Rolex Archives - Exquisite Timepieces
Home / Blog / Rolex


Category: Rolex

is Rolex a Non-Profit Company

Rolex is an instantly recognizable name that most non-watch fans have heard of. Its name conjures up imagery of class, luxury, and status. With such a powerful name backing the brand, it may surprise many that Rolex is actually considered a non-profit organization. 

Yes, Rolex is in the same category as other famous organizations like The American Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. Rolex as a whole is a series of smaller companies that together create the Rolex brand. With the initial surprise out of the way, we’ll explain just how Rolex, the powerhouse watch brand, is a non-profit organization. 

What Constitutes a Non-Profit Company?

One interesting thing to note about Rolex is that they are a Swiss company, so the exact definition of a non-profit organization may change depending on location. However, in general, a non-profit organization is classified as such because it is focused on improving the general public and advances specific social causes. 

Thanks to their status, they are exempt from many different types of taxes and receive certain benefits from the government. They are not focused on purely generating profits and work toward achieving a mission. For example, The American Red Cross lists its mission as “to prevent and relieve suffering with every action.” 

For a primarily aid-based mission, it may be simple to justify its mission to improve the general public, but trying to fit this mold into a luxury watch company is much more challenging.

Is Rolex Actually Non-Profit?

Being a non-profit organization doesn’t mean that it generates no income. After all, it would seem improbable that a hotly demanded item like Rolex doesn’t bring in money to the company. In reality, Rolex is a brand managed by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, a non-profit organization named after the founder of Rolex. 

The foundation maintains Rolex and other brands like Tudor under its watchful eyes. As such, Rolex is a non-profit and maintains strong ties to other charities within its parent company. They are able to operate as their own entity, and every action they take seems to influence how the watch industry operates.  

History of the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation

The Hans Wilsdorf Foundation was born from Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf’s desire to continue the Rolex brand and to commemorate his wife, Florence Frances May Wilsdorf-Crotty. With no children to call his own, Wilsdorf wanted to create a lasting legacy that helped the world. What started as this earnest desire to cement his legacy has turned into a sprawling company affecting the watch world and the world itself. 

Before his death, he sold 100% of his ownership stake in Rolex to the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. This secured the brand’s future by placing it under the watch of his organization and giving it non-profit status. Rolex’s profits are used to improve the company itself and to promote social causes. Exactly how much of that money goes into charity isn’t known, but it is easy to see that it is substantial. 

Does Rolex Make Money? 

Rolex is a non-profit organization that answers only to itself, but it definitely makes money. The brand remains as popular as ever, and new releases dazzle the watch world. Supply never seems to meet demand, so Rolex invests heavily in itself to increase the brand’s prestige and its ability to create stunning timepieces.

As a non-profit organization that answers only to itself, concrete financial data can be hard to come by. Hans Wilsdorf himself never revealed the secret inner workings of his company and only gave a brief insight into it in a single interview shortly before his death in 1960. Future Rolex leadership seems to follow in their founder’s footsteps and is highly private about the way Rolex operates.

This secrecy is a potential source of scorn for Rolex, as it is impossible to truly follow where the money goes. However, Rolex definitely creates many watches a year and enjoys high demand for their products. The exact profit that they make is not known, but rough estimates can be given. It isn’t required to release this information because they answer only to their parent company, the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation.

Rolex will also never be found in any public stock exchanges because it is privately held. As a non-profit, they also enjoy various government benefits and exemptions related to tax and insurance. After operating costs, salaries, and other business expenses, any leftover money flows back into the company to use for charity and marketing. 

Notable Charities by Rolex 

Rolex and the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation have made their presence known in a variety of charitable causes. Their efforts have had a positive impact on numerous individuals around the world. They contribute to the environment and the arts and sciences.

Rolex supports the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society, which provides scholarships to young people who want to pursue a career in the marine world. They also provide scientific research grants through the Rolex Explorers Club Grant. Rolex is involved in many explorations of environments like Mount Everest, the deep sea, and the Amazon through its collaboration with organizations like National Geographic and the Royal Geographical Society.

Rolex contributes extensively to Geneva, such as building the Hans Wilsdorf bridge, funding art colleges, and preserving traditional architecture. The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative ensures that artistic expression lives on in the next generation by linking famous masters of the art with teaching institutions around the world.


Rolex is well-known for its iconic designs, and how the company is able to continue making these beloved pieces due to its unique status as a company. Being a non-profit organization allows Rolex to function much differently than its peers. The purchase of an amazing timepiece from Rolex is, in a way, supporting Rolex’s mission to have a positive impact on society.

Rolex supports numerous charitable causes around the world, which may come as a surprise to many people. This duality is what makes Rolex such a fascinating brand and one that will continue to sustain itself for many more generations to come.

Rolex vs Hublot brand comparison

Confused between the two highly-reputed luxury watch brands? You’ve come to the right place! Today we are going to compare Rolex and Hublot on all the factors to help you pick the best luxury timepiece for yourself. We’ll talk about their history, designs, materials, brand value and a lot more!


Rolex, as a brand, was founded in 1908 in London by Hans Wildorf and Alfred Davis, moving their operations to Switzerland after World War I.  Since then, they have pioneered several features which have become standard in the watch industry and have become the most recognizable watch brand in the world. 

Their success and brand recognition helped them survive the quartz crisis and has allowed them to stay independently owned since their creation.  Hublot, by contrast, was only founded within the last 50 years, specifically in 1980. 

Uniquely, the founder, Carlo Crocco, broke off from his family watchmaking business to focus on creating a watch brand that, originally, desired to innovate in the straps, and he successfully created the first natural rubber strap in the history of watchmaking. 

In 2008, Hublot was acquired by the LVMH group, who currently owns them, and have since created a blitz marketing campaign to increase their brand presence, particularly, their sponsorships of some of the biggest sport stars in the world, including Kylian Mbappe and Novak Djokovic.

Styling Differences Between the Two Brands

Rolex vs Hublot style difference

It is not hyperbole to say that Rolex has created the most iconic, and the most copied, watch styles in the history of watchmaking.  The Submariner, the Daytona, the GMT Master II, the Day Date, the Datejust, and the Explorer I & II are some of the most recognizable watches in the world.  The oyster bracelet is the most ubiquitous bracelet style in the industry, and the clasp is the most recognizable clasp in the industry.  

And perhaps most importantly, their designs have been responsible for the steel sports watch now being the most common watch worn in the world.  It is because their designs have become so well-known over the last 50 years that they rarely change them; a Submariner made 40 years ago looks remarkably similar to a Submariner made yesterday.  More on this later.

Again, Hublot, by contrast, could not be more different from its much older competitor.  Do you want to wear a watch that looks like no other brand on the market?  Do you want people to notice what’s on your wrist and be so impressed by the unique styling that they stop you to ask what watch you’re wearing?  Do you want to make watch snobs to judge you for daring to be different? 

