Welcome back to our new series, Everything You Need to Know about Luxury Watches. We are starting with the iconic, and our favorite, Rolex. If you haven’t read part I about everything you need to know about Rolex, please click here. Part II of our Rolex series will cover the Rolex Lineup – in several parts because the Rolex lineup has 13 models, and each model has several variations.
First, I want to preface this by saying we are going to covering the modern Rolex lineup. If you want to learn more about the vintage Rolex models, please let us know in the comments, and we can add that to our list!
It’s important to note that there is no way to ever write about every single reference, as Rolex has hundreds, but they all fall into about 13 models, or families. For our article, we are going to be discussing the Explorer and Explorer II as one family, and the Yacht Master and Yacht Mater II as one family. We know there are differences, but we will explain those within the models.
The Rolex Lineup
Rolex Submariner – 8 Different Variations
The Rolex Submariner was introduced in 1953, when Rolex added an external diving bezel Oyster Perpetual, while keeping the automatic winding in place, and including an adjustable bracelet. It was also the first watch to ever be designed for deep sea diving.
The Sub comes in a variety of variations. And, although the look has changed over the years, there are some things that you can count on with a Submariner:
- It’s waterproof
- Depending on the model, it can go
- Unidirectional Bezel that rotates clockwise
- Self-winding and can keep time for up to three days
- Comes in stainless, two-tone, and yellow gold
- It’s the most counterfeited watch in the world
Rolex GMT Master II – 10 Different Variations
The Rolex GMT Master was designed for Pan American Airlines pilots in the 1950’s so they could track multiple time zones. It was in 1982 that it became the GMT Master II, which had a new movement and an imdependently adjusted local hour hand.
In 2007, the ceramic bezel and new movement was introduced with a multitude of color combos, and in 2022 Rolex came out with a left-handed orientation. But, here are some things you can count on with a GMT Master II:
- The bezel is bi-directional, bi-color cerachrom with a 12-hour scale
- It’s water resistant
- Dial is either black, blue, or meteorite
- Comes in stainless, Everose rolesor, Everose 18kt gold, and 18kt white gold
- Comes with either an Oyster bracelet for the gold and two-tone models and a jubilee bracelet for the stainless models
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona – 44 Variations
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is really in a class all by itself. After all, Paul Newman’s Daytona was the most expensive to ever sell in the world at auction.
In fact, the Daytona is so special it has its own language.
- Cosmograph: Cosmograph is the official name of the Daytona models and is found below the logo and name under 12 o’clock.
- Daytona: Added to the dials along with “Cosmograph” in the early 60s just after Rolex became the official timekeeper at the Daytona Florida raceway. It can appear large above the 6 o’clock sub dial, smaller under “Cosmograph,” or not at all.
- Threaded (Screw-Down) Pushers: A threaded locking mechanism on the chronograph activators (pushers) that improves the watch’s waterproofness.
- Paul Newman Dial: A dial variant with contrasting outer seconds track, larger markers, and an art-deco numerical font on the sub-dials.
- Standard Dial: The more traditionally Rolex dial with applied markers and relatively subdued sub-dial markings.
- Big Red: Some collectors refer to models with the large red “Daytona” over the 6 o’clock sub dial as “Big Red.”
- Musketeer Dial: After Rolex took the red away from the Daytona in the early 1970s, they quickly reintroduced it. Some collectors call these dials with the resurrected red a Musketeer dial because they have the three colors: red, white, and black.
- Floating Dial: Beginning in 1988, the word “Cosmograph” was separated by a space from the other three lines of text above it. “Floating” dials are relatively rarer than the dials that soon followed.
- Inverted 6: A couple of Daytonas from the late 1980s through roughly 2000 see the 6 on the 6 o’clock sub dial inverted, so that it reads as a 9.
Rolex Sea-Dweller and DeepSea – 4 Variations
The Sea-Dweller is Rolex’s answer for watches capable of withstanding the pressure of deep dives. In 1967 when it was first released, the Sea-Dweller was rated to a depth of 4,000 feet (1,220 meters). In 2007 a newer Sea-Dweller was rated to 12,800 feet (3,900 meters), which was record breaking. Now comes the Rolex Deepsea, which is a beefier version of the Sea Dweller, rated to 12,800 feet.
Here’s the differences and similarities of the Sea Dweller and the DeepSea:
- Sea Dweller is 43MM in Oyster steel and Oyster steel and yellow gold. The DeepSea is 44MM in oyster steel and two toned
- Sea Dweller is water resistant to 4,000 feet. DeepSea is water resistant to 12,800 feet.
- Both have a black cerachrom bezel insert with a rotating bezel and luminescent display
- The DeepSea has a Blue-D gradient dial or a black dial
- Both watches are made of a special oyster steel that is resistant to corrosion
- Both watches have the oyster bracelet and folding safety clasp
- Both watches have the helium escape valve
Rolex Explorer & Rolex Explorer II – 2 each
In 1953 Rolex took the Oyster Perpetual, made some significant changes, and called it the Rolex Explorer. This was after Sir Edmund Hillary’s team wore the Oyster Perpetual on their first successful summit trip.
Here’s what you need to know about the Rolex Explorer and the Rolex Explorer II:
- The Explorer is considered the entry level Rolex sport model – due to the price
- This Rolex Model comes in all steel and two-tone
- They have a luminescent 24-hour GMT hand
- The Explorer II was introduced in 1971 with either a black or white dial and the orange GMT had in the arrow shape
- The Explorer is 36MM and the Explorer II is 40MM
Let’s Wrap Up These Models from the Rolex Lineup
Don’t fret, we will continue with the Rolex series and cover the rest of the Rolex lineup, but for now, I’ll leave you with these models to digest. By the way, if you want to find any of the above models, just contact Jonathan’s Watch Buyer!