The luxury watch hobby has been called many things in the past, but cheap is certainly not one of them.
It’s also true that the forces of supply and demand play a large part in the prices paid for watches of all brands. Yet none other has risen as the Genevan watchmaking powerhouse, Rolex.
This should not come as a surprise, though. A watch brand recognized the world over for opulence and prestige didn’t achieve its status via accessible pricing and widespread distribution.
Fortunately, those in the market for an affordable Rolex need not despair. We’ve gone out and gathered some of the best examples and presented them on this page.
We start with the best value Rolex models that can be found on the pre-owned market. Alternatively, and since not all are comfortable with going pre-owned, we’ve presented the cheapest Rolex men’s model from the current catalog.
Make sure to check out both parts to get the best view of the lowest-priced Rolex watches available today.
Cheapest Rolex Watches For Men
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Ref. 15200 – Pre-Owned – $1,000-3,000
- Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph Ref. 1625 – Pre-Owned – $1,500-3,500
- Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust Ref. 17013 – Pre-Owned – $2,500-10,000+
- Rolex Datejust Ref. 16234 – Pre-Owned – $3,000-5,000
- Rolex Explorer I Ref. 14270 – Pre-Owned – $4,400-7,000
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 Ref. 114300 – NEW – $5,700
It’s clear to see by the list above that the most economical Rolex models are generally older ones. This is due to them being less well-known, in addition to the fact that many watch consumers don’t turn to pre-owned when buying.
Nevertheless, there is a ton of value, variety, quirkiness, and uniqueness to be found just beneath the surface. There’s also plenty of information online (on sites like this one) that will help you expand your knowledge and get more altogether out of each luxury watch purchase.
See Bespoke Unit’s Watch Reviews
The Most Affordable Men’s Rolex Watches
Before diving into the Rolex models that will give you the most bang for your buck, there’s something to remember whenever talking pre-owned watch purchases.
The pre-owned watch space offers an incredible amount of value when compared to purchasing new, but one should always tread carefully. The old saying “if it’s too good to be true…” is perhaps more pertinent than ever in this instance.
One should always deal with a trusted seller, and should try to employ a middleman platform that guarantees the satisfaction of both parties. Some sort of return policy is always reassuring, as are warranty policies in case mechanical issues arise.
You are spending a significant amount of money on a watch that can bring you a lot of enjoyment for many years to come. Make sure that your chosen timepiece is not marred by a poor purchase experience.
OK – enough talking, let’s get into the watches.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Ref. 15200 [Pre-Owned: $1,000-3,000]
Although the price range may make the Oyster Perpetual Date sound like a boring and uninspiring watch, it’s easy to see that its anything but.
This often overlooked Rolex Date model actually brings a lot to the table considering the prices at which it can be purchased.
Of course, there’s the look of the pre-Super Case Rolex, made even more unique by its traditional 34mm size. Moreover, there’s a large assortment of dial options offering plenty of different styles.
The Oyster Date is also refined enough to wear formally, particularly in examples such as the blue sunray above. With its current pre-owned price, it’s also the Rolex you can actually wear like a sports watch knowing that since it’s already survived for 25+ years, it can probably take a bit more.
Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph Ref. 1625 [Pre-Owned: $1,500-3,500]
The Turn-O-Graph was for a long time a sub-model within the Datejust line until its discontinuation in 2011. The reference 1625 highlighted here is one of the earlier versions from the 1960s.
The Turn-O-Graph AKA the Rolex Thunderbird is marked by its distinct rotating bezel. Indeed, the Datejust had a rotating bezel before the Submariner came to be, at least publicly.
While the 1625s you may find will probably be 50+ years old, the looks are surprisingly similar to that of modern Datejusts. Most notably the baton indices, the date with cyclops at 3, and the design of the three hands at center.
But there’s also the bit of character brought on by age and wear. There’s a reason why modern brands keep making vintage-inspired models even though true patina can’t be beat by the widespread “vintage” Super-LumiNova.
More than just an old-but-cool Datejust with a rotating bezel, the watch is the epitome of a timeless Rolex design. And at this price, they’re almost too good to pass up.
Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust Ref. 17013 [Pre-Owned: $2,500-10,000+]
Yes, Rolex made quartz watches! When the quartz revolution swept the industry, Rolex also attempted to ride the wave. The result was the Oysterquartz Datejust.
