Rolex began developing and producing sports watches in the early 1950s. Despite having a utilitarian-focused design, these Rolex watches from the brand’s Professional collection can serve as both functional tool-focused timekeepers or versatile, everyday watches. This guide will help you decide which model from the Rolex sports range best suits your lifestyle, whether it be a sensible, time-only watch, or one with more complex functions.
Rolex’s legendary sports watches also make great everyday timepieces.
Our list starts with a sports watch that boasts a more modest design: the Explorer. One of the few tool watches in the brand’s catalog to not include a bezel with a secondary function; the Explorer offers a more straightforward design that is easier to wear dressed up or dressed down. The classic Rolex Explorer recently received an upgrade to a larger 39mm case with the ref. 214270. It is only available in stainless steel and always displays the time on a black dial. Depending on the year of production, the dial is topped with a luminous display and features the line’s signature 3-6-9 Arabic hour markers and Mercedes hands.
What makes the Explorer ideal for everyday wear is its roots as a mountaineer’s tool watch. The case is built tough to withstand some of the harshest terrains in the world, which means that it will keep perfect time during any activity. Every Rolex sports watch is powered by an automatic-winding Perpetual movement. If you wear your Explorer daily, it will not have to be reset or wound at all like a manual-winding watch. If you’re in the market for a tool watch that flies under the radar and offers an entry-level price, the Rolex Explorer might be the perfect watch for your wrist.
Similar to the Explorer, the Milgauss offers time-only functionality and does not feature a bezel with a secondary function. However, what it lacks in classic tool-watch design, it more than makes up for with a relentlessly-sophisticated internal feature set. Some collectors would even argue that the newest edition of the Milgauss ref. 116400GV resembles a dress watch more than it does a professional series model with the use of polished and satin-finished Oystersteel and even a colorful Z-Blue dial option.
The Rolex Milgauss is marketed as an antimagnetic tool watch that is capable of withstanding electromagnetic fields up to 1,000 gauss. The current edition is characterized by an orange lightning bolt seconds hand that mimics that of the original 1950s model and alludes to the watch’s substantial antimagnetic capabilities. The current version features either a Z-Blue or black dial and is topped with a “Glace Verte” green sapphire crystal. A waterproof Twinlock screw-down crown and an internal soft-iron Faraday cage protect the self-winding movement within from any activity, making the Milgauss an ideal all-occasion wristwatch, not just a reliable companion for lab technicians and power plant workers.
The Submariner includes more functions than the Explorer or Milgauss with a uni-directional 60-minute timing bezel and a depth rating of up to 300 meters. The line was developed in the 1950s as a diver’s watch and has since become one of the most iconic timepieces in the world. Even if you aren’t very familiar with Rolex watches, you have probably laid your eyes upon the Submariner at some point in your life. The collection is incredibly versatile and is available in either stainless steel, white gold, yellow gold, or two-tone finishes. There are also a number of dial and bezel color options to choose from, making it easy to find a Submariner to suit your everyday life.
The Submariner’s roots as a diving watch make it perfect for daily wear as the Triplock waterproof crown creates a seal that is more than water-resistant to stand up to any aquatic activities you might find yourself doing. References produced after the 1980s, such as the all-steel 116610 and two-tone 116613, also include luminous plots with white or yellow gold surrounds on the dial for an elevated aesthetic that pairs well with wetsuits, business suits, and tuxedos alike. The newest 6-digit range includes a larger “Maxi” display on the dial as well as a scratch-proof and fade-proof “Cerachrom” ceramic bezel insert.
Rolex GMT-Master II
The iconic pilot’s watch made its debut in the 1950s and has since evolved to offer an independent GMT hand on the dial. This update came in the 1980s and allows the wearer to read up to three time zones at once. This feature alone makes the GMT-Master II a suitable, everyday companion for any globe-trotting collector. The Rolex GMT-Master II also includes a variety of feature sets that range from modest stainless steel to flashier two-tone and all-gold options for occasions that call for a dressier wristwatch. Among the most coveted, however, is the stainless ref. 126710, which was released during Baselworld 2018 and features a two-tone ceramic bezel in either black and blue (aka the “Batman”) or red and blue (aka the “Pepsi”).
Similar to the other sports watches highlighted in this guide, the Rolex GMT-Master II includes a waterproof screw-down crown. In this case, it promises water-resistance up to 100 meters, which is more than enough for daily wear. It also features a Perpetual movement with self-winding technology and a protective sapphire crystal over the dial. Newer-model GMT Master II references also feature Chromalight lume, which emits a distinctive blue glow for a legible reading in a dark movie theater or while in the cockpit of a plane.