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Vintage Rolex Watches You Should Own

Rolex is a Swiss watchmaker recognized for its prestigious watches. While we are all familiar with modern Rolex watches, there are several vintage ones you should know about. These watches are lesser known as some of these models are over 50 years old. Having said that, vintage Rolex watches include timepieces that a true watch aficionado needs in their collection.

Top 7 most desirable vintage Rolex watches

Over the years, auction houses and pawn shops have reported the appearance of rare Rolex watches. These watches were either known to be destroyed during the war or were never known to exist in the first place.

Similarly, many different versions of Rolex were manufactured in the 50’s and are extremely rare. Therefore, to give you an insight into some of these exquisite watches, we have covered 7 such unique vintage Rolex watches.

  • Reference no. 6542 Rolex GMT-Master
  • Paul Newman Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
  • Reference no. 1675 Rolex GMT-Master
  • Rolex Submariner reference no. 6538
  • Reference no. 5514 The Comex Rolex Submariner
  • Rolex Submariner reference no. 5517 and 5513
  • Reference no. 1665 Rolex Sea-Dweller

Reference no. 6542 Rolex GMT-Master

In 1955 Rolex responded to American airlines Pan Am’s request for a specialized pilot watch. The brand responded by producing the Rolex GMT-Master reference no. 6542. It features the red and blue dial, colors of Pan Am airlines, which fans later interpreted as the Pepsi.

The earlier models of the watch were made using plastic materials which were not known to be durable. Although the watch has become extremely popular today, the older versions faced criticism. However, Rolex paid careful attention to its client feedback and immediately updated the GMT Master with more reliable and durable materials.

One of the most prominent changes that the GMT Master 6542 had undergone was the change from bakelite to luminous material. Hence, there are only a handful of GMT Master’s with bakelite. Therefore, these watches are auctioned for above $100,000 in international markets.

Paul Newman Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

You may not have heard about this particular watch, but you may recognize this iconic Hollywood actor. Paul Newman was an American icon featured in several movies throughout the 60’s. He was an avid watch enthusiast with a particular liking for Rolex.

Rolex has worked closely with Newman to create bespoke watches called the Paul Newman series. These watches are highly sought after and are sold for exceptionally high prices.

One of the watches auctioned for a whopping $17.8 million was Paul Newman’s very own Daytona Cosmograph reference no. 6239. This shows that a vintage timepiece from Rolex can fetch a staggering value in due time.

Reference no. 1675 Rolex GMT-Master

Rolex claimed this to be the watch for everyone. This particular reference number came as a replacement for the first iteration of the GMT Master Pepsi. This particular Rolex was one of the longest-produced models running from 1959 to 1980.

It had unique color combinations referred to by names such as Concorde and root beer. Of the many variants of the watch, the most prominent ones are the gilt dial and the radial dial. These two timepieces go for prices over $100,000.

Rolex Submariner reference no. 6538

The Submariner is one of Rolex’s signature watches. Modern Submariner watches carry a distinct look that makes them highly admirable. But the vintage models of these watches are not far off.

One of the most notable vintages of Rolex Submariner watches is reference no. 6538, which featured in the James Bond 1962 movie. After its appearance in the movie, many have referred to it as the James Bond watch.

When you look at the watch, the most striking element of it is its crown. The crown on this particular reference number measures 8 mm, which is significant considering the watch’s dimensions.

It was made between 1956 and 59, making it a limited-run watch with only a few known timepieces still in pristine condition.

Reference no. 5514 The Comex Rolex Submariner

Compagnie maritime d’expertises, that’s the French interpretation of Comex. Rolex collaborated with the company to produce the famous Rolex Submariner Comex. These watches were produced between 1970 and 1997, with 9 different dive watch models.

You can recognize a Rolex Comex by the company logos at the dial’s center. This early watch featured a helium escape valve to modulate the pressure underwater and avoid damage to the watch.

The Comex Rolex Submariner reference no. 5514 are extremely rare to find and are each valued at high prices. Some of these watches’ last known auctioned prices are $150,000 to $200,000.

Rolex Submariner reference no. 5517 and 5513

The military Submariner, also known as the ‘Milsub’, is a watch that is minimalistic from a design perspective but complex from a mechanical point of view. What’s interesting about these watches is that they were specially built for British military personnel only.

A total of 1200 units of this model with reference numbers 5515, 5517, and 5513 were produced. Though this seems like a large number of watches produced, it is less than other models.

It is a rare watch to come across, and with exclusivity towards military officials, only the watch has become significantly valuable. You can find some of these watches auctioned for upwards of $150,000.

Reference no. 1665 Rolex Sea-Dweller

Hands down, the most famous dive watch manufactured by Rolex is the Sea-Dweller, which was the first watch to include a helium release valve. It was launched in 1967 and has since been recognized as one of Rolex’s famous watch models.

You would be surprised to know that the first iteration of the watch was nicknamed the Double red based on the two red lines at the center of the dial. The watch has drastically improved over the years by strengthening its water resistance capabilities. You will find one of these vintage Rolex watches for prices upwards of $50,000.

Do vintage Rolex watches hold value?

Yes, vintage Rolexes do hold great value. Rolex is a brand that has created itself with a reputation that is pretty much unbeatable. Therefore, the value of their products has remained constant if not increased over time.

What’s important to note is that most of these timepieces are valued based on their condition. Both the physical appearance of the watch and its internal mechanism must be in mint condition to fetch the highest value.

While finding a vintage timepiece in pristine condition is rare, the scarcity of such watches makes them highly valued.

Vintage Rolex watches that redefined the watch industry

It’s mind-boggling to think that some of these vintage watches by Rolex have sold for as high as a million dollars. That indicates what the brand has garnered in its 100-year span. Rolex has redefined watchmaking from creating the first waterproof watch to creating a timepiece that can withstand up to 1000 gausses.

Many collectors from around the world seek these rare vintage watches by Rolex to add to their collections. While some of these watches are hard to find, some are known to be sold in prime luxury watch markets like Dubai. Perhaps, if you are keen on finding rare and valuable watches, you must look into the UAE luxury watch market.