A sign of the times when it was released, the Oysterquartz Datejust fuses the familiar Datejust dial and gold fluted crown with an integrated two-tone bracelet. It’s essentially a futuristic Datejust from the ’70s.
And a especially attractive one, too. While all-steel models exist, we think there’s something better about the steel and gold 17013. It may just be difficult to say no to Rolex gold, namely at this price.
After seeing everything that the Swiss watchmaker has conceived since the Oysterquartz demonstrates what a one-of-a-king design this is from them, and why this may be one to hold on to if you pick it up.
Yet another historic Rolex watch, seemingly undiscovered by the masses. Although perhaps to our advantage, it’s not certain to remain that way for much longer.
Rolex Datejust Ref. 16234 [Pre-Owned: $3,000-5,000]
The ref.16234 Datejust is yet another older style of Rolex that puts forth various propositions that, quite honestly, can’t be had with a modern production example.
You may even find that some collectors will choose the older style of Datejust even when they’d be able to purchase one of the modern references. As we alluded to earlier, there’s just something special about how Rolex timepieces used to look, especially considering how much they have changed in the present-day.
The Datejust 16234, as with many of the other affordable Rolexes on this list, offers plenty of options for all kinds of different looks. There’s ton of different dials, from baton to numeral indices, along with many varied colors like salmon, and even textures such as that of the tapestry dial.
The 16234 also looks particularly attractive on a leather strap, and can even be sported on NATO or other type of fabric strap. The watch can easily dress up or down right along with you, making for the ideal affordable option when looking for an every day and every activity Rolex timepiece.
Rolex Explorer I Ref. 14270 [Pre-Owned: $4,400-7,000]
The ref. 14270 is the predecessor to the predecessor of the current Rolex 214270 (Retail $6,550), with its aesthetic offering a similar profile to the Datejust but with a much sportier look.
It boasts the first lacquer dial of the Explorer I line, along with white gold indices and white gold Mercedes hands, both of which are lumed. The lume can vary with the age of the watch, and make for some very attractive patina.
On patina: we previously discussed the same occurrence in our review of the Rolex Explorer II 16570 Polar. Since the watch was produced during Rolex’s transition period from Tritium luminous to Super-LumiNova, there’s a ton of choice with regards to the weathering of the luminous.
Examples from the earlier production years will show a highly-desired orange discoloration on its luminous. This effect further enhances the vintage character and feel of the watch, making each example much more unique.
Naturally, the better looking patina will come with a higher price. Be warned though – the whole sector of Rolex steel sports watches is rising, so patina or not, the Explorer I 14270 may not be a watch that remains a cheap Rolex watch for much longer.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 Ref. 114300 [MSRP: $5,700]
Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual line is one that has seen itself completely overshadowed by the most popular models like the Submariner and the GMT-Master. Fortunately, those who dare to look a bit deeper into the catalog will be pleasantly surprised by what they may find.
The Oyster Perpetual ticks all the boxes to be part of the steel sports model craze, though luckily it does not command the price premium.
Rolex sports watch? Check. Steel Oyster case? Check. Steel Oyster bracelet? Check.
This 114300 also touts a beautiful Dark Rhodium dial possessing luminous hour indices, white gold center hands, white minute markings, and an additional flash of electric blue accompanying each hour marker.
Last and most particular may be the sizes available. While our favorite is the 39mm, Rolex also offers the Oyster Perpetual in 26mm, 31mm, 34mm, and 36mm. Added to the almost endless varieties of dial colors, including the unique Red Grape variant, the OP line offers more choice for a single model than most brands do in their entire catalog.
The variety, along with the sub $6,000 price point, may just earn the Oyster Perpetual 39 the title of most underrated Rolex sports watch for men of the modern day. Who could’ve guessed it would also be one of the cheapest?
Looking for more watch content?
Check out some of our other horological guides below, and stay tuned for fresh watch guides every week:
- Rolex Explorer II “Polar”: Owner’s Review After 18 Months Of Wear
- The Most Expensive Rolex Watches Ever Sold
- Comprehensive Rolex Brand Guide: History, FAQs, & Models
- Luxury Chinese Watch Brands You Should Know
- All Of Our Watch Reviews
"Great selection of Rolex watches. It's surprising to see that such cool Rolex models can be had for a fraction of what a new one costs at the dealer."Rating: 5.0★★★★★