Unless you have been living under a rock these past couple of years, you know about the rising prices of Rolex watches. Whether you want to buy your one favorite Rolex, are investing in Rolex timepieces, or want to build a collection, you will need to bring some serious cash to the table. Last year, Chrono24 author Donato Andrioli wrote about the perfect three-watch Rolex collection for $30,000. This year, we would like to take it up a notch as prices have risen to even higher levels. So, I have put together the perfect three-watch Rolex collection for $50,000. Sure, it’s a tremendous amount of money that the majority of us don’t get to spend on watches, but nevertheless, it’s nice to think about. For the people who do have that kind of spending power, I hope this will inspire you to consider one or more of the Rolex models on this list. You may be surprised to find some less common versions of the Genevan brand’s most famous timepieces.
Rolex No. 1: The Modern Daily Wearer
Similar to Donato, I want to give this three-watch collection some thought. While selecting a collection of watches is often a matter of personal taste, it is definitely interesting to focus on a theme or find some balance in the way you make your choices. The first watch I would go for is a modern daily wearer. This needs to be a Rolex that you could easily wear in a variety of situations, from work to leisure, formal to informal. A stainless-steel Rolex sports watch, such as the Rolex GMT-Master II “Pepsi,” would be the perfect pick because it suits almost any situation. The downside of picking a Rolex GMT-Master II with the iconic Pepsi bezel, however, is that it would easily eat half your budget (or more) with prices starting at roughly $25,000 on Chrono24. The current Rolex Submariner would be another perfect pick, but also a rather obvious one. Plus, since Donato already featured it in his article, I’ll have to pass. No, the modern Rolex that I have been really impressed by these last couple of years is the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 ref. 124300 with a silver dial.
While the most popular Rolex Oyster Perpetual models over the past few years have been the discontinued ones with the colorful dials, this is the watch for me. It is versatile in its appearance, and the beautiful dial tone looks incredibly stylish in combination with the gold accents. It gives the watch a presence that is perfectly suited to a wide range of situations. Its almost understated look is classy but versatile enough to be your daily wearer. The other advantage it has over the more colorful Oyster Perpetual models is that it is a lot more affordable. You can buy this version of the ref. 124300 new with box and papers for between $10,000 and $12,000. This will get you a perfect daily wearer that doesn’t eat up too much of your budget.
Rolex No. 2: The Perfect Vintage Icon
My next pick is a personal favorite and one that has come back into the spotlight recently. During Watches & Wonders 2022, Tudor introduced their new Black Bay GMT in steel and gold. The watch resembles the iconic Rolex GMT-Master “Root Beer” models from years gone by. While Tudor perfectly combines vintage looks with modern-day technology, in this case, nothing beats the original. The Rolex GMT-Master “Root Beer” models were produced under several different reference numbers. Obviously, there is the current GMT-Master II ref. 126711CHNR, which is a great watch but lacks the charm and presence of the vintage models. With that in mind, I would pick an early GMT-Master “Root Beer” from the 1970s or 1980s. That’s when Rolex introduced the steel-and-gold GMT-Master ref. 1675/3, the first model to be known as the “Root Beer.” Over time, the watch also became known as the “Tiger Eye” or “Clint Eastwood,” because the famous actor was often spotted wearing one.
Rolex had already been producing solid gold GMT-Masters equipped with a brown dial (they are also awesome), but the ref. 1675/3 was the first reference in steel and gold with a brown dial and bicolor brown and gold bezel. It came with the standout golden hour markers that earned the dial its nickname: the “nipple dial.” Lastly, buyers had the choice of an Oyster or a Jubilee bracelet. If you are a true baller and want a Root Beer in all its glory, the Jubilee bracelet is the only way to go. If you search for a “Root Beer,” you can either opt for the first generation ref. 1675/3 from the 1970s or its successor ref. 16753 from the 1980s. Considering the updated movement and production quality, I would pick the latter. It is an incredible vintage Rolex that oozes that typical eighties elegance and style. The modern versions from both Tudor and Rolex simply cannot match the style and charm of the original. If you search on Chrono24, you will find that you can buy a Rolex GMT-Master ref. 16753 for around $15,000. Considering the prices for some of the other vintage icons, that is very affordable. Plus, it’s very likely that this will go up in value thanks to the introduction of the new two-tone Tudor Black Bay GMT. So, it’s a winner in every way possible.
Rolex No. 3: The Ultimate Wild Card
If we add up the prices of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual and the Rolex GMT-Master “Root Beer,” we are left with roughly $24,000 to spend on another great timepiece. With that money, I would go for the ultimate Rolex, or maybe even the ultimate luxury statement piece: the Rolex Day-Date. It is almost hard to believe, but you can buy a solid gold Rolex Day-Date for less than a steel Rolex Daytona or GMT-Master. Our budget would get you an 18-karat yellow gold Rolex Day-Date with a champagne dial and baton hour markers. There are obviously more dial colors and variations with diamonds and Roman numerals out there, but leave those – go for the original!
So, why is this ref. 18238 such a great Rolex Day-Date reference? It is actually the first Day-Date with the double quickset feature, which allows you to easily adjust the day and date displays. It’s a super handy feature because it keeps you from having to endlessly turn the crown when correcting either. This was made possible by Rolex’s then-new caliber 3155 from 1988. Many Rolex fans find the double quickset function absolutely crucial for the Day-Date, and that’s why the ref. 18238 is a great buy. But be sure to look into the condition of the bracelet; I would urge you to look out for a bracelet in pristine condition. They are definitely out there. The Day-Date ref. 18238 was produced until 2000, and for $24,000, you will have plenty of options. You might be thinking, why not go for its successor Day-Date ref. 118238? Isn’t it even more modern? You’re right! That’s another great pick, as it came with an upgrade to the clasp and bracelet but still uses the same movement. Unfortunately, it’s tough to find for the budget we’re working with. The iconic ref. 18238, on the other hand, is easy to find for $24,000 or less, so you will have the chance to get one in great condition and wear it for years to come. After all, once you have found the perfect Day-Date, you will probably never want to get rid of it. It is the ultimate Rolex luxury statement.
There you have it, the perfect way to spend $50,000 on three Rolex watches. Obviously, there are many more possible combinations depending on your personal preferences. If you find yourself in a position to spend $50,000, then I have nothing more to say than happy hunting!