In the pantheon of luxury goods, Rolex has a unique spot: The word conjures up not a logo or a covetable item, but rather the very idea of a beautifully made and enduring timepiece. It is nearly synonymous with the word heirloom, and for that reason, the replica watchmaker has earned an enormous and loyal following around the world.
For many, buying new gives them instant access to this legacy, but collectors and connoiseurs want something more, a watch with history as well as pedigree. The value of rare models reaches stratospheric heights at some of the biggest auction houses in the world. Phillips, Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Antiquorum have all set records prices for notable Rolex replica watches that have come up for auction.
Here’s a look at the most impressive Rolex replica watches-and current models that let you own a piece of that storied past.
Datejust: Rare Functionality
For their 40th Anniversary in 1945, Rolex introduced the Datejust model. It depicts the hours and minutes with a distinctive “Cyclops” magnifying date lens added during the 1950s. While variations of the classic watch change little over time, the current model is offered in “Rolesor,” an attractive combination of gold and steel unique to swiss Rolex.
Rolex Reference 6062, from the 1950s, is a very rare exception to a brand that otherwise abstains from too many complications. One of only two Rolex replica models to feature a yellow gold triple calendar with a moon phase, the watch is nicknamed the “Stelline” because of the fabulous star-shaped indices. The “Stelline” will be coming to auction at Phillips upcoming “Rolex Milestones” auction on November 28th in Hong Kong with an estimate of $300 – $600 and is expected to bring in much more.
Explorer: History and Provenance
Created for a couple on their 1953 expedition to Mount Everest, the Rolex Explorer was designed to perform flawlessly in extreme conditions. Able to withstand enormous changes in temperature and pressure, the giveaway black dial that’s still seen on the replica watches today features oversized and luminous 3 – 6 – 9 numerals and indices, a distinctive feature of the highly legible waterproof watch.
One of the most expensive examples of such a watch is the 1953 Submariner. The watch, complete with the customized circular buzz saw bezel and case signed by a legendary actor, came up for auction last year and sold at Phillips for an astonishing $365-even though it no longer told time.
Air King: The Importance of Tiny Details
Introduced in 1957, the Air King is considered one of the more enduring and accessible Rolex models. Intended to appeal to members of the armed forces and aviators during the Second World War, the Air King made a welcome return to the current cheap Rolex collection for 2016. The new dials feature a unique two-color (yellow and green) Air King logo, a detail that will most likely become an essential design element for future collectors years.
Proof that small details like the uniquely colored logo can add incredible value? Look no further than another Rolex model, this Oyster “Panda” Ref. 6263. It’s similar to the Air King in its specific, rare design elements. For example, the Panda, which takes its nickname from the handsome white dial with black sub-dials resembling a panda’s face printed underneath the brand’s logo, also features a Tiffany & Co signature as its mark of distinction. This one-of-a-kind Daytona was sold on November 13, 2016 at Phillips Geneva for $882,740.