Rolex and affordability are two words you wouldn’t necessarily associate with one another, but believe it or not, Rolex watches are more affordable than many people think. There is no doubt that for most people the legendary brand is the epitome of wealth, success, and luxury. That said, a Rolex is more attainable than the coronet would have you believe, so today we are going to focus on three Rolex models that may not only win you over, but also be kind to your wallet.
Oyster Perpetual 39
In 2015, Rolex introduced the 39 mm Oyster Perpetual to the world. What made this piece so interesting was not only its design, but also its price point. First off, you have to remember that before this point, Rolex didn’t really offer a clean, understated 39-mm watch that wasn’t an Explorer. Of course, you have the date option, but with a date, the clean look is lost. Plus, the new Oyster Perpetual 39 comes with an array of dial choices as well.
The Oyster Perpetual 39 has a very clean and understated design and comes on the very comfortable Oyster bracelet. The dial is available in either dark rhodium with blue accents, blue with lime green accents, or red grape with bright red accents (note all the dial variants feature a sunray finish). Housed within this 39-mm case is the Rolex calibre 3132, an in-house developed and manufactured movement that has been chronometer certified by COSC. However, one of the standout features of this piece is its (relative) affordability.
Pre-owned/Vintage Explorer II
The Explorer II is a very underrated Rolex timepiece. For those of you who know exactly what an Explorer II is, however, you may think we are talking about the now-infamous 1655 orange-hand Explorer – we aren’t. We are talking about the Explorer II that was released in 1989 in place of reference 16550.
The Explorer II has always been considered an oddity in the Rolex sports watch line-up, but it does have its uses. The Explorer features a stationary engraved steel bezel and was originally designed for speleologists (cave explorers) who had a hard time determining whether it was morning or evening. While the very early Explorer II’s made use of the same movement as the GMT-Master, its function was fundamentally different.
In 1985, Rolex introduced a new Explorer II, the 16550, which many refer to as the transitional as it was only produced for four years. Of course there were changes made, but most notable were the introduction of the calibre 3085 movement, a white dial in addition to the black dial model, and the 24-hour indicator, which changed from an orange arrow-shaped hand to a long and sleek red 24-hour hand with a white arrow at the end.
The reference that came immediately after the 16550 was the 16570, which was similar, but had a few noticeable changes, including the use of black outer rings for the markers on the white dial variant and a change of calibre (3185/3186). As Rolex sports watches go, the reference 16570 offers great value for money at this moment in time.
Pre-owned/Vintage Datejust 36
Where does one start with this watch? The quintessential Rolex wristwatch. This watch has adorned the wrist of many important people; it is discreet, yet functional, simple in design, yet so easily recognizable. The Datejust has been a staple of the Rolex line-up since 1945 and of course there have been quite a few references introduced throughout its 70+ years of existence. That said, the references that are without a doubt some of the most accessible are the 1600, 1601, or 1603, depending on which variant takes your fancy.
These Datejust references measure a mere 36 mm, but due to the bracelet, they appear to wear bigger on the wrist. Regarding the references, there are subtle differences between them. The 1600 features a smooth bezel, whereas the 1601 sports the iconic and arguably dressier, fluted bezel. As for the 1603, this comes fitted with an engine turned bezel, which offers subtle contrast to the fluted variant. Being one of the most popular Rolex models, it comes in a variety of dial colors as well as finishes. However, another reason for its popularity is its attractive affordability.
There you have it: three affordable Rolex timepieces ranging from new to vintage that offer great value for money. What is also quite nice is not only do they differ in style, but there are also variations within each model as well. Who said buying a Rolex had to be expensive?