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Rolex Oyster Perpetual Buyer's Guide

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection may get overlooked by flashier models like the Daytona or glitzy models like the Day-Date, but the Oyster Perpetual is the heart of the Rolex brand. One of the company's earliest creations, the Oyster Perpetual brings together two incredibly important technologies, laying the groundwork for all of the historic and modern Rolex watches we've come to know and love over the years. In this ultimate guide to the Rolex Oyster Perpetual, we're going to outline everything you need to know about this cornerstone timepiece and its importance within the watch world - from popular references to must-see pricing information.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Watch

Rolex Oyster Perpetual: An Overview

The history of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual started years before the watch itself came into existence. In 1926, Rolex released its famous 'Oyster' case, the first case in the world that was both water- and dust-proof. Then, in 1931, less than a decade later, Rolex released its first automatic self-winding 'Perpetual' movement. Combining these two key inventions, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual would go on to serve as the foundation for nearly every Rolex watch that followed, and it has remained in constant production for more than three-quarters of a century. Here’s a helpful timeline to take you through the Oyster Perpetual's history:

- 1926: Rolex invents the world's first water and dust-proof watch case.

- 1931: Rolex unveils its first self-winding movement.

- 1964: The first Ladies Oyster Perpetual is introduced by Rolex.

- 1986: Sapphire crystal used for the first time in the collection, added to the midsize Oyster Perpetual model.

- 2014: Rolex refreshes the Oyster Perpetual and introduces multiple sizes to the collection to include 26mm, 31mm, 34mm, and 36mm.

- 2015: Rolex adds a 39mm option to the Oyster Perpetual line.

- 2020: Rolex updates the entire Oyster Perpetual collection and replaces the 26mm model with a 28mm version and the 39mm model with a larger 41mm equivalent.

Vintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual Watch

Key Features & Innovations

Over the decades, Rolex has introduced a number of different styles to the Oyster Perpetual collection. However, this model's timeless design, durable construction, and simple elegance hasn’t changed at all. 

  • Materials  - Today, Rolex exclusively offers the Oyster Perpetual collection in stainless steel and all models, regardless of size or dial color, are crafted entirely from stainless steel and fitted with matching smooth steel bezels and Oyster bracelets. However, in the past, Rolex has produced both solid gold and two-tone versions of the Oyster Perpetual, which means you can find Oyster Perpetual watches in a variety of different metal options when shopping on the pre-owned market.
  • Case  - As the name suggests, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual features an Oyster case. First created in 1926, Rolex's Oyster case is credited as being the world's first truly waterproof and dustproof watch case, and it has served as the foundation for the vast majority of the brand’s output ever since. While not every Rolex watch features an Oyster case, every single model from the Oyster Perpetual collection has been defined by this hallmark feature.
  • Sizes  - The very first Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches were designed as men’s models, but over the years, Rolex has introduced many different case sizes to appeal to both men and women who were attracted to the simplicity and functionality of this beautiful timepiece. Here’s a quick breakdown: 
    • 24mm (discontinued)
    • 26mm (discontinued)
    • 28mm
    • 31mm
    • 34mm
    • 36mm
    • 39mm (discontinued)
    • 41mm
  • Bezel  - Today, all modern Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches are fitted with smooth bezels crafted from stainless steel. However, over the course of the Oyster Perpetual's history, Rolex has also fitted this historic model with both fluted and engine-turned bezels, and a variety of different styles of each can be found, depending on the model and when the watch was originally produced.
  • Dial  - The defining characteristic of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is its simple dial with no date display. Over the course of the history of the Oyster Perpetual, Rolex has fitted the watch with an incredibly wide range of dial styles, ranging from conservative colors such as black, white, and silver to vibrant and unusual options like those found on the current range of Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches.
  • Bracelet  - The Oyster Perpetual is traditionally outfitted with an Oyster bracelet in the same metal as the rest of the watch. However, older examples can sometimes be found with Jubilee bracelets, and some vintage Oyster Perpetual references were even originally offered with leather straps.
  • Movement  - Since its very first release in 1931, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual has been powered by an incredibly wide range of different movements. However, regardless of the specific model or era of production, all Rolex Oyster Perpetual movements are self-winding mechanical calibers that wind themselves via an oscillating weight that rotates with the natural motion of your wrist. Because the Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection is offered in so many different sizes, multiple different movements are used throughout the range depending on the size of the watch. Both the new 36mm and 41mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual models are powered by Rolex’s new-generation Caliber 3230 movement. However, open up the 28mm, 31mm, and 34mm versions and you will see that they're powered by the Caliber 2232. While these two in-house Rolex movements do have their differences, both offer identical timekeeping performance in accordance with Rolex's 'Superlative Chronometer' standards of +/-2 seconds per day.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 31 Stainless Steel Yellow Dial 31mm