Then Hublot is the brand for you.  Their flagship model, the Big Bang, while taking design inspiration from some of the more iconic timepieces of the past, has become entirely unique, and Hublot has had the freedom to make it in literally hundreds of iterations since its introduction in 2005.

A quick review of their official website reveals that the Big Bang can currently be purchased in over 180 different colors, configurations, sizes, etc.  If you want a 44mm steel chronograph on a rubber bracelet with a tried and true ETA based movement, then reference 301.SX.130.RX is for you.  However, if you’d prefer a 42mm titanium chronograph on a bracelet with a manufacture calibre and over 400 diamonds in the case, dial, and bracelet, then reference 451.NX.1170.NX.9804 is what you need.

Movements Used

Rolex manufactures all of their own movements, which are shared across their different models.  These include the 3230 (found in the Oyster Perpetual and Air-King), the 3235 (found in the DateJust, Submariner, and the Yachtmaster, among others), the 3255 (found in the Day/Date), and the true GMT movement, the 3285, which is found in the GMT-Master II and the Explorer II.

They also manufacture the 4130, which is found in the Daytona, and perhaps the most impressive of all the movements, the 9001, which appears in the Sky-Dweller.  These movements feature a parachrome hairspring, meaning they are less prone to wear over time and can withstand shocks much better.  They also all feature a 72-hour power reserve and beat at 28,800 vph. 

They are all certified as a “superlative chronometer”, meaning the movements are regulated, after casing, to -2 to +2 seconds per day. Hublot, on the other hand, uses third party movements in a majority of their watches, whether it be quartz or ETA based movements that they’ve modified and/or regulated. 

They do have their own manufacture calibres, launched in 2010 and named UNICO, which feature a chronograph complication and a 72-hour power reserve.  This movement originally appeared in their Big Bang Ferrari models, among other.  They released an updated version in 2018 called the UNICO 2, which now appears in several of their Big Bang models. 

Hublot also manufactures a manual wind movement with a 14-day power reserve, which only appears in models costing around $100,000.  Perhaps their most ostentatious creation, which is saying a lot for a brand like Hublot, is tourbillion movement for a particular model made for Ferrari that features 11 barrels and a 50-day power reserve, that requires a special tool (that looks like an impact gun) to wind.  Disappointingly, Hublot does not have any COSC certified movements as of yet.

When purchasing an automatic watch, you, as the buyer, must also consider downstream servicing costs.  Rolex movements are some of the most studied movements in the world, and while it is always preferred to have the movement serviced by the manufacturer, Rolex owners are fortunate enough that there are hundreds of experienced third-party watchmakers around the world that do a perfectly fine job of servicing a Rolex movement, and at much cheaper prices than sending the watch directly to Rolex. 

The same can be said for Hublot in the pieces that use ETA or quartz movements.  ETA movements are easy to service and easy to maintain, and are very robust.


Rolex is famous for their use of 904L stainless steel, a material that they create at their own metal foundry, and is used in all of their stainless steel models in the cases and bracelets.  While not as scratch resistant as the 316L stainless steel that you’ll find in a vast majority of other steel watches, it polishes up much nicer and is much more resistant to corrosion (specifically corrosion cause by saltwater). 

Having handled many Rolexes and watches made of 316L, the 904L alloy really does make a difference in appearance.  Rolexes just feel a bit more luxurious and shine a bit brighter.  Rolex is also famous for their use of Everose Gold, which is a proprietary blend of 18 karat pink gold that is a combination of gold, copper, and platinum and gives the gold a reddish hue.

Hublot, on the other hand, has been truly innovative in their use of materials.  Their tagline “Art of Fusion” demonstrates their mandate to try new things by combining different materials within the same watch to create a truly unique timepiece. 

They were the first brand to introduce a rubber strap on a gold watch back in 1980.  They have pioneered the creation of a metal called “Magic Gold”, which they claim to be the first scratch resistant 18k gold ever made, no matter how active your lifestyle.  They have created several different colors of ceramic cases, and have also developed completely transparent sapphire cases.

Other Things to Consider

When debating a purchase between these two brands, there are any things to consider.  However, the most important is the message you’re trying to send the world.  If you are a traditionalist that likes to wear a recognizable timepiece from a brand responsible for some of the most enduring designs, then Rolex is for you. 

As mentioned above, the designs created by Rolex 75 years ago have become some of the most copied on the planet.  While not the first dive watch, the Submariner has influenced every dive watch made since its introduction, and because of this, Rolex has kept basically the same design language for 75 years.  

This is a huge appeal to collectors, and is a reason why vintage pieces are so incredibly sought after.  It is also why the brand gets a bit of stick among the watch collecting community.  The “don’t fix what isn’t broken” way of designing watches has rubbed people the wrong way for some time now, as has their miniscule updates to their timepieces over the years. 

Rolex knows that their timepieces have a reputation to uphold and they don’t make any decisions that could risk that reputation. Hublot could literally not be more different.  They price themselves on taking risks, on using unique materials in their watches, and in taking risks in their designs.  If, above everything else, you want to be unique, then you will not a find brand more suited to you than Hublot. 

The brand has faced a lot of criticism over the years, being accusing of stealing designs and taking the term “limited edition” too far, but sometimes that the price you pay for becoming successful in an industry which isn’t receptive to newcomers and places such a premium on history.  Regardless of your feelings about the brand, however, it is undeniable that Hublot has carved out a very successful niche for itself in the industry.

Rolex vs. Hublot:  Popularity, Pricing & Resale Value

Popularity & Pricing:  Rolex is the most popular watch brand in the world, and is perhaps the only brand that non-watch people would immediately recognize.  It is because of this that demand and pricing at the lower end of a piece’s range will always be relatively stable, especially for their steel sports models.  It’s extraordinarily unlikely that you will ever need to sell a Rolex for less than you originally paid for it. 

Brand new from a Rolex authorized dealer, prices ranges from $5,800 for an Oyster Perpetual to nearly $15,000 for a steel variant of the Sky-Dweller.  Obviously, prices increase rather steeply when you begin looking at precious metal variations.  

It’s the secondary market where things get a bit more interesting and is perhaps more indicative of the market for Rolex.  While a GMT-Master II Batman on a Jubilee bracelet will cost you $10,700 from an authorized dealer, you are likely to pay over $18,000 for one on the used market.  This is the case for a lot of their current models. 

Even discontinued pieces, like the “Hulk” Submariner, which cost around $9,000 when new are selling for over $20,000 used.  Love it or hate it, this is the price you pay for demand of Rolex, and this is entirely unique to this segment of the industry (i.e., stainless steel sports models in the $10,000-$15,000 price range).

Hublot, on the other hand, can’t pretend to even compete with the popularity of Rolex as a brand.  But you don’t buy a Hublot hoping the average person will recognize the watch you’re wearing.  You buy a Hublot so that the average person asks what you’re wearing.  And Hublot, like nearly all brands not named Rolex, Vacherin Constantin or Patek Phillippe, is cheaper on the secondary market than buying brand new. 

