Guide To Buying Your First Rolex Part 2:
What To Buy

Guide To Buying Your First Rolex Part 2:What To Buy

Guide To Buying Your First Rolex Part 2:<br>What To Buy   watch buying

Recently we spoke with the Rolex boutique in Beverly Hills and they confirmed that Rolex has about 2,000 SKUs even though there are only a few product families to choose from. That effectively means that there are tons of available Rolex watches to choose from. And that doesn’t even include Rolex’s rather intense catalog of vintage and no longer produced models.

Many people know they want a Rolex watch but aren’t sure what model to get. Some people simply want the name on their wrist and are looking for the least expensive model. Other people have a closer connection with a specific model’s history, or simply feel that one particular Rolex fits their lifestyle best. Even then, with all the options available it can be difficult to decide what your first Rolex watch should be. So let’s take a brief look at what Rolex watches are available, and how to satisfy the various reasons you want to buy one.

What Are You Looking For?

As we discussed in Part 1 of the Guide To Buying Your First Rolex, different people want Rolex watches for different reasons and at different times in their lives. Understanding what your needs are will certainly help in determining what your first Rolex watch should be.

The Rolex you buy might be your first and last Rolex, or the start of a collection. You’ll want the first model to have some meaning, residual value, as well as a versatile style. Most Rolex watches are designed to fit with many outfits, but that isn’t the case for all of them. Also, those with a specific interest in value retention have special considerations to make.

Guide To Buying Your First Rolex Part 2:<br>What To Buy   watch buying

People who just want the Rolex name on their wrist probably have the hardest time. These people are going to be looking at thousands of available watches all over the world hunting for the best watch, at the best price, in the best condition. Today, the Rolex Air King models are the entry level pieces and the least expensive with a price of about $5,000. These are basic models and are considerably smaller than most of the other popular models from the brand. We will discuss more of that below.

Pre-owned or used Rolex watches can be a good deal, but again, require a fair amount of time to located, verify, and purchase. There are used Rolex watch dealers out there, or you can use a range of online resources to purchase Rolex watches from existing owners. The problem is that these resources are mostly geared toward knowledgeable enthusiasts who know what they are looking for. Novices new to Rolex are going to find these resources more challenging, so we recommend going to a reputable pre-owned Rolex dealer. Alternatively, you can of course visit a new Rolex dealer for the most simple, but of course pricey experience.

Vintage Rolex watches exist in bounty, but can be marked by extremely high prices given their rarity. Also note that compared to today’s average men’s wrist watch size, vintage Rolex models tends to be quite small. In fact, today’s average Rolex is of “moderate” size compared to other watches (though that fact is changing as Rolex steadily releases larger watches). Having said that, owning a good quality vintage sport or dress Rolex model can be very rewarding in both style and “cool” factor. Having a vintage Rolex Submariner for example is not only often less expensive than a brand new model, but is certainly more hip. They also aren’t so small as to appear like ladies watches much of the time.

Guide To Buying Your First Rolex Part 2:<br>What To Buy   watch buying

When looking for a Rolex to fit your lifestyle things get easier. For men we will identify three types of lifestyles or characters that Rolex watches will fit into nicely. First there are what we call “everyday casual sport watches.” This represents most of the men’s collection and are just that; sport watches that can be dressed up or down and are suitable for everyday wear. We will discuss the models we recommend in this range below. Next are office or formal watches. Rolex has a couple of product families that will serve you very well in a suit and tie. These watches are not inherently sporty, but are durable enough. From a style perspective they are attractive, timeless, and mature… but not really suitable for jeans or shorts much of the time. Having a dedicated “suit and tie” Rolex will make it better for an office environment, but it will lack the versatility of a sport model.

