While there’s still a month to go for 2019, we can’t help but take a closer look at just how the price of Rolex has changed throughout the year — giving us insights as to, and which ones from, its lineup are currently the most sought after. While brands like Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe have experienced some of their biggest years in terms of awareness and demand, one cannot forget the almighty marketing virtuoso that is Rolex.
Excluding the vintage category of Rolex watches, which have experienced astronomical results at the auction house, we join long-time watch dealer Paul Altieri of Bob’s Watches to look at four modern models from Rolex and the driving force behind their appreciation in the secondary market.
Rolex 116500 Daytona
Among all the different models that Rolex produces, no other watch is as desirable or fiercely collected as the Daytona. Vintage references sell for six to eight figure sums at auction, and modern editions are some of the most coveted watches on Earth. The black ceramic bezel on the ref. 116500 is reminiscent of the black acrylic bezel on desirable vintage references; however it uses state-of-the art materials to reinterpret this classic Rolex aesthetic for the modern era.
Since its release in 2016, the stainless steel with the ceramic bezel Rolex Daytona ref. 116500 has been the world’s must-have luxury watch. Although its retail price of $12,400 USD is significantly less than many of the other ultra-desirable luxury watches, the overwhelming demand for the Daytona 116500 and the relatively limited supply have resulted in a watch that “money can’t buy.” Prices have been continuing to rise in the years since its release, and are currently sitting at roughly 100-percent above retail on the secondary market.
Rolex Sky-Dweller 326934 (Blue Dial)
The Sky-Dweller is the most complex Rolex watch currently in production, and when the collection first debuted in 2012, it was exclusively constructed in solid gold, placing it outside the price range of the average buyer. When the stainless steel Sky-Dweller ref. 326934 was released in 2017, it significantly increased the accessibility of this feature-rich traveler’s watch, and the demand for the model skyrocketed.
Like many other stainless steel Rolex watches, retail prices for the ref. 326934 Sky-Dweller are significantly below the value of the watch on the secondary market. Although the appreciation in value started out relatively modest, it has quickly shot up due to an inverted supply-demand ratio. Less than a year ago this watch was selling on the secondary market for roughly $15,000 USD. Today’s prices for Sky-Dwellers fitted with the blue dial are currently going for around $23,000 USD, with secondary market prices rising more than 50% in the past year alone.
Rolex GMT-Master II 126710 (Pepsi)
Like the ceramic bezel Rolex Daytona, the ref. 126710 Rolex GMT-Master II with the red and blue “Pepsi” bezel is a modern reinterpretation of a classic Rolex design. While the red and blue bezel calls back to the very first Rolex GMT-Master from the 1950s, this classic color profile was missing when the collection first switched to Cerachrom ceramic bezel inserts. The GMT-Master II 126710 represented the first time that a ceramic version of the iconic “Pepsi” bezel was fitted to a stainless steel GMT-Master watch, and it immediately became an instant favorite among both first-time buyers and collectors.
Upon its 2018 release, the ref. 126710 GMT-Master II immediately caused waitlists at dealers, with demand far exceeding supply. The secondary market value of the watch shot up to roughly twice the retail price, and now even after more than a year, plus the addition of a black and blue “Batman” version of the reference 126710 joining the line-up, waitlists at dealers are still several years in length and the secondary market value of the “Pepsi” GMT-Master II is still nearly 100% above is current retail price.
Rolex Submariner 116610 (Hulk)
The all-green ref. 116610 Submariner aka the “Hulk” is structurally no different than the standard all-black Rolex Submariner of the same reference; however it is one of the strongest Rolex watches out there. The vast majority of Submariner watches have black dials and bezels, and while blue exists as an option on precious metal versions within the collection, the “Hulk” Submariner is the only stainless steel model fitted with a colored dial, and the only Submariner to ever feature a green dial. The Submariner is a true icon, and the all-green “Hulk” is a vibrant and modern take on this Rolex classic.
The green ref. 116610 first appeared in 2010, and upon its initial release, it received a rather lukewarm reaction. Most consumers at the time preferred the traditional black Submariner, and secondary market prices for the “Hulk” were below their all-black counterparts. However within the last several years, the popularity and unique color of the all-green ref. 116610 have significantly picked up, and the secondary market value of the “Hulk” Submariner is now more than 50% above its current retail price.