You could buy a nice, simple new or vintage Rolex watch and be very happy. You could, however, be an avid (or soon-to-be-avid) collector, in which case nothing but the rarest, most obscure Rolex in order to one-up your Rolex collecting brethren will do. That’s partly why old Rolexes make such great grail items — there are plenty out there, but specific references are rare and hard to find, making the search for the watch itself part of the thrill of owning one. Or, you can just click “add to cart” for any of these three rare references. Up to you.
1965 Rolex Submariner ‘Bart Simpson’
What we like: This Submariner reference 5513 features a gilt (gold) printed dial, and that’s almost enough to love this particular watch. Look at the Rolex logo, however, and you’ll find it’s different from what you normally see printed on a Rolex dial. Instead of an elongated, pointed crown it’s overall more stubby, somewhat resembling the top of Bart Simpson’s head. These dial variations were only made for a short period of time during the mid-’60s, hence their premium.
From the seller: The case has previously been polished and has some wear from use; there is some bubbling on the dial surface. Running at COSC spec.
1970 Rolex Sea-Dweller ‘Double Red’
What we like: The early Sea-Dweller “Double Red” is distinguished by its two red lines of text reading “Sea-Dweller” and “Submariner 2000.” Rolex would later get rid of the Submariner moniquer (due to confusion with Rolex’s entry-level diver) and switch the red lettering to white for the sake of legibility. The red letting, however, is undoubtley the more attractive option, likely why the 2017 refresh of the Sea-Dweller features red letting priminantly in the same spot at the bottom of the dial.
From the seller: Minor scratches throughout clasp; minor markings at crystal; light wear throughout bracelet. Scratches throughout.
1968 Rolex Daytona ‘Paul Newman’
What we like: For every one “Paul Newman” dial Daytona, there are 20 regular Daytonas. Originally these “Exotic” dial Daytonas were unloved by consumers, often sitting on dealer shelves for months going unsold. If it weren’t for Paul Newman wearing his daily for decades, it wouldn’t be the icon it is today. There are seemingly endless rare watches in Rolex’s back catalog, but the Daytona remains one of the brand’s most sought-after models, owing to their six-figure price tags today.
From the seller: Original case has been lightly polished in the past, however lugs remain thick and even. Original and excellent three-color Paul Newman dial is in mint condition with all lume plots intact.