The Best Rolex Watches To Buy In 2022

Show the world you've made it with some of the best Rolex watches for men.

‘Aspiration’ is a word that is often used when we talk about watches. Something that shows others who we are, where we’re at, and the direction we’re heading in. What a Rolex says is something a little different, things like ‘I’ve made it’, ‘catch me if you can’ and ‘I bet you wouldn’t mind being me?!’

Although most people will associate Rolex watches with Switzerland like the majority of major watch manufacturers, the brand was actually founded in London, England, in 1905. Back then the company was called Wilsdorf and Davis. It wasn’t until after the First World War in 1919 when the company upped sticks and moved to the more neutral (and more tax-friendly!) surroundings of Geneva that the watchmaker took on the name it is so fondly known as today.

Since those humble beginnings, Rolex has led from the front in terms of design and innovation. In 1926, they produced the world’s first-ever waterproof watch, the Oyster, with its airtight casing that ensured optimum movement when in and around water, and even sat on the wrist of Mercedes Glieitz as she swam for 10 hours non-stop across the English channel. This flirtation with swimming propelled Rolex into other sports and even aviation – and was seen by many during the era as the innovative time teller for innovative times.

In more recent years Rolex has been about perfecting their creations, incorporating small, yet effective, details into their designs to maximise functionality, practicality and overall aesthetic – whilst testing the limits of an everyday watch. These days, Rolex is perhaps the world’s most iconic luxury brand and one of the world’s biggest watchmakers.

Despite the fact that Rolex makes thousands of watches a year, their insane popularity means it’s often exceedingly difficult to purchase one at retail. Waiting lists for popular models can extend into the years. If there’s a particular model you’re after, we recommend scouting out your retailer of choice, building up a relationship, and being patient.

RELATEDRolex Watch Prices You Can Expect To Pay In 2022

Whilst you’re waiting, here’s our list of the best Rolex watches to buy in 2022.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 (ref. 126000-0001)

Reference Number: 126000-0001
Case Size:
36mm
Material: Stainless Steel
Bracelet:
Oyster
Price:
AU$8,150

Let’s kick things off with the Oyster Perpetual, Rolex’s entry-level model. Available in a wide variety of case sizes, dial finishes and materials, it’s a no-nonsense time-only piece that is as close to ‘affordable’ as a Rolex gets.

This 36mm silver dial model is as plain-jane and unassuming as Rolexes come… But actually, that’s what makes it so cool. It’s the epitome of stealth wealth.

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Rolex Datejust 41 ‘Mint Green’

Rolex Datejust 41 ‘Mint Green’ (ref. 126334-0028)

Reference Number: 126334-0028
Case Size:
41mm
Material: Stainless Steel / White Gold
Bracelet:
Jubilee
Price:
AU$14,300

Next up we have the Datejust, which is similar to the Oyster Perpetual but includes a date window, visible through a magnifying ‘Cyclops’ lens. The Datejust is one of the most versatile watches in Rolex’s catalogue and continues to be a popular choice among collectors.

Also, like the Oyster Perpetual, the Datejust comes in many different sizes, case materials and so on. This example is made from Oystersteel (what Rolex calls their proprietary stainless steel alloy) with a white gold fluted bezel, is mounted on a Jubilee bracelet (one of a few signature Rolex bracelet designs) and features an in-demand mint green dial, a new option introduced in 2022.

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Rolex Submariner ‘No Date’

Rolex Submariner (ref. 124060-0001)

Reference Number: 124060-0001
Case Size: 41mm
Material: Stainless Steel
Bracelet: Oyster
Price: AU$12,600

The Rolex Submariner is arguably the most recognisable watch on the planet. First introduced in 1954, it was the first watch to be waterproof up to 100m, and while few professional divers wear Submariners on the job these days, it remains one of the most popular luxury dive watches on the market.

While most Submariners Rolex makes today feature date windows, this one doesn’t, much like the original model. It’s the most ‘pure’ Submariner – and also the cheapest, at least at retail. Because the Submariner is one of Rolex’s most popular models, waiting lists for the watch are exceptionally long.

