Rolex is a world-famous Swiss luxury watchmaker. Currently headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the private company was founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis.
Known for its lineup of uber-expensive watches, Rolex is the go-to brand for people interested in putting on luxurious timepieces for their wrists. But just how much can a Rolex watch command in the market? Check out the top 10 most expensive Rolex watches in the world and see for yourself.
10. Steve McQueen’s 1967 Rolex Submariner
In 2009, Steve McQueen’s 1967 Rolex Submariner sold for $234,000 at an auction event by Antiquorum. The Reference 5512 was first produced in 1967 and does not include a date indicator. In terms of design, the watch looks undoubtedly vintage.
The watch might seem pretty ordinary to common folks. But obviously, the design or the material used had nothing to do with the price. The fact that it was once owned by Steve McQueen guaranteed the watch to command a massive price in the auction market.
Dubbed “The King of Cool,” Steve McQueen was an American actor. He was one of the most popular actors during the 1960s and 1970s and was known for being able to command large salaries out of movie studios. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance in The Sand Pebbles.
9. Paul Newman Ferrari Red Rolex Daytona
The Paul Newman Ferrari Red Rolex Dayton is the first of two watches associated with actor Paul Newman on this list. The watch was inspired by Ferrari and features a red-and-black dial, making it arguably the coolest and most easily recognizable item on this list.
It is a manually wound watch with 17 jewels and measures 37 mm in diameter. It was sold for a hefty price of $267,203, a price directly connected to the fact that the watch is related to Newman. Newman was an American actor and racecar driver. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the 1986 film The Color of Money.
8. Rolex Platinum Diamond Pearlmaster
Luxury products made of expensive materials always command a hefty price in the market. Take the Rolex Platinum Diamond Pearlmaster, for example. It’s a limited edition watch with a dial made of meteorite diamond and a bezel decorated with 42 baguette diamonds. It has a double quickset made of sapphire crystal and measures 39 mm.
Released in 2011, the Rolex Platinum Diamond Pearlmaster launched with an MSRP of $277,850. At the moment, the luxury watch is available for $230,000 at Sant Blanc, a family owned seller of jewelry and luxury watches. The Rolex Platinum Diamond Pearlmaster looks fancy with all that bling. But wait till you see the fifth most expensive Rolex watch on this list.
7. 1972 James Bond Rolex Submariner
On Nov. 8, 2015, the Rolex Submariner worn by Sir Roger Moore as James Bond sold for $365,000 at a Phillips auction in Geneva. Manufactured in 1972, the Reference 5513 was used as a prop in the 1973 James Bond movie Live and Let Die.
The watch was heavily modified for the movie by production designer Syd Cain. Most notably, the bezel has been reshaped into a circular saw. In Live and Let Die, Bond uses the sharpened bezel to cut a rope and the watch’s “magnetic field” to unzip Miss Caruso’s dress.
Because of the movie modifications, the 1972 James Bond Rolex Submariner doesn’t really tell the time. Meaning, it’s pretty much useless as an actual watch, which might put off some collectors. But on the bright side, the inside contains an autograph of Moore.
6. Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s Gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual
In 2011, Sotheby’s announced that it would be auctioning a watch that once belonged to Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first president of India. The watch is a Rolex Oyster Perpetual made of 18-karat pink gold with a map of India featured on the dial. The date of India’s first constitutional day, January 26, 1950, is also featured on the dial. Prasad possibly received the watch as a gift during his inauguration.
Sotheby’s maximum estimated value for Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s Gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual was $444,000. But the item was never sold as the Indian government intervened on behalf of Prasad’s family who told authorities that the watch was stolen from them years ago. In response, Sotheby’s postponed the auction while authorities looked into the case.
5. Rolex GMT Master II Ice
The Rolex GMT Master II Ice is definitely one of the most head-turning luxury watches in the world. The entire thing is so covered with bling it might as well have the word “expensive” engraved on the back. In 2014, the luxurious watch was slapped with a market price of $485,350, which is actually quite modest compared to the next items on the list.
The Rolex GMT Master II Ice is made of white gold and includes numerous diamonds everywhere you look. And by “everywhere,” we mean every inch of the watch. The dial has a set of diamonds arranged in a wavy form and the bracelet is covered entirely with diamonds. Few watches come close to the Rolex GMT Master II Ice in regard to extravagance.
4. Eric Clapton’s Rolex “Oyster Albino” Cosmograph Daytona
For watch collectors who are also big fans of music, Eric Clapton’s Rolex “Oyster Albino” Cosmograph Daytona is the holy grail. It was sold for $1.4 million at a Phillips auction in Geneva on May 10, 2015. It was originally auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York in 2003, selling for just $505,000.
Manufactured in 1971, the Reference 6263 is unique in that it is just one of four examples with silvered chronograph totalizers in the same color as the silvered dial, hence the “Albino” moniker. Normally, a Reference 6263 has black chronograph totalizers. It is housed in a stainless steel case and is powered by a manually wound Caliber 727.
The fact that it was once owned by Eric Clapton only boosted the price to an unprecedented territory. Clapton – known for the hit songs “Blue Eyes Blue,” “Wonderful Tonight,” and “Tears in Heaven” – bought the watch in the 1990s.
3. 1942 Rolex Antimagnetique
The 1942 Rolex Antimagnetique is the largest Rolex ever made, making it a truly unique piece among Rolex timepieces. Naturally, it fetched a large amount of money at a Phillips auction in Geneva, selling for almost $2.5 million on May 14, 2016.
The 1942 Rolex Antimagnetique was never made available to the public. It was an exclusive watch given to a select group of racing teams and their drivers. With only 12 examples known to exist, the 44 mm split-seconds chronograph is one of the rarest watches in the world. It is encased in stainless steel and includes a pair of subsidiary dials for constant seconds and 30 minutes register.
2. Bao Dai Rolex
You can always count on items owned by royalty to fetch a huge amount in auctions. Owned by Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam, the Bao Dai Rolex is the second-most expensive watch ever sold in an auction. The timepiece sold for over $5 million at a Phillips auction in Geneva on May 13, 2017.
The Bao Dai Rolex is a genuine one-of-a-kind watch – and not just because of the original owner. Made of 18-karat yellow gold, the watch features a triple calendar with a moon phase indicator. It has a black dial and includes a set of diamond markers at the even hours (except 6).
Bao Dai, born Nguyen Phuc Vinh Thụy, was the 13th and last emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. He was named emperor and took up the name Bao Dai, which means “Keeper of Greatness,” in 1926 after the death of his father, Khai Dinh. Bao Dai abdicated in 1945 shortly after Japan surrendered during World War II.
1. Paul Newman’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
In the world of watches, Paul Newman’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is one of the rarest and most highly sought-after watches in the world. On Oct. 26, 2017, the iconic watch became the most expensive watch ever sold in an auction, going for $17.8 million to an anonymous phone bidder at a Phillips auction.
Paul Newman’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona was given to him by his wife, Joanne Woodward, who supposedly bought the watch at Tiffany & Co. in New York and had it engraved with the message “Drive Carefully Me.” Newman wore the watch every day for 15 years before giving it to his daughter Nell’s then-boyfriend, James Cox, in 1984.
Introduced in 1963, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is so synonymous with Newman that the watch is often called the Paul Newman Watch. Numerous examples of the famous watch have been sold for massive prices over the years. But none of them came close to the price of the one worn by Newman himself.