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The Top Five Vintage Rolex Watches of All Time


There is no doubt that Rolex is one of the best luxury watch brands; in fact, it is one of the most powerful companies globally as it holds the 64th position on Forbes’ ranking. The brand’s success has been many years in the making, but it has never lost its touch in all this time. To this end, Rolex’s vintage watches are some of the best in the market, and consequently some of the most expensive and sought-after luxury watches.

Five vintage Rolex watches, in particular, stand out from the rest for their superior quality and opulence. Here is a review of the top five vintage Rolex watches of all time.

Rolex Explorer II


The Rolex Explorer II is closely similar to the Rolex GMT, but it is so unique that it is somewhat a collectible. In particular, the Rolex Explorer II 16550 was a turning point for the brand as it saw a radical update of its predecessor’s style and design. The Rolex Explorer II 16550 introduced a sapphire crystal glass, an independent hour hand, and a quick-set date feature. It also featured a compact case and chain wrist straps for a compact look and feel.

What’s more, unlike the Rolex GMT which had a rotating bezel, this model came with a fixed but detailed bezel. The highlight, however, was in the dial. This watch came in two versions: one with a white dial and another with a black dial. Today, the former watches are about twice as expensive as the latter, and none still features a white dial today. This is because a chemical reaction has changed the dial’s color over time to a cream or ivory color, which most people consider more appealing than the white dial. A Rolex Explorer II watch with a black dial goes for about $5,000. The white-dialed one, however, can go for anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000.

Rolex Submariner 5513


The Rolex Submariner 5513 is considered the epitome of classic dive watches, and although it is widely available it is nevertheless one of the top choices for vintage watch collectors. The line’s production began in 1962, but this particular model was released in 1984 and it is today regarded a transitional piece. The Rolex Submariner 5513 opted to go with the original acrylic dome crystal that was used on its earlier predecessors instead of the sapphire crystal glass.

However, it also incorporated the new Tritum gloss dial with white gold surrounds. And, like the Rolex Explorer II, the white gold surrounds have been changing color over the years to feature a rich cream, and this is a distinguishing factor for collectibles. The luminous material has also changed to a patina color over the years, and it blends in well with the black sleek dial. And, like every other Rolex watch, there is no question about this model’s compact build thanks to its superior quality material. The Rolex Submariner 5513 is conveniently affordable thanks to its availability; prices range from $6,000 to $7,000.

Rolex GMT Master 1675


The Rolex GMT is one of the most popular Rolex watches, and, expectedly, it enjoyed one of the longest production runs in the company’s history. Consequently, there are many variations of the GMT, but its most popular version is the GMT Master 1675, in particular the one with the red-and-blue bezel. However, other features also count for collectors, and it is these small features that determine how much you will part with. For instance, the earlier models featured an extra hour hand with a large triangle at the front.

What’s more, they featured pointed crown guards that added to the compact look and feel. However, the most outstanding feature was the bakelite bezel; it was not as sturdy and stable as the metal bezel, but it is nevertheless highly sought after. What’s more, all the versions can feature either Oyster or Jubilee bracelets. The Rolex GMT Master 1675 may be popular, but it is nevertheless easily available and hence affordable (some would even argue it is undervalued). It goes for about $6,000.

Rolex Daytona


Rolex has always excelled in making chronograph watches, but it was not until 1963 that it named its first official line of chronograph watches under the brand Rolex Daytona. To this end, the Rolex Daytona boasts of being one of the best Rolex watches of all time, and it still inspires some of the company’s modern creations.

The most notable aspect of the Rolex Daytona is its complex tachymeter; in fact, this watch was so good at measuring speed that racers relied on it for a precise speed measurements of up to 400km/h. The dial is also very detailed, and although most versions featured a black dial few also came with an exotic white dial. The most notable features on the dial include the classic Rolex sign as well as the three sub-dials that give a more detailed time count.

This watch has a very compact look and feel about it as the case, as well as the straps, are made of high- end material. What’s more, the complicated movement under the hood, coupled with the classic Rolex look and feel, makes it the ideal luxury watch. There are numerous versions of the Rolex Daytona, and while some of the rare ones have sold for over $50,000 in auctions, the common ones go for anywhere between $7,000 and $15,000 depending on where you look.

Rolex Datejust 1601


This is one of the classiest vintage Rolex watches of all time, and one of the best. However, it is important to note that it comes in two versions: one made of stainless steel and another made of gold. Naturally, the gold version is the one to look out for. The design behind this watch is so precise that it is near-perfect. To start with, it is chronometer certified and features a complex and efficient movement. It is also waterproof, and, unlike the GMT and Explorer II, this watch’s aesthetic appeal never changes or fades.

And, to top it all off, the Rolex Datejust 1601 has a compact yet elegant appearance and feel thanks to the smooth gold case and straps. The Rolex Datejust 1601 is not exactly rare, but it is nevertheless expensive thanks to the gold case and straps. Its price ranges from $8,000 to $10,000, but it can be more or less depending on the individual watch’s characteristics.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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