Rolex watches are more than stunning timepieces with cool stories, complications, and functionality, they are a bonafide investment. Virtually everyone knows Rolex is the best watch brand to invest in, and that Rolex timepieces hold their value better than any other brand, but not everyone knows why and not many know which Rolex watches they should invest in.
Using our three decades of experience, we are going to guide you through buying a Rolex as an investment.
We are going to answer questions like:
- What makes a Rolex watch so valuable?
- What to look for when buying a Rolex?
- What are the best Rolex watches to Invest in?
Whether you are new to the world of Rolex or you are a seasoned vet, we are confident you will find this guide to Rolex Investments useful.
WHAT MAKES A ROLEX WATCH SO VALUABLE?
Rolex is not only the most famous watch brand in the world, luxury or otherwise, but it is also one of the most reputable and famous companies ever to exist. And while they have more supply than other top luxury brands like Patek Philippe, they have far more demand too. When demand outstrips supply, value shoots up. That’s what happens with many Rolex models…
Rolex isn’t the leading name in luxury wristwatches for no reason. They make gorgeous wristwatches that could survive an apocalypse. Moreover, Rolex uses unrivaled marketing tactics, which has given them nearly 100% brand recognition across the map.
Rolex is more than just a timepiece, it is a tool, a lifestyle, a status symbol. It’s exclusivity.
In their 100-plus years in business, Rolex has never wavered from their core value – creating iconic timepieces with the highest level of engineering and reliability. A Rolex watch will last forever, and you know when you buy a Rolex, the value will too. This makes them more investable, more desirable, and more in demand…year after year.
We can guarantee that Rolex will continue to enjoy success well into the future. Rolex is more than a brand, it is an empire in the world of luxury timepieces. They are the pinnacle of the upper echelon of wristwatches.
Rolex watches are like gold, you can sell them anywhere in the world, in an instant.
MOST EXPENSIVE ROLEX WATCHES EVER SOLD
To give you an idea of how valuable a Rolex watch can be, here are a few of the highest selling Rolex watches at auction.
Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona: $17.75 million (most expensive watch ever sold at auction in North America) – sold in 2017
Daytona Oyster ref. 6263 (1969): $5.2 million – sold in 2017
Daytona Neanderthal ref. 6240 (1966): $3.065 million – sold in 2018
Stainless Steel ref. 6062 (1953): $2.07 million – sold in 2017
Needless to say, not all Rolex watches will sell for exorbitant prices at Auction. But the vast majority do make for a good watch investment.
IS A ROLEX WATCH A GOOD INVESTMENT?
Many experts have discussed this topic and they all agree that Rolex watches hold their value better than most other investments, even in an economic slump. The current economic crisis that has occurred due to COVID-19 has proven this to still be true in 2020. While most investments are down, Rolex has remained stable throughout it all. Experts suggest that if purchasing the right Rolex watch, you can expect the value to appreciate by as much as 10-30% in the ensuing years.
Keyword there…the “right” watch.
Not all Rolex watches will be considered an investment. While most retain value or appreciate slightly, there are some things to consider if you want to buy a Rolex that will significantly appreciate in value, which we will now discuss…
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN INVESTING IN A ROLEX?
While there are many factors to consider when looking at a Rolex as an investment, let’s discuss the most important factors.
Some of these factors apply to new watches, others to used watches, and some to both. We will discuss more about investing in new vs used Rolex watches later on in this article…
1. Original Condition (All Period Correct)
You want to buy a Rolex with all of its original parts. Collectors place tremendous value on this.
If the watch does have any replacement parts, you need to make sure they are all 100% genuine Rolex parts, and if possible, to the correct period of when that watch was made.
Of course, the above is a non-issue when buying a brand new Rolex from an authorized Rolex dealer, but the best Rolex investments are typically found on the second hand market.
Aftermarket Modification: If you are thinking about a Rolex as an investment, stay away from aftermarket changes, even if they are diamonds. Collectors want completely original references, they will not appreciate your Rolex with its countless diamonds drilled in. The exception to this is if the aftermarket creation was done by a famous designer or the watch was owned by someone famous. That makes it more like memorabilia, adding value in a completely different way.
On average, only 1 in 100 vintage Rolex watches have not been polished before. If you find one that hasn’t been polished, you are in luck as unpolished vintage Rolex watches are highly coveted by collectors.
