How Much Is a Rolex?
Rolex isn't just the top watch company in the world, they’re one of the planet's most iconic brands. Because of this fame, many people equate "Rolex" far too closely with "unaffordable." However, this isn't necessarily the case. Because while the retail prices for Rolex watches have risen 25% in the past two years, the preowned market has become much more inviting to collectors and enthusiasts who don't want to pay retail prices or sit on the waiting list of their local dealer.
So the question remains: How much is a Rolex? Well, there are a variety of factors that go into pricing a Rolex - from model to the year it was produced. In this piece, we're going to break down the main factors that go into pricing a Rolex, as well as the different price tiers and most commonly asked questions.
How much is a retail Rolex?
Due to overwhelming demand, the prices of Rolex watches on the retail market continues to skyrocket. Much of this is Rolex’s own doing, of course, with their brilliantly effective marketing prowess. Rolex has always associated itself with expressions of success and achievement, neither of which come cheap.
The lowest price model, the Oyster Perpetual, starts at under $5,000. While there's definitely an argument for that still being a lot of money for a watch, this idea of an 'entry-level' model is different from that of, say, an entry-level car, or an entry-level Patek Philippe. It is also important to note that where most cars generally fall into one of two categories – the base model, and then all the ones you would actually want to own – the lowest price Rolex is still a Rolex.
But, the prices only go up from there. One of the brand's most popular watches, the Submariner, starts at $7,900 - and that's just for the stainless steel model. Rolex watches with more complicated calibers, like the Sky-Dweller, will cost you $14,800 for the stainless steel model. Then there are icons like the Daytona which command some of the highest price tags. While this watch starts out at $13,150 for the stainless steel model, the two tone model will cost you some $17,400. And the prices only go up as you add diamonds and gems.
How much is a pre-owned Rolex?
The market for pre-owned models is thriving. Like any high-price item, a certain level of depreciation will hit a brand new Rolex as soon as it leaves the store. But with the company’s pedigree being what it is, there's a definite 'glass floor' beyond which that price will not sink.
In fact, if you choose the right model and hang on to it long enough, in some instances, the cost of owning a Rolex is negative. Many references appreciate in value, particularly the more 'niche' offerings that are produced in lower numbers.
Of course, some models hold their value better than others. Often seen as the true emblem of the brand, the Submariner remains in great demand due to its unrivaled build quality and classic design. It's the same story with the likes of the Daytona and GMT-Master II.
How do you determine the price of a pre-owned Rolex?
However, it's important to point out that the Rolex price range is quite varied and the elements that go into determining the price can be extensive. The fair market value of a pre-owned watch is about much more than age. In fact, vintage watches often fetch much higher price tags than a second-hand watch from the modern generation. So below, we're giving you insight into the methods we use to determine the price of a pre-owned Rolex.
The overall condition of a watch is incredibly important when it comes to determining value. Generally, the better the condition, the more favorable this is towards the price. But, it's important to note that rare vintage defects - like tropical dials, ghost bezels, and patina - can actually increase the value of the watch.
2. Model and Reference number
When it comes down to it, some Rolex watches are more collectable and popular than others. Understanding the difference is key, which is why if you don't know where to look, an expert should help you. For example, a Submariner ref. 5512 and a ref. 5513 may look nearly the same to you. But, there is quite a big difference in price between these two models, even though they’re from the same era. So, knowing the reference number is important to price it properly.
3. Original features and authenticity
When it comes to answering the question, 'How much is a Rolex?' the difference between a circa-correct Rolex and an authentic Rolex is incredibly important. If you have the former, that means your watch boasts components that are all correct for the time it was produced. If you have the later, that means that all the components are made by Rolex. However, a Rolex can be 100% authentic without being circa-correct — which is what usually happens when parts are replaced over the years. Typically, a circa-correct Rolex is worth more.
4. Box and papers
Having the original box and papers that accompanied the retail purchase of your Rolex can help boost value. It is not always a major factor in the price, however, it can help verify authenticity. It can also push the price of a vintage Rolex — which may already be rare — even higher.