Hublot’s most understated model, the Fusion, can be bought for $5,900 directly from Hublot but can be found much cheaper on the used market.  This is the case for nearly all of their models. While often times when deciding to purchase a watch, we go in with the intent of the purchase lasting us for the rest of our life but consideration must be made as to resale value, especially when shopping in this segment of the market. 

Life happens, and sometimes the need arises to offload a piece or two to fund other expenses. And when comparing these two brands, it’s really not a discussion.  As mentioned above, it’s very unlikely that you will ever sell a Rolex for less than you paid for it, and that’s normally the case whether or not you sell it a year after you bought it or a decade. 

The ability to maintain its value is one of the strongest attractions to Rolex.  And, unfortunately, like most watch brands not named Rolex or Patek Philippe, this is not the case for Hublot.

Rolex Submariner vs. Hublot Big Bang

Rolex Submariner vs Hublot Big bang

As we wrap up, it’s worth comparing two of the most recognizable models from each brand.  As mentioned previously, the Submariner is one of the most iconic timepieces in the history of watches.

Rolex’s current lineup consists of 8 different variations, ranging from a stainless steel, no-date, version with a black dial and black bezel that retails for approximately $8,950 (reference 124060) to an all 18 carat white gold variant with a date complication, black dial and blue bezel that retails for approximately $40,000 (reference 126619LB). 

All variants are 41mm in diameter, are water resistant to 300 meters, have a 120-click unidirectional bezel, and feature a “superlative chronometer” movement with a 70-hour power reserve.  And, of course, every model has the instantly recognizable design language of a Rolex Submariner.

As mentioned above, the Hublot Big Bang is currently offered in over 140 different iterations.  For purposes of this comparison, we will focus on their base model (reference 301.SX.130.RX), which retails for approximately $12,900. 

It’s housed in a case that is 44mm in diameter, water resistant to 100 meters and contains a chronograph complication based on the ETA Valjoux 7753 with a central seconds chronograph hand, 3 sub-registers, and a 41 hour power reserve.  It’s mounted on Hublot’s famous rubber strap with a deployant clasp, and comes with a style completely distinct to Hublot.

Final Decision

When deciding which watch gets to grace your wrist for either the next couple of years, or for the rest of your life, the most important thing is to think about what you will like looking at.  It takes time to figure out which piece you will want to look at over and over and over again.  Both brands have their strengths and weaknesses, which we have attempted to lay out for you here. 

Spending several thousand on a timepiece is not a decision to be taken lightly.  Do you want to wear a timepiece that is easy to read and is backed by a hundred years of watchmaking history?  Then Rolex is your brand.  Do you want a brand that is known for its innovation in the industry and is a bit more modern in their design language and use of materials? 

Then Hublot is the brand for you.  And, just remember, at the end of the day, if the piece you originally purchased is not the piece for you, you can always sell and begin your watch shopping journey again.

rolex oysterquartz

The year was 1969. It was the height of the Cold War between the USA and the USSR. The Vietnam War was at its peak. The murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy (both assassinated the year before) were sentenced. John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a bed-in for peace, where they recorded the song “Give Peace a Chance.” The California Zodiac Killer was making headlines. Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. 

Amid all those major world events, a lesser-known “bombshell” was about to shake the world of watchmaking. On Christmas Day of 1969, Seiko, a relatively unknown brand outside of Japan, released the world’s first quartz wristwatch and forever changed the watch industry, creating what some watch historians would later call “The Quartz Crisis.”

While many legendary timepiece manufacturers would go belly-up, Rolex survived the crisis, answering Seiko with the Oysterquartz, their own overbuilt, quality quartz movement. Today, those quartz Rolex watches can be purchased for a relative steal compared to the typical automatic Rolex. This article serves as your collector’s guide into the world of the Oysterquartz. 

Quartz vs. Mechanical Movements

A quartz movement is powered by a battery and uses a quartz crystal to keep accurate time. The quartz crystal oscillates at a precise frequency, and this oscillation is used to power the movement of the watch hands. Quartz watches are known for their high level of precision and reliability and require very little maintenance.

On the other hand, a mechanical movement is powered by a winding spring and uses gears and levers to keep accurate time. Mechanical watches are known for their intricate design and craftsmanship and require regular maintenance, such as oiling, to keep them running smoothly.

Quartz watches are generally more accurate than mechanical watches, as they are not affected by temperature changes, shocks, and other environmental factors that can affect the performance of a mechanical movement.

However, many watch enthusiasts consider quartz watches to be inferior to mechanical watches, as they lack the craftsmanship and artistry of a mechanical movement. Quartz watches are also considered less exclusive and more widely available to the public.

One way to quickly tell if a watch is powered by a mechanical movement is the sweep of the second hand, in contrast to the tick, tick, tick of the quartz movement.

Understanding the Quartz Crisis

The railroads were among the major forces in the mid-1800s, driving the need for timekeeping accuracy. After some tragic rail accidents due to pocket watch inaccuracies, the movements were refined, and official time zones were adopted in the US and eventually globally. 

This would be one of the drives behind the birth of a new era of highly accurate watches, and Switzerland would become the de facto capital of watchmaking. That is, until a challenger from the East, Seiko, would introduce the world’s first quartz wristwatch. 

Watchmaking is as much an art as it is a science in Switzerland. Their top luxury brands, like Rolex, are known for their handmade movements crafted by expert artisans. With the advent of quartz wristwatches in the late 60s and 70s, all that seemed in question and sparked a panic, which “sunk” many notable luxury brands and put Omega into bankruptcy. 

Many wondered if Japan would become the future of watchmaking, displacing Switzerland, as quartz movements were far easier to mass-produce, significantly less expensive to manufacture, and more accurate.

Rolex managed to weather the crisis by developing its own in-house quartz movement, the Oysterquartz, while maintaining its focus and commitment to mechanical movements. This approach proved successful, as quartz eventually became synonymous with mass-produced, inexpensive watches that didn’t last generations like the fine, handcrafted timepieces Rolex was known for. 

Rolex Oysterquartz History

In the 1970s, Rolex decided to develop its own quartz movement in response to the growing popularity of quartz watches, which were becoming increasingly accurate and reliable. Rolex teamed up with a group of Swiss watchmakers and engineers to develop the movement named the Beta 21.

The Beta 21 was based on a Japanese quartz movement called the Seiko Astron and was one of the most accurate and reliable quartz movements of its time. Rolex was the first brand to put the Beta 21 in production, followed by other brands such as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Omega.

The Rolex Oysterquartz was the first watch model to feature the Beta 21 quartz movement, and it was first introduced in 1977. The watch was available in two models, the Datejust and the Day-Date. It combined the precision and reliability of the quartz movement with the classic design and durability of the Rolex Oyster line. 

The Oysterquartz quickly became a highly desirable watch among collectors and enthusiasts. It was in production until 2001 when Rolex decided to discontinue the line and focus on its mechanical timepieces. 

Buying a Pre-Owned Timepiece

When buying a pre-owned luxury watch, such as a Rolex, it’s essential to consider several factors to ensure that you get a high-quality, authentic timepiece.

