Hidden Gems: 3 Undervalued Rolex Watches in Fall 2023

Hidden Gems: 3 Undervalued Rolex Watches in Fall 2023

Most watch enthusiasts would advise against buying or even thinking about watches as investments. I agree with this sentiment. While plenty of people make their living buying and selling watches, most are simply not equipped to do so. Consistently turning a profit trading pre-owned watches takes years of experience, learning, success, and more importantly, failure. Any watch you buy should be one that you’re fine with losing in a ditch, or preferably, wearing for the rest of your life (without worrying about its market value). Approaching watches as investments does, or eventually will, remove joy from the equation. There’s nothing fun about owning a watch that you’re worried about wearing. 

Rolex Daytona 116500LN on wrist

Image Source: hodinkee.com

Investing aside, everyone loves a good deal. If you’re already buying a watch, why not try to get the best price? From early-mid 2020 to spring of ‘22, we saw an unprecedented boom in the watch market. Since then, prices have started to return to Earth. Today, some Rolexes are approaching pre/early-pandemic numbers, but they likely won’t hit them – at least not for long. I say all this to say: take “undervalued” with a grain of salt. After all, these pre-owned watches are still above their retail price.


Using Chrono24 price reports and completed eBay listings – not fully representative, but consistent and somewhat accurate – I will look at the average prices of 3 watches in January of 2020, their price peaks since then (usually spring 2022), and their current average prices. Without further ado, let’s look at some watches.

Rolex Explorer II 16570

Rolex Explorer II 16570 polar dial

Image Source: monochrome-watches.com

The Rolex Explorer II 16570 – produced from 1989 to 2011 – offers a bit of vintage charm without many vintage pitfalls. It’s 40mm in diameter (as opposed to the modern 42mm), has a red 24-hour hand (as opposed to the modern/original orange), and has a caliber 3185 or 3186 movement inside: both great, both very similar. Older examples with tritium lume (1990-1998) have creamy-yellow patina on the hour indices and handset (pictured below). Offered in black or polar white, the Explorer II 16750 is easily one of the coolest Rolex sports watches you can get under $10,000. 

Black Rolex Explorer II 16570 Tritium Lume

Image Source: lunaroyster.com

In January of 2020, the 16570 went for around $5,000-$6,000. In spring of 2022, it peaked around $10,000. Today, you can get a nice example (unpolished, box and papers) in the $7,000-$8,000 range, depending on year and condition. Recently completed eBay listings are showing solid examples under $7,000. While the average price hasn’t hit pre-pandemic levels, you can definitely get a good deal within that ballpark.

Rolex Submariner 116610LN

Rolex Submariner 16610LN on wrist

Image Source: petitegeneve.com

Produced from 2010 to 2020, the Rolex Submariner 116610 introduced two flagship features to the collection: a Cerachrom (ceramic) bezel, and a bolder, thicker “Super Case”. Inside that case is a Rolex caliber 3135: one of the greatest production movements of all time. This generation marks multiple historical updates in the Submariner line. It will forever be an icon. 

In January of 2020, you could get a nice 116610LN for around $9,000. In spring of 2022, it peaked in the neighborhood of $15,000. Today, prices hover around $10,000-$11,000, with completed eBay listings (of lesser examples) just south of $10k. For an iconic watch that will last multiple lifetimes, this markup over retail feels fairly appropriate, at least in the world Rolex.

Rolex GMT-Master II 116710LN

Rolex GMT-Master II 116710LV

Image Source: swisswatch.net

The Rolex GMT-Master II 116710LN  – produced from 2007 to 2019 – was the first non-precious metal six-digit reference GMT-Master II. Like the previous watch on this list, the 116710LN ushered in the Cerachrom bezel and Super Case into its respective model line. While it doesn’t have a two-tone bezel – a charming and identifiable feature of many GMT-Masters – the 116710LN features small splashes of green with its GMT hand and “GMT-Master II” text. Personally, I love this subtlety. From a distance, it’s hard to differentiate this watch from a Sub. Only when you look closer do you see the stealthy GMT functionality. Something about the all-black 24-hour bezel just makes me smile. 

In January of 2020, the GMT-Master II 116710LN was widely available for under $10,000. In January of 2022, it peaked around $18,000. If you bought at that price, I regret to inform you that they now go for about $11,000, just over one year later.

Final Thoughts

In a vacuum, the term "undervalued" can be pretty objective. Any given thing has an agreed upon price: anywhere below that price is "undervalued". Outside of a vacuum, in a world of luxury items that are as unattainable as they are unnecessary, a world where full retail price is a favorable pipe dream, the objectivity of "value" goes out the window. We can compare prices at any number of time periods, but ultimately, the value of these watches lies at the intersection of two things: what the buyer is willing to pay and what the seller is willing to accept. In the world of Rolex, this intersection is usually above MSRP. Is it good value? That's up for you to decide.

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