How Expensive Are Rolex Watches?

It’s the most coveted watch in the world. Rolex watches have been seen on the wrists of presidents and prime ministers (John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, Winston Churchill), singers and celebrities ( Jay-Z, Rihanna, Bono, Steve McQueen), and wheeler-dealers and titans of industry ( Ryan Seacrest, Warren Buffett). We explain the how and why behind the brand's popularity.

how expensive are rolex watches


It’s the most coveted watch in the world. Rolex watches have been seen on the wrists of presidents and prime ministers ( John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, Winston Churchill), singers and celebrities ( Jay-Z, Rihanna, Bono, Steve McQueen), wheeler-dealers and titans of industry ( Ryan Seacrest, Warren Buffett), as well as anybody and everybody else who wants to signal that they’ve made it big. Dr. Martin Luther King wore a Rolex. So did Che Guevara. And Elvis. So how expensive are Rolex watches right now?

How Expensive Are Rolex Watches?

A brand-new Rolex is going to cost you somewhere anywhere from $3,900 (for an Oyster Perpetual 26 in Oystersteel) to upward of $250,000 (for a Pearlmaster 39 covered in pavé diamonds). On the other hand, you can buy a pre-owned Rolex watch for as little as $2,350 .

Price varies according to whether the watch is aimed at the men's or women's market (men’s watches tend to be larger and more expensive), the model (a men’s Oyster Perpetual may be just over $5,000 while a Pearlmaster starts at $87,000), and the metal (from steel up to white gold and platinum). For example, a 40mm GMT-Master II with a ceramic bezel will be $9,250 in Oystersteel, $36,750 in Everose Gold, and $38,400 in white gold. Then there’s the matter of the dial, the bracelet, and the bezel. Adding diamonds adds to that tab. A lot.

There’s also ample evidence that collecting Rolexes can be habit-forming. That first one—whether it’s a graduation present, an inheritance, or the souvenir of a career-defining bonus—is often the gateway to a lifetime of buying, selling, trading, acquisition, a practice that proves particularly addictive when the brand never seems to stop adding design refinements. What’s a would-be Rolex wearer to do?

Buy pre-owned. At myGemma, we sell a range of authenticated, pre-owned Rolex watches at prices starting as low as $2,350 for women and $2,750 for men. To make owning a Rolex even more accessible, we also provide easy monthly payment plans through our partner Affirm.

Why Are Rolex Watches So Expensive?

There are plenty of reasons that a Rolex costs so much. The top five:

  1. Materials. Even among high-end horologers, this one has a reputation for going above and beyond. Way above. Way beyond. Rolex uses only 18 karat gold, 950 platinum, and has refined and developed many of its own materials. Its rose gold is a self-invented, proprietary alloy called Everose. Its Oystersteel, which is not only highly resistant to corrosion but also exceptionally easy to polish, is a proprietary 904L steel based on the alloys used in the aerospace industry. Its Cerachrome, resistant to UV and virtually scratch-proof, is an extremely hard ceramic and, yep, it’s proprietary too. 
  2. Craftsmanship. Pains are taken in every step of production, often for details that an end-wearer will never notice. The tiny magnifying lens on a Datejust, the famous Rolex Cyclops, is incorporated right into the watch’s crystal to magnify the date exactly two and a half times, a refinement that makes its production ridiculously difficult. Likewise, when numerals and decorations are engraved on a Cerachrome bezel, Rolex coats the entire bezel with a super-fine layer of platinum or gold, then buffs that away until it remains only inside the engraved numerals and decorations, making them reflective and more legible. And that attention to detail never—ever—stops: when a watch comes back to Rolex in for servicing, different oils are used on different parts of the mechanism, lest any tooth of any gear be subjected to suboptimal lubrication. 
  3. History. A Rolex isn’t just jewelry, it’s a gearhead’s dream. At the start of the 20th century, the brand made its reputation by winning awards for chronometric precision. During the 1920s, it coined the name “Oyster” for what claimed to be the first waterproof and dust-proof wristwatches. In 1953, Rolex equipped the British team that made the first successful ascent of Mount Everest; that, in turn, inspired the invention of the Explorer, a model created to be resistant to changes in altitude and humidity. And so it went, through Submariners, GMT-Masters, Day-Dates, Milgausses, Deep Sea Specials, and Daytonas.
  4. Durability. Rolex watches really work. In 1927, an Oyster strapped to the wrist of a woman swimming the English Channel emerged in perfect working order on the other side. High-altitude mountaineer Ed Viesturs, the first American to summit all of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, wore his Explorer throughout his climbs—and still wears it today. 
  5. Value. Rolex watches tend to keep their value. Sometimes they even increase it. People who know nothing else about watches will come up to you at cocktail parties and natter on about how Paul Newman’s 1968 Rolex Daytona commanded $15.5 million (over $17,750,000 once you add in the buyer’s premium) at a 2017 auction. Specialty sites, like ABlogtoWatch, devote long and loving posts to subjects like “How and Why Rolex Prices Increase Over Time” and run elaborate charts showing how a Submariner performs against inflation. All of which stokes speculation, which drives the market still higher. Some models are so sought-out that customers can walk out of an authorized retailer and flip their new watch for more money than they just paid. After all, taking a calculated risk on a Rolex is a lot more fun than taking a calculated risk on most financial instruments—and more fun to show off.

What Else You Need To Know About Rolex Watches

Beware of forgeries. Just because it looks well-made doesn’t mean it’s the real thing. Even counterfeiters are more meticulous when it comes to Rolex. You’ll find fakes being sold with authentic-looking boxes and papers, engraved serial numbers, elaborate holograms, and impressive materials. (Since most fakes are steel, counterfeiters have now upgraded to an alloy similar to the brand’s own 904L Oystersteel.) Want help? Read the primer on our partner site that tells you How to Spot a Fake Rolex.

Keep the paperwork. Got the box? The papers? The receipt? Keep 'em all in a safe place. And if you take your Rolex in for servicing, repair, or a change of dial, add that paperwork to your stash. Like any work of art, a Rolex commands a higher price when you can document its provenance.

Where To Buy Authentic Rolex Watches For The Best Price

At myGemma, you can shop our selection of pre-owned Rolex watches at up to 56 percent off retail: there you’ll find everything from a men’s stainless steel Submariner to a ladies’ diamond-and-gold Pearlmaster—all authenticated by our team of luxury watch experts.

Our commitment to selling authentic and affordable Rolex watches. With our outstanding savings, easy monthly payment plans, free U.S. shipping, and 14-day return policy, your opportunity to own one—or more—Rolex watches may be just a click away.

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