Rolex Anniversary Watches: A Comprehensive Guide

Rolex anniversary watches commemorate key milestones, allowing collectors to own a piece of horological history. Each Rolex anniversary edition carries distinct features and unique designs that set it apart from standard models. 

For instance, the brand celebrated its 40th anniversary with the iconic Datejust, featuring the unique Jubilee bracelet.

This guide provides an in-depth look at the various anniversary models, their features, history, and market value so you can make an informed purchasing decision.

What is the Rolex Anniversary Edition?

Rolex celebrates milestones with special Anniversary Edition watches, marking significant years in a model’s history. These editions often feature unique designs, materials, and technological innovations that distinguish them from the regular production models.

Rolex’s 50th Anniversary

Rolex’s 50th anniversary was celebrated in 1955. Rolex was founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis in London, England. This anniversary marked half a century of the brand’s existence. 

During this time, the brand had already made significant contributions to the watchmaking industry, including the development of the first waterproof wristwatch, the Oyster, in 1926 and the creation of the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism in 1931.

Rolex’s 75th Anniversary

The 75th anniversary of Rolex was in 1980. By this time, it had established itself as a leader in the luxury watch industry, known for its innovations, including the Datejust, the first wristwatch with an automatically changing date on the dial (introduced in 1945), and the Day-Date, the first watch to display both the date and the day of the week spelled out in full (introduced in 1956).

Rolex Anniversary for 2024

In 2024, Rolex will be celebrating its 119th anniversary. While this is not a traditional milestone like the 100th or 125th anniversaries, it often takes the opportunity to release special editions or updates to its collections on significant anniversaries.

For 2024, enthusiasts expect special Rolex sports watches or unique updates to commemorate the brand’s enduring legacy and continued innovation in watchmaking.

The History of Rolex Anniversary Watches

History Timeline

Rolex has a long-standing tradition of celebrating significant milestones with special anniversary models. These watches often include subtle design tweaks that pay homage to their origins while introducing modern innovations.

Here’s a timeline of key milestones in Rolex’s history celebrated through these watches:

  • 2003: Rolex released the Submariner 16610LV to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the iconic Submariner. It stands out with its green bezel, a nod to the brand’s signature color.
  • 2006: The Rolex Day-Date celebrated its 50th anniversary by introducing a special green dial version, reflecting the brand’s heritage and timeless elegance.
  • 2013: The 50th anniversary of the Cosmograph Daytona saw the introduction of a unique platinum version, ref. 116506, featuring a ceramic bezel. This model marked the first time the Rolex Daytona sported a full platinum case.
  • 2017: The Sea-Dweller’s 50th anniversary brought the Sea-Dweller ref. 126600, known for its larger 43mm case size. This adjustment made the watch more proportional and visually striking.
  • 2021: For the Explorer II’s 50th anniversary, Rolex introduced the Explorer II ref. 226570. This model was slightly slimmer than its predecessor, showcasing Rolex’s commitment to enhancing wearability without sacrificing design integrity.

Each of these Rolex watches highlights Rolex’s expertise in balancing tradition and innovation, ensuring their anniversary editions remain coveted by enthusiasts and collectors.

Notable Rolex Anniversary Models

Rolex has released several special anniversary models that are highly regarded among collectors and enthusiasts. Here are some of the main ones:

1. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 50th Anniversary Watch – Platinum, Ice-Blue Dial ref. 116506-0002

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116506-0002
  • Retail Price: S$112,600
  • Market Average: S$121,290
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$138,981

They include a platinum case and bracelet, an ice-blue dial, subdials at 3,6 and 9 o’clock, a chestnut brown Cerachrom bezel insert with a tachymeter scale, and baguette diamond hour markers.

  • Production Year: 2013-2023
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Ice-blue, with luminescent hands and baguette diamond hour markers
    • Bracelet: Oyster, platinum, with an Oysterlock double-locking deployant clasp with an Easylink 5mm comfort extension link
    • Bezel: Fixed, platinum, with a chestnut brown Cerachrom insert with a tachymeter scale
  • Function: Chronograph, Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Tachymeter
  • Mechanism: Rolex Caliber 4130 automatic movement with 44 jewels, a 72-hour power reserve (approximately), and a 28,800vph frequency

Its limited production number ensures rarity and potentially higher future value. Also, the use of platinum, coupled with the unique ice-blue dial, boosts its desirability among most collectors.

About

This Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is a luxury men’s sports watch introduced to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Daytona series. It stays true to the Daytona design ethos but injects some individuality into its makeup with its full-platinum-ice-blue dial design that contributes to its highly sought-after status.


2. Rolex Day-Date 60th Anniversary Watch – Everose Gold, Olive Green Dial ref. 228235-0025

Rolex Day-Date 40 228235
  • Retail Price: S$60,900
  • Market Average: S$63,289
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$65,731

They include an olive green dial, a fluted bezel, a full-day display semi-circular window at 12 o’clock, a date window at 3 o’clock, and a President bracelet.

