Rolex stands for quality – but also for “corresponding prices” … The fact is, many models of the Swiss manufacturer exceed the budget of most watch-buyers. Many, but not necessarily all. In this article, we introduce you to six Rolex models, which are not as well known as the Sea-Dweller, GMT-Master or Cosmograph Daytona, but offer the highest quality at a much more affordable price:
#1: Rolex Air-King
The Air-King pays tribute to aviation and the shared history of Rolex and the world of aeronautics. The “King of the Skies” has been polarizing Rolex fans for a long time. For some it’s too simple, others like the “simplicity” of the Air-King, which makes it not least one of the more affordable entry-level models. Since 2016, it comes in a discreet 40 mm stainless steel case with a black clock-face and enlarged numbers at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, and shows the “Air-King” lettering, which was created in the 1950s especially for this model.
Equipped with the Caliber 3131, an internal screen provides the automatic mechanism with magnetic protection. Certified as a superlative chronometer, the Air-King offers guaranteed waterproofness down to a depth of 100 meters.
The price of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King is 5,700 euros.
Second-hand market: On well-known online platforms such as eBay and Chrono24, older models of the Air-King are regularly available from as little as €1,000. Usually the offers are between 2,000 and 8,000 euros.
#2: Rolex Oyster Perpetual
The Oyster Perpetual, the quintessential Oyster, with legendary design and precise, reliable functionality, is even more affordable in its simplest form. Its housing is made of a solid block of stainless steel and pressure-resistant up to 10 bar thanks to the screw-down Twinlock crown, which is equipped with the patented double sealing system.
Rolex offers the model in sizes 26, 31, 34, 36 and 39 millimeters. Depending on the size of the case, three different automatic calibers are used: the Rolex Caliber 2231 works in the 26 and 31 millimeter variants, the 3130 Caliber in the 34 and 36 millimeter variants, and the 3132 Caliber in the Oyster Perpetual 39. All models have the COSC chronometer certificate.
The smallest and most economical 26-millimeter variant of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual costs 4,500 euros. The price for the Oyster Perpetual 39 is 5,250 euros.
Second-hand Oyster Perpetual 39: between 3,500 and 5,000 euros.
#3: Rolex Explorer
The Rolex Explorer is the watch of adventurers and explorers. It became a cult watch early on thanks to its celebrity wearer, first Everest climber Sir Edmund Hillary. Since 2010, the Explorer presents itself in a slightly enlarged 39 mm case.
Its simple dial with a strong contrast and its Chromalight hands ensure excellent readability even in the dark and in poor visibility. The Rolex automatic Caliber 3132 provides the reliable precision of the COSC-certified and 10 bar waterproof Explorer.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer costs 6,000 euros.
Second-hand market: between 3,000 and 18,000 euros.
#4: Rolex Datejust 41
Rolex calls the Datejust the archetype of the modern wristwatch for its timeless aesthetics and functionality. When it was introduced in 1945, it was the first automatic and water-resistant wristwatch with a chronometer function that indicated the date in a window at the 3 o’clock position – hence its name.
Since 2009, the Datejust is available in a 41 mm case. It is powered by the modern Rolex automatic Caliber 3235, which has a power reserve of about 70 hours. Of course, it is certified as a “superlative chronometer” and features the typical Oyster waterproofness.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41 is available in different versions. If you want gold and a diamond-studded clock-face, you are at around 13,000 euros. The model presented above in stainless steel however is available for “just” 6,800 euros.
Second-hand market: between 4,500 and 6,500 euros.
#5: Rolex Lady-Datejust 28
Also affordable and certainly the right choice for the lady is the Lady-Datejust 28. It is now one of the models for which Rolex offers almost endless combinations of materials and designs. Accordingly, the price range is variable. In platinum and with lots of diamonds, the € 50,000 mark is quickly exceeded … But it can also be done otherwise!
With the Oyster band, it is another 100 less in this classic white Rolesor guise, which is on par with the price of the stainless steel version of the Datejust 41 with a cambered bezel. The Lady Datejust 28 is also available in this variation, also entirely in stainless steel, where it costs 5,800.
Second-hand market: depending on the material between 4,500 and 40,000 euros.
#6: Rolex Submariner „No Date“
The Rolex Submariner is a legend! It is the diving watch par excellence and one of the most famous and best selling watches worldwide. The Submariner, introduced in 1953, is currently available in two versions, with and without date display. The Rolex Submariner in its purest form, without date, like the original model, is also the least costly.
A whole range of features make the Submariner the perfect diver’s watch: its sturdy case and its high, guaranteed water resistance to a depth of 300 meters. The excellent readability of hands, clock-face and bezel are of enormous importance when attempting to read the dive time safely even in poor visibility. The chronometer-certified automatic Caliber 3130 ensures maximum precision. Another highlight of the Submariner is the massive Oyster band with Oysterlock safety clasp and Glidelock extension system, which allows the watch to be adapted quickly and precisely to diving suits of varying thickness.
The price of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner is 6,900 euros.
Second-hand market: between 4,000 and 100,000 euros.
#7: Rolex Milgauss
The Rolex Milgauss was developed in 1956 for engineers and technicians to work smoothly despite there being strong magnetic disturbances. A protective shield inside the Oyster housing ensures that the Milgauss can withstand the effects of a magnetic field up to 1000 Gauss (0.1 Tesla or 80,000 A/m) without losing functionality and precision. Hence its name, a combination of the French word for a thousand: mille, and the unit of measure for the force of magnetic fields: Gauss.
The current version of the Milgauss has the second hand in the form of a lightning bolt, just like its 1956 ancestor. Striking innovations are the green sapphire glass exclusively developed for the Milgauss and the “electrifying” Z-blue clock-face. It is also offered with a black clock-face.
The Milgauss 40mm Oyster stainless steel case is waterproof to 100 meters depth. Its self-winding manufactured mechanism, the 3131, is certified as a C.O.S.C. chronometer, and its Chromalight hands and numbers provide excellent readability, even in the dark.
Cost of the Oyster Perpetual Milgauss: 7,550 euros.
Second-hand market: between 4,000 and 25,000 euros.
#8: Rolex Cellini Time
Well, with its current price of 14,050 euros, the Cellini Time may be a little out of line in this article … but we do not want to exclude the elegant Cellini collection entirely. And there indeed is its most affordable representative. And after all, it comes in 18ct gold.
The price of the Rolex Cellini Time is 14,050 euros
Second-hand market: between 8,500 and 12,000 euros.
Constantly updated article, originally posted online in February 2015