10 Best Beginner Rolex Watches

People have various reasons for buying a Rolex. Some of you may buy it just for its chic design, history, or name value, while others simply find it durable and want it to be an extension to their formal attire. 

Unfortunately, those of you who are not watch experts might have some difficulty in making the right call for your very first Rolex timepiece. With so many models to choose from, it can be quite difficult to determine which will fit your lifestyle and needs the most. Lucky for you, we have curated a list of some of the most acclaimed entry-level watches from the brand. Luxurious and premium, these beginner Rolex pieces will surely satisfy you one way or another.

1. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Ref. 124300-0003 

front view of Rolex Oyster Perpetual Ref. 124300-0003  watch
  • Case material: Oystersteel
  • Case dimension: 34mm
  • Movement: Automatic, Mechanical
  • Power reserve: Approximately 55 hours 
  • Water-resistance: 100 meters

If you are looking for a sophisticated and quintessential luxury watch, it cannot get any better than the Oyster Perpetual. The Oyster Perpetual is considered the direct successor of Rolex’s iconic Oyster timepiece, which was released in the 1920s and is recognized as the world’s first waterproof watch. All contemporary Oyster Perpetual models have clean looks, timeless appeals, and pristine finishes. They are also some of the label’s most understated models in terms of their design and function. As such, they make a great addition to any outfit or collection. With so many sizes and colorways to choose from, it is impossible not to fall in love with the Oyster Perpetual’s charms and features.

One of the variations in the current market is the Oyster Perpetual Ref. 124300-0003. Versatile and dapper, this men’s watch looks good with a suit and tie, but would also not feel out of place with casual get-ups. It sports a 41mm Oystersteel case, a bracelet made out of the same material, and a polished fixed bezel. The dial boasts a lovely sunray blue finish and a legible Chromalight display and is protected by a sturdy sapphire crystal. Furthermore, it has applied baton indices and hands, all coated with luminous elements that provide excellent legibility in low-light conditions. Priced at around $6,200 USD, this timepiece also has a water resistance capacity of up to 100 meters. 

2. Rolex Air-King Ref. 116900

front view of Rolex Air-King Ref. 116900 watch
  • Case material: Oystersteel
  • Case dimension: 40mm
  • Movement: Automatic, Mechanical
  • Power reserve: approximately 48 hours
  • Water-resistance: 100 meters

Extremely tough and highly legible, modern pilot watches have really come a long way. From just helping pilots make quick flight decisions, they now serve as stylish and classic accessories for both the gents and the ladies. This makes them even more worth the purchase. One of the best sources of aviator watches is Rolex. They provide not just dependability and function, but also gorgeous aesthetics with their pilot watches.

Rolex’s Air King serves as an ode to the industry of aviation. First unveiled during the late 1940s, it gives off a vintage feel while embodying modern elements that both newbies and seasoned enthusiasts today will appreciate. With a rich history and a foolproof blueprint under its belt, it is no wonder why many experts consider the Air King one of the best Rolex beginner watches. 

The Air-King Ref. 116900, which was unveiled in 2016, is the latest member of the line. It boasts a simple yet impactful design. While its predecessors had larger case sizes and numerous style and color options for the dial, Rolex decided to tone the details down on the Ref. 116900. Its exterior includes a 40mm Oystersteel case paired with a matching link bracelet. The matte black dial displays Arabic numeral markers in 5-minute increments, a luminous silver triangle at 12 o’clock, and 3, 6, and 9 o’clock hour markers., On top of that, it also boasts a signature that stays true to the original inscription found on the very first Air-King model. This watch is powered by a 3131 automatic mechanical movement with an astonishing 48-hour power reserve. Retailing at around $7,700 USD, this is the perfect choice if you are into refined pieces that come with a bold twist.

3. Rolex Explorer Ref. 124273

front view of Rolex Explorer Ref. 124273 watch
  • Case material: Oystersteel and yellow gold
  • Case dimension: 36mm
  • Movement: Automatic, Mechanical
  • Power reserve: approximately 70 hours
  • Water-resistance: 100 meters

The Rolex Explorer lineup has been a cult favorite since 1953. That was the year Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary became the first people to climb Mount Everest’s summit. This was a huge milestone for Rolex because both of them wore an Explorer model on their journey to the mountains, much like the version we have today. 

