One of the main reasons that Rolex was able to position itself as the most influential watch brand ever was not necessarily its genius marketing strategies but its consistency in the design language. When an old, vintage Rolex watch (say a Datejust or a Submariner) is shown to non-watch collectors, they will not be able to tell that the watch is old.
When Rolex launches a new model of a particular watch line, unlike other watch brands where it feels like a true upgrade, Rolex tends to revise the models. Often, the newest Rolex watches will have the latest movement and technology yet there will be a change in material and/or size in certain parts, making the previous generation more desirable to many people. That is why older Rolex watches are still traded at a much higher price than the current retail price of the newest counterpart.
However, despite me saying all these, for me personally, I always prefer the newest Rolex models. With so many iconic models available, I have listed my top five Rolex watches in order and picked my favourite model from each line.
(Note: all photos used below are from rolex.com)
1. Cosmograph Daytona
The most desirable Rolex line overall... Particularly the stainless steel "Panda" versions - these are extremely hard to buy (retail) so there are also so many fakes out there - I have personally seen people wearing fake Daytonas even here in Auckland.
My favourite pick would have to be this full gold Daytona with a black, diamond-set dial; second place is the full steel Panda.
I had a very hard time whether to put Daytona or Submariner in the first place but the chronograph function of Daytona edged out the win.
Submariner is the most copied watch in the world - from fakes to homages (which is a toned-down way of saying "copy")... The design of the Submariner sparked the popularity of the diver watches and as Rolex says "The reference among divers' watches", I definitely have to agree with that statement.
I have to pick the "Bluesy" two-tone (Rolex calls this Rolesor) as my favourite because this was one of the watches that got me into the hobby of watch collecting. In addition, I think this is the best-looking two-tone watch ever.
3. GMT Master II
Along with the date, having a GMT hand is one of the most useful functions for a mechanical watch, especially if you are travelling frequently or working with people overseas.
Not sure why but to me, GMT Master II looks better with the jubilee bracelet; that is why my favourite model is the "Batgirl" below.
When you consider the most iconic Rolex watch, 50% of the people will say Submariner while the other 50% will say Datejust; I would raise my hand for Datejust because of its history.
Datejust is the most sold Rolex watch in the world with literally hundreds of different combinations available and depending on the combination, some Datejust models are much more sought-after, trading at a higher price in the market.
Although many collectors consider a Datejust with a fluted bezel and jubilee bracelet a "true" Datejust, I personally like it with the oyster bracelet, with a fluted bezel, of course. This gives a more versatile, everyday look that can be dressed up and down.
My all-time favourite Datejust is the 41mm "Wimbledon" because the slate dial with green accents really changes in colour and characteristics depending on how much light is shined.
A real statement watch, all Day-Date watches are made with precious metal. Although some say that the Day-Date looks very similar to the Datejust because of the fluted bezel, Day-Date definitely has more visible character and presence.
I have been thinking of getting one but currently, I am loving sports watch so I don't see myself purchasing one for a while. However, I know I will be adding this Everose gold Day-Date to my collection in the future.
Founder & Editor | Say Seowon Song
I am the Founder of Fork & Truffle Magazine and also run Caramel, a creative + strategy agency specialising in hospitality and luxury industries. If you want to check out my photography and see daily updates, visit my Instagram.