News & Insights

Roll Up For a Rolex

11th May 2019. By Adam Wasdell

Rolex has been producing exceptional wristwatches since 1905, and the brand remain one of the top names in both the contemporary luxury market and the second-hand and vintage market. Rolex is a name synonymous with fine craftsmanship and style, but what is the appeal for collectors?

Rolex were the leading name in the development of technical wristwatches and are best known for the models produced for key moments of exploration in the middle of the 20th century. The Explorer was developed for mountaineering expeditions, the Submariner for underwater exploration and the GMT-Master for Pilots and Air Crew, and it is these associations which add to the desirability of a Rolex. These classic models have been produced since the 1950s with a myriad of subtle alterations and variations which never detract from the recognisable and iconic styling, meaning there is an extraordinarily varied range of watches for collectors to choose from across a range of price points. Specialist collectors are passionate buyers, with each looking for a different set of specific features, rare variations and original patina, leading to competitive and sometimes surprising bidding in the saleroom.

Such bidding was certainly in evidence when a 1966 Submariner reference 5513 came up for sale recently. A rare version of the extremely popular Submariner, this reference saw the first example of a matte finish to the dial and sold for £8,800. Known by collectors as a ‘Meters First’ watch, the depth rating on the dial lists the metric measurement first, and the imperial second; Rolex were to switch the readings around on models at the end of the 1960s. Submariner’s continue to be made today, and even modern examples are seeing strong prices at auction. Indeed, an example of the edition produced in 2008 to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Submariner sold recently for £9,800.

The market for rare vintage Rolex models is thriving, but there are plenty of good examples of more modern Rolexes on offer at affordable prices which are destined to become future classics.

Adam Wasdell

Adam Wasdell

Wostep, MBHI

Watches, Clocks and Barometers Specialist, General Valuer

+ 44 (0) 1969 623780

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