  1.  Research: Before making a purchase, research the different models and styles of Rolex watches. Familiarize yourself with the features and characteristics of the watch you are interested in and its retail price. This will help you identify potential red flags when looking at pre-owned watches.
  2. Buy from a reputable seller: Look for a reputable seller, such as a certified jeweler or a licensed pre-owned watch dealer. These sellers will have a reputation to uphold and will be more likely to offer a high-quality, authentic watch.
  3. Check the documentation: Make sure that the watch comes with its original documentation, such as the warranty card and instruction manual. These documents must be present to ensure that the timepiece is authentic
  4.  Inspect the watch: Carefully inspect the watch for any signs of wear and tear, such as scratches on the case or a worn-out bracelet. Also, look for any inconsistencies in the engravings or markings on the watch, as these can also indicate that the watch is not authentic.
  5. Have it professionally assessed: Have the watch inspected by a professional before making your final decision. A professional watchmaker can confirm the watch’s authenticity and check for any potential issues.
  6. Consider the price: Keep in mind that pre-owned Rolex watches may be priced higher than their retail value. Compare the price of the timepiece you are considering to its retail price and consider the watch’s condition before making a decision.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you are getting a high-quality, authentic pre-owned Rolex watch.

Rolex Oysterquartz Models

The Rolex Oysterquartz line was initially offered in the Datejust and the Day-Date models. Both models featured the iconic Rolex oyster case, which is waterproof and highly resistant to corrosion.   

1. Rolex Quartz Beta-21 (ref. 5100)

Rolex Quartz Beta-21 (ref. 5100)

Only 2,000 of these watches were made. It’s theorized that 1,000 were made in white gold and 1,000 in yellow gold. That makes these watches quite rare. The case size is 39mm and fits nicely on the wrist. It offers a magnified date at 3 o’clock. 

This was the first Rolex to feature a synthetic sapphire crystal, a hacking movement (meaning the movement can be stopped to synchronize with other watches), and a quick set date. Some have criticized the style of this timepiece, but to others, it’s a unique stand-out that will surely be a conversation piece. 

Price: $20,472-$30,836 (Source: 

2. Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust (ref. 17000)

Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust (ref. 17000)

The Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust is a luxury watch that was first introduced by the Swiss watchmaker in 1977.  The watch features a stainless-steel case with a diameter of 36mm and is water-resistant to 100m. 

The case is paired with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a screw-down crown, which helps to protect the movement from water and dust. The dial features a white color with gold hour markers and a date display at 3 o’clock. The watch is available with a stainless-steel bracelet or a leather strap.

One of the most notable features of the Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust is its classic and timeless design. The watch is a perfect example of Rolex’s commitment to precision and reliability while maintaining its classic and timeless design. 

The Oysterquartz Datejust is also highly collectible, thanks to its historical significance as one of the first Swiss-made quartz movements and Rolex’s first and only quartz watch, which was in production for over two decades.

Price: $4,775-$7,119 (Source: 

3. Rolex Oysterquartz Day-Date (ref. 17013)

Rolex Oysterquartz Day-Date (ref. 17013)

The Rolex Oysterquartz Day-Date was first introduced in 1977, along with the aforementioned Datejust. The watch features a 36mm diameter case, available in yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold, and it’s water resistant to 100m.

The case is paired with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a screw-down crown. The dial features a white color with gold hour markers, and the watch features a day of the week display at 12 o’clock and a date display at 3 o’clock.

The timepiece is available with a matching president bracelet, which was designed specifically for the Day-Date. The Rolex Oysterquartz Day-Date is a highly desirable watch that offers the best of both worlds: the precision and reliability of a quartz movement and the classic design and durability of a Rolex oyster case.

The watch is also highly collectible, given the limited supply and no indication that Rolex will be producing more quartz watches at this time.

Price: $3,921-$5,749 (Source:

4. Rolex Lady-Datejust (ref. 69173)

Rolex Lady-Datejust (ref. 69173)

The Rolex Lady-Datejust Quartz was first introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is a smaller version of the Datejust model, designed specifically for women.  

The watch features a 26mm diameter case, available in yellow gold and stainless steel, and it’s water resistant to 100m. The case is paired with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a screw-down crown, which helps to protect the movement from water and dust. 

The dial features a white color with gold hour markers and a date display at 3 o’clock. The watch is available with a matching jubilee bracelet, which was designed specifically for the Lady-Datejust.

Price: $3,279-$5,183 (Source:

5. Rolex Cellini Quartz (ref. 6623)

Rolex Cellini Quartz (ref. 6623)

The Rolex Cellini Quartz is a dress watch that was first introduced in the late 1990s.  The watch features a 34mm diameter case, available in yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold, and it’s water resistant to 30m. 

The case is paired with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a screw-down crown. The dial features a white color with gold hour markers and a date display at 3 o’clock. The watch is available with a matching leather strap or a matching gold bracelet.

The Rolex Cellini Quartz is a classic dress watch that is designed with simplicity and elegance in mind. The watch features a timeless design that is perfect for formal occasions. The watch’s dimensions and technical specifications make it an ideal fit for a man’s or a woman’s wrist, making it easy to wear and comfortable. 

Price: $4,000 – 18c white gold version (Source:


There’s something luxurious about a mechanical movement, both in the way it’s made, requiring more human involvement than the assembly line, automated manufacturing of the quartz, and in the way the movement functions and looks. However, there are undeniable benefits to a quartz movement. 

The Rolex Oysterquartz line offers the best of both worlds, the iconic design and craftsmanship of Rolex married with the accuracy of a quartz movement. Most horologists and collectors favor the beauty and intricacy of the handmade, mechanical movements and expect that in a luxury timepiece. 

However, the Oysterquartz created a unique hybrid and became a cult favorite among some collectors. The Oysterquartz also provides an opportunity to get a Rolex at a lower price point. 

Best Investment Rolexes

Everyone knows Rolex. If one conducted a “man on the street interview” and asked random people to name the first watch companies that came to mind, it seems reasonable to expect Rolex to be in the top five. Rolex has become a household name, synonymous with luxury and wealth. 

Yet not everyone knows they can also be a solid investment. Many would wrongly conclude owning a Rolex is an unwise financial decision, like buying a boat or any other depreciating luxury asset. After all, a Timex will tell the time just as well, for a tiny fraction of the price. 

However, Rolex not only delivers a beautiful watch that can be passed down to multiple generations but given the high demand and low inventory, Rolex watches are known to hold their value and often appreciate. 

About Rolex Watches in 2024

The demand for Rolex watches has only gone up in recent years, and the supply chain issues further added to delays. Rolex doesn’t release official numbers as to the volume of watches produced each year, but the most accepted number in the industry is roughly 1 million watches per year. 

Yet, the demand greatly outstrips Rolex’s ability to produce. Their most popular models have waiting lists that can be several years long, and even their less popular models require a wait of at least a few months. So, if one goes to an authorized Rolex retailer today, they shouldn’t expect to walk out of the shop with a Rolex on their wrist unless they already went in with one. 

