Top 5 Stainless Steel Rolex Professional Models Under $10,000

June 29, 2016

Rolex's stainless steel professional models are their most popular and many choose them as everyday watches or 'everyday beaters' as they are also known. These tool watches are beloved for the legacy attached to them even more so than their functionality. Rolex has remained consistent with their aesthetic through the years, controlling their configurations so that the release of a new color combination is met with much fanfare. 

I have listed what I consider their top five stainless steel professional watches below. While most are available with more traditional color combinations, I chose configurations that are unique to this time period and will likely be discontinued by the watchmaker once they release a new model upgrade. I chose to list models under (or around) $10,000 USD here for the sake of those who are looking for a watch within that budget.  

Rolex 'Polar' Explorer II (Reference # 216570)
Photo of Rolex Polar Explorer II (photo: Rolex)
Rolex Polar Explorer II (photo: Rolex)
With a 42 mm stainless steel case, the Rolex Explorer II is the largest watch on this list. It is also unique in that it is available with a white dial, which is where it gets the 'Polar' nickname. This watch, originally released in 1971, features an orange 24-hour hand and 24-hour bezel, allowing the wearer to tell the time in two places at once. It also has a very legible display with large minute and hour hands and luminescent hour markers. Its size makes it ideal for someone who wants a large watch that isn't as bulky as the 44 mm Deepsea, for example. This model is also available with with a black dial. The suggested retail price for the Explorer II is 7,700 Swiss francs or $8,076 USD.

Rolex GMT-Master II 'Batman' (Reference # 116710BLNR)
Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR (photo: Rolex)
Equipped with Rolex's patented Cerachrom bezel insert, the GMT-Master II BLNR or 'Batman' as it is also known, was introduced at Baselworld in 2013 and soon became a favorite amongst Rolex enthusiasts. It features a blue and black bidirectional 24 hour bezel and a 24-hour hand, allowing the wearer to switch between time zones with a turn of the bezel. This model was originally introduced in  1955 during the aviation age and bears a striking resemblance to the Submariner model. However, this model offers a more practical functionality than the popular dive watch. The bracelet has polished middle links that also differentiate it from the Sub. The suggested retail price for the BLNR is 8,500 Swiss francs, or approximately $8,847 USD.

Rolex Submariner Date 'Hulk' (Reference # 116610LV)
Rolex Submariner Date (photo: Rolex)
The Submariner was introduced by Rolex in 1953 and has become their most imitated timepiece. Like the GMT-Master II, this watch has a 40 mm Oyster case and a Cerachrom bezel insert. It has a depth rating of 300 meters and has a unidirectional bezel with a unidirectional 60 minute graduated bezel. Its simplicity in design and utility underwater makes it ideal for recreational and professional divers alike. However, most go for the Submariner because of its sporty yet clean aesthetic. The configuration shown above is known as the 'Hulk' because of the green-on-green bezel and dial combination. The dial has a sunray finish that gleams in the sun and while the combination of green and steel seems odd at first, it makes for a very interesting take on the classic Sub design. The Submariner Date goes for 8,600 Swiss francs, or approximately $8,957 USD. 

Sea-Dweller 4000 (Reference # 116600)
Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 (photo: Rolex)
Rolex's Sea-Dweller 4000 model offers the perfect compromise for those who can't choose between the Submariner and the Deepsea. It has a the same size case as the Sub (40 mm) so it is less bulky than the Deepsea, but it also has a 1,220 meter (4000 foot) depth rating, which is significantly higher than the Sub. Like the Deepsea, its date aperture has no Cyclops magnifying lens over it and features a helium escape valve that protects the case during decompression. It is the most expensive watch on this list at 9,900 Swiss francs or $10,130 USD. 

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 'Ceramic' (photo: Rolex)
Introduced at Baselworld 2016, the stainless steel Daytona with the black Cerachrom bezel insert shown above has become one of the most sought after timepieces of the year. Featuring a white dial with contrasting black sub-dials and the black bezel, this is a configuration that Rolex enthusiasts have been patiently waiting for. It harkens back to the 1960s when the model was introduced and although most who get their hands on one will not use the chronograph or tachymeter functions on a daily basis, this is the holy grail of Rolex watches of the moment. Only the platinum and rose gold versions of the Daytona had become available with a ceramic bezel prior it its release. This is the first stainless steel version in ceramic and the configuration has become known as the 'Ceramic Daytona' in forums. It retails for approximately $12,400 USD, but the long waiting lists have made it go for even more on the secondary market. 

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