Last, are the more “showy” Rolex watches. These are the more “blingy” versions with diamond decoration and/or fully made from precious metals such as 18k yellow, rose, or white gold… or platinum. These models exist in the other Rolex watch families, but are factory decorated by Rolex to be much more status symbols than a handsome everyday timepiece. Often times people who come into a lot of money, land a huge business deal, or simply want to show off wealth prefer a model such as this. Consumers should be careful when buying pre-owned in this category because many of them are aftermarket creations (such as diamond setting) versus those fully made by Rolex. Trust us that Rolex offers more than a generous selection of “factory” bling versions of their products. The options are staggering, with countless variations and levels of diamond decor mixed with different types of precious metal cases… more »

46 comments
GreenEyes30
GreenEyes30

Green information, Ariel.  I am in the process of buying of Women's Presidential 26 mm; I had a stainless steel/18K that a home health care visitor 'borrowed' while caring for a family member.   You are correct in typically buying a Rolex is a celebration of something.  I am currently looking at what seems to be bazillions of  online sites for a 'previously owned' 18K yellow gold model...but with all of the caveats and 'site reviews' it is a scary marketplace. Any additional advice would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks again. 

timepieceparlor
timepieceparlor

True indeed, Rolex has had a hard time shedding the "old man" image. I even read one article that said "There's something about a Rolex that reeks of desperation." In my mind they are such versatile timepieces that it's difficult to nail down an accurate demographic, especially nowadays.

LTVN68
LTVN68

In 1983, I was a young Vietnam Vet, married with my first child. I had moved to Alaska to fly for a friend at Sportsman's Flying Service. The GI Bill had allowed me to obtain my single engine, land and sea, commercial license and I had brought my Cessna 180 on floats to Alaska. During the winter, I began building houses and upon the sale of one, I took $1,000 in cash to a jeweler in Anchorage and walked out with a brand new Rolex Submariner. That watch has flown thousands of miles, been Dall Sheep hunting in the Wrangells, moose hunting below Tazlina Glacier, wolf watching on the Upper Toklat River in Denali NP, hiked hundreds of miles in the wilderness, caught lots of salmon in the Wood River/Tikchik and skied endless miles. It has been on my wrist to pound thousands of nails. Today it is with me here in Hawaii....actually at this writing it's on it's way to Rolex Dallas for its second rebuild in 31 years. It has had big chips on the edge of the crystal and will now need to have a scratched bezel replaced for the second time. It has the original bracelet but is just now wearing through one of the rolled steel tubes at the end of the clasp. 31 years of friction.

I have nothing but repect for this "tool" watch that has stood up to everything thrown at it. Say what you will, I am thankful to those who made it and blessed to have owned it. My daughter says she would not recognize me if I was not wearing it.

Thank you Rolex.

ua2
ua2

1980's Air-King Date ref 5700 would be my suggestion as a first rolex for those with thinner wrists. Was mainly sold in the UK and Canada.

ua2
ua2

To be honest, I don't like Rolexes at all but I've grown to respect them a lot due to the simple fact that they have kept smaller sized watches (34mm Oyster Perpetual Date, Air-King, 35 MM Yacht-Master). I also find their cellini line particularly attractive and under exposed/reported on. The Prince, Danaos, Cestello, and Classic models are excellent in their truly classic styling and heritage.

JackT54
JackT54

While I take no issue with the Datejust II, in and of itself, I disagree with your recommendation that men should not consider a dress watch of less than 40mm in case size. At or larger than 40mm is comparable to sport watch size, and the point of a dress watch, in my opinion, is to convey an elegance, a slimness, one that will fit under the sleeve of a dress shirt, allowing the cuff to slide up and down naturally. The DJII has a case height that may prevent many dress shirts this freedom of movement, resulting in the the forced look of a cuff wedged behind the watch. With the fluted white gold bezel, a Datejust pops just a bit, and the jubilee bracelet completes, to me, the essentials for a proper dress watch. Oh, and yes, I own such a Datejust!

Will_F
Will_F

And this post is different from a paid Rolex advertisement how? I love Rolexes, own several, but I read Ablogtowatch for knowledge and reviews of watches. Not for the online version of watch ads.

CG
CG

Never ever considered a Rolex until the re issue of the Milgauss, Rolex always had the "Old Man" attribute to me, cause you always saw old guys in Corvettes and Cadillacs wearing them especially those tawdry looking bling gold and steel bracelet monstrosities. The Milgauss is the ONLY Rolex I would ever buy and I did. I still carry the "old guy" bias even though I'm an old guy now! HA! No thrills from Omega or others offering the nirvana of corporate "social & environmental responsibility". Since Rolex just signed an F1 deal I would expect an exclusively themed F1 watch and NOT a reworked Daytona, would be nice but probably won't happen. I like themed purpose driven watches, F1, MotoGp, Silverstone, Monaco etc etc.... But the critical points of view and suggestions have forceful merit... I would consider another Rolex after reading parts 1&2, if the right design and function combo came along. BTW if you want a German performance car buy a 911, used is good! I wish Rolex good luck, hope they are close to realizing that their demographic is changing.

vmarks
vmarks

I was surprised by the DateJust II recommendation - it's too large and the proportions look wrong, especially when compared with the classic DateJust. 