Note: Rolex watches are considered vintage when they are 25 years or older.
3. Original Box and Papers
If you are buying a Rolex with an “investment” in mind, the original box and papers are a must. A Rolex will always sell for much more, perhaps as much as 35% more, with its box and papers. In fact, many collectors won’t buy a Rolex without them.
4. Wear and Tear
Look for a watch without wear and tear.
Obviously, you don’t want a watch that is beat up. The exception to this is exclusive vintage watches. Moreover, many collectors appreciate natural wear (known as Patina) when it comes to rare Rolex watches.
Note: if you buy a Rolex and you plan to sell it down the line, you need to keep it in good condition. Rolex watches are extremely durable, so it’s not something to dwell on too much, but you should keep its condition mind if your Rolex doubles as an emotional (you want to wear it) and financial (you plan to sell it) investment.
5. Production Numbers
While it’s hard to know what references will increase in value in the future, looking at the production numbers is a great way to increase your chances of buying a Rolex that will appreciate in value.
Focus on Rolex references that have low production numbers and limited edition models. As demand grows, the value will increase significantly. A discontinued Rolex that had a limited production can make for an investment of a lifetime.
Generally, Rolex sports watches have far lower production numbers than dress watches. Of course, dress watches like the Day-Date and Datejust will hold their value incredibly well, Rolex sports watches have a greater chance of appreciating in value.
6. Waiting Lists
If you can get your hands on a new Rolex that has a long waiting list, it is almost guaranteed to be an instantly good investment. Rolex watches with long waiting lists tend to sell on the second hand market for about 50% higher than their current retail price.
Of course, it will be tremendously difficult to get your hands on said-Rolex watches in the first place…That is, unless you know someone. As you can imagine, it would be highly beneficial to have connections and make good friends with the right dealers. You could enjoy a highly sought after watch for a year or two then sell it or trade it with a profit.
Anticipating appreciation in the future is difficult, but one smart way to do this is by purchasing a Rolex with some peculiarities that people consider rare, or will eventually be rare. For example, Rolex Daytona’s that have a Zenith movement increase in price year after year, because Rolex no longer uses Zenith movements.
Although Rolex doesn’t define references by Mark I, II, III, IV and so on, collectors do. Ultimately, they place value on small nuances that make a production run for a particular reference special.
The point it, look for nuances, big or small, and take time to consider these details. It may someday be the reason why your watch is worth more than another Rolex of the same model or even with the same reference number.
Some novice collectors place more value on gold, platinum or diamond Rolex watches than they should. The issue with gold, platinum and diamond (factory-set) Rolex watches is the demand is less and they are expensive, so they will be much harder to sell. That’s not to say that they make for a bad investment. Some of the highest selling Rolex watches at auction have been made from precious metals. On top of that, gold is surely going to continue to increase in value. All in all, though, these precious Rolex watches are just harder to sell.
The most popular material for a Rolex is stainless steel. Stainless steel Rolex sports watches have far more demand, so they are more valuable on the second hand market.
9. Previous Owner
If you can get your hands on a Rolex that was owned by someone very famous, do it. Not to be crude, but if they were to pass away, that Rolex might just end up being ridiculously valuable. Like the Bao Dai Rolex (last emperor of Vietnam) which sold for millions of dollars.
This is not something most people will need to worry about, but if you stumble upon it, jump on it. Just make sure you have documentation of the previous owner.
WHICH ROLEX MODELS ARE GOOD INVESTMENT?
Rolex’s catalog is extremely diverse, especially when looking to discontinued references on the secondhand market. They have various collections, all with their own unique style and properties, and too many references to count.
To simplify it, here are the three hottest collections in terms of investments.
The Rolex Daytona collection consists of mechanical chronograph watches designed to meet the needs of racecar drivers. The stainless steel Daytona is probably the most collectible watch on the planet.
The Rolex GMT-Master is also one of the most collectible and iconic collections of watches there is. They are mechanical timepieces with a GMT complication, made for those who frequently travel through different timezones. Some of the most famous models from this collection include the Rolex Pepsi, Rolex Coke, and the Rolex Batman.
