Feature: The Biggest BARGAIN Rolexes Right Now!
Bargain Rolexes? Seriously? You probably think the words go together like meatballs and marzipan, an unlikely pairing, something that makes you splutter in disbelief. And, yes, the days of picking up a Submariner from that little vintage jewellers in the arcade for around £5k have been consigned to the history books, something you’ll regale your grandchildren with when you one day sit them down and tell them about the way the watch world was in days of old.
But, hey, at least that moment a few months ago when it looked as though a pre-owned, basic steel Rolex Daytona was well on its way to costing upwards of £50k by the first quarter of this century seems to have passed.
Things appear to be stabilising a little, at least for now. And as the dust settles, it’s time to take a look around and see what relative bargains are to be found in the crazy world of Rolex…
Don’t Overlook The Adventurer’s Watch
Not all Rolexes double in price the second they leave the authorised dealer, even if it often feels like it.
Take the Rolex Explorer, for example. This trusty timepiece has accompanied some of the world’s most intrepid adventurers through bug-infested jungles and freezing blizzards and lived to tell the tale. Yet when it comes to the Rolex beauty pageant, the Explorer gets elbowed to the margins due to its plain Jane looks.
The hard-as-nails Rolex Explorer is linked to some of the brand's greatest PR triumphs
Make no mistake, despite being a time-only watch, the modern Explorer has been tweaked and modified to perfection over the decades—so its price on the pre-owned market (currently in the £6,500 to £8,500 range depending on the model, condition and whether it comes with box and papers) is actually pretty reasonable.
The newest all-steel Explorer, the reference 124270, currently retails for £5,700 but you can pick up the older reference 114270 for less than £7k. The differences between the models are the kind of miniscule things you’ll only notice with a loupe.
Both have a 36mm case and look almost identical. The changes lie in the numerals (ever-so-slightly bigger on the newer version), an improved bracelet, and the movement, which has been updated from the 3130 to the 3230.
The model pictured is on the Watchfinder UK site (available at time of writing) and is a steal at £6,615. It's a model that we usually have in stock so keep an eye out.
The Trusty Oyster Perpetual
It’s really saying something when you scan the windows of official Rolex boutiques and there are signs alongside the crown’s entry-level watch stating “Exhibition Only”. After all, this is a no-frills Oyster Perpetual we’re talking about here, not a meteorite-dial Daytona! But nope, you’ve got to stand in line like everyone else and wait your turn—if it ever comes!
Being rich and/or famous helps, by the way. Is your name Lionel Messi or Angelina Jolie? No? Then continue reading...
Thankfully, Oyster Perpetuals are plentiful on the pre-owned market and, unless you’re after a Tiffany-blue dial, won’t cost the price of a Tesla.
Usually found at the lower end of the Rolex price spectrum, the Oyster Perpetual won't let you down
Hunt around on the internet a bit and you might find a vintage, slightly beaten-up steel OP with a baggy bracelet and scratched plexiglass going for under £3k (beware of fakes and Frankenwatches!).
But if you’re willing to stump up a bit more and don’t mind wearing a watch in the 34mm to 36mm size range, there are more recent versions like this classic Oyster Perpetual Date (reference 15210) from the year 2000, complete with a lovely engine-turned bezel.
We're selling this one for £4,815, if you’re interested!
A Bargain Rolex Datejust?
Many Datejust models—including the Datejust II and Datejust 41—are currently selling for around £10k but if you’re looking for a model with the signature fluted bezel, why not consider the discontinued Turn-O-Graph model, which bears a very close resemblance? These can generally be found for significantly less than a Datejust.
This gorgeous Turn-O-Graph with engine-turned 60-minute bezel comes in steel and white gold on a Jubilee bracelet and at 36mm is a great size for the slightly smaller wrist. It’s also an enticing £7,500 and comes with box and papers.
Bargain hunters should seriously consider checking out the discontinued Turn-O-Graph
Turn-O-Graphs, discontinued by Rolex about a decade ago, aren’t as ubiquitous as other Rolex models, which for some people adds to their desirability. Current prices for the last generation of the Turn-O-Graph, the reference 116264, range between £6.5k and £9k. Keep a look out for the striking two-tone version with a flashy red seconds hand.
If you’re determined to get a contemporary Rolex Datejust for a decent price, don’t be too pessimistic. Yes, models with unusual dials like the recent green palm motif version have predictably shot up, pretty much doubling in value, but plainer versions haven’t.
As long as you aren't seeking one with a rare dial, Datejust prices haven't gone crazy
This reference 126200 from 2021 is £7,790—less than £2k more than the current retail price (£5,800). A steep rise, sure, but still a modest increase when you glance over to the batsh*t bonkers world of Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks and Patek Philippe Nautiluses.
Other Rolex models whose prices haven’t gone wildly stratospheric include the Yacht-Master, with contemporary pre-owned models selling for just £2-3k above their retail price.
A platinum and steel Rolex for low five figures? Cast your eyes over the 37mm Yacht-Master with rhodium dial
Around £12k gets you a stunning 37mm model like the one pictured, boasting a steel and platinum case with rhodium dial and steel Oyster bracelet.
That’s about as ‘bargain’ as a contemporary Rolex gets!
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