There's nothing wrong with the original DateJust size. If you want the bigger watch, Submariner, Milgauss GV or Explorer II with the large orange GMT hand are all better choices.

Panagiotis
Panagiotis

I started out the same way as Ariel, feeling that Rolex was too mainstread to warrant my attention. BUT as i got into "watching" more and more i cannot fault a brand for being the best at what they do (not necessarily the best product--but the best value).

And how can something be overpriced if people pay full price (or more) for it? And it retains its value over time. That's just good old fashioned VFM. By the way i don't own a rolex but i wouldn't say no to a milgaus or a snow white explorer--because they are not mainstream and because i still want to enjoy the company of fellow watch lovers :)

I do hate the image of the majority of Rolex owners but would i say no to a good product because most people can't see past the crown? No because i don't care what people think and people in the know know better than to dismiss a quality product.

So yeah, count me in and a Rolex will happily find a place in my collection among less mainstream siblings ;)

Gee Z
Gee Z

Interesting to watch the 'heated' discussion here, but I think one thing has not been aknowledged here: one of the traits of Rolex is their tremendous reliabilty under all circumstances - I love my Patek, Lange, Jaeger and IWC, but when I know its getting rough, I put on my Rolex.

Ryan B
Ryan B

Since we're talking about Rolex's this thread would not be complete unless somebody said the name Sean Connery.

DG Cayse
DG Cayse

The masculine image projected by the Rolex brand, i.e., exploreres, deep-sea divers, sporting persons is undoubtably intentionsal. It exemplifies discipline, perserverance and a ongoing quest for excellence.

I can see how these traits might be found, shall we say, offensive to some. Especially in todays culture of de-emphasizing the masculine qualities.

nateb123
nateb123

Rolex: The BMW 3 Series of watches.

qudths
qudths

really?  it's THAT nauseating to some of you guys that rolex has paid money to highlight some of their watches to a blog (that you read for free) on how to buy their own brand's first watch?  if you don't like it, don't read it!  i didn't find it all that biased, and i don't even HAVE a rolex.  geez, who are the entited snobs here?

deltaslim
deltaslim

Please pardon my spelling of honorary above. When Ulysses31, RyanB and MarkCarson write, I read. I  second their emotions.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

First question; what is that weird QR-code type thing on the left side of the case of some of these watches?  Second question - where is the "Sponsored post" bit at the top of the article?  You might as well have claimed that Rolex watch engineers have vanilla-scented farts.  This is clearly designed to drum up more business for Rolex, and while i'm not angry about it (Rolex is such a dull brand it evokes no strong emotions of any kind) I think this is a little unfair to the other major brands, unless you intend to create a buyer's guide for them too.  Looking forward to "How to buy an Omega/Chopard/JLC/Longines/Ebel/Panerai/..."   

I hope to someday be as wealthy as those guys who choose fine watches like they do hors d'ouevres. 

Ryan B
Ryan B

The mere fact this whole subject has a 2nd part to it makes me nauseous.  We're on 2 days now just talking about the nuts and bolts of purchasing a Rolex.... PURCHASING!

It is an insult to the rest of the worlds watch manufacturers who are just as worthy to deserve a whole days worth of discussion about buying one of their time pieces and the personal signifigance behind it. But this will probably be the only post of its kind that we see, the rest will be generalized as they've been in the past i.e. mechanical, quartz, diver or dress, whatever.

Although tomorrow's post (Part 3: Choosing the right ascot to wear when purchasing your Rolex) should be mildly interesting. I shall wait to read it by the fireplace when the servants have turned in for the evening. Once finished reading, I will look at myself in the mirror for hours and be amazed at what it's like to be me and the way my Rolex let's everybody around me know that I'm kind of a big deal.

