Vintage Rolex Dealer’s Opinion of the Three Best Value Rolex Watches

With the used Rolex market blowing up, good deals aren’t exactly commonplace. It seems like the longer one hesitates to grab that 14060 Submariner, or the 1675 GMT, the faster prices go up – and this is on a daily basis! If you want a great Rolex, watch but without paying ever-increasing prices, you have to look to different references. Luckily, there are a few out there with prices that won’t cause you to “spit take”. Let’s take a look at a few of my favorites.

Rolex Explorer I 14270

Few Rolex sport watches have the heritage of the Explorer I: summiting of Mt Everest, the British North Greenland Expedition, Antarctica exploration, Ian Fleming’s personal timepiece, etc. In fact, the Explorer I was the culmination of many years of attempting to create a watch that could stand up to the elements during extreme outdoor activities. After two distinct references (the original 6610, followed by the 1016), the 14270 carried on the provenance with class and style.

explorer i vintage 14270

With the 14270, Rolex brought the Explorer I into modern times, while still keeping the size and simplicity of its predecessors. Early examples of the 14270 even have tritium dials, which should tick the “future vintage” box for some collectors. Now, some may balk at the 36mm diameter, but what explorer wants a monstrosity hanging off their arm, prone to knocking on boulders and to cause shoulder fatigue from natural arm-swing? Seriously, let’s just stop with the huge watches, their time has come and gone. After a bit of searching, you should be able to lock down a 14270 Explorer I for about $4,000. That’s a small price to pay for a watch that’ll outlive you and any silly trends that might pop up.

Rolex Datejust 16200

What can be said about the Datejust that can’t be said about the Swiss rail system? It’s clean and simple, accurate and reliable, and affordable for all, from the upper class down to the middle-upper class. Okay, that last bit was a joke, but Rolex watches can never be classified as “cheap”. With that said, the older Datejusts are a relative bargain when looking across the Rolex spectrum. What’s more, they’re absolute classics.

Trends come and go, but an all-steel, 36mm Datejust is hard to beat. I prefer a silver dial with stick markers, smooth bezel, and Oyster bracelet when it comes to DJs. It’s a watch that fits with practically every situation, and it looks good on an array of straps. It might be a little “vanilla”, but it’s a great everyday watch that won’t let you down. Regarding price, you won’t have to look hard to find one for $4,000 on the nose. As the 116200 gets further into production, I won’t be surprised if that number drops further in to the $3,000 range.

Rolex Explorer II 16570

With a production run of over 20 years, logic follows that there are millions of Explorer II reference 16570s out there. Then, logic should continue to follow that on the second hand market, examples of 16570s can be found without much trouble. Combine this bulletproof logic with the fact that the Explorer II has never been the big seller that its cousins – the Submariner and GMT Master – have been, and you’ve got yourself a buyer’s market.

I see the Explorer II as a chance to get the toughness of a Submariner or GMT Master without opting for a prototypical Rolex. Despite some similarities, the Explorer II is truly its own beast. Originally intended for caving, the Explorer II is ready for just about anything, especially with the jump hour functionality of the caliber 3185/3186. With prices sitting at least $1,000 below comparable Submariners and GMT Masters, there’s no better time to add a 16570 to your collection.

explorer II 16570

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