5. Provenance and rarity
As we mentioned, the model and reference number significantly affect the value of a Rolex. But, there are exceptions to the rule — provenance and rarity. Say, for example, that you have an otherwise standard market Rolex Datejust. If it was owned by a celebrity, that provenance can dramatically boost the resale value. Another example could be that you have a regular, not rare reference, but it boasts a rare dial, defect or unusual feature that makes it rare. These details can set it apart and raise the price.
What kind of pre-owned Rolex can I get in my price range?
Rolex has always been at the top of the top in terms of quality, but not every creation that leaves its doors will have to cost you an arm and a leg. While more in-demand pieces like the Daytona and most recent Pepsi bezel GMT-Master II are still commanding a steep premium, there are others that can be had for a relative bargain. This is something you may want to consider when looking at the different Rolex price points.
With that in mind, we're looking at four price categories in the Rolex spectrum, and what watches can be had for under $5k, $5-$10k, $10-$20k, and over $20k. At Bob's, we firmly believe there is a Rolex for every luxury collector’s budget, and the best place to look is our huge catalog of watches. Here, we’ll also show you some of the Rolex watches that you can expect to find within each price range.
Even under five grand, you can find an interesting selection of pre-owned and vintage Rolex watches. They’ll mostly be cased in steel, and more often than not, these watches will be a bit more on the compact side (often 34-36mm case diameters).
- The 16030 Rolex Datejust is a beautiful example of the versatile, classic watch you can grab in this price point. Today the 16030 is known for its unpretentious design that features a steel-on-steel finish, a unique engine-turned bezel and matching silver dial outfitted with Tritium lume. This watch will last the test of time (and style) while only costing you $3,895.
- This Rolex Oyster Perpetual AirKing is a steal, especially for such a modern watch. This 2017 ref. 114200 Rolex pairs classic styling with modern amenities, giving the wearer the best of both worlds. Plus, it really has this hybrid look that combines the modern Oyster Perpetual and an Explorer in the best possible way. You can snag this watch for $4,195.
- There are some pleasant surprises in the under $5k range, too, like this two-toned stainless steel and 18k yellow gold Datejust 16233. The Roman dial on this Rolex instantly elevates the piece, making it the perfect watch to dress up or down and totally classic enough to transcend time. It can be yours for $4,995.
$5k — $10k
Once you get north of $5k, a good number of Rolex classics are in the running. Your options significantly expand to include those with larger case sizes (39+mm), and occasionally you’ll see two-tone models in the running, in addition to those with stainless steel cases.
- The Rolex Explorer II is an icon — especially with that polar white dial. It’s great value that you can find a pre-owned Explorer II ref. 16570 within this range, this particular model from 1999 sitting right at the cusp of vintage. Get your hands on this model for $7,195.
- The Submariner is one of Rolex’s most popular watches ever. In this range, you can get your hands on a beautiful standard Submariner 116610, featuring a stainless steel case and bracelet as well as a black bezel and matching face. This is a totally classic Submariner that will age gracefully. Plus, this particular watch is from 2011 or later, meaning it's still relatively modern. You can own it for $9,795.
- We told you there are two-tones in this range, so we just had to show you one of the examples. This here is a Submariner 16613LN from around 1990 which you can snag for just $8,495. The Submariner is such a classic that even though it’s pushing thirty years, it’s looks are totally relevant.
- Platinum? For under $10k? Yes, you read that right. This beautiful Yacht-Master ref. 116622 circa 2017 features a beautiful platinum bezel and matching dial. The slick white metal finish is incredibly popular amongst pre-owned Rolex collectors who seek a versatile yet luxurious statement piece for all occasions — not just regatta. It can be yours for $9,795.
$10k – $20k
Once you get north of $10k even more options open up, including a few pieces that are in especially high demand on the retail market these days. In this price range, you also start getting some really unique and fun options.
- The blue and black bezel ‘Batman’ GMT-Master II ref. 126710 is one of the hottest watches to own right now. People also go crazy over the pairing of the stainless steel case and Jubilee bracelet — giving this watch this durable yet dressy appeal. They’re hard to track down, so finding one is exciting, especially in this price range. You can get your hands on the 2019 model for $14,995.