Gee Z
Gee Z

I love the 'old' Explorer in 36mm the best - the real estate on the black dial is balanced, the overall dimensions are balanced and its super-confortable to wear.

deltaslim
deltaslim

When I was a kid 50 years ago I listened to WWV (USA) and CHU (Canada) and got into accurate time keeping. I researched horological history and technology. I learned about escapements,springs, positions, temperature, railroads and much more.I learned about chronometers and that Rolex makes them. Note that the Air King is not COSC rated. I like the 36 mm Explorer.I recommend that any buyer to go to a major library and study. You will learn more about mechanical watches, what Richard Dawkins termed "honoray living things",than the vast majority of Rolex owners and most dealers. Check the Time Zone course. And remember the first rule for union construction apprentices :SHOW UP ON TIME!

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

Is there a rootbeer daytona? I'd rather someone just say here than go look it up for myself, I don't care THAT much, I'm just curious.

pmignone
pmignone

Would love Rolex to release their Deep Sea Challenge Watch that James Cameron used on his dive last year :-) If not I'd settle for a Rolex Deep Sea.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

2000 SKUs? Holy crap that is a lot. But then again if you make a million watches a year, that averages out to 500 per style which does not seem quite as insane.

For a lot of first time Rolex buyers, they want other people to know they are wearing a Rolex (I know, I know, the craziness of that was covered in Part 1), so a Submariner or Datejust makes sense as they are what non-WIS people recognize as a Rolex.

Personally, I'm more inclined towards an Explorer or GMT Master.

aBlogtoWatch
aBlogtoWatch moderator

@DG Cayse Yea, I heard about that and shared it on FB. Glad to see that Jalopnik covered it.

aBlogtoWatch
aBlogtoWatch moderator

@Will_F There is nothing paid about this post. Even though a little Rolex money would be welcome (hint hint Rolex...). This article was not designed as something for what I would say are the majority of aBlogtoWatch regulars. But rather the lots of people looking for more general information and advice online - and Rolex is the main brand they tend to be interested it. Think of it as a series of articles for newcomers. Thanks for keeping up with our stuff.

GekkoIoancio
GekkoIoancio

@Will_F My oppinion was the same

But I have a little comment

I love in general the comments of ariel no matter the topic, but the comments of the other professionals were pure commercials.

My first watch was a Breitling after about 2 years of collecting money, and after me and my very good friend Pista decided that every hyppochrite and bling person with a little success must have a Rolex.As a symbol that he is a success guy.But only a connoisseur (sorry for the word if not proper)  can appreciate an elegant Breitling.After that collecting and collecting i am now among my friends the watch freak.Everybody is asking questions again and again about watches. As every watch bug i am not investing in cars or so but in watches. And I can say that after about 19 years of reading about them I know pretty much. BUT and now we are turning back to the point with the Rolexes : I do not ow a Rolex , in spite of numerous accasions to buy one. If i wear something cheap , it is pretty unfair to talk like this about a Casio for example, the people around asks me what is happening that I do this . And my feeling is that even I have much better watches , of course in my opinion, not necesarilly from the point of view calibre but design and so on , I feel that my collection is not complete without a ROLEX. So my buying vision goggles are oriented towards a Rolex.

That's it   , alex 



daottaway
daottaway

@vmarks I agree. The original, older - vintage datejust is much more iconic, ....so larger is not always better.

Except if your talking about a new "larger" GMT MASTER II, that would be an EPIC move for Rolex. 

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@DG CayseMaybe your observations of "discipline, perserverance and a ongoing quest for excellence" are gender neutral. I think there are women out there who like to see themselves with those qualities. Or maybe their men just bought a Rolex for them to take the heat of the guy buying one for himself. Just kidding....

Superstition
Superstition

@DG Cayse As an owner o a Rolex, I'm not entirely sure Rolex puts forth a masculine image.  I would say compared to today's larger offerings like a Omega Planet Ocean or even a Hublot, the Rolex actually comes across as slightly feminine.

asiafish
asiafish

@nateb123 BMW 3 series may be very common, but they have also always been a blast to drive.

mattsphones
mattsphones

@nateb123

 @nateb123 I disagree, though I appreciate the comparison.  I was thinking about the same comparison before I read your post. The BMW 3-Series is an entry level luxury sport sedan which is the best at one thing: driving dynamics.  It is and has been for some time the best all around handling sedan, period.  When comparing it to a similar sized mainstream car, a buyer is paying possibly 1/3 more.  They are getting better performance and handling, usually a nicer interior, and the badge, but not much more for that extra $10K-$15K. 