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Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Pepsi’

Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Pepsi’ (ref. 126710BLRO-0002)

Reference Number: 126710BLRO-0002
Case Size:
40mm
Material:
Stainless Steel
Bracelet:
Oyster
Price:
AU$14,800

The Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Pepsi’ is one of the most coveted Rolex models – even people who don’t know anything about watches have heard of the ‘Pepsi’. The nickname (which, by the way, is totally unofficial – you’ll never hear Rolex calling it a Pepsi) comes from its red and blue bezel. These days, the GMT-Master II comes in a number of different bezel colour combinations, but red and blue is the OG colourway.

It’s a GMT watch, which means it can tell the time in multiple time zones – a very practical complication, especially if you travel frequently. Indeed, the watch was originally designed in collaboration with Pan American Airways for use by their pilots and navigators back in 1954.

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Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ‘Panda’

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ‘Panda’ (ref. 116500LN-0001)

Reference Number: 116500LN-0001
Case Size:
40mm
Material: Stainless Steel
Bracelet:
Oyster
Price:
AU$20,400

Ahh, the Daytona. Rolex’s famous chronograph is inarguably the brand’s most sought-after model and waiting lists for stainless steel examples like this one are as much as 5 years long. This one’s called the ‘Panda’ thanks to its white and black look.

As it happens, Paul Newman’s personal Rolex Daytona holds the record for the most expensive Rolex and third most expensive watch ever, having sold at auction back in 2017 for a whopping US$17.75 million.

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WATCH our guide to the most expensive Rolex watches of all time below.

Rolex Day-Date 40 ‘President’

Rolex Day-Date 40 ‘President’ (ref. 228238-0003)

Reference Number: 228238-0003
Case Size:
40mm
Material: Yellow Gold
Bracelet:
President
Price:
AU$52,850

No other watch screams ‘old money’ quite like the classic Rolex Day-Date ‘President’. The nickname specifically refers to the yellow gold version of this watch on a ‘President’ bracelet and refers to the fact that every US President from LBJ to Clinton wore one of these bad boys while in office.

As the name implies, it features a day and a date window, the former spelling out the day of the week in full. The Day-Date is only ever made in precious metals (primarily gold) and is available in 16 different languages. This year, Rolex even released a fully platinum version of the Day-Date – but the buttery, yellow gold President is a timeless classic.

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Rolex Explorer II ‘Polar’

Rolex Explorer II ‘Polar’ (ref. 226570-0001)

Reference Number: 226570-0001
Case Size:
42mm
Material: Stainless Steel
Bracelet:
Oyster
Price:
AU$13,300

Often mistaken for a GMT-Master II, the Rolex Explorer II is also a GMT watch, but is slightly larger at 42mm and features a fixed stainless steel bezel as opposed to the ceramic-topped directional bezel of its more famous sibling.

It also features a stark white dial (hence ‘Polar’) although it’s also available with a black dial if the white look is too much for you. We love the orange GMT hand and dial lettering… Honestly, we’re not sure why more people don’t buy a Polar over a Pepsi, for example.

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Rolex Yacht-Master II

Rolex Yacht-Master II (ref. 116680-0002)

Reference Number: 116680-0002
Case Size:
44mm
Material: Stainless Steel
Bracelet:
Oyster
Price:
AU$26,300

The Yacht-Master II is perhaps Rolex’s most misunderstood watch. Not only is it one of the biggest Rolexes currently in production at a hefty 44mm, but it also features a rather unusual complication: a regatta timer.

A regatta timer is used to count down the amount of time remaining before yachts competing in a race are allowed to cross the start line – a highly specialised and complex complication. Few Yacht-Master II owners use their watch for its intended purchase. But it’s pretty cool, right?

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Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Sprite’

Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Sprite’ (ref. 126720VTNR-0001)

Reference Number: 126720VTNR-0001
Case Size:
41mm
Material:
Stainless Steel
Bracelet:
Oyster
Price:
AU$15,500

Unveiled this year at Watches & Wonders Geneva and also called the ‘Destro’, the Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Sprite’ is one of the most unusual and out-there watches Rolex has released in years. It’s a left-handed watch (i.e. designed for those who wear their watch on their right hand) but unlike most leftie watches, the date window and the crown are mounted at 9 o’clock instead of 3 o’clock.