- This 18k Everose gold Rolex Submariner featuring a matte black ceramic rotatable bezel is the ideal combination of modern, sophisticated and sporty. The pink, solid gold case is extremely elegant while the steel-reinforced rubber band provides the durability you need to put this watch to the test. This is the kind of watch you’ll never want to take off and won’t ever need to. It can be yours for $16,495.
- The Hulk, with a modern green ceramic bezel and matching face, has a cult following. This bold and unique Rolex Submariner 116610LV is one of the most coveted watches on the planet, and by entering this price point you can own it for $17,595. The model is from 2018, so it’s still quite contemporary. Plus, you’re sure to steal glances sporting this one.
$20k and over
Once you get north of $20k, things start to get interesting. Here, you start to not only see the best of the brand’s modern offerings but incredible and rare classic vintage collectibles, too.
- An exceptional example of the kind of modern Rolex you can buy in this pre-owned price range is this Sky-Dweller ref. 326938 from 2019. This model is forged entirely out of 18k yellow gold. Plus, the Sky-Dweller boasts one of Rolex’s most impressive and complicated movements ever made. This watch will cost you $38,995 but will surely be worth every penny.
- An extreme example of the kind of rare and unique vintage watches you can attain in this price range is this Rolex Submariner 1530. This is one of the early models of the Submariner from 1961 and features desirable elements like the 5 bezel insert that has faded to a dark gray or the meters first glossy gilt dial with exclamation point and chapter ring. There are fewer and fewer of these watches on the market, so when you see one — even priced at $59,895 - you’re going to want to snag it.
- The Daytona is a Rolex icon. Accordingly, the prices for these famous timepieces tends to be on the higher end. Once you reach this price range, you have a great selection of Daytona’s to choose from, including this Daytona ref. 16520 which is going for $21,595. Yes, it’s a stainless steel model, but it’s on the lower end of the $20k and over price range. Plus, it’s a classic style that will be appreciated for decades to come.
How much is a Rolex? Frequently Asked Questions
Here, we're answering the questions our customers ask us the most when it comes to determining the price of a Rolex.
Do Rolex watches lose value?
Yes, while most watches might be similar to buying a new car, which depreciates the minute you drive off the lot, a Rolex watch can hold value and even appreciate over time.
How much is a Rolex worth?
There are a few quick ways to determine how much your Rolex is worth. Firstly, we always suggest searching our extensive database of watches to see what other similar watches are going for. We believe in having a totally transparent process, which is why we post both the 'buy' and 'sell' price of our Rolex watches. However, unless you have the serial number and model number, you can't properly determine the value of your Rolex. If this is the case, our team of experts can still help you assess the value of your Rolex. Simply give us the information you have — you can even attach a photo - from the 'Sell Your Watch' page on our website, and we’ll get back to you with a quote. However, if you already know the serial number and model number of your Rolex, you can use the pricing tool on our sell Rolex page and request a quote quickly and easily.
How can I find my Rolex serial number to help determine the value?
If you don't have your Rolex certificate, check out this video below which will show you how to find the serial number and model number on a Rolex. Rolex serial numbers are found under the bracelet, engraved on the 6 o’clock side of the watch. You’ll then be able to find your Rolex production year, model number and submit the information for a quote to purchase your pre-owned Rolex. We even have a handy Rolex serial number guide (with dates) to help you out even further. At Bob's, we want to ensure that selling your pre-owned Rolex is a simple, pain-free process.
Which Rolex holds its value best?
While a Rolex in general will likely hold its value or appreciate, the Rolex Submariner and Rolex GMT-Master collections are probably your safest investments. Both are durable, and robust with a sporty design.
Why are Rolex so expensive?
The materials used to make a Rolex are very expensive. Additionally, the mechanical ingenuity and craftsmanship in every Rolex warrants a higher price tag. All of this combined with an overwhelming market demand makes Rolex watches more expensive than many of the other brand names.
How can I get an estimate on my Rolex?
Rolex timepieces have a remarkable way of retaining their value throughout the years, and in some instances, even appreciating if given enough time and the right circumstances. Whether you are interested in selling a vintage Rolex Submariner, a contemporary Datejust, or a Day-Date President with a diamond dial, the first step you will take in the process of selling your Rolex is determining its fair market value. We have a free request form you can fill out quickly and easily to get an estimate on your Rolex today.