Which Entry-Level Rolex is Best

Article By: Logan Hannen

Aug 21, 2018

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to take a look at the best entry-level Rolex!

Disclaimer: Rolex is a weird brand. I mean, it’s no secret that we love them, but they do have some weird things when it comes to pricing and what constitutes “entry-level” for the brand. Now, we’re going to focus on two vintage and two modern models here, because otherwise this whole article would be the phrase “Datejust 1601” over and over and over again (I’m just partial to the 1601, but really any Datejust would work). Nobody wants to read that.

So looking at modern Rolex, there are two pieces that I would consider to be entry-level. These are pieces that generally retail for under $8,000 USD, since most of the icons of Rolex don’t really start until that price and, kind of by definition, entry-level in the luxury market usually excludes the icons of a brand (one of the notable exceptions being the Speedmaster or, you could argue, the JLC Reverso, both of which come in certainly lower than you’d expect as a base model). We also won’t be looking at pre-owned prices, because those can vary so much depending on condition and model that we’d be here all day trying to break it down and make sense of it.

Disclaimer #2: We’re pulling the “new” prices from Govberg, since they’re one of the only Rolex ADs I can find with the selection to make this article work and, more importantly, their pricing is listed on their website.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 Dark Rhodium Dial ref. 114300
Source: Monochrome

Modern Rolex #1: Oyster Perpetual
The most affordable modern Rolex model line, by far, is the Oyster Perpetual. It’s the classic, time-only line of watches with a more experimental range of colors and dial configurations than most other lines have, and at just over $5,000 new, in most cases, it offers easily the best value in modern Rolex.

Rolex Air King Ref. 116900
Source: Govberg

Modern Rolex #2: Air King
This Air King, listed by Govberg for about $6,200 new. More expensive than the Oyster Perpetual line, the Air King of today has some seriously controversial styling decisions on the dial. If you can get past that, though, you’re still getting a 40mm Oyster Case in steel with the precision of a Rolex movement, and a pretty slick color scheme in my opinion. Marmite watch, for sure, though.

Vintage Rolex Reference 1601
Source: Theo & Harris

Vintage Rolex #1: Rolex Datejust
There’s not much more ranting and praising we can do about the Rolex Datejust Reference 1601, but seriously, just go check out Christian’s love letter to his personal Datejust to get a sense for what the hype is about. It’s classy, timeless, with a beefy Oyster case and crazy versatility. Oh, and they can be had for around $3500 so I mean, what’s not to love in terms of price?

Rolex Submariner ref. 5513
Source: Fratello Watches

Vintage Rolex #2: Submariner (reference 5513)
Last, but certainly not least, we have the Submariner Ref. 5513, and, I’ll be honest, not every example can be found at the under $8k mark. That being said, there are a good few that can and, for what you’re getting (arguably the most classic Submariner reference there is), that isn’t a bad price to pay. I wouldn’t totally trust it when it comes to water resistance, it being a vintage watch and all, but for what it is, it’s hard to beat.

If I had to choose between those four? I’d probably go for the Oyster Perpetual 39mm with the blue dial. Blue has always been my favorite modern dial color from Rolex, and at $5,700 or so, it’s hard not to find the value in that. Ultimately, though, the choice is yours, so long as you remember to keep it classy, watchfam.