Rolex Price Appreciation and Watches Below Retail

Posted by Charles T. on August 26, 2020

These days, the Rolex brand has become synonymous with long dealer waitlists and aftermarket markups. In this post, we take a look at the history of Rolex price appreciation, and present some current models available near or below retail price.

The chart below depicts asking prices and volume of all Rolex trade activity on a quarterly basis, based on our private sales data. While we expect a continual increase due to inflation, there’s something more going on here.

According to the U.S. inflation calculator, a dollar in 2010 is equivalent to $1.19 in 2020 – a 19% increase. This inflation rate is very much in line with Rolex’s list price increases. When the Rolex Submariner 116610LN was first released in 2010, it retailed for $7,250. Today it retails for $8,950 – a 23% increase.

But how has the Rolex market behaved in the same period? While inflation has raised prices by about 20% in the past decade, the average Rolex in 2010 traded for only $5,200. Fast forward to today, and it now trades for $10,600 – an increase of 104%!

Furthermore, while most Rolexes traded significantly below retail in 2010, we all know that’s no longer the case for most steel sports models or desirable precious metal models such as the impossible-to-find white-gold GMT-Master II.

Rolex Watches Below Retail

While you can’t expect to find a current-generation Submariner, GMT-Master, Daytona, or even Explorer without a waitlist or markup, there are some (relatively) affordable collections and models that are the exception to this rule. Here’s four.

Rolex Yacht-Master


If you’re looking for the Rolex sports watch look – namely cyclops and rotating bezel – the Yacht-Master is your only option at or below retail. If you’re looking for a bigger discount, you could also opt for the previous 116622 reference, of which there are plenty of examples around.

According to our data, the 126622 trades at only a few hundred dollars below list price and brand new examples will cost more. But we found this example listed at $11,595 from a reputable seller just a month ago. Check out our price guide to see what’s available.

Rolex Datejust 36

© Monochrome Watches

If you want a Datejust, in my opinion the 36mm reference 126234 is the way to go. A classical size for Rolex’s most classical watch, a perfect combination – especially with the fluted bezel.

According to our data, it’s definitely easier to find deals on this model below retail. While unique dial variations or gem-set dials will cost more, we did find this recent example with a stunning blue dial priced at $8,250 from a reputable seller.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39

© Monochrome Watches

The OP39 is the go-to alternative to the Datejust if you don’t want a date or cyclops. The styling is a bit more modern, but you still have a bunch of dial variations to choose from – my favorite being the rhodium dial. The Oyster Perpetual is also available in 36mm, 34mm, 31mm, and 26mm sizes.

According to our data, it’s possible to find this watch on the secondary market at a slight discount below retail. Here’s an example listed for sale earlier today for $5,350. While the grape dial might not be everyone’s thing, it doesn’t appear that this dial variation trades for significantly less than the others.

Rolex Milgauss

© ABlogToWatch

The Milguass might be the most quirky watch Rolex produces, with a green crystal and lightning bolt seconds hand that pays tribute to its roots. If you’re looking for the most un-Rolex Rolex available, this is it.

The GV has been in production since 2007, so you have the advantage of finding for an older model if you’re looking for a bigger discount. A 2010 example with full kit was recently listed for $7,250 – a steep discount indeed for a steel Rolex.


The unfortunate truth for Rolex enthusiasts is that even these four models only offer a slight discount below retail, and finding one priced so is not easy. The private sales market and a good dose of patience is your best bet to finding the best deal possible.

Of course, there’s more substantial discounts available for precious metal or ladies’ Rolexes. These options don’t serve the bulk of the market, which is why they are more discounted and readily available.

Which would be your pick of these four models presented? Are there any models that I’m missing? Join in the discussion below!