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How Much Should You Pay for Rolex Watches?

There’s a simple truth we must first accept — if you want Rolex watches, you are going to have to pay Rolex prices. But what are these prices? And what do you get when you invest in a Rolex? Let’s break down the options because it can get a little complicated. We’ll sort out what you’ll likely pay and what you’ll get when you decide on a Rolex watch.

Yes, Rolex Watches Will Cost You

First, a hard truth. Demand for Rolex watches are increasingly on the rise, so the prices of new ones are going up. There has been a rise of about 25% over the last two years. But there’s a silver lining in that the price of pre-owned Rolex watches is climbing right alongside the new ones. So if you decide to put your Rolex up for sale it’ll fetch a higher price than in years past. If you bought it pre-owned, there’s a good chance you’ll re-sell for more than you paid.

Going New on the Lower End

What’s the lowest price you can pay for a brand new Rolex? For that, we’re talking about the Oyster Perpetual and it’ll cost you just under $5,000. That’s still a lot of money for some, yes, but in the world of luxury watches it’s really on the low end. For example, if you want to go entry level with a Patek Philippe you are going to pay around $20,000. So five grand is pretty good for your entrance into the Rolex Club.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

And what does your five thousand get you? Well, one serious pedigree for starters. The Oyster Perpetual has nearly a century of history, traced back to the original Rolex Oysters, a name no doubt that references that it was the first waterproof wristwatch in the world. Detractors will argue that a basic Oyster lacks some of the features, like chronograph subdials, of the higher-end offerings. But purists will counter that’s why they love the Oyster Perpetual. Its simplicity is elegance in its purest form. And decades of evolution mean you have a wide range of choices, from five sizes that run from 26mm to 39mm to an array of dial colors.

Moving Up to Mid-Range

This is the space where things start to get fun. Where the most popular Rolex models live. If you are looking to spend anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 on a new Rolex, the options open up considerably.

While it may not have the name recognition of other models, the Rolex Explorer is a wonderful choice that starts off the mid-range options. It’s got heritage, tracing its lineage back to the mid-1950s. It’s got looks, with an Oyster-style case, high-end sapphire crystal, and chromalight hands and indices that put on something of a show in low light. And it’s got function, a chronometer with precise self-winding movement. For all of this, you’re looking at about $6,500.

Rolex Explorer

One notch up, we’re talking about a Rolex Submariner. It’s a watch of legend dating to the 1950s. It owes its lineage to the original Oyster that debuted back in 1926. And many a sports watch today owe their style to the Submariner. Most of them mimicking the design with a classic black dial, rotating bezel, and Oyster bracelet. There have been hundreds of tweaks and variations for the Submariner over the decades and today you can pick up a new one for about $7,500.

Just beyond the Submariner in terms of price, comes the Rolex Datejust II. Seen on the wrists of celebrities and known the world over, this signature model bowed in 2009 to take up the reins of the legendary Datejust. This is a watch you wear to impress, a bold fashion statement with a fluted bezel and Oyster case of high-grade stainless steel. You’ll pay about $9,000 for the privilege of wearing one.

Rolex Datejust

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Up Where the Air is Rare

Leaving aside famous Rolex watches that go for millions at auctions (Paul Newman’s Cosmograph Daytona went for just south of $18 million in 2017), some of the selections coming out of the Rolex factory can get a bit pricey. A Rolex Sea-Dweller beats other models in terms of water resistance, rated for up to 4,000 feet. And Sea-Dwellers have official prices at just over $11,000 but more likely you are looking at a retail cost of up to $16,000.

Prepare to pay for the luxury of putting a Rolex Daytona on your wrist, with upper-end models such as the rose gold going for north of $33,000. If you want to go beyond basic with a GMT Master, it’ll cost you as well. The famed “Pepsi” iteration, named for its blue and red bezel that resembles the cola logo, has a price tag of just under $13,000. And to go big with a Rolex Yachtmaster 40 you’ll probably pay up to $27,000.

Rolex Daytona

What if You Go Pre-Owned?

Now we’re into the Wild West of pricing, where sometimes the normal rules of physics don’t apply. And you have to be careful not to buy a “Frankenwatch” which has seen most of the original Rolex parts swapped out for cheaper fare through the years. And, of course, condition matters as a battered watch will sell for less. How low can you go? You can usually find a decent pre-owned Datejust in the $1,000 to $2,500 range. How high? How many millions have you got?

Most people land somewhere in the middle when considering the price for Rolex watches. In the end, expect to spend between $5,000 and $10,000 for that new Rolex you’ve been dreaming of. And you’ll probably be glad you did!

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