The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is, by any measure, a timeless classic. The one pictured on the right was my first Rolex, given to me by my father, and given to him by his father in 1965 as a high school graduation present. I wore it in high school myself, unaware at the time of the social connotations associated with Rolex watches. I knew Rolexes were considered good watches, and I knew I got a lot of comments on it, but to me, it was simply an unobtrusive, simple, accurate, dependable, and very tough watch with a little bit of family history.
I think I can safely attribute my obsession with automatic watches (as opposed to digital quartz watches, which are an entirely different obsession of mine) to this particular Rolex. It doesn’t get a lot of wrist time anymore primarily because it’s a little on the small side for a men’s watch these days, but I still throw it on occasionally, and after a little bit of winding, it keeps time every bit as well as my much newer Rolex GMT Master II. The bracelet could stand to be replaced, and the acrylic crystal is plenty banged up from the all the punishment I threw at it in high school, but mechanically, it’s perfectly sound.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual sold for all of $125 in 1965, or at least, that’s what my grandfather paid for it. That’s about $750 in today’s dollars. A new comparable model (another Oyster Perpetual or a Rolex Air-King) would sell for about $3,000 today. Despite steady price increases, Rolex watches are in such demand now that you’re likely to pay full retail for a new one, and you may even have to order the exact watch you want.
So why do I use the cliche “timeless classic” to describe the Rolex Oyster Perpetual? There are three things about Rolexes that make them timeless.
- Quality. Rolexes are one of the highest quality watches in the world. Although there are plenty of comparable and probably even a few superior brands out there, in a fair fight, a Rolex can hold its own against just about anything.
- Design. Other than the size of the Oyster Perpetual, I’d say it’s just about as fashionable today as it was in 1965. The look of Rolex watches doesn’t change much over time which means they will not only function for additional generations, but they will still look like relative modern automatic watches rather th
an ancient family heirlooms.
- Brand. Whether you like Rolexes or not, there is no denying their popularity. Rolex is one of the most recognized and sought after brands in the world. Although their demand is what makes them expensive and often difficult to get, it is also what makes them sound investments.
Although I’m an obvious Rolex fan, I always encourage people who are considering purchasing one to consider other brands, as well. There are several other comparable brands out there which are much less expensive and that will serve precisely the same purpose (unless you’re shopping purely for the Rolex brand). In the end, though, if you are sure you want quality, craftsmanship, tradition, beauty, and brand, you can’t go wrong with a Rolex.