Rolex is the most coveted and recognizable watch brand worldwide, with high prices that can be prohibitive to some. Long referred to as the most expensive and luxurious watches worldwide, there is nothing like a cheap Rolex but some models are at least less costly than others. Unfortunately, if you are on a budget, the range of Rolex watches available is not as comprehensive as on an unlimited budget. However, the good news is that affordable and less expensive Rolex watches exist, and you can purchase one by selling your car or refinancing your house. Here is an exclusive look at the 10 cheapest Rolex watches money can buy.
10. Rolex Milgauss – $8,300
The Rolex Milgauss was first released in 1956 for technicians and engineers who get exposed to strong magnetic fields at their work. These magnetic fields might affect the performance of mechanical watches. According to Watch Time, the company solved this problem by coming up and patenting a magnetic shield that enabled the watch to withstand magnetic fields up to 1,000 gausses. The Rolex Milgauss became highly famous among the scientists that work at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva.
Rolex launched a new generation Milgauss watch in 2007, incorporating all their technological expertise. You come across powerful magnets daily from tablet computer cases, refrigerator doors, and briefcase clasps. The Rolex Milgauss uses various innovations to maintain the magnetic fields at bay, including a magnetic shield in the case and innovative nonmagnetic materials. The escape wheel is made from the antimagnetic nickel-phosphorus alloy, and the oscillator uses a patented blue Parachrom balance spring. Besides protection from the magnetic field, the watch features a 904L stainless steel Oyster case and a Twin lock crown sealing out elements, providing water resistance to 330 feet. If you want a cheap Rolex watch, this one is an ideal option for around $8,300.
9. Rolex Date – $8,000
The 34mm Rolex Date has always offered a slightly smaller and cheaper alternative to the 36mm Rolex Datejust. However, the model was discontinued this year from the Rolex catalog. Before getting discontinued, the 34mm Date was only available in White Rolesor or stainless steel. However, the older full yellow gold models are the ones that have experienced the utmost surge in popularity. Produced initially in 14k and later 18k gold, the premium versions of Rolex Date provide significant savings over the 36mm siblings. Ultimately, the 14k Rolex Date models like the ref. 15037 and ref. 1503 are less costly than the 18k models such as the ref. 15238. Nevertheless, all the yellow gold Rolex Date models range from $8000 to $12000. According to BOB’S, this is about half the price you may expect to pay for yellow gold models.
8. The Rolex GMT-Master II – $7,900
A Rolex GMT is the ultimate adventurer’s watch. Nicknamed Pepsi, this model was introduced in 1955, featuring a legendary 24-hour scale on the bezel. Some of the cheapest GMT-Master II models are the first two generations of the watch, the ref. 16710 and the ref. 16760. The ref. 16760 is the first iteration model of the GMT-Master II but goes for just a slight premium above the ref. 16710. Both these models are among the cheapest Rolex GMT-Master II watches available. They also provide case proportions and classic styling that are becoming more popular among collectors. The design of the Rolex GMT-Master II has barely changed in 60 years, adding to its unique charm. The watch is available at a price of around $7,900. Given its unique appearance and its essential role in the context of the brand’s legendary pilot watch, the prices might not stay low forever.
7. Rolex Submariner – $7,850
The Rolex Submariner is renowned as the first water-resistant watch model. First created in 1953, its name has been derived from the ability of the timepiece to dive up to 330 feet. Mostly linked with wearers like Steve McQueen, Al Pacino, and Sean Connery’s James Bond, this model is one of the most popular Rolex watches. Exceptional for those with a penchant for adventure, mainly where there is water or snow, the Submariner is a winner for a well-made, affordable, and yet durable watch. Among the cheapest Submariner models is the non-date model ref. 124060, which is the entry point into the submariner world. The original models didn’t have a date. After all, this timepiece is for divers who rarely require to know the date when underwater.
According to WP Diamonds, without a date, this watch provides an uninterrupted time display, which is needed for all types of adventures. Today, the newer models can withstand around 1,000 feet of water. It also has a blue Chroma light display well-protected by a sapphire crystal that assures excellent visibility. The watch also has a rotatable 60-minute bezel with a scratch-proof Cerachrome ceramic insert that allows divers to time their dives. Divers also like the Oyster bracelet fitted with a Glide lock system for seamless adjustment of the bracelet length. The self-winding Caliber 3230 ensures precision timekeeping with its COSC-certified chronometer rating. The Rolex Submariner ref 124060 goes for around $7,900 at retail.
6. Rolex Sea-Dweller – $7,496
The Sea-Dweller is a hardcore version of the Submariner, featuring an ability to withstand pressure at significantly deeper seas. Those who know it appreciate its enhanced complexity and snob appeal. But even though the Sea-Dweller provides superior performance than the Rolex Submariner, you can find a Sea-Dweller for around a similar price. With the reference 1665 being the first Rolex Sea-Dweller model and one which helped invent the helium escape valve, it’s surprising that this model is not very expensive.
The ultra-collectible Single Red (SRSD) and Double Red (DRSD) watches are costly, but the ref 1665 is relatively cheap. It was the only Sea-Dweller reference to feature an acrylic crystal. In the two subsequent Rolex Sea-Dweller generations, the ref. 16660 “Triple Six” and ref. S16660 has 40mm cases with aluminum bezel inserts and flat sapphire crystals. Unless you need a matte dial version of the transitional ref. 16660, you should expect to pay between $7,000 to $8,000 for one of the watches, roughly the same as the entry point for the Rolex Submariner.
