What Are The Ten Best Rolex Watches For Men You Can Actually Buy In 2021?
Welcome to 2021. We have put together a quick Top Ten on what we consider to be the best Rolex watches for men that you can actually buy. Some of the watches on our list will be current Rolex models, whilst some may have been recently discontinued. We chose our top ten based on price, desirability, wearability and potential future value. You will notice that we have omitted watches such as the Rolex Daytona 116500, Rolex GMT Master II 126710BLRO Pepsi and Rolex Submariner 116610LV Hulk from the list. Why? Well let's just say that COVID may have changed our views on excessive premiums over retail prices, at least temporarily. So we decided only include Rolex watches that could be purchased as near to RRP as possible or older Rolex watches that had the potential to rise in value. Do you agree or disagree with our Top Ten? Feel free comment below...
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116520
Rolex Submariner 116610LN
Rolex Deepsea 116660 D-Blue
Rolex Sea Dweller 16600
Rolex GMT Master II 116710LN
Rolex Sea Dweller 126600
Rolex Explorer 14270
Rolex Explorer II 216570
Rolex Datejust 126334
Rolex Air-King 116900
Brief History Of The Rolex Watch
Rolex is one of the most recognisable luxury watch brands in the world. Established in 1905, Rolex has become is the largest manufacturer of certified Swiss-made chronometers, with their iconic timepieces such as the Daytona and Submariner considered the height of luxury and elegance. Hans Wilsdorf established Rolex in 1905, at a time when pocket watches were the norm. It was the first watchmaker to produce a certified Chronometer watch. Rolex were also the first to make a watch with an automatically changing date. They made the first oscillating winding rotor. They were also the first watchmakers to produce a waterproof timepiece.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116520 was released in 2000 and available with either black or white dials. The 116520 was the first Rolex Daytona to feature an in house movement. The 116520 was powered in the 4130 automatic movement with chronograph function. The 116520 was only available in stainless steel. The bezel, case and bracelet were identical on both the white and black dial versions. Early versions of the Rolex Daytona 116520 were fitted with what have become know as "thin hands" and these models command a premium on the used and second hand watch market. Throughout the 16 year lifespan of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116520, minor changes and upgrades were made to the dials and bracelet.
The Rolex Submariner 116610LN was released in 2010 and featured the new 40mm MAXI case with much larger and more rugged lugs and crown guards. The 116610LN also features another upgrade over the previous generation Submariner 16610 - a black ceramic bezel with platinum inserts. Rolex calls this material "cerachrom" which unlike the aluminium bezel of the 16610 is scratch resistant. The Rolex Submariner 116610LN is powered by the same calibre 3135 automatic movement as the 16610. The dial and hands of the 116610LN were however upgraded to include Rolex's Chronalight material. This luminous material has a blue glow when subjected to sunlight rather than the green glow as per previous versions. The bracelet on the Rolex Submariner 116610LN also saw a huge improvement. The 116610LN is fitted with an oyster bracelet with internal glide-lock clasp and extension system.
The Rolex Deepsea 116660 D-Blue arrived in 2014 in tribute to the historic solo dive of director James Cameron who reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Cameron reached a depth of nearly 7 miles in his submarine, the Deepsea Challanger in 2014. This Deepsea D-Blue was identical to the regular 116660 in every way other than the dial. The D-Blue featured a graduated blue to black dial with the word DEEPSEA in bright green.
In 1988 Rolex released the Rolex Sea Dweller 16600, replacing the Sea Dweller 16660. The basic design of the Sea Dweller remains unchanged however the improvements to 16600 included the addition of the calibre 3135 automatic movement. The Sea Dweller 16600 retaining the 40mm stainless steel case, with 120 click uni-directional bezel and oyster bracelet. Prior to 1998/9 the Rolex Sea Dweller 16600 was fitted with the "SWISS-T<25" dial with tritium hour markers and hands. In 1999, A serial Sea Dweller 16600's can be found with "SWISS" only dials. From 2000, all Rolex Sea Dweller 16600 watches were fitted with black "SWISS MADE" dials with SuperLumiNova hour marker and hands. The Rolex Sea Dweller 16600 has a depth rating of 1220m thanks to its helium escape valve on the side the the case. The Rolex Sea Dweller 16600 was eventually discontinued in 2008.
The Rolex GMT Master II 116710LN was released by Rolex in 2007 and marked possibly the biggest change in design since the birth of the GMT back in 1954. The Rolex GMT Master II 116710LN features a 40mm maxi case in stainless steel and fitted with a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel insert, a material Rolex call cerachrom. The 116710LN also saw the GMT hand change from red to green and it was the first GMT Master II to feature and engraved inner rehaut with serial number displayed at the 6 o'clock position. Another design change was the polished/brushed Oyster bracelet, prior to the 116710LN the Oyster bracelet fitted to the GMT Master II was all brushed. The Rolex GMT Master II 116710LN is powered by the Rolex calibre 3186 automatic movement with date and GMT functions. The Rolex GMT Master II 116710LN was eventually discontinued by Rolex in 2018.
At Baselworld 2017, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sea Dweller, Rolex released the Rolex Sea Dweller 126600, or SD43 as if is often referred to. The new Sea Dweller features a 43mm stainless steel case with helium escape value, a gloss black dial with Sea Dweller printed in red, the lug width grew to 22mm to accommodate a wider oyster bracelet and the watch is powered by the Rolex calibre 3235 automatic movement with 70 hour power reserve. One of most obvious and controversial changes to previous editions of the Sea Dweller is the inclusion of a magnification cyclops on the sapphire crystal above the date window.
In 1989 Rolex discontinued the 1016 and launched the Rolex Explorer 14270 with a 36mm case, Oyster bracelet, 3-6-9 dial and calibre 3000 automatic movement. The acrylic crystal was also replaced with sapphire glass. There were four main version of the Rolex Explorer 14270. Early examples were fitted with 'TSWISS-T<25' dials, then there is the 'Blackout' with black pained 3-6-9 rather than white, the 'SWISS' only and Explorers after 2000 were fitted with 'SWISS MADE' dials.
In 2011 Rolex released the Explorer II 216570. This model increased in size to 42mm and was also available with white or black dials. The 216570 also saw the return of the orange GMT hand. The Explorer II 216570 is the current model but the general feeling is that a new model will be released in 2021 to mark the 50th anniversary of the watch.
In 1945 Rolex introduced the Rolex Datejust to celebrate the companies 40th anniversary. The model has been so successful that it remains in production today. The 36mm Datejust was initially only available in 18ct yellow gold. It wasn't until the 1950's that steel and Rolesor (two-tone) models were made available.
In 2016, Rolex introduced a new Air-King 116900 also known as the Bloodhound. This current production model of the Air-King features a 40mm case and is powered by the Rolex caliber 3131 automatic movement. The dial of the Air-King 116900 is the most distinctive feature of the watch. The dial has the tradition 3-6-9 hour marker format with the addition or minute markers at the remaining intervals.