Retail versus secondhand: which 5 Rolex models have the most inflated prices on the seconds market?Zach Blass
Rolex watches are a universal status symbol, and among the most recognisable luxury items on the planet. The craze over their timepieces has never been greater, further propelling the brand away from its tool watch origins towards the pinnacle of luxury wristwear. With consumers flocking to buy out their catalogue, Rolex watches have become harder and harder to track down at retail – and as a result, conspiracies are rampant among consumers frustrated by enigmatic, Machiavellian waiting lists and seemingly scarce production.
While it is not news to anyone that Rolex watches retain their value, we wanted to do a deep dive into a range of models, to determine the difference between MSRP (the manufacturer’s suggested retail price) and what the watches sell for on the seconds market. The objective is to determine the five most price-inflated models.
The truth is there is no set rule for how much of a premium dealers will charge for the in-demand models they obtain. Whether a result of geography, or just business instinct, secondhand vendors will ultimately charge what they believe they can get away with. To try to find a common thread between current secondhand pricing, we took an average price value from Chrono24 and three of the most prominent pre-owned/secondhand watch dealers: Bob’s Watches, WatchBox and Watchfinder. When aggregating these prices, one thing that became abundantly clear is that Watchfinder pricing in the majority of cases was the most expensive – which may have skewed the averages a little high. That said, they are one of the most well-known pre-owned vendors and wouldn’t list watches at a price they would not be able to move them.
Depending on whether you are a Rolex owner, or prospective Rolex owner, the outlook is either grand or grim. Those fortunate enough to have purchased one of the above models at retail will relish in the fact that it is very unlikely they would lose money on the watch should they ever wish to part with it. In fact, they would stand to make a pretty penny in most cases – with a few exceptions …
While there is nothing wrong with the watch per se, the model you can expect to take the largest hit on if you were to resell would be the Rolex Cellini. The Cellini has a bit of an identity crisis within the Rolex catalogue as it is the only model not built upon the oyster framework. Today, Rolex is not really associated with dress watches, but rather sporty watches that can dual purpose themselves as formal wearers. Rolex is also not known for elegant movements put on display via an exhibition caseback, instead they are known for having some of the most robust and reliable watches on the marketplace. As a result, the Cellini definitely takes a back seat in consumers’ minds, with an average resale value of almost $3500 below its MSRP. Short of former President Barack Obama, it is rare to make a modern Cellini watch spot among famous individuals.
Rolex Yacht-Master II Reference 116880
Interestingly, the other “loser” within the Rolex catalogue is the Yacht-Master II ref. 116880. Three things can possibly be attributed to the lower demand and, in turn, resale value for this watch. One, the watch is on the larger side at a Panerai-like 44mm. Two, the watch is very complicated – but not in a way that is desired by consumers. People are far more used to a chronograph configuration when it comes to timing, and to the average wearer there is a bit of a learning curve to properly operate the Yacht-Master II. Three, most of us do not have yachts, or boats for that matter, and it’s hard to visualise a need for the programmable countdown timer unless you’re a sailor. While on Chrono24 the watch can be found listed above retail, Bob’s Watches currently lists the watch just shy of $17,000 – bringing the average price $175 below retail.
The five “winners”:
Rolex Daytona 116500LN (the white dial in particular)
Daytona-mania is still going strong, with no end or bubble burst in sight. From vintage to modern, the force is strong with the Rolex Daytona and consumer demand. The model is so sought after, even the previous generation steel bezel Daytona sells far over the current retail value of the latest ceramic models. Between the two current steel models, however, there is a clear winner in the white dial reference. The white Panda-esque dial has an average secondhand price of $29,123 (a premium of $15,973), while the black dial is listed on average at $26,111 (a premium of $12,961).
Rolex Submariner Date “Kermit”126610LV
With the Hulk now discontinued, the new green watch on the block is a refresh of the original Rolex Kermit. The new ceramic model has already proven itself as a secondhand success, carrying a much greater premium than the coveted Rolex “Pepsi” GMT-Master II – which I am sure many readers believed would take home second place behind the Daytona. In fact, the premium is so high for this 2020 release that, on average, the secondhand price tag is even greater than a black dial Daytona. Approximate average secondhand price: $23,023. Approximate average premium: $13,473.