Possibly the most recognizable type of watch on the planet, the Rolex Submariner is incredibly popular and a staple of any collector’s watch box. The Submariner, which is a classic divers watch, is a very safe bet for a watch investment. The watch is timeless in style and it has proven to increase in value in its 6+ decades of existence.
Due to a short supply and a rapid increase in demand, the Rolex Milgauss has become one of the most underrated watches to invest in within the Rolex catalog. It is an anti-magnetic watch that was originally made for CERN back in 1954. While it has always been desirable, it has never been more sought after than it is today. The value has continually increased over the years and we foresee this watch, with its unique style and scientific heritage, becoming an all-time classic.
As mentioned previously in this article, Rolex sports watches tend to appreciate more than their dress watches, due to scarcity and the immense interest in sports watches among collectors. This is why all of the models mentioned above are Rolex sports watches. That being said, Rolex Datejust’s and Day-Date’s are great too.
To get more specific, in terms of exact references, here are a few watches that are great investments…if you can get your hands on them:
- 16520 Zenith Daytona Stainless Steel Black Dial Watch
- Rolex Batman (reference 126710, reference 116710)
- Rolex-Coke reference 16710
- Rolex Pepsi (reference 16700, reference 1675, reference 116170, reference 16750)
- 116610Lv Submariner “Hulk”
- Rolex 6262 Daytona Black Stainless Steel Vintage Watch
- Rolex 326934 Sky-Dweller Stainless Steel Blue Dial Watch
- Milgauss 116400GV Green Glass Anniversary Edition Watch
- Rolex 116400GV Milguass Stainless Steel Z Blue
Do any Rolex watches lose value?
Rolex watches retain value like no other luxury brand in the world. While not all Rolex watches appreciate in value, no Rolex watch is going to be worthless in the future. However, if you are buying a new Rolex watch, it is going to lose 15-30% of its value as soon as you take it out of the store, with exception to some very hard to obtain models with long waiting lists.
That being said, after 5-10 years, the vast majority of Rolex watches regain that loss of value.
If you want to avoid losing any value in the first place, you should buy from the secondhand market. You will not lose any value when buying a pre-owned Rolex, pending you paid a fair price for it.
NEW VS USED ROLEX FOR INVESTMENT
Anyone who thinks buying a Rolex new is a better investment is absolutely wrong. You lose a substantial amount of value the moment you purchase a new Rolex. Conversely, if you buy a pre-owned Rolex, you won’t lose any value at all after purchasing it. The original owner already took that hit. After all, it’s already pre-owned. Nobody cares if it’s pre-owned once, twice or one-hundred times. When it comes to pre-owned Rolex watches, you just need to consider the points we mentioned above regarding what to look for when investing in a Rolex – condition, box, papers, original parts, etc.
The only issue you run into when dealing with the secondhand market is counterfeits. These days, most counterfeits are super clones, so it’s hard to tell, even for a trained eye. This is why it’s extremely important that you go to an authorized dealer rather than buying online from Craigslist and e-Bay. Moreover, you need to see the original paperwork.
All in all, when it comes to buying a Rolex as an investment, the secondhand market is the way to go. Plus, many pre-owned watches look just as crisp as a new Rolex. Not to mention, a watch is only new until you wear it. A new watch doesn’t stay new for longer than it takes to put it on!
Purchasing a Rolex as an investment can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Do your due diligence, speak with experts like Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton, and buy as low as you can!
Tips to remember:
- Think about supply and demand.
- Consider future collectability and peculiarities.
- Make sure the Rolex is entirely original and has it’s paperwork and box.
When it doubt, get a Rolex that you love.
This is an investment that you will wear and enjoy, so make sure you like the style and it gives you a good feeling. A Rolex doubles as an emotional and financial investment. Not many investments can say that much.
Finding a reliable dealer who offers competitive prices is one of the best things you can do if you want to invest in one or more Rolex watches. Build a relationship with them. They will tell you when they get their hands on exclusive Rolex timepieces and they will give you a fair deal. The key to investing is buying low and selling high, so price will be a huge factor in making smart investment, not just the watch itself.
Diamonds By Raymond Lee has the largest collection of Rolex watches in South Florida. If you are looking for fair and honest Rolex dealings, Diamonds By Raymond Lee is the best place to buy a Rolex in Boca Raton or online.