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Ultimate Guide to Vintage Rolex watches – All In One

November 17th, 2021

Rolex is what you call an icon in the industry. Go back to the 1930s, during which the vintage Rolex watches caught up the attention of all. Women, politicians, explorers, soldiers, scientists, and regular folks wore them for over a century. They don’t just look good but are highly robust.

about vintage rolex watches

If you find a new Rolex watch overwhelmingly priced, why not go for the Vintage models? The demand for vintage Rolex watches is at a steady rise. Many watch collectors take great pride in owning some of the old and vintage pieces, as they are rare to find.

What is a Vintage Rolex?

Well, the answer can vary from one person to another. But most specifically, a vintage Rolex is the one made before 1979. It may seem like ages ago, which indeed it is. But you still can choose from an enormous palette.

That was the golden age when Rolex gave birth to some of its most prominent timepieces that are well-recognised even now.

Are you wondering if a Vintage Rolex is worth it?

Rolex as a brand makes for an excellent investment option. In case of the vintage watches, the value increases over time. Since the vintage timepieces are available in limited numbers, this makes them more desirable to watch enthusiasts.

Not just that. Imagine the previous ownership. From celebrities to royalties, a vintage watch gains its reputation from the previous owner.

What determines the value of a vintage Rolex?

Like any other luxury watch piece, the value of a vintage Rolex depends on its market demand. Right now, the demand for vintage Rolex is at an all-time high!

5 key factors that affect the value are:

  • Age
  • Condition
  • Rarity
  • Original Box & Papers
  • Overall Wear

Note: Just because the watch has a signed ‘Rolex’ on the dial doesn’t mean it has to cost a mind-blowing amount. There are a few vintage watch pieces that you can still manage to include in your collection.

Don’t worry; you do not have to compromise on the interesting features either!

Here’s a list of all the Vintage Rolex timepieces that you can own without breaking the bank.

Top 9 Vintage Rolex watch pieces are:


In 1953, the first Submariner was born and was made public in 1954. It was the Rolex Submariner collection that changed the face of the deep-water timepiece. It ensured that aesthetics were as important as functionality. This watch is the epitome of classic dive watches.

The Submariner’s exclusive variety, skilled craftsmanship, and style make it one of the most collectable watches. There is a significant demand for the vintage Rolex Submariner in today’s market.

Top Vintage Rolex Submariner Model: Submariner ‘Red’ (1680), ‘James Bond’ (6538), ‘Mercedes’ (6205), 5513, 5512.


This is one of the most exclusive vintage Rolex watches of all time. Even though the cost of vintage Datejust has escalated in recent years, you can still find a 36mm, Chronometer-certified Rolex from the 1970s at a reasonable price. The third generation of Rolex Datejust marked the most distinct update.

The models feature a four-digit reference number that follows a 16xx format. The last two digits denote the type of bezel fixed. More than any other variant, the Rolex Datejust is the best one to define the brand.

Top Vintage Rolex Datejust model: Datejust Reference 1601 and 1603


The Vintage Rolex Air-King is yet another super deal in the Rolex vintage range. A sign of ‘Precision’ on the dial denotes a non-chronometer signed status of the movements. There are many exciting dial options available like black, blue, and more.

If you want a vintage Rolex timepiece that exudes a beautiful, timeless charm, then a vintage Air Kin is what you need.

Top Vintage Air King Model: Reference 5500


Coming in during the early 1960s, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is slightly different to the Datejust model. This one is the perfect watch for regular wear. It is classic enough to be sported with a suit and strong enough to stand the atrocities of everyday life.

They have smooth bezels, acrylic crystals, and most of the 1002 models feature solid-dial colours.

Top Vintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual model: Reference 1002 and 1500


The dial of a vintage Cellini model pays tribute to the timeless codes of watchmaking. The watches retain the eternal elegance of traditional watches and combine it aesthetically with modern charm.

The lines of the vintage Cellini models come with distinct lines and materials. Arguably, the Rolex Cellini is the luxury watch brand’s most refined and elegant line that offers an exceptional value.

Top Vintage Rolex Cellini model: Moonphase, Cestello, Dual Time, Date, Cellinium/6.

Also Read: 3 Best Vintage Rolex Watches that Won’t Break the Bank


The Rolex Daytona’s minimal yet finely balanced design looks unmatched in comparison to the other chronograph models. The watches feature two pushers at 2 and 4 that regulates the chronograph. The vintage watches have Valijoux, one of the most accurate chronographs for its age.

The richness of a Rolex Daytona lies in its dial that varies between champagne, silver, black, and white. It also has three sub-dials that offer a more detailed outlook.

Top Vintage Rolex Daytona model: Reference 6239


The first variant of the Explorer came in 1952 with various dials but without a name. The nameless watches were sent to numerous expeditions to test their robustness. The quality of Rolex Explorer is unbeatable, and the collection stands out for its aesthetic black/ tropical patina dial, characteristic numerals and large hour markers.

Top Vintage Rolex Explorer Model: 1016 Tropical Dial


Perhaps this is one of the most straightforward watches that Rolex has ever built. The model comes fitted with a comfortable and classic-looking Oyster bracelet. It is a watch piece that you can wear regularly.

The Vintage Rolex Oyster Precision is the best example of well-balanced minimalism.

Top Vintage Rolex Oyster Precision model: Reference 6694/ 6294


Rolex offers a pleasing palette of different watches for female watch buyers. Apart from the ornate designs or the smaller timepieces, there are other Rolex collections for the female wrists. The watches come with automatic movements. It is the vintage outlook of some of the variants that keeps them in demand and style.

Top vintage Rolex Ladies watch model: Lady-Datejust Reference 69173


Rolex watches dominate the vintage luxury watch market. They are not just valuable but also desirable. You can find an intriguing range of vintage Rolex watches, with some of them rare to find. Even though few of the models feature discontinued features, it is the old-world charm that makes them so wanted.

3 traits that make the vintage Rolex watches stand out are:

  • ‘Red Sub’ text
  • An Exclamation Point Dial
  • Meters First Dial

Always remember that a vintage Rolex is one-of-a-kind. Money cannot always buy a timepiece that is so rare. But make sure that you recognise a genuine vintage watch!

While there are no hard-and-fast rules to recognise a vintage Rolex, it is advisable to remember a few key points.

10 things to keep in mind are:

  • Identify the Watch
  • Check the Dial Condition
  • Look at the Luminous
  • Confirm the Serial Numbers and Reference
  • Closely evaluate the Hands
  • Look at the Movement
  • Check the Bracelet (if it is correct for the timepiece)
  • Polish and Texture
  • Papers/ Documents


All Rolex models have a high demand in today’s market. But vintage Rolex timepieces have a different fan base. And, why not! It’s not every day that you can get your hands on some of the most antique watch pieces.

They are indeed the best kind of investment. The reason for this is the theory of demand and supply. So, if you are looking to upgrade your collection with a classic timepiece, then pick your favourite Vintage Rolex from the above collection.

Also Read: 5 Desirable Vintage Rolex Watches

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