Scour the web for the best entry-level Rolex watches, and the Oyster Perpetual will likely hold a top spot on each list. And for a good reason, too. It’s a pillar of the Rolex catalog, and it’s absolutely timeless. With a minimalist design set and time-only movement, the Oyster Perpetual is also one of the most affordable Rolex watches on the market. If you want to invest in a versatile Rolex for yourself or a loved one that won’t break the bank, it doesn’t get much better than the Oyster Perpetual.
My first Rolex watch was the Lady Oyster Perpetual ref. 176200, gifted to me by my husband to mark our 10th wedding anniversary. I casually mentioned to him a while back that I loved the dial on this watch because it resembled the Rolex Explorer with its luminous baton and Arabic numeral dial configuration. And the man took notes. Now, I’m a little biased because I had my eye on this Rolex for a while, but I wholeheartedly believe this watch deserves a spot in any collection. Let me tell you why.
26MM Oyster Case
Reference 176200 was recently discontinued in 2020 to make way for the current-production model 276200. A new movement and a slightly larger 28mm case came with the newer model. My OP has the older style 26mm case, which is perfect for my 6” wrist. As an Oyster Perpetual, the case is also waterproof up to 100 meters/330 feet. As long as you keep the crown screwed in, you can wash your hands or shower without damaging the movement. The case also sports the Twinlock waterproof screw-down crown with two sealed zones, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a smooth bezel, and an engraved rehaut.
Rolex only produced ref. 176200 on the three-link Oyster bracelet and in 904L-grade Oystersteel. The solid links and end links give the watch a nice heft without weighing down the wrist. It features the Oysterlock clasp, which I love because I can open and close it with just one hand. It’s a throw-it-on-and-go kind of watch.
Oyster Perpetual Dial
My favorite feature of this Rolex is the dial. Rolex produced ref. 176200 with several dial colors, including silver, grape, pink, white, black, olive green, and blue. Most examples are decorated with white gold Arabic numerals at the 3/6/9 markers and luminous batons filled with Rolex’s signature Chromalight lume. Some iterations of the Rolex 176200 even feature colorful lume, such as pink or lilac.
Black dial watches are a must-have because they’re versatile. You can dress them up or down, and they look lovely when worn alone on the wrist or stacked with other bracelets. The black dial Oyster Perpetual 176200 first caught my eye several years ago because I thought it looked like the Rolex Explorer with similar hour markers and a time-only dial. In person, it’s still unmistakably an Oyster Perpetual, but you can’t deny the likeness.
Rolex Explorer Mark 1 Dial ref. 214270 (left) Rolex Oyster Perpetual ref. 176200 (right). Photo Credit: Bob's Watches.
Last but certainly not least, we have the movement. The Oyster Perpetual is powered by Rolex’s trademark self-winding Perpetual mechanical movement. It’s convenient because it doesn’t need a new battery every few years like a Quartz watch and keeps itself wound by the movement of the wearer’s wrist. On the other hand, it has a 48-hour power reserve, which means you can set this watch down for a day or so, and it should still read true when you’re ready to wear it again.
In general, the Oyster Perpetual is a solid entry-level watch. It’s tough and versatile. At the same time, it exudes the sophistication and exclusivity that many seek from the Rolex brand without appearing too flashy or over-the-top. There’s so much to love about the Oyster Perpetual 176200.