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Rolex Oyster Perpetual: The Best Entry-Level Model

November 15, 2021

BY Paul Altieri


Virtually all modern Rolex watches will have the words “Rolex Oyster Perpetual” somewhere in their name, but Rolex’s portfolio really consists of just two main lines of watches: the Professional and the Classic series. These are the timepieces with waterproof Oyster cases (as opposed to their dedicated dress watch line, the Cellini series). The Professional Collection contains perhaps the most instantly recognizable names, the tool watch models such as the Submariner, Daytona, Explorer, and GMT-Master. Each one was (and still is) designed to do a specific job, whether that is keeping track of dive times, lap times, or times in another country.

The Classic Collection also has some big hitters, such as the Day-Date and Datejust, the former acting as the ultimate statement of prestige and attainment, the latter an iconic all-rounder that tends to be seen as the quintessential Rolex watch. On the whole, it is the Classic models that are the most simple, both aesthetically and in terms of complications. Not including the Sky-Dweller’s wonderful annual calendar and GMT functionality, the rest of the Classic range is relatively conservatively styled and with fairly modest features. And coming in as the most humble, understated, and unpretentious of them all is the Rolex Oyster Perpetual.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Collection Luxury Watches

Current Oyster Perpetual Collection Key Features:

  • Reference Numbers: 276200; 277200; 124200; 126000; 124300
  • Year of Introduction: 2020
  • Case Sizes: 28mm; 31mm; 34mm; 36mm; 41mm
  • Materials: Oystersteel (904L Stainless Steel)
  • Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds
  • Dial: Multiple Colors Options w/ Luminous Hour Markers
  • Luminous Material: Chromalight
  • Bezel: Fixed, Stainless Steel, Smooth Style
  • Crystal: Sapphire (Flat)
  • Movement: Rolex Caliber 2232 or Caliber 3230
  • Water Resistance: 100 Meters / 330 Feet
  • Strap/Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet (Stainless Steel)
  • Clasp: Oysterclasp w/ Easylink Extension System (Stainless Steel)
  • Approx. Price (USD): $5,100 – $5,900 (Retail); $6,000 – $20,000 (Pre-Owned)

Click here for our Ultimate Buying Guide on the Rolex Oyster Perpetual.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

Best Entry-Level Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39mm Red Grape Dial 114300

A Simple and Straightforward Design

Every watch that Rolex produces (again ignoring the Cellini collection) is technically an Oyster Perpetual. The name is taken from the waterproof “Oyster” case which gives each one a water resistance of at least 100 meters, and the self-winding “Perpetual” movement the brand developed in the early 1930s. Therefore, a model that we would commonly refer to as just the “Sea-Dweller” is actually formally called the “Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller” – and the same is true for the vast majority of Rolex’s self-winding watches that have water-resistant cases.

However, there has always been a separate line of watches with everything extraneous stripped away, leaving just three hands to tell the time, without even anything as unremarkable as a date display. This is officially the Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection, the brand’s least expensive and arguably most versatile offering. Although the Oyster Perpetual series represents the point of entry into Rolex ownership, the model has become virtually unattainable at a retail level (just like most stainless steel Rolex watches) following the collection’s most recent update in 2020.

Best Entry-Level Vintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual

A Variety of Different Case Sizes n Stainless Steel

Like its closest cousin, the Datejust, the modern Rolex Oyster Perpetual series has been created to appeal to as many people and tastes as possible. At the present time, it comes in a total of five different sizes, starting at 28mm and going all the way up to 41mm (which is the most recent addition to the collection from 2020). Additionally, among the various discontinued Oyster Perpetual models, you will also find 24mm, 26mm, and 39mm case size options, with the fan-favorite 39mm size of the watch only produced from 2015 to 2020, before it was replaced by the current 41mm model.

Delving back into its long history, you will find a smattering of precious metal versions in 9k, 14k, and 18k gold – either yellow or pink. It was also among the first Rolex watches to be issued as a Rolesor piece, which is the brand’s own term for the two-tone merging of stainless steel and gold on a single timepiece. These days, all Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches are forged entirely from stainless steel, underlining the model’s long-held standing as the brand’s entry-level model.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 126000 Coral Red Dial 36mm

The Modern Oyster Perpetual Collection

That being said, an entry-level Rolex watch is still very much a Rolex. The company doesn’t do compromise in any way whatsoever, and many of the elements you will find on a watch from the very top of the line are also found here on the most humble of the brand’s offerings. That stainless steel isn’t some cost-cutting, bargain-basement trade-off. It is the same 904L Oystersteel used for the rest of the catalog, forged from within Rolex’s own in-house foundry.