By keeping the inventory low and the demand high, Rolex shrewdly creates an environment of exclusivity and scarcity, and this fuels a competitive market and drives up the prices both in the authorized retail and the gray markets. 

Should You Invest In Rolex for 2024?

Should Rolex be one of your investments? That’s a personal decision that one must make for themselves. However, many are choosing to invest in Rolex because they want to enjoy the exceptionally well-made, stunning timepieces that Rolex makes while having the peace of mind that there’s no safer watch investment bet than Rolex. At least, that’s the point of view of many watch experts and collectors. 

Watch experts value Rolex because they have a long, rich horological history. They’ve been at the cutting edge of innovation in the watch industry. Further, some of the greatest achievements in mountain climbing, deep sea diving, cave exploring, and racing have been marked with Rolex watches. 

Rolex also uses the highest quality materials to build their timepieces. Rolex has its own foundries, where they forge the highest quality steel, gold, platinum, and titanium. This is matched by the artisans’ expertise in crafting each watch perfectly, down to the very last detail. Their quality and consistency, paired with their remarkable history, is something that captures the attention and trust of professional watch collectors. 

Some of the top-selling Rolex collections in recent years are the DateJust, Daytona, Oyster Perpetual, Day-Date, Submariner, and GMT-Master. These are the top Rolex watches selected by the public and collectors. 

There’s a reasonable probability that these collections will remain in demand; therefore, one could conclude that they’re likely to hold or increase in value. In fact, the gray market is where one used to go to get a deal on a Rolex. Today, it’s where one goes to pay double MSRP (if not more) to get the watch of their dreams without having to wait three to five years. 

The Best Investment Rolexes



Sometimes the word iconic can be overused, but it’s perfectly appropriate in this case. The Rolex Cosmograph Dayton is a special timepiece. Of course, its association with another icon, actor, race car driver, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Paul Newman, simply adds to the gravity of this watch. In fact, Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona sold for a record-setting $17.8 million. This timepiece has been a favorite among collectors and enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. 

The Oystersteel case measures 40mm, sits on the wrist at 11.9mm thick (which is .5mm thinner than the previous generation), and is 46.5mm lug-to-lug. The model we’re exploring here is steel, but there are versions in two-tone steel and yellow gold, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and platinum. 

At the center of this wristwatch is a shiny black ceramic bezel with a high-performance chronograph. The tachymetric scale allows for measurements of average speeds up to 400 miles or kilometers per hour. The style of the bezel is a nod to the 1965 version. The watch’s white dial (also available in black on the Oystersteel configuration) is a three-register chronograph with 18-karat white gold hour markers and hands. 

Under the hood is Rolex’s caliber 4131 automatic movement, with a 72-hour power reserve, which is COSC and Rolex certificated. The watch features a signed screw-down crown and water resistance to 100 meters. The chronograph movement also offers hacking seconds. All this is paired with a three-link Oystersteel bracelet with a folding clasp and a 5mm extension. 

Price: $15,100 starting price. 



The original Rolex GMT Master was first introduced in the 1950s in collaboration with Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) to meet the needs of pilots flying long-haul international routes. 

The tool watch, with its useful 24-hour hand and ceramic bezel, quickly became popular with pilots and globetrotters. Over the years, several notable versions have been released, such as the red and blue bezel nicknamed “Pepsi” by collectors. 

The version we’re examining is the Oyster, 40mm, yellow gold. The timepiece sits at 11.9mm on the wrist and measures 48mm from lug to lug. The watch, finished in 18-karat yellow gold with a black bezel and face, is absolutely gorgeous and is dripping with luxury. An inner yellow gold ring encircles the black dial with white gold indexes and yellow gold hands. For added functionality, there’s a Cyclops date window at three o’clock. 

The timepiece features a screw-down crown, sapphire crystal, and a water resistance of 100 meters. The watch is powered by Rolex’s caliber 3285 automatic movement with a 70-hour power reserve. 

The movement’s features include a second time zone with independent rapid reset of the hour hand, instantaneous date, and hacking seconds. The timepiece is paired with an 18-karat yellow gold jubilee 5-link bracelet, which is simply as handsome as it gets, with a folding clasp and 5mm comfort extension. 

Price: $38,900



The Oyster Perpetual Celebration is a new Rolex model that’s cheeky and fun. I’m not sure those adjectives have ever been used to describe a Rolex. Rolex is known for its conservative design cues, which is why its designs are so timeless and enduring. However, this new, colorful model bucks those traditions, and I think it’s a daring move that will pay off and garner interest from a younger clientele. 

Back in 2020, Rolex released their 36mm Oyster Perpetual with multiple bright lacquer dials and included more sizing options. The colors included candy pink, green, yellow, coral red, and turquoise. The latest Celebration motif offers a ’Tiffany blue’ backdrop that incorporates all those dial colors into something reminiscent of champagne bubbles of different sizes, lined in black. It’s a simple, three-hand watch with white gold hands and indices. 

The Oyster Perpetual is offered in several different sizes from 28mm up to 41mm, but the celebration dial is only available in the 31mm, 36mm, and 41mm cases. The Oystersteel case measures 41mm, sits on the wrist at 11.7mm, and is 47.5mm lug-to-lug. 

The case and smooth fixed bezel are polished, and the timepiece is fitted with an Oyster bracelet and clasp with 5mm micro extensions. The watch has a screw-down crown and is water-resistant to 100 meters. Inside, the timepiece is powered by Rolex’s in-house 3230 automatic movement with a 70-hour power reserve.

Price: $6,400 



The Submariner, for many, is the standard bearer of dive watches. First introduced in the 1950s, the Submariner benefited from Rolex’s military and World War II heritage and became a respected tool watch among professional divers. The timepiece also has deep Hollywood roots and was worn by American actor Steve McQueen and was later worn on the wrist of James Bond actors, such as Sean Connery, on the silver screen. 

Filmmaker and explorer James Cameron is known for his relationship with Rolex, which included record-setting dives to the Titanic wreckage. He’s recounted how he wore his Submariner on his professional dives and when he received his Oscar for the film Titanic. 

This is just one of those watches that is the perfect choice to be worn over a wetsuit, for rugged deep-water dives, and for more formal occasions when paired with a suit or tux. Making it a great all-rounder. 

The stainless steel case measures 41mm, sits on the wrist at 12.4mm thick, and is 48.1mm from lug to lug. The polished green ceramic unidirectional bezel pairs nicely with a black lacquered dial that is clean and easy to read. Because of the green and black, some have dubbed it the “Starbucks” or “Kermit”. The hands and indices are lined in white gold, and there’s a Cyclops date window at three o’clock. 

The timepiece is powered by Rolex’s caliber 3235 automatic movement with a 70-hour power reserve. It features a screw-down crown with Triplock triple waterproofness and is water resistant to 300 meters. It’s fitted with a 3-link Oyster bracelet with a folding Oysterlock safety clasp and the Glidelock extension system.