5. Rolex Air King – $6,450
The initial 34mm Air-King models provide the best value for the money in all watch collecting. Initially designed to offer British Royal Air Force pilots a reliable and durable watch, the Rolex Air King was recently redesigned after being discontinued. You can experience the latest model by purchasing new or vintage ones if you like the original features. The older iterations of the Air-King are some of the cheapest Rolex watches. The classic ref. 5500 Rolex Pilot’s watch is made with stainless steel, a characteristic signature triangle, oversized quarter hour numerals, a green second hand, and distinctive Air-King font, which is identical to the vintage 1950.
These craftsmanship and details make it a unique option for a cheap luxury watch. Classic, minimal, and immediately recognizable as Rolex, the ref. 5500 is historically one of the most affordable Rolex watches. According to The Modest Man, the prices for vintage Air-King models begin at around $3,000 to $6,500. You can get the Air-King ref.1400M for approximately $4,000. The models that come with an explorer model cost $4,500 or more. Also, the discontinued 34mm models provide an excellent value for your money among the Rolex Air-King collection.
4. Rolex Datejust II – $6,200
If you are looking for an affordable Rolex model with a high performance, the Rolex Datejust II, released in 2007, might be the perfect entry-level model to consider. Besides the date display that has become a robust feature of most of the Rolex brand’s more costly models, the Rolex Datejust II has a revolutionary Cyclops lens above the date. This lens promotes visibility, enlarging the date display by 2.5 times its size. The date functions also have a quick set function that lets you instantly change the date using the crown.
However, the Datejust II has a larger case size of 41mm compared to the original classic 36mm Datejust model. While the calendar date display defines Datejust II, the model has not sacrificed its timekeeping function. According to Jaztime, the watch features a 3136-caliber movement, providing great precision, and like other models, the movement is protected by shock absorbers. It also comes with or with no iconic fluted bezel made of 18K gold, another distinctive trademark of the Rolex brand.
3. Oyster Perpetual – $5,600
Tremendously famous to those new to owning a Rolex watch, the Oyster Perpetual is the brand’s purest expression of the Rolex trademark aesthetic. This is the entry-level model among other Rolex collections, efficiently replacing the discontinued Rolex Air-King. The 39mm oyster Perpetual costs around $5,700 and took over the entry-level bottom line from the Air King. The simplistic design of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual ensures it can complement both formal and casual attire equally well.
Oyster’s Perpetual origin starts in the 1920s, meaning it has an impressive historical background and timeless appeal. Nevertheless, this time-only model makes it ideal for those who just need a Rolex with basic functions, only featuring a minute and hour display. Rolex Oyster Perpetual models are water resistant for up to 100 meters deep. They are constructed with 904L stainless steel; hence they are high-industry grade steel with high anti-corrosive properties and the ability to withstand repeated polishing. The model also has updated self-winding movements, which are well protected with shock absorbers, making the watches durable, robust, and affordable. The price of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual starts at $5600 retail.
2. Rolex Explorer I – $5,500
The Rolex Explorer I have an exceptional historic appeal, known for its linkage with the first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. This achievement is one of the many, but it’s illustrative of the adventurous spirit that guides Rolex in its pursuit of perfection and people who consider the Rolex Explorer an essential part of its success. Relaunched in 2010, the new model retains the endurance legacy, performing well in any conditions courtesy of its Blue Chromalight hands and hour markers.
In 2021, Rolex included the latest update to its collection, integrating a new 36-mm version available in steel, complete with a Twin lock crown, Oyster case, and signature Explorer dial. The Rolex Explorer I is well protected from the exterior elements by two shock absorbers, a sapphire crystal, and a twin lock crown, which makes it a robust option for more audacious buyers. Also, it emphasizes comfort by being fitted with an Easylink system that enables users to adjust its length without visiting the jeweler or any tools. The movement has an officially certified chronometer. The free-sprung balance is fitted precisely between two Paraflex shock absorbers, made and patented by Rolex. The Rolex Explorer costs $5,500 at retail.
1. The Rolex Oysterdate – $4000
The following cheap Rolex on the list is the Rolex Oysterdate, a vintage watch that offers the best bet for a small budget. According to Chrono24.com, the Rolex Oysterdate was first introduced in the 1950s and was produced until 1989. The model was the entry level for Rolex in these years and was strictly made of stainless steel. More so, Oysterdate watches were not chronometer-certified and were instead powered by manual movements.
That’s why you will see the word precision on the lower dial part rather than the famous Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified one. If you are looking for an authentic vintage Rolex, the Oysterdate might be the perfect choice for you. The Rolex Oysterdate ref.6694 is your best option because it’s the most up-to-date reference. The watch was in production for more than thirty years before being discontinued. The Rolex Oysterdate design comes with brilliant simplicity. It has a streamlined dial with a cyclops lens and a date window at 3 o’clock, which enhances its charm. You can buy the Rolex Oysterdate for $3,000 to $4000, which makes it one of the most affordable options.
These are some of the best cheapest Rolex watches money can buy. As you have seen, there are still lots of affordable Rolex options. The watches on the list goes for a fraction of the cost of the more popular models. We hope one of these top ten cheapest picks will help you get started.