  • Production Year: 2016
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Olive green, with Everose gold hands and Roman numeral hour markers
    • Bracelet: President, Everose gold, with a concealed folding Crownclasp
    • Bezel: Fluted, Everose gold
  • Function: Day, Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Rolex Caliber 3255 automatic movement with 31 jewels, a 70 hour- power reserve, and a 28,800vph frequency

According to WatchBase, its price rose from S$50,445 on February 1, 2016, to S$54,382 on January 17, 2020, and S$62,984 on January 4, 2024.

About

This luxury men’s dress watch was produced to celebrate the Day-Date series’ 60th anniversary. It stands out with its unique olive green dial and Everose gold construction, reflecting the brand’s commitment to innovation and elegance. It symbolizes longevity, prestige, and the watchmaking excellence Rolex is renowned for.


3. Rolex Submariner 50th Anniversary ‘Kermit’ Watch – Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. 16610LV

Rolex Submariner ‘Kermit’- 904L Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. 16610LV
  • Retail Price: S$8,700
  • Market Average: S$18,441
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$20,675

Its main features are a striking green aluminum bezel insert, a black Maxi dial, water resistance to 300m, a date window at 3 o’clock with a Cyclops magnifier lens above it, and an Oyster bracelet.

  • Production Year: 2003-2010
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Black Maxi, with larger Super-LumiNova lume-filled Mercedes-style hands and round/rectangle/triangle hour markers
    • Bracelet: Oyster, stainless steel, with a flip-lock clasp
    • Bezel: Unidirectional rotatable, stainless steel, 120-click, with a striking green aluminum bezel insert with 60-minute graduations
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Caliber 3135 movement with 31 jewels, a 48-hour power reserve, and a 28,800vph frequency

Its limited production run, marking the 50th anniversary, makes it a collectible item. Moreover, its value has appreciated over the years, reflecting its desirability among collectors.

About

This luxury diver men’s watch was released in 2003 to commemorate the Submariner collection’s 50th anniversary. It sets itself apart from typical Submariners with its distinctive green bezel insert that earned it its adorable moniker after the beloved muppet character Kermit the Frog.


4. Rolex Explorer II 40th Anniversary Orange Hand Watch – Stainless Steel, White ‘Polar’ Dial ref. 216570-0001

Rolex Explorer II 216570
  • Retail Price: S$11,300
  • Market Average: S$12,150
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$13,527

They include a 42mm case, an orange 24-hour hand, a date window at 3 o’clock with a Cyclops magnifier lens above it, a fixed bezel with black 24-hour engravings, and a white Polar ‘Maxi’ Dial with Chromalight.

  • Production Year: 2011-2021
  • Case Size: 42mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: White, with a ‘Polar’ background and larger Mercedes-style hands, round/triangle/rectangle hour markers with Chromalight lume and an extra orange 24-hour hand with a luminous arrowhead tip
    • Bracelet: Oyster, with an Oysterlock safety clasp with an Easylink 5mm comfort extension link
    • Bezel: Fixed, smooth, stainless steel, with black 24-hour graduations
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds, GMT
  • Mechanism: Rolex Caliber 3187 automatic movement with 31 jewels, a 48-hour power reserve, and a 28,800vph frequency

As per WatchBase, its price increased steadily from S$9,768 on June 1, 2014, to S$10,424 on February 1, 2015, S$10,862 on February 1, 2016, and S$11,518 on January 4, 2020.

About

This Rolex Explorer II watch was launched to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Explorer II series. It stands as a tribute to the original Explorer II, emphasizing its functionality and robust design. Unlike previous versions, this anniversary edition features an orange 24-hour hand and a larger case.


5. Rolex Milgauss 50th Anniversary Watch – Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. 116400GV-0001

Rolex Milgauss ref. 116400GV-0001
  • Retail Price: S$13,050
  • Market Average: S$14,000
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$14,727

Its key features include a green-tinted sapphire crystal, an orange lightning bolt-shaped seconds hand, an Oyster bracelet, hour markers filled with orange SuperLumiNova lume at 3,6 and 9 o’clock, and a minute track around the dial’s rim with orange Arabic numerals every five minutes.

  • Production Year: 2007
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Black, with SuperLumiNova-filled hands, index hour markers (white SuperLumiNova that shines green at 1,2,4,5,7,8,10 and 11 and orange SuperLumiNova that shines blue at 3,6 and 9 o’clock), and an orange seconds hand shaped like a lightning bolt
    • Bracelet: Oyster, stainless steel, with a folding Oysterclasp with Rolex’s Easylink comfort extension link
    • Bezel: Fixed, smooth, stainless steel
  • Function: Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Rolex Caliber 3131 movement with 31 jewels, a 48-hour power reserve, and a 28,800vph frequency

It retains value well and is known for its durability and functionality, making it a wise addition to any watch aficionado’s collection. 