The timepiece can also be configured with a black bezel for a more classic look, but the green “Starbucks” version just might prove to be a desirable collector’s item.

Price: $10,800 

5. ROLEX MILGAUSS 116400GV & 116400

5.     ROLEX MILGAUSS 116400GV & 116400

If the Submariner is the cool Rolex, the Milgauss, I suppose, would be the nerdy Rolex, and I mean that in a good way. The Milgauss, like the Submariner, dates back to the 1950s but was designed for a very different purpose. The Rolex Milgauss is known for its ability to resist magnetic fields up to 1,000 gauss, hence the name “Milgauss” (a combination of “mille,” the French word for “thousand,” and “gauss”). 

The Milgauss was designed for engineers and technicians. The collection was out of production for a couple of decades but was brought back in 2007. However, it’s since been discontinued again, which might create the perfect limited supply environment to make it an investment opportunity or collection item. 

This timepiece is nicely suited for smaller wrists and will comfortably slide under a dress shirt. The stainless steel case measures 36mm, sits on the wrist at 13.5mm thick, and is 48mm lug-to-lug. The 116400GV variant offers a handsome green-tinted crystal paired with a matt black dial, and includes a striking orange lightning bolt seconds hand.

The black dial sports two-tone luminous indicators. It also comes with a blue-green dial option. The 116400 offers a white dial with orange luminous indices and the same orange lightning bolt seconds hand, which pops more against the white background. 

The watch is powered by the Rolex 3131 automatic movement with a 48-hour power reserve and is COSC-certified with a 100-meter water resistance. This model includes the Easy-Link system and raised Rolex crown. It’s paired with a three-link bracelet with contrasting center polished links and brushed satin outer links.

Market Price for the 116400GV: $10,877, Market Price for the 116400: $9,444 



The Sea-Dweller is a collection from Rolex, a close sibling to the Submariner, but a beefier watch for professional divers. It was first released in 1967 and known initially as the Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000. The initial models were created in partnership with the French diving company Comex (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises), and those are some of the rarest, desired by collectors. 

While similar in design to the Submariner, the Sea-Dweller has always been a larger and thicker timepiece due to the added features like a helium escape valve (HEV) and rugged construction to withstand the sometimes-rough environments of deep-sea expeditions. 

The “Triple Six” version, a reference to the three consecutive sixes in the reference number, is now considered a vintage model. Its production years ran from 1978 to 1989. The stainless steel case of the Triple Six measures 40mm, has a height on the wrist of 14.8mm, and is 49.7mm from lug to lug. The watch has a unidirectional black aluminum bezel insert. Earlier versions offer a matte black dial with painted hour markers (giving it a more vintage look), while later versions have a more modern glossy dial with applied white gold hour markers. 

Inside the Triple Six, one will find Rolex’s 3035 automatic movement. The movement features include hour, minute, seconds, and quickset date. There’s a screw-down crown with a water resistance of 4,000 feet. There’s also a helium escape valve and a flat sapphire crystal. The timepiece is paired with a three-link Oyster bracelet.

Market Price: $12,125 


In 1953, the Rolex Explorer was first introduced to commemorate the ascent of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. The Explorer ref. 1016 was worn by Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels, who, during the Second World War, served as a real-life British spy. 

The Explorer II 16570 is a no-nonsense sports watch. Its production years were from the 1990s through the 2000s. In contrast to the current Explorer II, which is sized at 42mm, this version is more modestly sized at 40mm, making it a more versatile watch, which is more likely to comfortably fit all wrist sizes. It sits on the wrist at 12.5mm thick and has a lug width of 20mm.

The brushed steel bezel is a nod to ’70s sports watches, and Rolex has continued that tradition with this collection through the decades. The bezel is a fixed 24-hour that works in conjunction with a GMT hand. The dial is a crisp polar white with black hands and indices. There’s also a Cyclops date window at 3 o’clock.

Powering the watch is Rolex’s 3185 automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve. The timepiece has a solid case back, a signed crown, and a water resistance of 100 meters. Paired with a three-link Oyster bracelet with a folding clasp, this watch model is fast becoming a classic. 

Market Price: $8,116 



The Submariner 16610 perfectly straddles the line between vintage and modern. Its production years were between 1987 and 2010. The stainless steel case measures 40mm, with a thickness of 13mm and a lug-to-lug measurement of 47.5mm. This model bridges two eras from the original tool watch days of Submariner’s early life to its first redesign as a luxury timepiece. 

This watch simply covers all the bases. It’s vintage, it’s modern, and it’s all Rolex. The aluminum bezel is paired with a matte black dial. The watch features the classic Mercedes hands, white incites, and the Cyclops date window at 3 o’clock. 

On the inside of the watch is Rolex’s 3135 automatic movement with a power reserve of 48 hours. It offers a screw-down crown and a water resistance of up to 300 meters. The timepiece is paired with an Oyster bracelet, with a folding clasp and extension system. This is a classic version of a classic model and deserves to be considered a collector’s item. 

Market Price: $9,608


9.     ROLEX GMT-MASTER II 16710

The GMT-Master II has its roots in the original GMT-Master from the 1950s. As previously noted, the Master was created for Pan Am pilots, but those weren’t the only ones who adopted this famous Rolex model; it was also picked up by NASA and US Air Force pilots, in addition to world travelers.

The GMT II’s production years were from 1989 through 2007. This model was nicknamed “Pepsi”, because of its red and blue bezel. The timepiece offers a black dial with Mercedes hands and white indices. There’s also a Cyclops date window at 3 o’clock. The stainless steel case measures 40mm, sits on the wrist at 12mm thick, and has a lug width of 20mm.

Under the hood, the watch is powered by Rolex’s caliber 3185 (later models had the 3186). Besides time and date, the watch featured a 24-hour hand and hacking seconds. The model could be paired with an Oyster bracelet or a Jubilee.

Market Price: $12,870



The GMT-Master was for the masters of the air, the Submariner for kings of the sea, the Daytona the champions of the road, and the Explorer II was a sports watch for everyone else. 

As previously discussed, the Explorer was designed for cave and volcano explorers but was broadly just a sports watch for anyone that liked to play as hard as they worked. Its production years were between 1971 and 1984. At the time, it didn’t find an audience, with its atypical Rolex styling, and wasn’t one of the more popular Rolex models, but it has since become a cult favorite among collectors. 

The stainless steel case measures 39mm, sits on the wrist at 13.4mm, and has a lug width of 20mm. The watch features a stainless steel bezel and black dial with a domed crystal and Cyclops date window at 3 o’clock. The timepiece has white hour, minute, and seconds hands. The seconds hand is lollipop-style, and there’s an orange GMT hand.  

Under the hood is Rolex’s 1570 automatic movement with a 48-hour power reserve. The watch was water resistant to 100 meters and includes an Oyster bracelet with a folding clasp. Because of the limited numbers produced, this watch has become a popular classic. 

