While modern Rolex watches are packed with all of the latest and greatest technologies and materials, it is the vintage market where all of the record-breaking valuations occur. Rolex watches that are still in production have a finite limit for how much their values can increase, since a brand-new example of the watch can always be secured directly through an authorized dealer at its regular MSRP retail price (although sometimes not without enduring an extremely long waitlist).
Much like antiques, vintage watches frequently derive their value from the fact that they are no longer in production, and the surviving examples still in existence are all that there will ever be. Additionally, since many of the older Rolex watches were treated roughly and without the same degree of care and consideration that modern Rolex watches experience, a large number were lost or destroyed throughout the years, further limiting the number of surviving examples in existence today.
The top 3 hottest Rolex right now are the reference 116500 Daytona, reference 116610 Submariner, and the reference 116710 “Batman” GMT-Master II. At the present time, all of these watches are selling on the pre-owned market above their respective retail prices. The reasoning for the high prices on the pre-owned market lies in the limited availability of these highly sought-after watches. One can purchase one of these at an undetermined (later) date, after spending a lengthy period of time on a waitlist; or, that same watch can be purchased pre-owned (at market price) and can be worn that very weekend.
Much like the reference 116500 Daytona, the all-green version of the reference 116610 Submariner, quickly grew in popularity, and soon experienced a demand that exceeded the number of reference 116610 “Hulk” Submariner watches that Rolex manufactured each year. For the first half-century of its existence, Rolex’s stainless steel Submariner was a watch with a black dial and a black bezel insert; however the option of bright green for the reference 116610 Submariner quickly became a popular target for collectors, and pre-owned prices soon exceeded those at authorized retail locations.
116710 “Batman” GMT-Master II
A third, contemporary, stainless steel Rolex sport/professional model that has experienced appreciation in a relatively short amount of time is the reference 116710 “Batman” GMT-Master II. First announced at Baselworld 2013, the “Batman” GMT is identical to the regular reference 116710 GMT-Master II, except for the blue coloration its of 24-hour hand and bezel insert. Much like the reference 116610 “Hulk” Submariner, the reference 116710 “Batman” GMT comes with a minor premium in retail price over its all-black counterpart; however just a few years after its initial release, pre-owned examples are selling at or above retail prices.