Another Friday, another Top 5! Last week’s list focused on the best recently released German watches. It was a fun exercise with some great additions in your comments, Fratelli! Thanks for that. This week, we’ll turn to a different kind of list. During one of our weekly editorial meetings, we started discussing the fact that some of the current Rolex models can be bought at or under their retail prices. And that goes for both brand-new and pre-owned options. For this list, we have picked five current Rolex models with interesting price tags. Is now the right time to buy a Rolex at a good price? These five watches might suggest so.

After multiple years of the sky seemingly being the limit, it’s hard to believe that the Rolex bubble has burst. Or shall we say that it has begun to return to normalcy? What I can say is that it brings a smile to my face as I have no desire to buy a current Rolex model over its list price. Unfortunately, the reality is that not all models are available at their list price or below. However, we have selected five Rolex models that could be yours for less than their official retail price. We would love to hear whether you think that is surprising or expected. What comes as no surprise is that the selection is all about models in gold or steel and gold. So, without further ado, let’s find out more.

rolex watches under retail GMT-Master II

Image: The Watch Club

Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126715CHNR

Let’s start this list with the rose gold Rolex GMT-Master ref. 126715CHNR. This modern “Root Beer” is a stunner of a watch that was introduced in 2018. It was actually the first Everose Rolex GMT-Master II ever produced. This watch features a 40mm rose gold case that is 12.3mm thick, 48mm long, and 20mm between the lugs. The bezel has a black and brown Cerachrom insert, the modernized version of the brown and gold “Root Beer” bezel inserts of decades past. The watch comes on a brushed Everose Oyster bracelet with polished center links and a beautifully executed clasp to finish the look. Topping the black dial are rose gold markers and hands, including a rose gold GMT hand.

Image: The Watch Club

Rolex equips the watch with its caliber 3285. The modern automatic GMT movement operates at 28,800vph and has a 70-hour power reserve. This is a stunning piece, and when looking for a gold GMT, this would be a great pick next to the ref. 126718GRNR that came out earlier this year. The price for this gorgeous “Root Beer” has come down slowly on the pre-owned and gray markets. Its official retail price is €39,600 (differing slightly by country due to VAT percentages), but you can get a pre-owned one starting at roughly €35,000 and a new one for around €37,500. This scores you one of the most eye-catching modern Rolex models there is.

Rolex Explorer Small Watches

Rolex Explorer 36 ref. 124273

As I said in the intro, this list is full of gold and steel-and-gold bliss. One of the two-tone models that you can get under retail is the Rolex Explorer ref. 124273. If you’ve read last week’s Sunday Morning Showdown, you might know that I am not a fan of this Explorer. Something about the iconic Explorer looks with the combination of steel and gold just doesn’t add up for me. Having said that, there are plenty of people, including Fratello team members, who really dig this watch. Rolex introduced the steel-and-gold Explorer in 2021. It was one of the few Rolex models that wasn’t previously available in Rolesor (the brand’s term for the combination of yellow gold and stainless steel).

The two-tone Explores features a 36mm case that is 11.5mm thick, 45.5mm long, and 20mm between the lugs. It gives you the familiar, iconic looks of the Explorer, including its perfectly balanced black 3-6-9 dial. The watch comes on an Oyster bracelet in steel with polished yellow gold center links. Inside the case, Rolex uses its caliber 3230. This automatic movement operates at 28,800vph and provides 70 hours of power reserve. The list price of the ref. 124273 is €11,550. However, a quick scan of Chrono24 shows that you can get a pre-owned version starting at roughly €9.5K, with a new version starting at just over €10,000. That’s well under its retail price.

Rolex Yacht-Master 42 ref. 226659

If you want a watch that has a bit of that popular stealth-wealth appeal, how about the white gold Rolex Yacht-Master ref. 226659 on an Oysterflex bracelet? The Yacht-Master models on the Oysterflex bracelets are some of my Rolex favorites. They combine a precious metal case with black rubber for a great look. Next to the 40mm rose gold version and the newly introduced 42mm yellow gold model, this 42mm white gold variant is perfect proof of the brilliant aesthetic.

The white gold case measures 42mm × 50mm × 11.5mm and has a 21mm lug spacing. Rolex equips the watch with its caliber 3235. Like the no-date caliber 3230 in the Explorer, this movement operates at 28,800vph and has a 70-hour power reserve. As mentioned, the white gold case with its matte black bezel insert with glossy numerals is paired with a black Oysterflex bracelet that makes this a stunner. I love the dial design with the oversized white gold markers. It feels very nice, especially knowing that this is a 42mm model. The retail price is €29,950, but you can get a pre-owned one starting at roughly €26,000 and a new one for around €28,500.

Image: The Watch Club

Rolex Day-Date 40 ref. 228239

Staying with white gold Rolexes, have you ever thought of buying a Day-Date? While the 36mm Day-Date in yellow gold would be the way to go for me, I do have a giant soft spot for the 40mm model in white gold. It is less flashy than a yellow gold version, and it also has several spectacular dials to choose from. Two regular dial options for the white gold Day-Date 40 ref. 228239 that immediately stand out are the green and blue dials. The green version is an absolute beauty. While you can get either one for under the €40,800 retail price, the blue dial is more widely available.

Rolex watches under retail

Image: The Watch Club

Just as a reminder, the ref. 228239 has a 40mm white gold case that is 12mm thick and 47.4mm long with a 21mm lug spacing. Inside it, Rolex uses its automatic caliber 3255. Like most modern Rolex movements, it beats at 28,800vph and has a 70-hour power reserve. This watch comes on the majestic President bracelet that finishes the impressive looks perfectly. You can get your hands on a pre-owned example with a blue dial starting at roughly €37,000, while a new version would start at €39,000. It’s close to its retail price, but you’ll be able to save some money in the end.

Rolex Submariner Date ref. 126619LB

The last watch on our Top 5 list is my absolute favorite. While I disagreed with Robert-Jan in last week’s Sunday Morning Showdown that a two-tone Sub is better than a stainless steel one, I do have a great love for full-gold Submariners. The absolute best one for me is the white gold Submariner Date ref. 126619LB with a black dial and blue bezel insert. In my opinion, that combo is magic, and together with white gold, it creates an almost misleading aesthetic that oozes class while maintaining those iconic tool-watch looks of the Submariner. This watch replaced the ref. 116619 “Smurf” in 2020 and looks even better if you ask me.

Its white gold case measures 41mm wide, 12.3mm thick, 48.2mm from tip to tip, and 21mm between the lugs. Like the previously mentioned Yacht-Master, it houses the Rolex caliber 3235 with the same specs. The watch features a beautiful white gold Oyster bracelet with polished center links contrasting the brushed outer links. When it comes to prices, the retail is currently is €41,200. However, if you decide to go pre-owned, you can get it starting at roughly €31K. A new gray-market version will start at roughly €35,000. This makes finding this stunning version of the Submariner under its list price not too hard at all.

Final thoughts on the Top 5 current Rolex watches you can buy under retail

While it’s still impossible to find any current stainless steel Rolex sports model under its retail price, there are quite a few gold and steel-and-gold models that are. I realize that four of the five watches featured today have serious price tags, even pre-owned. But overall, it’s been a nice exercise to see where the prices have dropped below the RRP. Except for the two-tone Explorer, I think all of these are amazing watches that I wouldn’t have guessed would dip below their retail prices. In particular, the Everose GMT-Master II and the white gold Submariner were nice surprises as they are such stunning pieces. But I’m sure there are more options out there that you guys will love. So let us know in the comments section which of the current Rolex models that you can buy under retail is your favorite. We’ll see you next week for a new Top 5!