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Feature: These 5 Rolex models are surprisingly affordable

Cast your mind back to a year ago and the pre-owned prices of certain Rolex models were ascending like a helium-filled balloon. Watches that were within the realm of affordability suddenly cost more than a family holiday in the Maldives and some of us gave up on our dream of owning that watch we had coveted for years. Thankfully, things are slightly different right now, with several faithful Rolex models carrying price tags that won’t have you recoiling in horror. Prepare to be surprised…

Rolex Explorer 14270

A celebrated model within Rolex’s catalogue, the mighty Explorer has arguably the greatest history of all the brand’s steel sport watch collections—and you’ll certainly agree if you’re of an adventurous persuasion. This discontinued vintage model from the 1990s is a fair bit cheaper than the current Explorer—reference 124270—that Rolex has to offer yet it looks almost identical to its younger sibling.

Rolex Air King 14000

There are people for whom a case size of 34mm is too small—Samoan rugby players, for example, or Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. But for the rest of us mere mortals, 34mm should not be considered a dinky watch. So don’t be dismissive of the many mid-sized Rolexes out there. This discontinued version of the Air King, released way before the collection got a very modern make-over with the launch of the reference 116900 in 2016, shares the classic, minimalist looks of an Oyster Perpetual.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 114300

As Rolex’s entry-level watch, the trusty Oyster Perpetual was always going to feature in this list. And since we’re talking about affordable models, we’re staying away from eye-catching dials like the turquoise so-called “Tiffany” variation that caused their value to double—or even triple. This discontinued reference 114300 hits that 39mm sweet spot and comes with a deep-blue dial with contrasting vivid green squares at the end of each baton hour marker, lumed at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock.

Rolex Submariner 16610

Looking for a Submariner that’s neither from the past decade nor a James Bond-style vintage model from the 1950s? Then the 16610 might be the best compromise. Released in 1987, this stalwart of the brand was produced for over two decades before being replaced by the 116610. Yes, the aluminium bezel on this model may fade over time, and its 40mm case is a millimetre smaller than the model in the current Rolex catalogue, but it still boasts all the hallmarks of a classic sub. Expect to pay between £8k and £11k.

Rolex Datejust 16234

The beauty of the Datejust is its unrivalled versatility. Whether you’re pairing it with a T-shirt and jeans or a tuxedo it never looks out of place. Models like the reference 16234, with the signature fluted bezel, “Cyclops” date lens and Jubilee bracelet—introduced in 1945, like the Datejust itself—could hardly look more quintessentially Rolex. With its steel and white gold case, this is a stealth-wealth favourite that is perennially in style.

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