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Watch Review

The Under-the-Radar Collectible

Paul Altieri

In the world of Rolex watches we continually hear “Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Double Red, Gilt, tropical, bake-lite, floating cosmograph, floating Daytona, open four, closed four, creamy lume, tritium, mark I thru V, faded insert – the list goes on with various nuances offering varying collectibility.  These timepieces are highly desired and sought after with the vintage dealers all chasing down the same watches from the increasingly vintage-savvy public.  But what’s next? Which Rolex model can be suggested to someone wanting to enter the collector market other than the Red Submariner?  I have been purchasing the modern pieces – actually, any non four-digit sport model – at Bob’s Watches for seven years now and I have seen the market dramatically increase on a few other models that the entry level collector – or perhaps the elusive person looking for an investment piece – may be interested in.

The all-gold Rolex Date Ref 15238, Ref. 16238 and  Ref 1002

Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 16710

The Rolex GMT Ref 16710 is not a shocker here.  They are a discontinued model that is not currently considered vintage but collectible nonetheless.  As they become scarce in the market and excellent examples become hard to find, we have watched the demand for the watch and the price for it soar. On top of that, if the insert on this model is a “Pepsi” or “Coke,” and/or faded, and come with the original box and papers, the market adds a premium.  Even with a new insert, this GMT is a hot item.  We have a tough time keeping this model in stock.

The Rolex GMT Ref 16710 is a fantastic watch that should be in any collector’s watch box.

A Collectible All Gold Rolex

The shocker of this list, perhaps, would be the inclusion of the all gold Date. Whether it be a Ref. 1002, 1005, 1503, 16018 or 16238, 14k or 18k gold, they all fly out of the office.  These models would sit on our site, but this year they are finding their place in the vintage market and showing increased sales at auction houses as well. The rivet bracelet or a model with box and papers, offers an even higher increase. In my opinion, the price-point for this all gold Rolex, vintage-casual look and the 34mm case size is what makes this watch a special buy. I wear a 1505 rivet w/ blue diamond dial and could have sold it off my wrist more than I can recall.  We started selling these models in the $5k range and now they have hit the $10k market rivaling the collectible 1803 ‘pie pan’ Day-Date.

This All-Gold Rolex Ref 15037 with Rivet Bracelet

If you want a clean, everyday, classic vintage Rolex for under $3k, that choice would be the Rolex Air-King.  We started selling these at $2,100 and currently sell this model at $2,800 to $3,200 depending on overall condition, and whether the watch has the original papers and box. Not a bad investment for one year’s time.

An Air-King Ref. 5500  is a great watch to begin your vintage Rolex collection.
Paul Altieri
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