12 Most Popular Rolex Watches | Chrono Hunter
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12 Most Popular Rolex Watches | Chrono Hunter

Top 12 Most Popular Rolex Watches


What are the most popular Rolex watches? We’re going to look into this but first let’s have a little look at Rolex itself, It's probably one of the most famous and recognisable brands there is, and it's certainly the most famous watch brand there is, but the marque that simply stands for quality, luxury and exclusivity is as complex as they come. 

Over the years Rolex has released a huge range of watches to fill every niche and taste, all with a variety of features and styles that take a unique place in the grand Rolex collection. So which are the most popular Rolex watches of all? We took to the Internet to find out which are the top 12 most popular Rolex watches, according to search results.


1. The Rolex Daytona (Steel) 


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The Rolex Daytona in steel is one of the most if not the most popular Rolex models there is. Waiting lists have been said to exceed 10 years! But that wasn’t always the case. At the very start albeit a very long time ago the Rolex Daytona was the watch that sat on the watch dealers shelf and would be sold with a discount. That's far from where we are now, you’d be lucky to get one from an authorised dealer and market prices are in excess of double retail. It’s arguably the ultimate tool to watch for those with a passion for driving and speed. Immediately recognisable with its three sub dials you wouldn’t regret adding one of these to your collection. 


2. The Rolex Submariner (Steel) 


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The Rolex Submariner in steel with black dial and bezel has to be considered as one of the most popular Rolex models. The divers watch that unlocked the deep since its birth in 1953 has proved to be a hit with watch aficionados around the world. The Rolex submariner was the first wristwatch waterproof to a depth of 100 metres although I imagine most of them don’t see much more than a splash in the shower as the wearer prepares for his/her day in the office. 


3. The Rolex Air-King

Rolex Air-King Popular Rolex Model

Source: Rolex

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Most famous as a Swiss brand today, it is a lesser-known fact that Rolex actually began in London, only moving to Geneva in the 1920s. It wasn't a fact lost on Rolex when in 1945 they launched the Air-King to pay tribute to British pilots of the Second World War. It is one of the least changed models in the Rolex line, having only recently changed size for the first time since its launch, and is appropriately designed to be as legible as possible while speeding through the air engaging the enemy. While this feature is unlikely to be of much use today, it makes the watch particularly stylish and usable with its bold black on white face and precisely detailed numerals. As an added bonus, the model is actually a variation of the ninth most popular Rolex, the Oyster Perpetual, meaning it is one of the more accessible watches of the Rolex family. So here we have it, the Rolex Air-king is one of the most popular Rolex watches.


4. Rolex Oyster Perpetual


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While most other Rolex Models are themed around the bells and whistles that suit them to a particular niche in a career or activity, the Oyster Perpetual harks much further back to the brand's original purpose: The production of accurate, self-winding timepieces. Sometimes regarded as the 'entry level' Rolex it has one of the longest pedigrees, having been launched as a label in 1926, and simply does what Rolex watches do and keeps time incredibly accurately. While it may lack the features of more expensive models, its simplicity means that it is very light and practical for everyday use and it is available in a huge range of colours for any style. It fits nicely into whatever outfit you choose, a refreshing change from other Rolex models which can be accused of dictating the rest of your outfit themselves. It's a very nice all-rounder that will last forever and work around your lifestyle which is why it’s made it to the list of top 12 most popular Rolex watches. 


5. Rolex Sea-Dweller


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Probably the third brand you'd mention alongside the Explorer and the Submariner in a beginners' guide to Rolex, the Sea-Dweller is the true business-end watch of the three, having retained its iconic black and silver look throughout all its iterations. While other Rolex watches have appeared on footballer's wrists studded with diamonds, this watch has only ever been forged from steel to do what it does best: Stay healthy at incredible depths that now exceed 4,000 feet. This is possible thanks to both clever technology and brute thickness, as a patented escape valve allows the watch to equalise itself like a real diver to prevent excessive internal pressure from damaging the mechanism. It also boasts the famous supercase found on the GMT-Master II, which makes it simply harder to crush deep under the ocean. Its style reflects this ability, looking no-nonsense and chunky in just about every area, but if rugged and masculine style is what you're after then this watch has it in spades.


6. Rolex Yacht-Master


Rolex Yacht-Master Popular Rolex Watch

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While many of Rolex’s most popular watches are designed around a niche, the Yacht-Master probably has the most adaptations, which may also explain its presence on this list. Not only does it feature the brand's first rubber strap, designed to flex and stay tight even in rough sea conditions and in heavy activity, it was also the first Rolex to come in three separate sizes: 35mm, 40mm and a special ladies' version. As a result the brand appealed to women especially, and also people with a variety of wrist sizes, helping it boost popularity around the world in different markets. While Rolex has often made tried and trusted designs that stay similar for generations a hallmark of the brand, in this case, the company has given the Yacht-Master a new lease of life with a major overhaul, completely re-designing the case in Everose and the bezel in Cerachrom. This has led to a further jump in popularity for the watch as new owners and collectors descend on the novelty.