As a 3 series owner,, I understand paying 1/3 more for those qualities.  In the watch world, I still can't grasp why people buy Rolex.  I DON'T BEGRUDGE THOSE WHO DO.  Envy of the wealthy is a terrible trait.  I just don't understand it personally.  If a BMW is like a Rolex, then the Honda Accord in this comparison is a $100 Timex, $200 Seiko, or even a $400 Citizen.  That makes the Rolex 10 to 50 times the price.  That huge price difference is where they lose me.

I agree with MarkCarson's reply too. The 3-Series is more about performance and less about social status.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@nateb123 In the 80s, when the term "yuppie" was en vogue, I would wholeheartedly agree. People were buying them who had no idea what the car was about. Only that the other yuppies were buying them.

Now, not so much. Hopefully, the BMW 3 series is again being purchased by those who like to drive and care less about social status.

Maybe now the Benz C Class is equivalent of an entry level Rolex. What do you think?

Ayreonaut
Ayreonaut

@Ulysses31 Right.  Nothing but advertisements.  Or is it troll bait?  I would be interested in a candid post about the perception of the brand in various places.  Wearing this brand in middle class circles seems pretentious to me, but that may be an American attitude...

arthurdavis
arthurdavis

@Ryan B You let your servants sleep, man your quite the generous fellow. I personally have mine beaten before they hit the hay (literally, Beds we don't need no stinking beds) Yes I have somebody else do the dirty work since I’m so far up the food chain. I get the taskmaster to wear my Rolex to charge up the power reserve since he's giving the whip a workout anyway.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@Ryan B Oh no, you have to stay tuned for all 7 parts - It's Rolex week, ha ha.

DG Cayse
DG Cayse

Quite right and I agree with your take of the comment. Rolex does use women tennis players and golfers in its adverts.

My comment was mainly directed towards the brands advertising during the 50s, 60s and 70s for the most part. Dare devils and explorers in rough places doing 'manly' things. I do believe it was a conscious effort by Rolex to project this image of their product. And with that, the ability of the product to continue to function under such adverse conditions. These days too much is made about pointing out that there is indeed a difference on the male & female of our species. Certain traits are genetically instilled - ergo the applicability of "masculine" and "feminine" designators. Some things are 'manly' and some things are not.

No matter who is doing what. 

JackT54
JackT54

I can see how one might construe the names of some if Rolex' leading models as 'masculine', however I can not see how you would say there is anything feminine about the Rolex image.

nateb123
nateb123

@mattsphones @nateb123 Some 3 series get a pass because they no longer carry the coveted status, just as some Rolexes do.  Basically the older they are, the less likely someone just wanted to flash something shiny that would impress the neighbours.

An Air King/E46 M3?  More power to you.  A shiny new Datejust/E92 318i?  What. A. Tool.

asiafish
asiafish

@MarkCarson @nateb123 The C class and 3 series both aim at the same luxury/sport target, but start at opposite sides of the luxury and sport classes.

3 series are more fun to drive and C class are more comfortable, but both are outstanding at just about anything anybody would want to do in a small sedan.

I'm personally on my fourth C class and absolutely love them.  Drive 600 miles each way to some courts and there is no other car in its size and price class that comes close in comfort, all while still being a ball to drive fast.

Rolex is much like Mercedes-Benz.  Nothing particularly special, but extremely good for its intended purpose.  I guess that is why this long-time Mercedes driver usually wears a Rolex Milgauss (the green-tinted one).

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@DG Cayse Yep, and even today some brands are still doing it (rough and tuff ads). Kobald, Victorinox and MTM come to mind.

And I'm with you - I'm glad there is a difference between men and women. But its not their watches... :-)

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@asiafish And I'm a long time BMW owner (but I've never owned a 3 although I have driven some a bit), so there you go. I prefer driving to being in a passenger comfort oriented car. But to each his/her own! Cheers.

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