We’ve all heard of Rolex, but who among the general public can *actually* tell a Datejust from a Daytona?
If you want to learn more about the watch market, you need to educate yourself. A great place to start is understanding Rolex watch values.
With some research and knowledge of different platforms such as Bob’s watches and Rolex Forums, you can get a quick glimpse of different models and prices, but the information can prove overwhelming, especially to the beginner.
As a hopeful watch dealer, having knowledge of the exact unique models that discerning collectors are interested in will set you apart from others who have a limited vision on the brand.
Let’s go over 12 of the top Rolex models to collect that have the potential to rise in value but, more importantly, are popular and liquid on the multi-billion dollar watch aftermarket.
1. Colette x Mad Paris x Rolex Milgauss “Who cares”
Recently popularized on TikTok and Instagram, this watch has become an item of lore to many who are upset to realize that not only is this watch out of production, but only 5 individually numbered pieces were put into production.
Perhaps it just took time for the whole world to recognize the cool factor that Parisian boutique streetwear company Colette doused on the Milgauss. Both Colette and the Rolex Milgauss are no more, which are a further reason for the demand for this model to go up.
It’s unlikely that you’ll find an original in circulation, and if you do, it might cost you seven figures.
Because of the demand, people have been offering custom dials. Although one of these is technically a knock-off, the dial is often swapped on an authentic Milgauss, so reputable dealers have been found selling these customs at around $20,000, which is just slightly more than the $18,000 retail price at which this model debuted.
2. Rolex Submariner 41mm Starbucks(Ref. 126610LV)/Kermit(Ref. 16610LV)
The Submariner, one of the most instantly recognizable Rolex models, has adopted some endearing nicknames for colors that have become standard speak among dealers.
They are so popular that we included four models in this list, and in this particular example, we are including two because they are so easily confused.
Rolex Starbucks vs Kermit
The main difference between the Starbucks and the Kermit Submariner is the age: the Starbucks was released in 2020 whereas the Kermit ceased production in 2010. Other differences include the case size (41mm for the Starbucks vs 40mm for the Kermit) and the movement– The Starbucks uses Rolex’s multi-patented Calibre 3235 which has a 100% improvement over the 3135 movement that the Kermit is powered by.
Because it ceased production, the Kermit is also worth more than the Starbucks, with an aftermarket price surapssing $20,000 with certain models in good condition, compared to the Starbucks which retailed around $10,000 and is on the aftermarket in 2023 for about $15,000.
3. Rolex Submariner Hulk Ref. 116610LV
Produced until 2020, the all-green Submariner, dubbed the “Hulk”, debuted in 2010.
Given that the official color of Rolex is green (their website and logo reflect this), it’s fitting that this model is a collector favorite.
Compared to the Starbucks and Kermit, the Hulk is worth more on average, especially since it was recently discontinued. It can be found on sites like Chrono24 for a minimum of around $20,000.
4. Rolex Submariner Bluesy Ref. 116613
Although it appears to be flashier than the previously listed green iterations of the Submariner, the two-tone Blue and yellow gold accented “Bluesy” is worth a fraction of the price.
A bright blue dial with gold hands and a blue and gold dial make this piece iconic, so it has its fair share of collectors and can be sold quickly on the aftermarket.
This version of the Submariner was popularized in the 80s with the 16613 reference and was produced on and off but has made a modern day comeback with the 126613 reference which debuted in 2020 and is still being produced in 2023.
5. Rolex Pepsi GMT Ref 16700
The Pepsi dial is now iconic across all watch brands, including Seiko. The Rolex GMT-Master 16700, with its Pepsi dial and black face was introduced in 1988, was the first in a new and improved GMT-Master series, making it a highly sought after collector’s item.
Its aftermarket value of around $15,000 has increased significantly above its original retail price and has increased steadily over the past few years, especially with fully original examples that are in pristine condition.
6. Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41mm Tiffany ref 123400
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41mm Tiffany 124300 received a significant 2020 update, becoming highly sought after with colorful dials, a 41mm case, and in-house calibre 3230 movement.
