It was a Rolex on the wrist of Sir Malcolm Campbell when he broke the sound barrier in 1935, and when members of the Hillary expedition made the first ascent of Everest in 1953, we’ll give you one guess at what they were wearing.
Starter collector: Explorer
Rolex watches in their purest sense have always been designed and built to complement specific tasks or professions. A Submariner is called a submariner because it’s a dive watch; the Daytona is a racing chronograph, and the Explorer was made to survive years of beating in hard environments – and still get the job done.For all these reasons, a Rolex is a great place to kick off a watch collection. As well as being notoriously tough and reliable, it is a testament to their design that many of the models have been tweaked only very subtly since the pieces were first introduced.
The world of new and vintage Rolex is a treasure trove that deserves exploration. They have some of the highest residual (or resale) values amongst any watches thanks to their enduring popularity among collectors, and having graced the wrists of luminaries from Churchill to Clapton, Paul Newman to Pablo Picasso, it’s not hard to see why Rolex wears the crown.
Intermediate collector: GMT-Master
Developed at the request of Pan American Airways to provide its crews with a dual time watch in the mid-1950s, the GMT-Master features a bi-directional two-tone bezel for easy indication of day vs night when used across different time zones. The original red and blue bezel (affectionately known as the ‘Pepsi’ bezel) marks the GMT as one of the most distinctive travel and sports watches around.
Next-level collector: Cosmograph Daytona
The new Cosmograph with black Cerachrom bezel was one of the standout hits of this year’s BaselWorld watch fair, but it is on the vintage market that Daytonas really come into their own. Steel Daytona models in rare configurations from the 1970s and earlier have a cult following amongst collectors, prized for their classic looks, versatile styling and high resale values. Problem is, they’re not easily obtained.