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Do Rolex Watches Go Up In Value?

February 22, 2020

BY Paul Altieri


Do Rolex watches go up in value?

There are a lot of great things about collecting Rolex watches. But perhaps one of the most exciting is the possibility that your Rolex will actually increase in value over time. You see it all the time on the news – someone’s old Daytona or Submariner that’s been sitting in a drawer for years is now going for a small fortune.

Do Rolex Watches Increase In Value? Vintage Explorer 1016 Gilt Dial

However, just because some Rolex watches increase greatly in value over time, doesn’t mean all of them will. Unfortunately, there is no exact formula to determine whether or not a specific Rolex model will go up in value. However, due to their unparalleled brand recognition and superb quality, Rolex watches do generally hold great value in the competitive luxury watch market. But, the chance of your Rolex going up in value actually depends on a variety of factors, such as overall condition, the specific model, and if the specific watch has any unique qualities. The amount of time that passes even plays a major factor in the value that can be derived from your Rolex timepiece.

So here, we’re going to explore what factors affect whether or not (or how) a Rolex may go up in value. The answers may surprise you.

Do Rolex Watches Go Up In Value? Paul Newman Daytona


One of the most important factors that determine the value of your Rolex watch is its overall condition.  If your Rolex has been heavily worn or damaged, these imperfections or defects will often negatively impact its value. As a general rule of thumb, the better the condition, the higher the price. And if you keep your Rolex in good condition, there’s a better chance that over time it could increase in value.

Do Rolex Watches Always Go Up In Value? Explorer II 1655 Steve McQueen Rail Dial


While all Rolex watches hold great value due to their exceptional quality and international fame, different Rolex models hold different values – especially on the secondary market. Like I mentioned above, many vintage Rolex Daytona and Submariner models have famously increased in value over time. This is due to the deep, rich history of the brand and the public’s fascination with their watches that further bolsters popularity. However, the specific model isn’t the only factor that plays into the possibility of a Rolex increasing in value.

Reference Number and Unique Qualities

In fact, these two factors are probably what affects an increase in value the most. While the model itself certainly helps establish value, rare reference numbers and unique qualities can set certain Rolex watches apart from the rest of the models on the vintage or secondary market. In some cases, these small details can greatly increase the value of a watch, making it worth significantly more than its otherwise identical counterparts. For example, one of the most famous examples is the ‘red’ Submariner, which quite literally features the ‘Submariner’ text in red letters across its dial. A small but rare detail like this would most definitely increase the value but might be overlooked by a less experienced collector.

Rolex Watches Investment Potential Red Submariner Vintage


Finally, time plays a major factor in whether or not a Rolex will increase in value. Generally speaking, after you initially buy a watch, the price actually decreases. In this case, you can think of a watch like a car, in that once you take it off the lot (or out of the store) its value decreases, simply because it is no longer brand new. However, over time (or given a shortage in supply), the value can begin to come back and even increase if the right factors align – like condition, model, and unique characteristics.

A common misconception is that once a Rolex reaches vintage status, it automatically becomes worth more. However, like we noted above, for a Rolex to go up in value, the right factors need to line up. For example, vintage Datejust watches typically don’t sell for more than brand-new examples because there are a decent number of them on the market in relatively good condition, and there are not enough unique qualities or distinct models from the collection that differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.

With that in mind, you could easily argue that if you bought a Rolex Datejust back in the 1970s for a few hundred bucks and today it is now worth a few thousand dollars, then it has undeniably increased in value. However, once you factor in maintenance costs and account for inflation, the actual returns are not quite as high as they originally might appear on paper.

Rolex Watches As Investments Pepsi GMT-Master Gilt Dial

Rolex Watches Always Hold Great Value

At the end of the day, Rolex watches hold great value – in fact, they hold their value better than timepieces from almost any other manufacturer. However, you should never invest in a Rolex based on the sole assumption that it will go up in value. Instead, you should invest in a watch based on your passion and your own collection.

What is more important than any future investment potential is that the watch you buy is one that will make you happy. If you do want to curate a luxury watch collection that has a good chance of increasing in value, then buying a Rolex is certainly a good place to start, but that does not mean you should ever abandon your own individual tastes and preferences in the pursuit of making a profit.

Happy collecting!

Rolex Watches Appreciate Investment Vintage Explorer 1016 Gilt Dial



7 Responses to “Do Rolex Watches Go Up In Value?”

  1. ermanno magnanini says:

    Quite right,luck has it i purchased a Red submariner in 1975 ,quite by chance,the red just happened to be the watch that the watchmaker pulled out for me,at $250 it was a huge find for me when i subesquently sold it on the open market a few years ago

  2. Emad Zikry says:

    how about box & papers?

  3. David Harder says:

    Owned 14 k date just 34 m that I traded for new Stainless 41m. new in April 2018. Both had fluted bezels. Now see my old gold date selling for $10k. Think I got $4200 in trade and paid $3500 diff. Enjoy ur website but wish I had kept my gold 15037. Oh well maybe I’ll replace it from you when gold prices come down to earth😎💵. Dave H

  4. AL Nix says:

    Do you a GMT master from 1969 has reached its peak at $25K or it will keep going up ?

    • Paul Altieri says:

      Without a crystal ball, there’s no way to know for sure – however, they certainly aren’t making any more of those watches, so it isn’t like someone can just go into a store and buy one.

  5. In London when I was 19 years old in March 1975, I paid £192 for the Submariner Red. I also owned two green bezel anniversary Submariners. However, I always upgraded and in those years, could not afford to keep the watches.

  6. Tom Nosker says:

    I started buying Rolex sports watches decades ago. Along the way, I picked up a few used ones, when they happened to be made my birth year, in the 50’s. In my work, I built some bridges made or recycled plastics composites that I developed, and needed to wear good, waterproof watches- Rolex subs. After several years, my 1680 became too valuable to wear, so I got a less valuable 5513, made in the millions, it went on and on like that. I now have a nice collection, that turned out to be a good investment. Better investment than my stocks. All safe in a bank vault, with a couple out at a time.

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