Important Information & Terminology

There are a few important things you need to know about the Oyster Perpetual, because this name appears a lot across Rolex's catalog, and it can sometimes get a bit confusing.

  1. It's its own watch model. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is a watch model in its own right. The Oyster Perpetual is defined by its hermetically-sealed Oyster case and its self-winding Perpetual movement. Oyster Perpetual watches display the time with running seconds and do not have any additional features such as a date display.
  2. 'Oyster Perpetual' is used as a prefix to many Rolex watches. Some of the confusion around the Oyster Perpetual is due to the fact that Rolex uses the words 'Oyster Perpetual' as a prefix for many of its watches, like the Oyster Perpetual Explorer, Oyster Perpetual Datejust, Oyster Perpetual Day-Date, Oyster Perpetual Submariner, Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master, and Oyster Perpetual Milgauss (among others). The reason for this is because all of these watches feature an Oyster case and a Perpetual movement. So, the term 'Oyster Perpetual,' in this case, is used as a descriptor prefix of the watch, to denote that it has a water-resistant case and self-winding movement, not to denote that it is actually a member of the Oyster Perpetual collection.
  3. It's not a Datejust. Because the official name of the Datejust is the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust, sometimes people think that the Oyster Perpetual is the same thing as a Datejust. However, these are two different Rolex watch models. The easiest way to tell them apart? The Oyster Perpetual does not feature a date display, and the Datejust always has one at the three o'clock marker, most frequently appearing under a Cyclops magnification lens.
  4. It's not a quartz watch. The 'Perpetual' part of the Oyster Perpetual name refers to the self-winding automatic mechanical movement inside its waterproof Oyster case. An Oyster Perpetual will always feature a mechanical, automatic movement. Although Rolex did produce quartz watches known as Oysterquartz models, these watches are not Oyster Perpetual watches. Instead, they are actually special versions of either the Datejust or Day-Date, and both of these quartz-operated models feature date windows at the 3 o'clock location.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 Stainless Steel Green Dial 41mm

Price Range for the Rolex Oyster Perpetual

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is often considered to be one of the more affordable Rolex watches. Today, you can pick up a vintage or pre-owned Rolex Oyster Perpetual for as little as a couple grand. However, the price may vary depending on the specific model and its configuration. For example, solid gold models and rare or collectible vintage references can often be some of the most expensive Oyster Perpetual watches available. Additionally, the current production Oyster Perpetual collection with brightly colored dials is incredibly popular and most models have waiting lists at authorized retailers. Although retail prices range from $5,100 for the 28mm version to $5,900 for the 41mm model, nearly all of these watches sell for a premium on the open market and trade hands for values significantly above their original brand-new retail prices.

Model/ Reference

Current Buy Price



Ref. 116000



Colored dials, 36mm, Oyster bracelet

Ref. 114300



39mm, Oyster bracelet

Ref. 770080

Stainless Steel


31mm, Oyster bracelet

Ref. 76243

Steel & 18k Yellow Gold


24mm, Jubilee or Oyster bracelet

Ref. 76080

Stainless Steel


26mm, Oyster bracelet

Ref. 6719

Steel & Gold


24mm, Oyster or Jubilee bracelet

Ref. 6085

14k Yellow Gold


34mm, Oyster bracelet

Top Rolex Oyster Perpetuals

Given that the Rolex Oyster Perpetual has been in production for more than three-quarters of a century, there are a near-endless number of Rolex Oyster Perpetual models on the secondary market - from new to vintage and discontinued. Here are some of the references that we find to be the most impressive by size category (26mm, 31mm, 34mm, 36mm, 41mm).