Functional, promising, and creatively rugged are the right words to describe the Explorer Ref. 124273 watch. Right off the bat, you will notice that it is a long-lasting tool watch made to withstand any sort of wear and tear. It comes in a 36mm case made out of Oystersteel and 18K yellow gold and a matching bracelet made of the same material. Design-wise, it boasts a black dial with geometric hour markers and Arabic numeral markers at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions.  Its handset and hour markers are all coated in luminous material that gives off a gorgeous blue glow in the dark.

When it comes to performance, this Explorer watch runs on an automatic Caliber 3230 movement which has a power reserve of 70 hours. This mechanism also includes Paraflex shock absorbers and a Parachrom handspring, all of which help in maintaining the watch’s accuracy even in extreme fluctuating temperatures.. This piece retails at $13,000 USD, and is the best Rolex beginner watch for the adventurous and fashionable at heart.

 4. Rolex Explorer II Ref. 226570

front view of Rolex Explorer II Ref. 226570 watch
  • Case material: Oystersteel
  • Case dimension: 42mm
  • Movement: Automatic, Mechanical
  • Power reserve: approximately 70 hours
  • Water-resistance: 100 meters

Next up, we have a dashing timepiece that is similar to the aforementioned model. The Rolex Explorer II was first released in 1971 as a direct upgrade to its predecessor, the Explorer. Compared to the Rolex Explorer,, the Rolex Explorer II gives off a more chic feel and has some new features that are extremely useful to any wearer. With its sleek design and organized layout, this watch is a must-have for all collectors out there.

Priced at a whopping $10,135 USD, the Explorer II Ref. 226570 features 24-hour markings on its bezel and a fun orange 24-hour hand. This is an exceptionally useful feature for adventure-seekers who cannot tell day and night apart when they are on an expedition. In terms of its build, the Explorer II Ref. 226570 comes in a 42mm Oystersteel case and matching three-piece link bracelet with a folding Oysterlock safety clasp. The clean white dial boasts luminous geometric indices and stylish hands, all with stark black outlines. Adding a splash of vibrancy to the watch is the GMT hand, which sports a bright orange hue that matches the “Explorer II” signature. You can also see a large date window replacing the 3 o’clock marker.

Just like the previous models, this Explorer II watch can resist water pressures up to depths of 100 meters. It also has a screw-down winding crown, which provides greater protection from any kind of moisture-related threats. On the whole, this is a true tool timepiece specifically made to handle extreme situations. It is the ultimate beginner Rolex watch option for men who value durability the most.

5. Rolex Datejust Ref. 126331

front view of Rolex Datejust Ref. 126331 watch
  • Case material: Oystersteel and Everose gold
  • Case dimension: 41mm
  • Movement: Automatic, Mechanical
  • Power reserve: approximately 70 hours
  • Water-resistance: 100 meters

The Datejust is an iconic, high-caliber dress watch that is as clean as it is majestic. Officially launched in 1945, it has visually-appealing and versatile details, which makes it perfect for just about any occasion. The Datejust is really worth the investment, as it will serve you well for the decades to come. 

One of the best models in the collection’s current lineup is the Datejust Ref. 126331. It comes in a 41mm Oystersteel and Everose gold case and bracelet, both of which are proprietary metals of the brand. Its chocolate-colored dial boasts a sunray finish with diamond hour markers in 18K gold settings. This model also features a date window with a cyclops lens at 3 o’clock, and baton hands with luminous coatings. As if that is not eye-catching enough, the polished case is also secured with a fluted bezel that highlights Rolex’s dedication to incredible craftsmanship.

