One of the most popular luxury watch brands in the world, Rolex has dominated the market since its creation in 1905. Producing around 2000 watches a day, Rolex is the largest luxury watch brand in existence today. Rolex timepieces have voyaged across the world, from the summit of Mount Everest to the lowest point of the Mariana Trench, worn by everyone from John F. Kennedy to Pablo Picasso to Brad Pitt. Meshing top-notch design, impressive technology, and an illustrious heritage, Rolex has come to be associated with the finest in luxury watches. Read below for our ranking of the top 5 most popular Rolex models.
What are the most popular Rolex models?
In 1905, 24-year-old Hans Wilsdorf founded a watch distribution company in London. Wilsdorf quickly realized that there was much improvement that could be made to the precision of wristwatches and, by 1908, Wilsdorf’s company became what we know of today as Rolex. In 1919, Rolex moved its operations to Geneva, where it began manufacturing fully waterproof wristwatches as well as the first self-winding mechanism. In the 1950s, Rolex began manufacturing some of its most popular watches, including the Explorer, the Submariner, the GMT-Master, the Day-Date, and the Milgauss. Rolex continued its innovation throughout the 20th century, establishing itself as an unrivaled luxury watch brand, a reputation that it has held ever since. If you would like to know more, check out a full history of Rolex watches.
MOST POPULAR ROLEX MODELS
Produced in 1953, the Submariner was the first watch that was able to stay waterproof up to depths of 330 feet. The watch was introduced to the public in 1954 at the Basel Watch Fair, where it became an instant hit. At the time, the watch was sold for around $150 to $200. Today, a vintage Rolex submariner from that era can sell for anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000, a testament to Rolex’s ever-increasing popularity and illustriousness. These days, the Submariner closely resembles its 1954 counterpart, though current models are now water-resistant up to 1000 feet. In 2017, a white gold Submariner sold at auction for $628,572, making it one of the most expensive Rolexes ever sold. This sale cemented the Submariner amongst Rolex’s most popular models. One of the most notable Submariners is the Submariner model 16610, first introduced in 1989. The 16610 model is considered by many to be the most counterfeited watches in the world.
Famous wearers: James Bond, Che Guevara, Jacques Cousteau, Steve McQueen, Fidel Castro, Johnny Depp
Introduced in 1945, the Datejust was the first watch to feature an automatically changing date as well as self-winding capabilities. One of the most famous watches in the world, the Datejust changed the course of modern watches. In 2009, Rolex released the Datejust II, a larger version with slight technological and mechanical updates. The Datejust can be purchased with two different Rolex bracelets, the jubilee and the oyster. Available for men and women, this watch can be spotted on the wrists of some of the most notable people in history.
Famous wearers: Martin Luther King, Jr., Dalai Lama, Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan
Since 1963, the Rolex Daytona has remained one of the most iconic luxury watches to be found. The Daytona, a sturdy watch that is waterproof and able to measure speeds up to 400km an hour, was originally designed for race car drivers. The watch was named after the famous Daytona Beach Road Course, a sand and pavement course where fifteen world land speed records have been set. The Daytona watch gained even more popularity due to Paul Newman’s association with the timepiece. In 1972, Paul Newman began racing, and his wife gifted him with a Daytona watch. After Newman was featured on an Italian magazine wearing the watch, the timepiece became an instant success. Newman is said to have worn the watch every day from 1972 until his death. Today, the model Paul Newman wore is often sold for exorbitant amounts; in 2013, a Paul Newman Daytona was auctioned off for over $1 million.
Famous Wearers: Paul Newman, Brad Pitt, Jay-Z, John Mayer, Ellen Degeneres
First designed for use by airline pilots in 1954, the GMT-Master has since become a classic. The watch was designed alongside Pan American Airways to serve the needs of their pilots and navigators as they crossed time zones. The watch includes a 24-hour display and the ability to display two time zones at once, a highly innovative feature at the time. In 1985, the GMT-Master II was released, with an updated movement.
Famous Wearers: Marlon Brando, Pablo Picasso, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Dustin Hoffman
One of the more recent watches produced by Rolex, the Yacht-Master was first created in 1992. Made for sailors and yachters, the watch is waterproof and easy-to-read. Introduced in 2007 and first produced in 2010, the Yacht-Master II was designed with regattas in mind. The watch includes a programmable countdown sequence that can easily be adjusted during the start of a race. The Yacht-Master combines form and function to create a stylish, practical watch for sailors and regular consumers alike. Eric Clapton’s Yacht-Master prototype, which he wore in the 60s and 70s, decades before the Yacht-Master was officially released, was sold at auction in 2003 for an impressive $125,000.
Famous Wearers: Eric Clapton, Bruce Willis, Zac Efron