Market Price: $27,966 

Parting Thoughts

Rolex is the king of luxury watches, and they have the crown to prove it. In recent years they have especially enjoyed a low inventory and high demand market, many of their models with waiting list requirements of multiple years. This has driven up the price of Rolex watches in the gray and pre-owned markets. 

Few watches can hold their value like Rolex. Many Rolex models have also proved to be excellent investments, increasing considerably in value. In this article, we’ve outlined ten models we especially like that we think are worth considering as collector items. Of course, ultimately, one must decide for themselves. We hope this article has at least armed you with enough information to make a more informed decision.

15 Best rolex explorer alternatives

Few watches have more mystique surrounding them than the Rolex Explorer. A predecessor to the Explorer, a modified Oyster Perpetual with luminescent Arabic numerals, was actually on Sir Edmund Hillary’s when he became the first person to summit Mt. Everest. How’s that for a legend? 

Since its official launch in 1953, the Explorer has been worn by all types of watch lovers. It’s been a spelunking tool for adventurers, and it was the favorite watch of James Bond Author Ian Fleming. Some even suggest, based on a few sentences in one of Fleming’s books, that the Explorer was the original watch worn by the literary version of  Bond himself.

Despite the Explorer’s adventurous roots, it’s rightly considered one of the most versatile models in the Rolex catalog. While it definitely has those steel sports chops that so many love about Rolex, it can blend in just as well as a dress watch under your cuff. 

The Explorer is a classically styled, robust, and versatile watch. That’s exactly why it’s so sought after. That’s also why it can be so difficult to get one. With waiting lists that can last for years at Rolex dealers, and the secondary market prices rising fast, you may want to consider a nice alternative to the Explorer.

About the Rolex Explorer

The Rolex Explorer has a rich and fascinating history that spans back to the early days of mountaineering expeditions. In the 1950s, Rolex collaborated with several mountaineers to create a timepiece that could withstand the harsh conditions of high-altitude climbing. The result was a watch that quickly became a favorite of adventurers and explorers around the world.

As mentioned above, the first Rolex Explorer was released in 1953, and it was an instant success among mountain climbers and explorers. It featured a sturdy Oyster case, a self-winding movement, and luminous hands and hour markers for easy readability in low-light conditions. The watch was also water-resistant, making it suitable for wet and snowy environments.

Rolex Explorer Fun Facts

One of the reasons that the Rolex Explorer has such a big following is its illustrious list of owners. Among them, aside from Sir Edmund Hillary, is Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novel series. What’s more, many claim that the first Rolex that Fleming attributed to Bond in a novel was an “Oyster Perpetual with large luminous numerals”. At the time, the only Rolex model that fit that description was the famed Explorer reference 1016, which Fleming himself had on the wrist. 

What to Look For in a Rolex Explorer Alternative

If you’re looking for a watch with a similar style and quality to the Explorer without the hefty price tag, read on. Here are some things to consider when searching for an alternative to the Rolex Explorer.

For starters, consider the movement. The Rolex Explorer uses an in-house automatic movement, which is renowned for its precision and reliability. Look for watches with a similar quality movement from reputable manufacturers like Seiko or ETA.

Secondly, examine the materials used in the watch. The Rolex Explorer uses high-quality stainless steel for its case and bracelet, with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal protecting the dial. Look for alternatives with similar materials and craftsmanship, such as titanium or ceramic cases and sapphire crystal glass.

Thirdly, consider the design of the watch. The Rolex Explorer has a simple yet elegant design with a black dial and minimalistic hour markers. Look for watches with a similar design aesthetic and unique features that set them apart from other watches on the market.

Finally, consider the brand reputation and customer service. Look for brands with a history of producing quality watches and offering excellent customer service. Read reviews and ask for recommendations from fellow watch enthusiasts. We think the following list checks all of those boxes and more.

The Best Rolex Explorer Alternatives

1. Tudor Ranger (ref. M79950-0001)

Tudor Ranger (ref. M79950-0001)

Tudor has quite the back catalog from which to choose. The Tudor Ranger is one of the most obvious examples of this competitive advantage. Taking obvious design cues from the famed Rolex Explorer reference 1016, the Tudor Ranger is quite the rugged steel piece in its own right. 

With classic lumed 3 6, 9, and 12 Arabic indices, a signed screw-down crown offering 100 meters of water resistance, and a near-perfect 39mm diameter, the Ranger couldn’t possibly be a better Rolex Explorer alternative than it already is. What’s more, available on either a steel oyster style bracelet, a hybrid rubber and leather strap, or a classic nato strap, the watch works with just about any style.

2. Omega Railmaster (ref.

Omega Railmaster (ref.

The original 1957 Railmaster was developed for use by rail workers, scientists, and anyone else who worked near strong magnetic or electrical fields. It was designed to withstand up to 1,000 gauss without losing any time.

Today, most luxury watches are designed with this type of magnetic resistance in mind. But that doesn’t make the Railmaster any less special. It has a beautiful classic dial design, harkening back to some of the first Seamasters.

Furthermore, it has a comfortable case size of 40mm, an impressive water resistance of 150 meters, and a classic Omega steel bracelet. It also has beautifully executed Arabic 3, 6, 9, and 12 indices. You couldn’t ask for much more in a classically beautiful steel sports watch from a name that commands respect.

3. IWC Spitfire (ref. IW326801)

IWC Spitfire (ref. IW326801)

IWC has always been known for its amazing pilot watches. Gorgeous references like this Spitfire are exactly why that reputation continues to this day. The easy-to-read dial is the first thing you may notice, but there’s so much more to this watch just beneath the surface. 

IWC’s in-house caliber 32110 movement offers a beautifully finished 21-jewel mechanical work of art that produces an incredible 72 hours of power reserve. The 39mm size, convex anti-reflective sapphire crystal, and convenient date window make this one of the best everyday watches available for the price. It’s hard to go wrong with any watch from IWC; this one is a real looker.

4. Bell & Ross  BR V1-92

Bell & Ross  BR V1-92

Bell & Ross is a greatly underappreciated watch, which also makes them a great deal. This model is a great alternative to the Rolex Explorer, especially for those who want a slightly larger watch. At 41mm, it’s great for almost any sized wrist but works especially great for those who might find the Explorer a bit too diminutive at 36 or 39mm. It also has the added benefit of a rotating timing bezel, which is something you won’t find on the Explorer. 

With Super-LumiNova-coated Arabic numerals, 100 meters of water resistance, and a gorgeous black calfskin strap, you won’t be left out with this beauty on your wrist. It also has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, so don’t be afraid to take this one hiking, swimming, or anywhere else you may roam.

5. Tudor Black Bay 36 (ref. M79500-0007)

Tudor Black Bay 36 (ref. M79500-0007)

Much is made of the iconic Black Bay 58, but the Black Bay 36 is no slouch. As the name would suggest, it has a classic size of 36mm, making it the same size as the original Rolex Explorer 1016. However, the Black Bay 36 also boasts a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a signed screw-down crown offering 150 meters of water resistance, and 38 hours of power reserve. 

