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Top 5 Vintage Watches from Rolex

Top 5 Vintage Watches from Rolex

Katharina Giffey

The watches from Rolex remain timeless and stable in value, even as the years go by. We dived deeper into some of their vintage models to present to you the five most affordable vintage watches from Rolex that should be on your radar.

Radiance, patina, colour of the indices and hands:

Vintage watches from Rolex are very popular with collectors as every watch enthusiast knows that buying a vintage model is anything but a short-lived hype, but a safe investment – if you do it right, that is. A Rolex Sea-Dweller Double Red costs less today than it used to. But with most vintage sports watches from the Geneva-based manufacturer, you will invest your money wisely. Keep reading to learn more about the top five of Rolex's most affordable vintage watches to look out for where the value retention will not disappoint you.

1. Rolex Submariner Reference 5513

The Submariner is possibly THE flagship of Rolex and enjoys cult status. You do not do wrong to call this watch the mother of all modern sports and diving watches. One of the most affordable vintage watches of this series is the Submariner Reference 5513 Maxi Dial. It was produced for over 25 years, which is quite a long period for Rolex. You get less exclusivity with Reference 5513, but the production period proves one thing for sure: this reference is a piece of history.

The earliest (and most expensive) model of Reference 5513 was produced until the mid-1960s and is distinguished by its gilded, high-gloss dials. In the 1970s, the design was modified with a matt dial. Ten years later, the last generation was produced with a modern high-gloss dial and white gold border on the indices.

Those looking for the most affordable version of the 5513 reference should look for models with a matt dial. A well-preserved watch in its original condition is in the five-digit range and will not lose its value.

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2. Rolex Oysterdate Reference 6694

Minimalism and timeless elegance: The Rolex Oysterdate Reference 6694 knows how to shine with its simplicity and is considered as an entry-level model in the breathtaking world of Rolex watches. If you prefer a silver, black or deep blue dial and a stainless steel or gold case, this reference – produced between 1960 and 1980 – is the perfect choice for you. 

Whether for women or men, the Oysterdate 6694 is a true all-rounder and a stylish choice for every wrist. Most characteristic of the Reference is its manual winding: although it belongs to the era of Oyster Perpetuals and sports watches, the hand-wound caliber 1225 ticks inside it. It is, nevertheless, an Oyster through and through. This is proven by both its water-resistance of up to 100 meters and its screw-down crown. But don't worry – despite the screw-down crown, this vintage watch can keep up with new editions. Even after years, the Reference 6694 still has the solid construction that distinguishes Rolex watches. A well-preserved model costs usually between 2,000 and 4,000 Euros.

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3. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Reference 1002

The automatic movement Caliber 1560 is ticking in the Oyster Perpetual Reference 1002 and the signature at six o'clock indicates that it is a chronometer-certified movement. This Reference runs on no less than the movement that powered the early sports watches of the 1950s and 1960s which makes the watch a real value proposition at entry-level. You pay up to 3,000 Euros, whereby 1002 references with rarer variations can cost up to 7,000 Euros.

In addition to the classic Oyster case and screw-down crown, the Reference comes with luminescent indices. Furthermore, you can choose from a large number of variations: Linen, Tiffany embossing, slate grey, blue, black and much more – keep your eyes open in the market for vintage watches from Rolex and you will quickly find what you are looking for.

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4. Rolex Datejust References 1601 and 1603

If you're looking for an affordable model that carries the history of Rolex inside, you'll be in good hands with the References 1601 and 1603 of the Datejust. The References from the 60s and 70s feature the now classic Rolex design and form the foundation of the manufacturer: acrylic glass, strap lugs, Oyster or Jubilé bracelet. You will particularly find versions with silver dials on the market, but breathtaking variants with sigma dials or gold indices can also be found.

The Datejust Reference 1601 and 1603 are slightly more expensive than some of the models presented, but you also get "more watch" for your money (between 4,000 and 5,000 euros): the References have a diameter of 36 mm, a robust chronometer-certified calibre with date function and are designed in the characteristic Rolex aesthetic.

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5. Rolex Air-King 5500

In 1945, the first Rolex Air-King was launched on the market. The cheapest model in this historic series is the Air-King Reference 5500, which was produced for over 30 years. You can definitively say that this Reference belongs to the oldest versions in the history of Rolex.

The 34mm diameter Air-King is similar in design to the Oysterdate and the Oyster Perpetual. However, it is the historical charm of the Air-King that makes the hearts of watch lovers beat faster. Actually, this series belongs to the underdogs of the Geneva Manufacture: you can purchase rare examples of the Air-King at a comparatively affordable price.

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