some assurance of the watch’s authenticity before parting with your hard-earned cash to buy it. It’s also important to buy a watch that you like, even if it’s not the most expensive. That way, you will be happy to hang on to it and cherish it until such time as the market is appropriate for sale. If you want the combination of a top-quality timepiece that is also likely to make you a return on your investment over time, a Rolex could be the perfect solution either for buying.
If you are looking to sell your watch in the LA or Beverly Hills area, then we will buy your watch from you today! For more specific information on each of over 43 brands of fine watches we buy or loan against please visit some of the pages of the individual brands: Harry Winston, Hublot, IWC, Jaeger Le Coultre, Omega, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Nardin, A Lange & Sohne, Preziuso, AudemarsPiguet, Bamford, Blancpain, Breguet, Breitling, Bvlgari, Cartier, Franck Muller, Panerai, Patek Philippe, Richard Mille, Rolex, or Vacheron Constantin to name just a few of the many brands we buy or loan against. Alternatively, if you are looking to pawn your watch with us please visit our loans on fine watches page.