7. Rolex GMT-Master II (Pepsi)


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Rolex tends to base its models around activities, and as a whole, the travel-focused GMT-Master line is probably second only to the Submariner in terms of fame, so it's strange that the most popular of these is a variant on the classic design. The Rolex GMT master ii aka the Pepsi is much the same as its cousins in its design, famously chunky to accommodate a complex two-hand system, but it sports a unique red and blue half-and-half bezel which resembles the logo of the eponymous fizzy drink brand. The official name comes from its innovative and complex hands, which run completely separately to tell both local time and 24hr time - something that is greatly appreciated by travellers used to flipping time zones regularly. Rolex had fun with the GMT-Master, producing several distinctively colourful designs, which probably explains its popularity. 

8. Rolex Datejust


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The Datejust is probably the closest that a premiere brand like Rolex has to a 'workhorse' timepiece, but such is the sheer longevity and iconic status of the watch, it's the one you're most likely to see on people's wrists. The Datejust took the world by storm in 1945 when it was launched as the world's first automatic, waterproof watch with a date function, and it's stubbornly held onto its place in the popularity rankings ever since as one of the most famous Rolex brands produces. While its original popularity may be down to its unique features, it has stuck around probably due to the sheer variety of styles that it comes in. Whether you'd like it in one of several precious and non-precious metals or with or without diamonds, there's always a Datejust out there that can complement your style.


9. Rolex Day-Date (President)


Rolex Day-Date Presidential Most Popular Rolex Watch

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Another Rolex Model that has made hay from its associations with the rich and famous, is said that the Day-Date has been worn by more world leaders than any other brand. Past owners include Arab princes and American Presidents, as well as luminaries such as Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower, the first President to own a Rolex. It is from this association that the Day-Date gets its nickname, but it is the newer 40mm model that is currently hogging the limelight of this famously conservative watch, just about the only update it has received since its launch in 1956. As the name suggests it was one of the first luxury watches on the market that told you the date by month as well as the day of the week, and its availability in several different metals made it the ideal gift. Depending on your budget, the option of the 18ct gold and 950 platinum models at the top end of the scale means the sky really is the limit when deciding what you'd like to spend.


10. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona in gold


Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Gold Most popular Rolex Watch

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The story behind the Cosmograph Daytona would be the ultimate in rags to riches if it weren't Rolex we were talking about, but originally the Cosmograph was the closest the brand had to a flop. Less heavily advertised in comparison to the wildly popular Submariner, it was the only Rolex that retailers would discount, and so found its way onto the wrists of up and coming stars in sports and the movies - boosting its popularity. The various models over the years differ in style details, but the marque of the brand is its bevvy of smaller dials on the face and the thin, subtle hands and numerals. While the stainless steel variant is the most sought after, the gold models win out purely because they're the only ones without a waitlist measured in years.


11. Rolex Submariner 116610LV (The Hulk)


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It's not at all surprising to anyone with a passing familiarity with Rolex that it would be one of their Submariner brand watches at the top of the tree. It's the Silver Shadow, the Testarossa, the 747 of watch lines: The one that everyone knows the brand for, and immediately thinks of when thinking of Rolex. But funnily enough, it's two striking variants of the Submariner line that are the most famous. A very close second place goes to The Hulk, named because of the striking green gold face and bezel that the watch sports. An updated version of the Submariner 'Kermit' released for the brand's 50th anniversary, unlike the plain finish of its predecessor it boasts a sunburst effect on the face that catches the eye as light plays off it, as well as a notoriously chunky look from the numerals to the lugs, befitting its nickname.


12. The Rolex Submariner 116619 (The Smurf)


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Like it's marginally less famous cousin, the watch that tops the list also sports an animated moniker, but of the much smaller kind. The most popular Rolex on the Internet is the 116619, AKA The Smurf. Unlike the black face and silver steel of other Submariner variants, the Smurf has an entirely blue face and bezel, which are set off by the 18 karat white gold body. It also comes with a distinctive 'wet look' blue sheen on the face and one of the brand's 'maxi' dials, that features a wider face and chunky hands and numerals. While the body and face get the majority of plaudits when it comes to the Smurf, you must also pay attention to the Oyster bracelet and Glidelock clasp, which made its debut on this model, the first to allow adjustment of the bracelet without tools.




The great thing about Rolex watches is that they're basically forever, so the different models and styles are always battling for precedence as fashions come and go. What will always stay the same, however, is the amazing timekeeping ability that makes them famous, and the fact that you'll always have a collector's piece no matter which model you plump for.


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Further Reading:

Question Time: What Can I Buy Instead Of a Rolex Datejust?

Rolex Purchases Swiss Retailer Bucherer In A Move That's Stunned The Horological World


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