Be quick! These ‘entry level’ Rolex models are available to buy now (at time of posting)Thor Svaboe
Editor’s note: Posting stories about Rolex watches you can buy now is like trying to hold a live fish down to get the hook out. A very slippery business. We have had to re-write this post twice already, as the models we’re nominating are slipping away as quickly as we write about them. So, if you see anything you like, move fast, or forever hold your peace. And apologies in advance if – once again – they’ve disappeared before you snap them up.
Entry-level Rolex. Words that don’t necessarily sit in the same sentence, but you still want to ask the question. What are the best affordable entry-level Rolex pieces, comparatively? We’ve scoured the inventory of Bob’s Watches and found the new truth. Yes, there are still good Rolex references to be found and no, there are no exaggeration here, this is reality.
New and unworn Rolex Oyster Perpetual ref.126000 36mm
Yes, you are seeing straight, this is a brand new silver dial Oyster Perpetual in the slender 36mm case for less than $7000 US. With its new case, with the familiar razor-sharp bevels on the balanced case sides, this is the most classic of the new OPs, a watch that even after only a brief time on the market already is scarce (let’s say rather difficult to obtain). As a sporty reference, the superb comfort of the oyster bracelet can easily make this Goldilocks-sized Rolex your one and only. This is actually one of my absolute favourites of the new series, despite the candy-coloured goodness bestowed on the others. Why? The delicate effect of the gold details, both the applied indices and sharp-edged baton hands imbue the dial with a glitzy warmth that sets it apart. And it does have a charming quirk this one: it was meant for the owner of a top-tier Domino franchise, a great talking point ensured by the charming logo on the bracelet. Price: $6995 US. Available for purchase here.
Rolex Air-King ref.116900
There’s nothing like staunch support for the underdog, and that’s exactly how I feel about the Air-King, and its distilled Rolex quality. The Air-King has always been a great value proposition in the Rolex portfolio, and that’s still the case at Bob’s Watches, even if the values have crept up, though at a slower rate than other references. With the 116900 reference, Rolex went in a completely new and fresh direction away from the more classic looks of the vintage Air-King. It takes a clear head to go as bold as they did, and it is still fresh. The dial feels innovative with large lumed minute markings and the polished 3, 6 and 9 forming the backdrop for the classic Mercedes hands. The polished bezel meanwhile brings some welcome gleam to the rugged tool case. But what really makes it are the fresh pops of Rolex green, in both logo and lollipop seconds hand and an unusually sporty bright yellow crown. Not a Rolex as we expected, but all the fresher for it. Price: $7895 US. Available for purchase here.
Rolex Datejust ref. 1625 Thunderbird
I bet you didn’t even know there was a Rolex with a name channelling ’60s Americana … and, as a very different entrance to Rolex ownership, not much beats this Datejust 1625 for value. On a casual suede strap, the faded print on the still bright gold sunray dial takes on a relaxed air that still exudes style, in an understated gentlemanly manner. The baton hands have a charming rustic patina, the case might be a bit over-polished, but the wrist presence that solid gold bezel commands in the ultimate comfort of a 36mm dress watch, means this is well worth the price. Price: $3995 US. Available for purchase here.
Rolex Submariner ref. 16610 T Pre-Ceramic
An entry-level Rolex per se maybe not, but as an entry ticket to the hallowed halls of the Rolex Professional range, the 16610 T Submariner takes some beating. This constitutes absolute value in Submariners on the market today, and while this might sell out rather quickly, Bob’s Watches have a constantly updated email notification for you when the next one might come in. This 1999 reference typifies the solid nature of the Submariner and, for many, before the advent of the ceramic bezel, a purist’s Sub. Everything is here, without going well over retail for the latest model, and it is just as intrinsically a Submariner, from the solid 3135 movement to the balanced comfortable case and iconic dial details. Price: $8595 US. Available for purchase here.
Rolex Datejust ref. 16013 two-tone
For some, the Submariner is the quintessential Rolex reference, while the other instantly recognisable reference is the evergreen 16013 Datejust. While two-tone might drift in and out of fashion, this remains one of the most classically elegant watches for any collection. The 36mm case remains an example of how comfortable a stainless steel sports watch can sit on the wrist, and the combination of a champagne dial with a gold bezel and centre links on the iconic Jubilee bracelet is timeless. The dial on this 1986-87 model remains flawless, the baton hands and applied indices a picture of balance and proportionate design, while charming distortions of light in the cyclops complete the picture. Price: $5795 US Available for purchase here.
Made in partnership with Bob’s Watches. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.