Powered by a perpetual self-winding movement called the Caliber 3235, this gorgeous piece boasts a power reserve of up to 70 hours and a handy stop-seconds feature. This piece retails at around $29,000 USD, making it one of the most expensive watches among Rolex’s offerings. If this is outside of your budget, you can always opt for vintage Datejust pieces hailing from the 1960s or the 1970s. Those timepieces typically cost around $3,000 USD, depending on the model. 

6. Rolex Sea-Dweller Ref. 126600-0001

front view of Rolex Sea-Dweller Ref. 126600-0001 watch
  • Case material: Oystersteel
  • Case dimension: 43mm
  • Movement: Automatic, Mechanical
  • Power reserve: approximately 70 hours
  • Water-resistance: 1,220 meters

The Sea-Dweller Ref. 126600-0001 makes the best beginner Rolex watches not just for its bulky and rugged design but also for its astounding capabilities. Just like the Submariner, this watch is meant for extreme underwater pursuits and activities. Everything about this Sea-Dweller watch screams luxe, from the bezel construction down to the polished finish of the Oyster bracelet. Designed for professional divers, this piece is perfect for those who want to effortlessly stand out and be the center of the conversation. 

This Sea-Dweller model comes in an Oystersteel case that measures 43mm in diameter, which is the usual size of men’s sports watches. It also has a bracelet made of the same material with an Oysterlock clasp and an extension system to make sure it fits securely on any wrist. Sporting a cool black hue, its dial boasts thick baton, triangle, and circular indices, and the signature Rolex hands. On the right of the dial, you can also find a date window protected by a Cyclops lens, which provides improved legibility. Equipped with the Caliber 3235 which has 70 hours worth of power reserve, this watch will set you back by  $12,400 USD.

7. Rolex Milgauss Ref. 116400GV

front view of Rolex Milgauss Ref. 116400GV watch
  • Case material: Oystersteel
  • Case dimension: 40mm
  • Movement: Automatic, Mechanical
  • Power reserve: approximately 48 hours
  • Water-resistance: 100 meters

Iconic and extremely advanced, the Milgauss is highly renowned for its ability to withstand magnetic fields of over 1,000 gauss. That is why this timepiece is revered by people from the Genevan European Organization for Nuclear  Research (CERN). Uniquely designed to assist people in the science field, this piece boasts graceful aesthetics and cutting-edge functionalities 

One of the most appealing versions of the Milgauss is the Milgauss Ref. 116400GV. It comes in a corrosion-resistant Oystersteel case that measures 40mm in size and a three-piece link bracelet made of the same material. Its jet-black dial consists of baton-style indices and hands, all of which glow well in the night thanks to their luminous coatings. All of the hour markers come in a white hue, except for the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock markers that boast a beautiful yellow tone. The watch also features a vibrant orange lightning-bolt-shaped second hand, which adds to its desirability. On top of that, its scratch-proof, anti-reflective sapphire crystal has green-colored accents that provide great legibility during low-light conditions. On the whole, all of the features of this model come together to create an appealing watch face that is sure to captivate your eyes. 

With a price of around $8,800 USD, this piece is definitely a must-have for newbies. This is especially true since it houses the high-performing Caliber 3131 in-house movement with a 48 hour-power reserve.

8. Rolex Day-Date Ref. 228239

front view of Rolex Day-Date Ref. 228239 watch
  • Case material: Oystersteel
  • Case dimension: 40mm
  • Movement: Automatic, Mechanical
  • Power reserve: approximately 70 hours
  • Water-resistance: 100 meters

Next up, we have a Day-Date piece that perfectly redefines what sophistication and minimalism are all about. One look at this watch and you will immediately realize why all this collection has carried such prestige since the late 1950s. This watch is perfect for those who want a Rolex piece you can use and abuse for the rest of your life. While it bears a hefty price tag of around $47,251 USD, everything about the Day-Date Ref. 228239 is worth experiencing. 