It boasts a 70-hour power reserve, popular Oyster bracelet, 100m water resistance, and a price tag of $6,150 MSRP (pre-owned around $10,000). Availability is limited, and pre-owned options come with a markup.
7. Rolex Day Date Gold President (1980s)
A true icon and instantly recognizable as a classic, the Rolex Day Date is a model that will always have a highly liquid aftermarket and active buyers.
The all gold Presidential version of this model from the 1980s remains one of the most sought after Rolex models today, and has been known to grace the wrists of movie stars and business magnates alike, and is a good choice for anyone that wants to make a bold statement.
Pictured above is reference 18238, and in late 2023 it is worth about $16,000-$18,000.
8. Rolex Sky Dweller 326934 Jubilee
A model designed for the international jetsetter, the Skydweller is creeping up the scale of value of Rolex watches, and its centered 24 hour dial, classy fluted bezel and bold hour markers make for an instantly recognizable piece for those who know.
The more budget friendly and popular version of the model features a stainless steel bracelet and either a white or blue face. Both colors are popular and range from $15,000-$30,000 depending on year and condition. White gold bracelets will be north of $40,000 and are not quite as liquid as the stainless steel versions.
9. Rolex Daytona “John Mayer” 116508
John Mayer is known in the watch world as a celebrity who has one of the most extensive Rolex collections, which he often wears on stage during shows.
The Daytona, a highly precise, mechanical chronograph watch is one of the more costly Rolex models, and has long been a favorite of Mayer.
A gold version of the watch with a green face, reference 116508, is known as the John Mayer and was first seen in 2019.
The retail price was $37,500, but was hard to get and highly limited, so the aftermarket value of the watch is between $80,000 and $100,000+. It has been discontinued, which will likely make it even more valuable.
10. Rolex Daytona Panda 116500
For those that want a slightly more understated yet recognizable version of the Daytona, the Panda is an excellent choice.
The reference 116500 is the first Daytona model to feature a ceramic bezel, and with its contrasting white face, it is one of the most instantly recognizable color combos for Rolex collectors.
This model, with its stainless steel bracelet, had a retail price of just $13,150 new in 2016, but sold out immediately and is now worth over $30,000 on the aftermarket, despite declines since its peak, and should continue to hold solid value.
11. Rolex Yachtmaster Rose Gold
With its rubber bracelet and highly legible ceramic bezel, the Yachtmaster is a sporty Rolex that is meant for the seafarer. Although the bezel is quite thick, the face can be had in a smaller 37mm size, which is more popular than the larger versions.
Although many Rolex collectors do not find the Yachtmaster appealing, there is a market specifically for the Rose Gold and black toned watch pictured above.
The reference pictured above is Rolex the m126655-0002 and is currently valued around $25,000-$30,000 on the aftermarket.
12. Rolex Submariner Steel ref 116610 Black
Finally, for one of the most risk averse and budget friendly Rolex models to invest in today, we present the Submariner–which is already basically as good as cash–specifically, its simple two-toned, black and steel 116610 reference.
One of the most understated Rolex models, it is also much easier on the wallet. A budget of $10,000 is sufficient to find the Black 116610 on the aftermarket, and it can easily be sold for the same price or slightly more, especially if value continues to rise.
The model was first released in 1987 and has not changed much with its modern versions today, so picking up a vintage model in good condition at a fair price is recommended.
Investing in Rolex Watches
While participating in the grey market by reselling new release watches for those on Authorized Dealer lists is still looked down upon by Rolex, with potential blacklisting as a penalty, you can still participate in and profit from the Rolex aftermarket by acquiring sought after references such as the 12 mentioned in this article.
Whether you are flipping the watch immediately or want to keep it as a long time investment or piece to wear, buying one of these models can be a good financial decision.
For those that know nothing about the watch flipping market and want to learn more, check out our guide here which covers everything you need to know about investing in watches of all price ranges, including opportunities starting at $100 or even less.
Thanks for reading, and be on the lookout for continued watch coverage, education and news .