Which Rolex Holds Its Value the Best?

4:04 PM

While most people would associate the word value with its financial connotation, there are many different ways to appraise the value of a wristwatch. Most finance professionals would discourage one from calling a luxury watch an investment, but it is hard for people not to think about watches in financial terms when they read news stories about watches fetching hundreds of thousands - even millions - of dollars at auction. 

Rolex Submariner Ad from 1966 (photo: Rolex)
Even though I wouldn't call a watch an investment, Rolex watches do hold their value well compared to other brands. This isn't true for every model configuration, though. When thinking about a Rolex in terms of resale value, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that once you take the stickers off your watch, it is no longer considered 'Brand New In Box' or BNIB. So even though you may have paid full retail price for the watch, you will not be able to get that amount back for it unless it is a model that is fetching a premium, like the ceramic Daytona released at Baselworld this year.

Many attribute the high resale value of Rolex watches to the fact that they don't change their models too much from year to year, which means that a Submariner from 1966, like the one shown in the vintage advertisement above, doesn't look that different from a Submariner from the eighties or nineties. The consistency of their designs combined with the watchmaker's dedication to quality and innovation gives their vintage and preowned models a larger market than other watches that may have changed over the years based on passing trends. However, not all Rolex watches retain their value like the Submariner.

The First Rolex Submariner Model from 1953 (left) and the 2016 Submariner (right)
If you are looking for a Rolex that will retain its value, your best bet would be a stainless steel sports model. They are the most popular configurations and most retail for less than $10,000 US, giving them a larger market than precious metal configurations. The Submariner, GMT-Master II and Daytona models are the most popular of the group, making them a safe bet in terms of resale value. Right now, the GMT-Master II BLNR and ceramic Daytona models are highly sought after and hard to get, so if you are able to acquire one without paying above retail, you can be sure that its value will hold up over the next few years.

The Rolex models that are less likely to retain their value over time are their Datejust and Oyster Perpetual models. The reasoning is that there are so many different configurations available for those models that it dilutes the secondary market, making it tougher to find a buyer for one particular configuration over another. So, while it's nice to have options in terms of dial colors and hour markers when you are purchasing your timepiece from a dealer, it is those same options that will lower the resale value of the watch.

The best way to look at a luxury watch purchase from Rolex is as an investment in yourself. Their watches have become a symbol of success and excellence and being able to purchase one is an accomplishment in and of itself. Some models may have a better resale value than others on the market, but the true value of a luxury timepiece is the way you feel when it's on your wrist.


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