Oyster Perpetual ref. 126000

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 126000 seamlessly melds tradition with contemporary design, epitomizing Rolex's enduring commitment to excellence. Its 36mm case harmoniously pairs with vibrant dial options, reflecting a balance of understated elegance and a touch of modern flair. Harnessing the power of Rolex's precise automatic movement, this timepiece promises reliability encased in the iconic Oyster architecture. The 126000 stands as a testament to Rolex's rich history, offering wearers a piece that resonates with both heritage and innovation.

Oyster Perpetual ref. 124200

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 124200 radiates simplicity and timeless elegance, representing the core essence of Rolex's pioneering spirit. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, its 34mm case and sunburst dial showcase the brand's dedication to both aesthetics and functionality. As an embodiment of Rolex's innovation, the watch features a self-winding movement secured within the renowned Oyster case. Embrace a legacy of watchmaking excellence with this emblematic timepiece that effortlessly bridges classic charm with modern finesse.

Oyster Perpetual ref. 176234

The Rolex 176234 edition of the Ladies Oyster Perpetual is a modern model from the mid-2000s. Its sapphire crystal, double-sealed Twinlock waterproof crown, and Superluminova make for a great collector’s watch - and, its materials are equally as eye-catching. The White Rolesor pairs Oystersteel with 18k white gold, and the black dial is simply striking, complete with white gold Arabic numerals and pink luminous baton hour markers. 

Key Features

  • 26mm case size
  • Automatic 2130 movement
  • 18k white gold fluted bezel
  • Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal
  • Stainless steel Oyster bracelet with Oysterclasp


  • This watch is currently available for $5,345.66 on Bob’s Watches secondary marketplace, and backed by a one-year warranty. 

Oyster Perpetual ref. 177200

Searching for a mid-size Oyster Perpetual timepiece? The ref. 177200 is the perfect option and boasts a unique dial option for ladies. Featuring a 31mm Oyster case, a caliber 2231 Perpetual movement, and a matching steel bracelet with flat links, this iconic dress watch is sure to be your new everyday essential. The time is elegantly displayed on a silver dial set with pink luminous and silver Arabic hour markers and central sweep hands. 

Key Features:

  • 31mm case size
  • Waterproof screw-down crown
  • Self-winding 2231 movement
  • Stainless steel with smooth bezel
  • Pink index hour markers
  • Oyster bracelet with folding Oysterclasp


  • This watch is currently available for $7,197.86 on Bob’s Watches secondary marketplace, and backed by a one-year warranty. 

Oyster Perpetual ref. 6565

This extraordinary timepiece really proves that Rolex watches are crafted to last a lifetime. The vintage Oyster Perpetual ref. 6565 is an early model produced in the later 1950s. Its stunning feature set includes a 34mm Oyster case in yellow gold, a matching engine-turned bezel, and a champagne dial topped with older-style arrowhead hour markers and tapered hands. Lastly, it’s paired with a handsome black leather bracelet, making it a great dress watch.

Key Features:

  • 34mm case size
  • Vintage condition
  • Engine-turned bezel and acrylic crystal
  • Champagne dial
  • Tritium hands and lume plots


  • This watch is currently available for $6,683.36 on Bob’s Watches secondary marketplace, and backed by a one-year warranty.

Oyster Perpetual ref. 116000

Handsome and versatile, the iconic Oyster Perpetual ref. 116000 is a part of Rolex's dress watch series. Featuring a time-only movement, all-steel finish, lumed hour markers, and a stylish 3-link bracelet, collectors will marvel at the timepiece's classic style and simple function.

Key Features:

  • 36mm case size 
  • Automatic 3130 movement
  • Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal
  • Stainless steel Oyster bracelet with folding Oysterclasp 
  • Silver dial with Superluminova display


  • This watch is currently available for $7,197.86 on Bob’s Watches secondary marketplace, and backed by a one-year warranty. 

Oyster Perpetual ref. 124300

The Rolex 124300 is a stylish and practical watch for any collector. This larger 41mm Oyster Perpetual is equipped with a brand new caliber 3230 Perpetual movement which is COSC-certified, boasting up to -2/+2 seconds per day. Coupled with self-winding technology and Rolex's innovative Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, this timepiece is extremely accurate. Its stainless steel finish is crafted from Rolex's proprietary 904L-grade steel which is highly resistant to corrosion and scratches, and its luxe green dial sets the backdrop for Chromalight batons.  

