The Cost of a Rolex


Rolex is one of the world’s leading purveyors of luxury watches, so it’s only natural to assume that they command a higher price than most brands.  While this is true to an extent, the cost of a Rolex is more complicated than that, with the brand’s catalog offering a broad selection of prices that range from a couple thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.  The secondary market provides an even more incredible range of prices with the famed Paul Newman Daytona selling for well over $17 million and other entry-level watches available for just $2k, just to give you a brief example.  Let’s discuss further which factors determine the cost of a Rolex watch.

The Retail Market

Rolex produces almost every component of their timepieces in-house, including most recently their movements, of which they previously outsourced the Daytona movement.  From forging gold and steel in their own foundries to employing a team of expert gemologists to hand set every diamond and gem, the materials and processes used during production are of the highest quality.  This factor alone commands a higher price than other watch companies that outsource similar components.

Rolex also offers a wide range of models with various metal finishes and functions that can significantly affect the overall price of the watch.  For example, a stainless steel Oyster Perpetual dress watch with a time-only dial is much less expensive to produce when compared to the complex Sky-Dweller in all gold.  Depending on your budget, there is a Rolex watch at retail to suit your wrist.

Entry-Level Options (stainless steel):
Oyster Perpetual ref. 114300 – $5,700
Air-King ref. 116900 – $6,200
Milgauss ref. 116400GV – $8,200

Mid-Level Options
Two-Tone Datejust ref. 126333 – $12,700
Stainless Steel and Ceramic Submariner ref. 116610 – $8,550

Top-Level Options
Platinum President Day-Date ref. 118206 – $57,600
White Gold and Platinum Yacht-Master II ref. 116689 $48,150.

Secondary Market

The possibilities on the secondary market are seemingly endless with prices ranging from a couple thousand dollars to well over $1 million.  Many factors determine a used Rolex price, such as the condition of the individual watch, year released, the presence of original parts in a vintage watch, materials used, and rarity.  Watches that are closely associated with celebrities or other well-known collectors, such as Paul Newman and Daytona watches that resemble the model that he wore, command a higher price on the pre-owned market.  Timepieces with an interesting backstory can fetch a pretty hefty sum as well. For example, the bezel-less Submariner comes from a relatively humble background but recently sold for over $1 million at auction due to its unique feature set.

Another factor that can affect the Rolex price on the secondary market is availability.  The stainless steel and ceramic Rolex Daytona 116500 is currently one of the hottest watches in the Rolex catalog.  Authorized dealers can’t keep enough in stock to meet the incredible demand, resulting in wait lists that are years long.  As they trickle into the secondary market, the used Daytona 116500 references tend to command a price well that is well over retail.

As mentioned above, there are quite a few factors to take into consideration before choosing a pre-owned Rolex, but if you purchase through a reputable source with plenty of knowledge on their inventory, such as, you can rest assured that you’re making a smart investment.  Below are some widely sought-after options to consider, broken down by approximate secondhand prices.

Entry Level Options
Two-Tone Datejust ref. 16233 $4,500
Stainless Steel Air-King ref. 5500 $3,500

Mid-Level Options
Rose Gold Cellini Danos ref. 4233 $4,800
Stainless Steel and Platinum Yacht-Master ref. 116622 $9,500

Top Level Options
Gold President Day-Date ref. 118238 $16,500
Stainless Steel and Ceramic Bezel Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116500 $21,500