Additionally, WatchBase indicates its price has increased between 2015 and 2023, starting at S$10,570 on February 1, 2015, and rising to S$11,008 on August 29, 2017, S$11,518 on January 4, 2020, S$12,684 on January 20, 2022, and S$13,559 on January 13, 2023.

About

This Milgauss model is a luxury men’s watch that signifies Rolex’s dedication to innovation and tradition. It celebrates five decades of the Milgauss series, known for its resistance to magnetic fields. It stands out with its green-tinted sapphire crystal, which adds aesthetic appeal and functional prowess.


Key Features of Rolex Anniversary Watches

Here are some of the main features that contribute to Rolex anniversary watches’ uniqueness and desirability:

Materials and Craftsmanship

Rolex employs high-end materials in anniversary models, such as gold, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, stainless steel, and sometimes platinum. These materials ensure a superb level of durability and luxury. Additionally, Rolex uses its proprietary Cerachrom ceramic for bezels, known for its resistance to scratches and fading. 

Craftsmanship extends to meticulous attention to detail and precision, ensuring that each anniversary watch upholds the brand’s reputation for quality.

Design Elements

Design elements in Rolex anniversary watches often include distinctive dials and updated cases. The Rolex Submariner ‘Kermit’ features a vibrant green bezel, marking its anniversary edition.

Moreover, features like maxi dials and larger hour markers and hands enhance readability and provide a modern twist to classic designs. Cases may be slightly larger, as seen in the Rolex Sea-Dweller 50th Anniversary model, which increased from 40mm to 43mm.

Limited Editions and Rarity

Anniversary models are typically limited editions, which boosts their desirability and value. For example, the Rolex GMT-Master II 50th Anniversary model is one where rarity plays a crucial role.

These watches are not mass-produced, making them exclusive and sought after by collectors. The combination of limited quantities and unique features ensures that anniversary editions remain significant milestones in Rolex’s history and coveted items in the world of luxury watches.

Market Value and Collectability

Rolex anniversary watches are renowned for their rarity and potential for value appreciation. Several factors contribute to their market value.

Factors Influencing Value

Several elements play crucial roles in determining the market value of Rolex anniversary watches. 

Rarity and Limited Production Runs

Rarity is a prime factor, as limited production runs create scarcity. Anniversary editions like the Submariner “Hulk” have seen notable price increases due to their distinctive and unique color configurations.

Condition and Originality

Condition significantly impacts value. Watches in pristine condition with original parts are more desirable. Documentation, including original boxes and papers, enhances collectability, as these provide authenticity and traceability. Market trends and brand reputation also heavily influence prices.

Market Demand and Trends

The demand for specific models can fluctuate based on external factors such as celebrity endorsements, social media trends, and global economic conditions. Demand often spikes when Rolex releases new models or updates existing lines.

Tips for Collectors

The following are vital pointers you as a collector aiming to invest in Rolex anniversary watches can use to maximize your investment: 

  • Evaluate their Authenticity and Condition: Check the serial and model numbers engraved between the lugs. These should match the documentation and the era of production. Also, evaluate the watch for signs of over-polishing, which can diminish its value. Look for sharp, crisp edges on the case.
  • Buy and Sell from Reputable Sources: Some top selections are authorized Rolex dealers, online marketplaces like Watch Book, auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and collector communities like Rolex Forums and WatchUseek.
  • Consider their Investment Potential and Long-term Value: While some models may see immediate value appreciation, others might take years to increase significantly. Patience and informed decision-making are key strategies for maximizing profits in the watch-collecting world.

Rolex’s Legacy and Continuing Tradition

Rolex has an enduring legacy of excellence and innovation. This is reflected in their anniversary watches, marking key milestones while introducing new features and designs. Its commitment to precision and quality has made it an icon in horology.

It continues to pay homage to its rich history by creating timepieces that celebrate its past and forward-looking philosophy. Each anniversary model carries the legacy of its predecessors while setting new standards for the future.

The brand’s approach blends consistency with innovation, adhering to its heritage while embracing technological advancements. As a result, each new anniversary watch not only commemorates the past but also sets a benchmark for future excellence.

Final Word

Rolex anniversary models represent significant milestones in the brand’s rich history. Each one carries unique features that set it apart from the standard models. For Rolex watch enthusiasts they represent not only luxury timepieces but also cherished mementos of Rolex’s heritage.

Key Takeaways

  • Rolex anniversary watches are special edition timepieces celebrating significant milestones in Rolex’s history.
  • Limited supply and distinctive qualities often make these models strong investment pieces. They tend to retain or appreciate in value over time.
  • Rolex ensures high-quality craftsmanship, using premium materials that enhance the durability and aesthetic appeal of the anniversary editions.

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