The Art of Collecting Rolex Watches

Posted by Suzie Kidger-Clarke

on 14th May 2024

In the world of luxury timepieces, the name Rolex resonates with unmatched prestige, symbolising a blend of unrivalled craftsmanship, enduring design, and a rich heritage that transcends generations.

This iconic brand has not only mastered the art of precision in watchmaking but has also woven itself into the fabric of cultural and historical milestones.

Whether you’re looking to build a collection of Rolex watches to wear whenever you fancy, or you’re looking to make watches an investment, we’re here to help you kickstart collecting Rolex watches with ease.

Why Rolex watches?

Whether you are captivated by the robust charm of the Submariner, feeling tempted by the Datejust, or you’re more of an Explorer fan, each Rolex watch tells a story.

Beyond their undeniable beauty, Rolex watches are renowned for their durability and reliability, boasting an ability to retain, and often appreciate in, value over time.

Whether a dress watch or vintage Rolex, there are so many different models available to add to your watch collection.

rolex watch collection

Things to look out for when collecting Rolex watches

New to Rolex watches? No problem. If you’re looking to start a watch collection, or add to your ever-growing collection, there are a few things to look out for first.

Fake watches

If you’re new to Rolex watches, especially if you’re looking to build a watch collection, it can be a little daunting at times. The second hand market can be a great place to look for an iconic watch to invest in, however, fakes are very prominent. Plus, many are very realistic, so it can be difficult to know how to spot a fake Rolex.

While we’ve written a couple of things on this exact topic, see:

Here are some of our top tips summarised:

  1. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
  2. Before committing to buy, spend a little time doing some research on the shop/individual/dealer you’re buying from
  3. Pay attention to the weight of the watch
  4. Look out for the signature crown logo on the side of the watch
  5. Pay close attention to the text on the watch face

Ready to start your Rolex watch collection?

Not sure where to start? There are many Rolex watches to choose from, after all. Here are some of our favourite timepieces to kickstart your Rolex collection:

the explorer i
buy rolex explorer ii

The Explorer I

The Rolex Explorer I, initially crafted for the daring souls of adventurers, climbers, and mountaineers, presents an excellent starting point for anyone venturing into the realm of Rolex collecting.

This watch, with its timeless, understated elegance, epitomises the quintessential Rolex aesthetic. Born as the Oyster Perpetual in 1953, it adorned the wrists of Sir Edmund Hillary, Sir John Hunt, and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay during their historic ascent of Mount Everest, a feat underpinned by Rolex’s sponsorship.

Characterised by its straightforward, dateless display, the Explorer I marries simplicity with reliability. Among its iterations, the ref. 1016 stands out, having graced the wrist of James Bond creator Ian Fleming from 1963 to 1989.

GMT master II 2023 model reference 126711
gmt master ii rolex

The GMT Master

Originally crafted for the aviation demands of Pan-Am pilots, the GMT Master has found favour across a diverse spectrum of wearers – from tennis icons like Roger Federer, who sports a black and blue-bezeled variant, to Hollywood legends such as Marlon Brando, who preferred his bezel-less, to figures of historical significance like Fidel Castro, known for his black and red bezel GMT Master.

The watch stands out not only for its unique aesthetics but also for its functionality. It features an extended hour hand that completes one rotation every 24 hours, pointing to a bezel marked in 24-hour segments.

Additionally, it boasts a shorter hour hand, adjustable on a 12-hour scale, enabling wearers to track local time independently.

The Submariner

The Rolex Submariner series stands out as a timeless, iconic model, cementing its place in world of luxury watches as the original watch of James Bond. Sean Connery famously sported the ref. 6538 in the 1962 film “Dr. No,” marking its cinematic debut.

This watch was the brainchild of René-Paul Jeanneret, a Rolex board member with a passion for diving, who envisioned a watch that blended the functionality of a professional diver’s watch with the elegance of a dress watch.

In 1953, Rolex achieved this vision by integrating its Oyster case and perpetual movement into the creation of the ref. 6204 Submariner, designed to endure depths of up to 100 meters.

The Sea-Dweller

For those who admire the legacy of Rolex’s dive watches yet seek something more robust and functional, the Rolex Sea-Dweller is the ideal choice.

Initiated in 1967, Rolex’s ambition to surpass the Submariner’s capabilities led to groundbreaking experiments in collaboration with COMEX, French experts in deep-sea industrial diving. These efforts culminated in the creation of the Sea-Dweller’s defining feature: a patented helium escape valve.

This ingenious mechanism permits helium to safely escape the watch during decompression, preventing the crystal from shattering under pressure.

As a result, the original Sea-Dweller models were capable of withstanding depths of up to 610 meters, a figure that has since doubled to 1,220 meters in current models.

The Cosmograph Daytona

The record-breaking sale of a Rolex Daytona at a staggering $17.7 million at a Phillips auction in 2017 can be attributed to its association with Paul Newman, the iconic Hollywood actor and racing enthusiast. His personal Cosmograph Daytona’s astonishing auction price underscores the model’s success, largely tied to Newman’s fame.

Debuted in 1963, the Daytona is renowned for its tachymeter bezel, designed for precise speed measurement. It earns its name from the famed Daytona International Speedway in Florida, where it became the coveted award for winners of the 24 Hours of Daytona race across all classes.

Vintage Daytona models, especially those from the 1960s, have emerged as some of the most sought-after pieces among serious collectors. Their values have been climbing at unparalleled rates year after year, making them exceedingly rare finds.

For those looking to purchase a new model, be prepared for a decade-long wait.

If you’re eager to get your hands on the Cosmograph Daytona, you may need to read out to the collecting community, or a reputable Rolex trader. Many collectors struggle to get a whole of this wonderful watch.

lh watch trade rolex trader

Looking for more Rolex watches to add to your collection?

No matter what model you’re looking for, LH Watch Trade can help you source it. We carry a large amount of stock in-house, with the option to source a particular model when required.

Take a look at our current stock of Rolex watches, or why not get in touch with us to find out how we can help?

From the Rolex Submariner to vintage Rolex timepieces, we’re here to help you find your next beautiful timepiece.