The Rolex Day-Date Ref. 228239 comes in a 40mm Oystersteel and white gold case. This is paired with a President bracelet made of high-quality 18K white gold, with a crown clasp to ensure it fits on any type of wrist. Boasting a flawless black shade, the dial includes baton-style hands and hour markers, a magnified date window at 3 o’clock, and an oversized day of the week indication in place of the 12 o’clock marker. Apart from having a screw-down crown, the Day-Date Ref. 228239 also relies on a Caliber 3255 automatic movement and has shock absorbers for optimal performance. This is the perfect beginner Rolex piece for those who seek to look cool and professional at the same time.

9. Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126719BLRO

front view of Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126719BLRO watch
  • Case material: White gold
  • Case dimension: 40mm
  • Movement: Automatic, Mechanical
  • Power reserve: approximately 70 hours
  • Water-resistance: 100 meters

First released in 1954 under the moniker Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master, the GMT-Master II has a 24-hour rotating bezel, which serves as its focal point. First created for the pilots of the Pan American World Airways, its eye-catching color combinations and handsome appeal led to its astounding popularity among the general public.

Secured with an 18K white gold Oyster bracelet with flat links and a safety clasp, the GMT-Master II Ref. 126719BLRO also features a matching 40mm white gold case.  The highlight of this watch is its bidirectional Pepsi-style bezel made out of ceramic, with huge molded 24-hour and circle markings in silver. What’s more, this sports watch is also equipped with a screw-down crown and a sapphire crystal that protects the face from any kind of external threats. Adorned with luminous geometric hour markers and nicely-shaped hands, its dial follows a striking meteorite pattern. It also has a stark white signature that details the watch’s specifications. When it comes to features, this Rolex timepiece packs quite a lot. It has GMT hand reserved mainly for the second time zone functionality, instantaneous date, and stop-seconds for accurate setting of time.

This watch is powered by a perpetual automatic Caliber 3285 running underneath its surface. You can get this GMT-Master II model for around $36,000 USD.

10. Rolex Submariner Ref. 124060

front view of Rolex Submariner Ref. 124060 watch
  • Case material: Oystersteel
  • Case dimension: 41mm
  • Movement: Automatic, Mechanical
  • Power reserve: approximately 70 hours
  • Water-resistance: 300 meters

Last on our list is one of the most well-respected lineups in the history of Rolex, the Submariner.  First introduced in 1953, this iconic diver has a simple yet bold look to it that will stay in style for many years to come. With its impressive 100-meter to 300-meter water resistance capacities, it is no surprise why the Submariner is adored by the watch community and celebrities alike. In fact, famous personalities such as Diego Maradona, Steve McQueen, Al Pacino, and Sean Connery have enjoyed the Submariner so much, they even wore it in many of their films.

Extremely recognizable and versatile, the Submariner Ref. 124060 is priced at $8,540 USD. It has a 41mm Oystersteel case that sits comfortably on any wrist type, whether slender or wide. Just like the current GMT-Master II models, this watch has a rotating bezel made out of ceramic. The only difference is that this bezel is unidirectional and has 60-minute markings in platinum as opposed to 24-hour ones. What’s more, the Submariner model in question comes with a sapphire crystal and a bracelet made out of Oystersteel to match the commanding aesthetic of the case. 

Matching the color scheme of the bezel is a fierce yet stunning black dial with humongous geometric hour markers and hands. If readability is important to you, then this watch is a fantastic option, since the dial elements are all coated in blue-colored luminescence. There are also small dash marks on the outer rim of the dial for easier tracking of the time. This Submariner model is highly functional, with its 300-meter water resistance rating and its COSC-certified Caliber 3230 movement. 

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the choice of which Rolex beginner watch to buy will be up to you. Indeed, while resale value can be considered an important factor, there is nothing wrong with getting one that you really desire as your very first timekeeper from the brand. 

Rolex’s beginner watches may not be exactly cheap for a newbie but they are certainly worth investing in, given how high quality and well-made they are. This list proves that there are indeed Rolex pieces out there that would not require you to spend a fortune and are perfect for those who are new to the niche.

If you are looking for other great watches to buy and eventually add into your collection, make sure to check out our detailed guides on the Seiko Hardlex, Certina DS Action Diver, and Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar

Photos from Rolex’s official website and WatchShopping.com

Post comments

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.