When it comes to luxury watches, few brands are as coveted as Rolex. However, their brand recognition does not come cheap.
Many popular models are either pricey at retail or, due to demand-driven scarcity, almost impossible to acquire without waiting for a long time on the pre-owned market.
But what is the cheapest Rolex?
1. Oyster Perpetual
The Oyster Perpetual is Rolex’s most accessible model. It’s a minimal time-only watch with a classic design that appeals to the masses.
It’s also the cheapest way to own a Rolex watch. Depending on the case size, a new Oyster Perpetual costs around six thousand dollars.
That’s less than half the price of a new Daytona or Submariner. And while you might lose out on the high-speed glamour and adventurous tales of those other models, you’ll get an outstanding automatic wristwatch that you can be proud to wear.
Launched in 2020, the new Oyster Perpetual watches are outfitted with the self-winding Calibre 3230. These are the latest versions of Rolex’s movements and offer an excellent level of accuracy. They are also resistant to magnetic fields.
In addition to the improved movement, the Oyster Perpetual also offers a range of bold dial colors. You’ll find turquoise blue, coral red, baby pink, forest green, and mustard yellow among the available choices. The Oyster Perpetual is offered in 36mm and 41mm cases, while the smaller Oyster Perpetual 34, 31 and 28 mm models are outfitted with the older Calibre 2232.
The Oyster Perpetual is a great option for anyone looking to enter the world of luxury watches. While it may not have the same lust appeal as a new Submariner or Datejust, it still offers great value and is an excellent choice for those just starting out. And it’s a great alternative for people who want to buy a Rolex but cannot afford the higher prices of the more popular models. It’s a solid entry-level Rolex watch that can be appreciated for years to come. The Oyster Perpetual is often viewed as the gateway to other Rolex collections like the Daytona or the Submariner.
The Milgauss is an anti-magnetic Rolex created to meet the needs of scientists and engineers. Introduced in 1956, this watch is capable of resisting magnetic fields up to 1,000 gauss (hence its name, “mille” French for a thousand and “gauss” the unit of measurement of magnetic field strength). The first reference was developed in partnership with CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and it quickly became the go-to choice for scientific institutions.
The modern-production version of the Milgauss is available with a black dial and green crystal, and it’s a fantastic option for anyone interested in an anti-magnetic Rolex. Compared to other Rolex models, the Milgauss is relatively understated and offers a subtle nod to its origins with an orange second hand that’s shaped like a lightning bolt.
While the current-production Milgauss is a superb option, it doesn’t experience the same dramatic appreciation on the pre-owned market as the likes of the Submariner, Daytona, or GMT-Master II. This is because it lacks many of the more complicated features found on other stainless steel Rolex tool watches, such as chronographs and dates.
For those who are seeking a more unique Rolex, the original reference 6543 was the first Milgauss to feature a honeycomb-textured dial and rotating bezel. This model was produced until the late 1980s and only a small number were ever made, making it an extremely rare watch to come across. A new version was introduced in 2007, however, which saw Rolex modernize the design and make some improvements to the anti-magnetic capabilities of the movement (notably with a blue Parachrom hairspring). The latest Milgauss references have also received some slight tweaks to the visual appearance with a straight seconds hand that no longer resembles a lightning bolt.
The Datejust is Rolex’s best-selling model, and for good reason. With a case size that can accommodate both men and women, a range of dial options, and a variety of bracelets, this model is a versatile option for anyone looking to own a Rolex. And while it may not have the cult following of other models like the Daytona or Submariner, the Datejust is a timepiece that both casual wearers and seasoned collectors respect.
The price of a Datejust varies depending on its configuration, but the average is around $12,500 USD. Whether you opt for the stainless steel Datejust 31 or the Rolesor White (a mix of steel and yellow, pink, or white gold), you’ll be able to choose from a fluted or polished bezel, as well as a Jubilee or Oyster bracelet.
If you’re looking for something a little more special, there are also diamond-set Datejusts that can cost upward of $23,000 USD. However, for those who want to stay within a reasonable price range, the Datejust 41 is the perfect choice. With a simpler design that eliminates the rotatable bezel found on other Datejust models, this version is more affordable and exudes classic elegance.
Regardless of the Datejust model you choose, if you’re shopping for a Rolex on a tight budget, it is always a good idea to check out the pre-owned market. There’s a lot of value, variety, and quirkiness to be found in the used watch world, so don’t be afraid to look outside the brand’s official catalog. With a bit of creativity and research, you can find the Rolex Datejust that’s right for you. And once you do, you’ll be able to enjoy it for years to come.
Rolex is known the world over for opulence and prestige, and it’s a brand that has earned its reputation through consistent quality and an unmatched dedication to craftsmanship. The company doesn’t make cheap watches, but for those looking to get a piece of the Swiss luxury watchmaker’s legacy without breaking the bank, there are a few entry-level options.
The first entry is the Cellini Classic ref 6110, a round 18k yellow gold watch with a non-Oyster case and thin bezel. While it doesn’t offer a chronograph function, it does have a distinctive design that sets it apart from other Rolex watches.
Aside from its price, the Cellini Classic also offers a number of other features that make it worth a look. For one, it has a manual movement, which helps to keep the cost down. Then there is its relatively small size, which makes it a good option for those who don’t want a big wristwatch.
Another great option for those who are on a tight budget is the Rolex Datejust 36mm. This model is a popular choice because it offers a number of different colors and dial designs, as well as a more compact design that makes it easier to wear. The Datejust is available in both stainless steel and yellow gold, as well as a range of other materials.
While the Datejust is a good option for those on a budget, it’s important to note that pre-owned versions of this watch can cost significantly more than their retail price. This is because Rolex has a reputation for keeping their prices high in order to prevent counterfeiting and to ensure that only genuine parts are used.
The Submariner is the most affordable of Rolex’s current models and, at under $10,000, will buy you a very nice example in stainless steel. However, if you want one of the rarer reference numbers (nicknamed “the Smurf” and “the Hulk”), you’ll need to dig deeper into your wallet as these will be significantly more expensive.
As prices move into five-figure territory, you’ll begin to see a wide range of special features that set apart these hard-working sports watches from their more utilitarian counterparts. You’ll also find some truly exceptional pieces that are music to the ears of any die-hard vintage collector, like the ref. 1680 red Submariner, which was the first to feature a date display.
Depending on your personal preference, you’ll be able to choose between a standard or no-date version of the Submariner as well. The last non-Cerachrom bezel Submariners were introduced in the late 1990s, with ref. 16610 and the 14060 no-date both delivering excellent value for money in mint condition.
In the more recent past, Rolex has made it increasingly difficult to purchase a new Submariner unless you are an established client at an authorized dealer. This has, in turn, created a huge market for pre-owned examples of these iconic dive watches.
As a result, it’s now possible to find some fantastic examples of these stainless steel and two-tone Submariners on the pre-owned marketplace. Watchbox’s global inventory and collection of stainless steel Rolex Submariners are the best places to start your search. Of course, the supply of pre-owned Rolex Submariners varies by demand and some references may be sold out at any given time, so you’ll need to act fast.