I’ve often quite unironically told friends and family that if they ever win the lottery, they should seriously consider going to their nearest Rolex dealer and buying as many Rolexes as they can. Why? Well, firstly, it’s one hell of a fantasy – one that even people who don’t really care about watches love to indulge in. More pertinently, however, it’s actually just a good financial strategy.
A Boston Consulting Group report published earlier this year in March found that prices for Rolex watches have appreciated by an average of 20% a year since mid-2018 – outpacing the S&P 500 Index by a significant margin.
According to that same BCG report, the secondary luxury watch market also grew to $24 billion USD last year compared to the primary retail market (which was worth $55 billion USD) and it’s expected to grow 9% a year to $35 billion USD by 2026 as prices rise and more people begin collecting watches, Australian Financial Review relates.
All of this is to say that investing in luxury watches actually makes a lot of sense – and there’s no better brand to invest in than Rolex. At the same time, the secondary watch market is notoriously fickle and hard to predict.
But according to Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of leading watch marketplace Bob’s Watches – and one of the world’s foremost authorities on Rolex watches – there’s one model that’s a bellwether for all other watches in the market, Rolex or otherwise.
WATCH our guide to the most expensive Rolex watches of all time below.
The model in question? The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ‘Panda’ ref. 116500. This stainless steel chronograph is one of the most coveted mainstream luxury watches and easily one of the most iconic modern Rolexes.
“The Rolex Daytona. One of my favourite customers once quoted, ‘buy any Rolex model you want as long as it starts with a ‘Day’ and ends in ‘Tona,'” Paul tells DMARGE. He elaborates:
“The Rolex Daytona ‘Panda’ dial has served as a bellwether indication of where values and prices are today in the secondhand market. Prices for this model about a year ago peaked at almost $50,000 USD and then started a gradual decline to about $32k five months ago.”Paul Altieri
“Today, they are gradually bouncing back and are now at about $34k to $35K which indicates that the market is still very resilient,” Paul points out.
It’ll be interesting to see in the next couple of months to years, however, if prices for the ref. 116500 Daytona Panda will soften as more of the new ref. 126500 start to make their way to the secondary market.
That said, it’s fair to say that ref. 116500 prices will remain a bellwether for the secondary watch market for a long time to come, thanks to the watch’s popularity and prolificacy.
The new Rolex Daytona
The ref. 116500, which was first introduced in 2016 and was the first Daytona to feature a ceramic bezel, has been replaced by the new ref. 126500, which was introduced at Watches & Wonders Geneva earlier this year.
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The ref. 126500 is easy to distinguish from the ref. 116500 thanks to the new model’s metal ‘lip’ around its ceramic bezel. It features a new movement, the calibre 4131, which incorporates a number of the major innovations that Rolex has brought to its latest movements, including a Chronergy escapement.
However, those distinctions are probably lost on many Daytona buyers, who are probably more interested in the Daytona Panda’s look, cultural cache and investment potential rather than what’s under the hood…