Rolex surprised the watch world in two ways in 2020. Firstly, the fact that we got new releases at all, after a tumultuous first half of the year in which Baselworld was canceled and Rolex shut down their factories for 45 days. Secondly, when Rolex did announce the new 2020 releases on September 1st, the watches were also immediately made available for purchase; traditionally, it would be months until retailers started receiving shipments of watches after Rolex announced them.
The simultaneous debut and public availability of these new models was a smart business move for Rolex, as it allows consumers to immediately act on the hype that the new releases created – though for most of us that means getting on a waitlist as opposed to getting the actual watch.
While you may be familiar with the Rolex Hulk market skyrocketing overnight overnight after it was discontinued, other 2020 discontinuations haven’t received the same level of interest or public scrutiny. In this article, we’ll take a look at the biggest gainers – and some losers – among the collection of Rolex discontinuations this year.
The results might surprise you.
Discontinued Rolex Submariner Prices
Many expected that the “11” generation of Rolex Submariners would be up for discontinuation this year, in favor of the new “12” generation of watches that has been rolling out collection-by-collection the last few years. Common among the changes to the latest generation are an updated movement (caliber 3235) and a slight modification of the dial, with the addition of a Rolex crown between the words “Swiss” and “Made” at the 6 o’clock position.
As such, speculation was abound and Submariner prices started rising as soon as early as July, when Rolex first announced that they would be releasing new watches later on in the year. But across the board, how have things performed since then?
Immediately, we see that the Hulk (reference 116610LV) is the odd one out, though there has been a softening of the Submariner market across the board in the past month or so. Yet unlike the others, the Hulk still trades for significantly higher what it did pre-discontinuation. I believe the primary cause of this is the lack of a Hulk-equivalent in the current lineup, and its recognition as a special edition release for Rolex.
How does it compare to the new 2020 Ceramic Kermit? Preliminary data for the reference 126610LV shows that it trades for around $19,400, which is still higher than the Hulk’s current market value of just under $19,000.
However, these watches are still quite scarce and the market could soften as availability increases. But at the moment, the Ceramic Kermit seems comparably desirable despite the hype for the Hulk, with both trading at significantly above MSRP.
Discontinued Rolex Oyster Perpetual Prices
While the new generation of Submariner was the major announcement that most people had their eyes on, the biggest gainer among discontinued Rolexes of 2020 is in fact not a Submariner at all, but rather a Oyster Perpetual.
In what can only be described as a puzzling move, this year Rolex quietly discontinued the Oyster Perpetual 39, reference 114300, in favor of a larger 41mm model, the reference 124300. I was personally disappointed by this, as 39mm is seen by many (including myself) as the perfect sized watch, especially fitting for a more conservative design like the Oyster Perpetual’s, or if you have smaller wrists.
Additionally, there aren’t many modern 39mm watches in the Rolex lineup to begin with. Aside from the OP39, only the Explorer I reference 214270 comes to mind. The OP39 is the perfect Rolex for someone who respects the brand but wants to avoid drawing unwanted attention, but at 41mm it’s leans on the larger side for many people.
So far, the market seems to have agreed. The Hulk currently trades at around $18,500, which is about $1,500 (or 9%) higher than its pre-discontinuation price. In comparison, the Oyster Perpetual 39 currently trades at around $7,400, which is nearly 30% higher than its pre-discontinuation market price of $5,700!
In fact, current market prices of the 114300 are actually a few hundred dollars higher than the new 41mm 124300 on average, though both trade above $7,000. While the Oyster Perpetual is supposed to be an entry level model for the brand, that amount of money could have bought you Submariner a few years ago!
Despite the global pandemic, it seems clear that the Rolex market hasn’t slowed down much – if at all – due to this hype of the new discontinuations and releases this year. As we head into the holiday season, it’ll be interesting to see how prices develop and if supply is able to keep up with demand.