With a movement based on the bulletproof ETA 2824-2, this watch is just as good for daily wear as it is for international espionage. Giving it an extra boost is the fact that it shares a strong link with Rolex in both heritage and market cache.

6. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra (ref.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra (ref.

The Aqua Terra is perhaps the most versatile watch in Omega’s entire catalog. While it retains the classic Seamaster DNA with dagger indices and 150 meters of water resistance, it gives off a more refined look that blends in at a cocktail party better than a clunky diver. 

It has an AR-coated sapphire crystal, a gorgeous display caseback, and Omega’s patented coaxial escapement, making it a high-tech stunner. The “just right” 38mm case size, coupled with the textured striped dial, make this one of the coolest watches on the market. Add the convenient date function and 55-hour power reserve, and the Seamaster Aqua Terra beats all comers.

7. Longines Conquest Automatic (ref. L3.776.4.58.6)

Longines Conquest Automatic (ref. L3.776.4.58.6)

If you’re looking for the perfect alternative to the 39mm Rolex Explorer, look no further. Longines have created a great option with many of the same characteristics as the Rolex, but with a little bit of its own personality. 

Large Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 and a date window at 3 o’clock give this watch a balanced and legible look. It also has an impressive water resistance of 300 meters, a screw-down crown with ample crown guards, and a hefty power reserve of 64 hours. The diminutive 39mm size makes for a great dress or sports watch on the go.

8. Oris Classic Date (ref. 01 733 7594 4034-07 8 20 61)

Oris Classic Date (ref. 01 733 7594 4034-07 8 20 61)

Oris is one of those watch brands that seems to be underrated by many watch collectors, but that allows for some great deals. The Oris Classic Date is a beautiful dress-style watch that also works great with a casual outfit. This silver dial beauty includes Arabic 3, 9, and 12 indices and a great size of 42mm.

The jubilee-style bracelet is flashy yet classy, and the display caseback allows you to view the gorgeous automatic movement under the sapphire crystal. This watch is pure class. While it might look a little dressier than some other options on this list, it still gives off those Explorer feels.

9. Sinn 556a

Sinn 556a

Sinn makes some great utilitarian tool watches at reasonable prices. The 556a is no exception. It has solid stainless steel construction, lumed 3, 6, 9, and 12 Arabic indices, and a supple leather strap. Few watches carry so many of the characteristics of the Rolex Explorer but with so much of its own personality. 

The scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and 200 meters of water resistance make this a really rugged watch with classic styling. This one seems just as comfortable in the water as it does at 10,000 feet.

10. Ball Engineer II Ohio (ref. NM2026C-S5J-BK)

Ball Engineer II Ohio (ref. NM2026C-S5J-BK)

Ball is a brand inextricably linked to the history of railroad and railroad timing. That’s why this model is called the Engineer II. It has great looks, including a mix of dagger indices, Arabic numerals, and a day date function. It also has a water resistance of 100 meters and a diameter of 40mm, making it a great everyday watch. 

Similar to the Omega Railmaster, also on this list, the Engineer II Ohio takes some of the best features of a dive watch. It seamlessly adds them to a classic railroad timing watch to offer the perfect hybrid option.

11. Seiko Alpinist SPB117

Seiko Alpinist SPB117

The Seiko Alpinist is a highly respected model by not just Seiko aficionados but also the watch greater watch-collecting world. With its gorgeous handset and classic design, it’s definitely a great option for exploring any environment. While it’s available in multiple colorways, this black dial model gives vintage vibes with a cool and modern twist. 

While it’s a great-looking watch, this Alpinist model has some serious outdoor street cred. It’s got a screw-down crown with 200 meters of water resistance and a sapphire crystal. It also has a mineral crystal caseback allowing you to see the solid Seiko automatic movement, which boasts an impressive power reserve of 70 hours. The watch has a perfect size of 39.5mm, making it big enough for legibility, but it still offers the compact comfort of a good field watch.

12. Fortis Spacematic (ref. 623.10.18.LP.10)

Fortis Spacematic (ref. 623.10.18.LP.10)

Fortis makes a lot of really great watches. The Spacematic is one of the best. It has a straightforward design and a great engine under the hood. It has a Swiss automatic movement, 100 meters of water resistance, and hits the 40mm sweet spot of diameter. The large 12, 6, and 9 Arabic numerals make the dial attractive and easy to read. 

What’s more, the Spacematic also includes a convenient day date function, which a lot of simple watches like this one don’t usually have. Fortis gives you a lot of bang for the buck with this great Rolex Explorer alternative.

13. Smiths Everest

The original Smiths Everest is a watch closely tied to the Rolex Explorer. It’s said that Edmund Hillary carried both a Rolex and a Smiths watch to the summit of Everest. The fact that he apparently wore neither hasn’t stopped either brand from claiming to be the first watch at the summit. 

This current Everest model is a throwback to those early days of mountaineering. It has a classic size of 36mm and lumed Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9. It also includes a water resistance of 100 meters, automatic movement, and highly convenient drilled lugs. If you want a watch closely tied to the Rolex Explorer but don’t want to explore your wallet too much to buy it, then the Smiths Everest is the watch for you.

14. Nivada Grenchen Super Antarctic 3.6.9

Nivada Grenchen Super Antarctic 3.6.9

Nivada Grenchen, similar to Smiths, is a brand that was popular in the early 20th century and has been recently resurrected under a new ownership group. The Super Antarctic 3.6.9. shares quite a lot design-wise with the classic Rolex Explorer reference 1016. 

From the faux patina to the lumed Arabic numerals, Nivada Grenchen opted for a highly nostalgic aesthetic with this model. It includes an automatic movement with 38 hours of power reserve, a diameter of 38mm, and 100 meters of water resistance. While it may look vintage, the AR-coated sapphire glass reminds you that this is a high-quality modern watch with vintage looks.

15. Lorier Falcon SIII

Lorier Falcon SIII

Lorier makes microbrand watches with the feel of a heritage brand. The Falcon SIII offers the perfect mix of vintage and modern vibes. While it takes design cues from the Rolex Explorer and other classic field watches, it updates that aesthetic with a more contemporary textured dial and all the trappings of a modern steel sports grail piece. 

It has a classic size of 36mm, a Japanese automatic movement, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, Super-LumiNova on the Arabic numerals, 100 meters of water resistance, and three micro-adjustment positions on the clasp. This little watch really packs a punch.


While the iconic Rolex Explorer can never truly be replicated, it’s possible to find an affordable alternative that shares a bit of the Explorer’s basic identity. Ruggedness is one of the most important aspects of the Rolex Explorer’s DNA, and that’s what every watch on the list above has in spades. Everything else is window dressing, and it’s up to you to decide what other features of the watch are important to you. 

Regardless of which one you choose, you’re sure to get years of enjoyment out of every single one of these watches on our list. Maybe you should even grab more than one. After all, what’s the fun of life if you don’t spend it exploring? 

To Top