Watches | November 7, 2018 9:00 am

The 5 Most Coveted Rolexes on Earth

According to the world’s leading Rolex expert


Quite possibly the best-known purveyor of luxury anything, much less watches.

It’s an aspirational status symbol. A family heirloom. And, for a timepiece, a surprisingly smart investment.

But we don’t have to sell you on them.

We’ll leave that to Paul Altieri, CEO of the world’s number-one Rolex dealer. He also owns 300 of ‘em — for personal use.

We asked Altieri for his five most coveted Rolexes, including one so rare even he can’t get his hands on it.

As InsideHook’s resident watch expert noted last year: “Rolex is one of the most recognized luxury brands in the world. A lot of folks don’t know any different. And some don’t realize there’s any different to know. But Rolex has a long and storied history of building not just one of the world’s most beautiful watches, but also one of its most functional.”

For Altieri, the obsession started early.

“I think it started when I was caddying at Alpine Country Club in Rhode Island,” he says. “It was this aspirational thing — I thought, ‘When I grow up and can afford one of those, I’m going to get one.’”

He now runs Bob’s Watches (also known as the “Rolex Exchange”), the oddly common name for perhaps the world’s largest vintage Rolex dealership. Altieri, who sounds like Joe Pesci but runs a tight ship (extremely transparent pricing for buyers and sellers, to start, as well as a recent move into financing for more aspirational customers), has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Maxim and Time, the latter wherein he said a Rolex is one of the only timepieces that actually appreciates in value.

For a man steeped in the company’s history and products, even he has a few favorites. His top five (prices are estimates based on recent listings on the Bob’s Watches site, may not reflect current pricing):

Daytona 116500
“The new ceramic Rolex Daytona can outclass, outshine and outmuscle any of its predecessors that get in its way. I think it’s destined to become one of Rolex’s most famous designs. It’s a brilliant pairing of vintage looks and modern watchmaking, a statement piece that says you’re more at home behind the wheel of a Ferrari than chained to a desk. And it packs a ton of panache, harking back to the ’60s Daytonas made famous by Paul Newman, which go for ten times as much. I can barely keep up demand. The ceramic bezel makes it appear a little larger than the steel version it replaced. I could sell 30 of these in a week.” ($16,295)

GMT-Master II “Batman”
“Rolex releases new models every few months, and the aficionados come up with nicknames. This one is called Batman because it’s blue and black, a really cool color combination. Along with its ceramic bezel, that helps it really stand out on your wrist. When I get one of these on the site, it’ll sell in about 15 minutes.” ($8,595)

Explorer II
“This model is an unapologetically brave Rolex for men who have nothing to fear from too much torque, adventure and exposure to the sun. Also, the orange hand and print contrast really nicely with the jet black dial. It’s a larger watch (42mm case) but it’s a great seller, even though it’s been out for a while.” ($6,295)

Deepsea Sea-Dweller
“This is my favorite dial from a modern Rolex, a royal blue/black combination with green lettering. For larger men, this is a great watch — it’s a little big (44mm). Also: It’s waterproof to 12,800 feet, and the innovative helium escape valve is perfect for decompression.” ($10,995)

Submariner “The Hulk”
“When it first came out about five years ago, I wasn’t a big fan. Too much green! But I’ve started to really like it. It’s a hot model for us. And the Submariner always has been, and always will be, the world’s best all-around sports watch; it’s cutting-edge engineering with bespoke craftsmanship and looks to kill. Also, while we’ve seen a gradual price increase of 5-15% on most models, models like the GMT and the Submariners appreciate more than others.” ($8,095)

Originally published May 19, 2017