Oystersteel (better known as 904L stainless steel) is immensely strong, highly resistant to pitting and corrosion, and holds a polish like no other. Primarily used in the aerospace and chemical industries due to its superior corrosion resistance, 904L stainless steel is the reason a steel Rolex has a unique shine, with virtually every other major manufacturer in the industry using standard 316L stainless steel. Between the case, sapphire crystal, screw-down case-back, and Twinlock winding crown, all of the modern Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches are water-resistant to at least 100 meters (300 feet).

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm 126000 Bright Black Dial

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Movements

Inside, the 36mm and 41mm versions of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual are the brand’s new-generation Caliber 3230 movement. Based around Rolex’s proprietary Chronergy Escapement and benefitting from both Paraflex shock absorbers and a blue Parachrom hairspring for superior resistance to impacts, temperature fluctuations, and magnetic fields, this updated movement is the same one that you will find inside the current 41mm No-Date Submariner, along with the new 36mm Explorer, and due to its more efficient escapement and a redesigned gear train, it offers users an increased power reserve of approximately 70 hours.

If anything, the smaller Oyster Perpetual watches are home to even more impressive movements, and the 28mm, 31mm, and 34mm versions are all powered by Rolex’s Caliber 2232 movement. Fitted with a Syloxi hairspring made from silicon, Rolex’s patented balance spring is entirely immune to the effects of magnetism, while simultaneously providing improved stability in the face of temperature variations mechanical shocks. Additionally, its patented geometry ensures its regularity in any position, allowing these calibers to achieve the same Superlative Chronometer standards of +/-2 seconds per day as their larger siblings.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 34mm 124200 Silver Dial

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Options

Although not to the same scale as the Datejust or President, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is issued with a fairly extensive selection of dial colors. Additionally, the bright and vibrant dial colors that accompanied the most recent update from 2020 are the single reason why the collection has seen such a boost in popularity over the course of the last couple of years. While there is some overlap throughout the series, a few are used exclusively for certain sizes. For example, the ‘Candy Pink’ dial is only available on the 31mm and 36mm models, while the ‘Turquoise Blue’ is only an option on the 31mm, 36mm, and 41mm versions of the watch.

A number have emerged as real favorites, particularly the bright and colorful options that are reminiscent of the vintage Stella dials found on older Datejust and Day-Date watches. Turquoise Blue and Yellow are among the most popular with Green and Coral Red shortly following. Like most of Rolex’s stainless steel watches, the current Oyster Perpetual range is entirely sold-out at retailers, and select dial colors for the 36mm and 41mm models have been known to sell for prices up to three times their original brand-new retail price on the pre-owned market.

Best Starter Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 114300 39mm Slate Dial

A Classic and Timeless Design

As for the rest of the options list, the only bezel style available is the high polished smooth version, and each model is fitted with a satin-finished Oyster bracelet that features an Oysterclasp with an Easylink extension system. The outcome, especially with some of the more colorful dials, is a watch that can work as both formal and casual wear, perhaps edging nearer the sporty end of the spectrum – especially if you opt for one of the vibrant dial options.

That gives us a clue as to just who the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is intended to appeal to the most. Although the brand is by far the most famous watch manufacturer in the entire world and creates some of the most collectible timepieces in existence, many Rolex buyers are still people who simply want that one good watch that they can wear every day for the rest of their lives. It needs to be realistically priced, versatile enough to go with anything, strong enough to wear every day, and be built reliably enough to last several lifetimes.

Rolex’s range of austerely designed, handsomely stylish time-only models emphatically ticks every box. Never under or overdressed, the classic Rolex Oyster Perpetual is simply a discreet class act.

First Starter Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39mm 114300 Blue Dial



3 Responses to “Rolex Oyster Perpetual: The Best Entry-Level Model”

  1. Rolex 124300 Blue Dual 2020

  2. Alan Maurer says:

    Nice Rolex article.
    The watch that you always call the “President” is not really the name of the watch.
    It is the “Day-Date”
    Why not get it right?

    • Paul Altieri says:

      Not all Rolex Day-Date watches fall within the “Rolex President” nickname category – there are many Day-Date references fitted with Oyster bracelets or leather straps. Similarly, there are also certain “Rolex President” watches that are not Day-Date models, such as the Lady-Datejust and Midsize Datejust models that are crafted from precious metals and fitted with President-style bracelets.
      Often times, people will simply just say “Rolex President” as a way to denote that we are talking about a Rolex watch with a President bracelet, rather than giving the full name of the watch and also mentioning that it has a President style bracelet. However, you are certainly correct here – in terms of official Rolex names, there is no watch formally called the “President” (that name only officially applies to a bracelet style).

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