Key Features:

  • 41mm case size
  • Automatic 3230 movement
  • Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal
  • Green index dial with Chromalight display
  • Stainless steel Oyster bracelet with folding Oysterclasp and Easylink 5mm comfort extension link


  • This watch is currently available for $13,371.86 on Bob's Watches secondary marketplace, and backed by a one-year warranty.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 Stainless Steel 39mm

Reviews of Popular Oyster Perpetual Models

Interested in seeing the Rolex Oyster Perpetual up close? Join our experts in reviewing and comparing some of the brand’s most intricate and captivating timepieces.

Buying & Selling Oyster Perpetual Watches

When considering buying a Rolex Oyster Perpetual, it's important to decide whether or not you want to buy a new model or a pre-owned one. However, as is increasingly becoming the case with current-production Rolex watches, you simply can’t buy many of the brand's most desirable models from a retailer without spending a significant amount of time on a waiting list. 

Historically, the Oyster Perpetual was one of the easiest Rolex watches to find at an authorized retailer. However, with the release of the new generation Oyster Perpetual in September 2020, complete with colorful dial options, many of the references—particularly the 36mm and 41mm models—are now among the most fiercely pursued models at a retail  level. Nearly all of the models from the current generation are sold-out at a retail level, and most trade hands for values significantly in excess of their brand-new retail prices on the secondary market.

However, if you’re searching for an authenticated, near-mint condition Rolex Oyster Perpetual on the secondary market, our collection offers something for every collector. All pre-owned Rolex watches are guaranteed to be 100% genuine and certified authentic. Plus, many of our pre-owned pieces come with the original box and papers for your record keeping. Interested in selling or trading your Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch? Get in touch with our experts to learn more about the process and get an estimated value for your piece. 

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 and 41 Turquoise Blue Green 36mm 41mm

Learn More About Rolex

Founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis, Rolex is the world's most famous luxury watch brand, known for its prestigious Swiss-made watches that feature high-quality craftsmanship, timeless designs, and innovative features. Some of the brand’s most famous collections include the Submariner, Daytona, and the Datejust.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Oyster Perpetual

What does 'Oyster' and 'Perpetual' mean? 

In Rolex terminology, the word 'Oyster' means that the caseback screws down for water resistance. The word 'Oyster' in this case refers to the Oyster case used for the Oyster Perpetual (along with many other Rolex models). Invented by Rolex in 1926, this case was the first in the world to be reliably resistant to both water and dust. On the other hand, the word ‘Perpetual’ means that the movement is self-winding, also known as automatic. Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches are only ever outfitted with these mechanical Perpetual movements. However, nearly all modern Rolex watches use the prefix 'Oyster Perpetual' to denote their use of the waterproof Oyster case and self-winding Perpetual movement. While many Rolex watches have the words 'Oyster Perpetual' as part of their name, the Oyster Perpetual is also its own collection of watches.

Is a Rolex Oyster Perpetual a good investment?

Like nearly all models produced by this iconic luxury watch manufacturer, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is a good investment. This watch is effortlessly timeless and an undisputed classic, meaning that there will always be a market for it. Additionally, like all Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual has an amazing ability to retain value over the years, despite near constant wear and use. The current-production Oyster Perpetual models are selling for significantly more than their brand-new retail prices on the open market, and older examples make great entry-level watches for newer collectors thanks to their relatively affordable and stable prices on the secondary market.

How can I spot a fake Rolex Oyster Perpetual?

There are a number of different ways to spot a fake Rolex Oyster Perpetual. However, since this watch has such a long history and has been produced with so many different variations, what to look for when verifying the authenticity of an Oyster Perpetual will differ from one generation to the next. We suggest checking out our complete 'How to Spot a Fake Rolex' guide for the most comprehensive and up-to-date tips on how to properly authenticate a Rolex watch. Sadly, counterfeiters are getting increasingly better each day at copying Rolex's designs, and sometimes the only way to truly confirm that a Rolex Oyster Perpetual is genuine is to open it up and inspect the components of its movement with high-powered magnification. This is why it is also important to only ever purchase a Rolex from either an authorized retailer or from a trusted and reliable pre-owned dealer that stands behind its products with both a warranty and a lifetime authenticity guarantee.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yellow Dial Stainless Steel 2020

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Green Dial 41mm Caliber 3230