If that wasn’t unusual enough, the Sprite/Destro also features a brand-new and totally exclusive bezel colour combination, black and green. While it’s designed for lefties, people of all sorts of handedness have been snapping these up, and demand is fierce.

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Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea D-Blue ‘James Cameron’

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea D-Blue ‘James Cameron’ (ref. 136660-0003)

Reference Number: 136660-0003
Case Size:
44mm
Material: Stainless Steel
Bracelet:
Oyster
Price:
AU$20,000

If the Submariner’s 300m of water resistance isn’t enough for you, then there’s the Sea-Dweller. On top of that, you’ve got the Deepsea, Rolex’s biggest and most capable dive watch, which is rated at 3,900m. It’s easily distinguished from other Rolexes and Submariners thanks to its thick rehaut and date window sans Cyclops lens.

This reference’s ‘D-Blue’ dial commemorates movie director and aquanaut James Cameron’s record-breaking 2012 solo descent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Earth’s ocean, in the Deepsea Challenger submersible.

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Rolex Sky-Dweller

Rolex Sky-Dweller (ref. 326238-0009)

Reference Number: 326238-0009
Case Size:
42mm
Material: Yellow Gold
Bracelet:
Oysterflex
Price:
AU$56,450

The Sky-Dweller is Rolex’s youngest model, having only hit the market in 2012, and is one of the brand’s largest and most unique watches. It’s Rolex’s first and only annual calendar timepiece – which also happens to feature dual time zones – and is an interesting hybrid between a dress watch and a tool watch. It’s also a rather hard Rolex to acquire, especially this reference on Rolex’s super-comfy hybrid rubber ‘Oysterflex’ strap.

A GMT watch like the famous GMT-Master, the Sky-Dweller has a truly unique approach to telling time that’s quite unlike any other watch. The dial of the Sky-Dweller indicates the local time and date via the centre hands and 3 o’clock date window – so far, so normal – but also indicates the month by the small rectangular windows next to the hour markers, which change from white to red. The 24-hour disc in the middle of the dial displays a second time zone, intended to be your home time.

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Rolex Air-King

Rolex Air-King (ref. 126900-0001)

Reference Number: 126900-0001
Case Size:
40mm
Material: Stainless Steel
Bracelet:
Oyster
Price:
AU$10,350

From the hyped to the overlooked: the Rolex Air-King is an unassuming time-only piece that used to be one of the easiest Rolexes to get at retail – but thanks to a 2022 update, the spotlight’s been shone on the Air-King again.

The new Air-King now features a crown guard and the five-minute marker now read ’05’ instead of simply ‘5’, giving the watch a more symmetrical and consistent aesthetic.

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Rolex Cellini Moonphase

Rolex Cellini Moonphase (ref. 50535-0002)

Reference Number: 50535-0002
Case Size:
39mm
Material: Rose Gold
Bracelet:
Leather
Price:
AU$37,750

The Cellini is the most atypical Rolex of all: highly dressy and without many of the same design codes as other models, it’s always been an outlier and in our opinion, criminally underrated.

Not only is the Cellini Moonphase the only watch Rolex currently makes with a moonphase complication (go figure) but it’s also the only model currently available on a leather strap and features a unique-for-the-brand date hand. It’s nice, it’s different, it’s unusual.

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Rolex Watches FAQs

How to tell real Rolex watches from fake ones?

Fake watches are getting very good and closer to the real thing these days. A tell-tale sign a Rolex is fake is if its second hand stops at each second marker instead of sweeping smoothly (which indicates a quartz movement instead of an automatic movement – Rolex don't make quartz watches anymore). It's our recommendation that if you're looking at buying a watch second-hand then buy it from a reputable dealer.

How much are Rolex watches?

The price you can expect to pay for a Rolex will, unsurprisingly, fluctuate depending on which model you want. A Rolex watch starts from about US$6,000 / AU$8,000.

Why are Rolex watches so expensive?

In short, we would say two things: brand prestige, and scarcity – Rolex only releases a limited amount of their most popular models.

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