Rolex Sky-Dweller 326934 Blue Dial
Considered the most complicated Rolex in the catalogue, the Sky-Dweller has proven itself as one of the most sought-after watches from Rolex today – especially in steel with a blue dial. Blue is all the rage today, and a blue Rolex is that much more of a wrist magnet. The watch has made appearances on the wrists of many celebrities, most notably Michael Jordan while paying tribute to Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center. Fun fact: this watch is not listed within the professional category of the Rolex catalogue, making it the most sought-after model within the “classic” lineup of Rolex models. Approximate average secondhand price: $26,694. Approximate average premium: $11,894.
Rolex “Pepsi” GMT-Master II 126710BLRO
When initially released, the “Pepsi” probably would have been higher on this list. While prices have softened a tad, the model is still holding strong – still beating its “Batgirl” sibling. This Rolex has been spotted on many famous wrists, including TV host Ellen DeGeneres, footballer Jamie Carragher, cricketer Shreyas Iyer, and executive chairman of The Walt Disney Company, Robert Iger. But none of the aforementioned provides a more powerful nod of approval than the legend himself: Philippe Dufour. Dufour was spotted at Baselworld wearing the mass-produced Rolex, surprising for the haute horology watchmaker. Approximate average secondhand price: $20,148. Approximate average premium: $10,448.
Rolex Submariner Date 126610LN
The final “winner” of this list is the 2020 Rolex Submariner Date. While the previous models may have more flair to them, sometimes it’s best to keep things simple. Aside from the standard Submariner (wrongfully referred to as the No-Date), the 126610LN is one of the purest forms of the most notable diver ever sold. The Submariner has become such an icon it is arguably the most copied and counterfeited watch design in the world, with many riding the coattails of its demand to generate revenue. Approximate average secondhand price: $17,438. Approximate average premium: $8288.
It seems quite mad that buyers are willing to succumb to such high premiums for these watches, but as Eric Ku says, “we vote with our chequebooks” and are ultimately to blame for feeding into the frenzy. For your reference below, we have included the full table of data compiled on the models covered within the current catalogue.
|Rolex Model||Retail Price||Average Price||Premium||% Change|
|Rolex Daytona 116500LN White||$13,150.00||$29,122.83||$15,972.83||121%|
|Rolex Submariner Date “Kermit”126610LV||$9550.00||$23,022.50||$13,472.50||141%|
|Rolex Daytona 116500LN Black||$13,150.00||$26,110.84||$12,960.84||99%|
|Rolex Sky-Dweller 326934 Blue Dial||$14,800.00||$26,694.00||$11,894.00||80%|
|Rolex “Pepsi” GMT-Master II 126710BLRO||$9700.00||$20,148.67||$10,448.67||108%|
|Rolex Submariner Date 126610LN||$9150.00||$17,438.33||$8288.33||91%|
|Rolex Submariner 124060||$8100.00||$16,128.75||$8028.75||99%|
|Rolex “Batgirl” GMT-Master II 126710BLNR||$9700.00||$17,213.25||$7513.25||77%|
|Rolex “Rootbeer” GMT-Master II 126711CHNR||$14,800.00||$19,875.75||$5075.75||34%|
|Rolex Submariner Date “Blue/Gold” 126613LB||$14,300.00||$19,256.67||$4956.67||35%|
|Rolex Day-Date 40 228235||$39,250.00||$43,488.33||$4238.33||11%|
|Rolex OP 36 Green||$5600.00||$9495.00||$3895.00||70%|
|Rolex Daytona “Two-Tone” 116503||$17,400.00||$20,512.33||$3112.33||18%|
|Rolex OP 36 (average of all dial colours)||$5600.00||$8707.00||$3107.00||55%|
|Rolex OP 41 (average of all dial colours)||$5900.00||$8889.00||$2989.00||51%|
|Rolex Datejust 41 White Rolesor||$9900.00||$12,839.00||$2939.00||30%|
|Rolex Explorer II 216570||$8350.00||$10,604.13||$2254.13||27%|
|Rolex Datejust 36 White Rolesor||$8550.00||$10,701.00||$2151.00||25%|
|Rolex Yacht-Master 40 126662||$12,000.00||$14,070.69||$2070.69||17%|
|Rolex Air-King 116900||$6450.00||$8246.67||$1796.67||28%|
|Rolex Explorer 214270||$6550.00||$8040.42||$1490.42||23%|
|Rolex Yacht-Master 37 268622||$11,250.00||$11,925.00||$675.00||6%|
|Rolex Milgauss 116400GV Black||$8300.00||$8964.00||$664.00||8%|
|Rolex Yacht-Master II Reference 116680||$18,750.00||$18,564.50||-$185.50||-1%|
|Rolex Cellini Time||$15,200.00||$11,770.17||-$3429.83||-23%|