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What watch is worth waiting decades for?
Top 5 Most wanted Rolexes and how to skip the queue – Hulk, Pepsi, Baselworld novelties, and more

What watch is worth waiting decades for?

John Wallis

The new Pepsi-bezel GMT Master II unveiled this year at Baselworld was so popular that customers can no longer even get added to the waiting list. The Cosmograph Daytona ref 116500LN can be purchased from Jewellers if you are willing to wait over a decade. If a waiting time of 3 - 5 years sounds good, you can easily go for the Submariner Date ref 116610LV, aka the “Hulk”. Don’t even get us started on Baselworld novelty waiting times including the "Single Red Line" Sea-Dweller or Oyster Perpetual 39 with black and white dials. But why do these Rolex waiting lists exist, and what are the top 5 Rolex models that are the toughest to get your hands on in 2018?

The history

Many newcomers to luxury watches decide to take the plunge with a glorious new Rolex, only to find that there won't be any available for years. It's a frustrating situation for those who want to buy Rolex, but also a confusing one. Why would the company not make enough watches to meet demand? Why have they created the dreaded waiting list?

The story goes that it started in 1988 when Rolex began to use the famous El Primero calibre in some of its watches. The El Primero is made by a rival brand, Zenith, and Rolex became reliant on its production schedule. The waiting list was born out of these delays.

Today, of course, Rolex controls every part of its manufacturing process, and it calibrates its production numbers very carefully. The waiting lists are maintained as part of the brand's mystique of exclusivity, and the extra demand generates higher prices. The less watches it makes, the more valuable they are.

One interesting dynamic of the waiting list phenomenon is that demand for each Rolex watch varies by country. According to searches at CHRONEXT, Germans are more interested in the Rolex Datejust, relative to other countries. Brits are looking for Sea-Dwellers, Americans for Presidential Day-Dates, and Chinese people search for Yacht-Master IIs.

Luckily, CHRONEXT sources internationally and is able to provide a wide range of Rolex watches that would typically come equipped with long waiting times at your local jeweller in a manner of weeks.

Check out the most waitlisted Rolex watches for sale worldwide, all of which are available for immediate purchase at CHRONEXT.

Most wanted #1: Rolex GMT-Master II Baselworld 2018, Ref. 126710BLRO, aka Pepsi; Waiting time well over 10 years

The Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi is one of the brand's most iconic models, thanks to its large blue and red bezel. Originating in the 1950s as a pilot's watch, affordable steel models have not been manufactured by Rolex since it started using high-tech ceramic bezels. Enormous fan anticipation was finally rewarded in March at Baselworld, with the spectacular reappearance of the new steel-cased Pepsi-bezel GMT. Such was the immediate demand for this recognisable timepiece that the waiting list in some places has grown so long that no new customers can even be added.

Shop the GMT-Master II Baselworld 2018

Most wanted #2: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, Ref. 116500LN; Waiting time 10 years

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is perhaps the brand's greatest legend, starting from humble sporting roots in the 1960s and rising to a position of incredible prestige as one of the most coveted and most expensive Rolex watches not made of precious metal. Owing some of its success initially to the charm of the great Paul Newman, the Daytona has reached even greater heights in recent years, with Newman's original selling for more than $17 million at auction last year - the most expensive watch in history. Chronext reported that the price of a pre-owned Rolex Daytona almost doubled in the last three years - and the waiting list for some new models can be 10 years long.

Shop the Cosmograph Daytona

Most wanted #3: Rolex Submariner Date, Ref. 116610LV, aka Hulk; Waiting time 3 to 5 years

One of the most recognisable watches in the world, the Submariner is among Rolex's most popular creations, and often cited as the most commonly counterfeited timepiece ever made. Known for its excellent water resistance and versatile design, the Rolex Submariner Date LV model known as the Hulk boasts a special green dial and bezel, the successor to the smaller "Kermit" LV. CHRONEXT has seen the price of second-hand Rolex Submariners hold incredibly steady over the years, with a consistent appreciation of value in the long run. New models can require 3 to 5 years on a waitlist.

Shop the Submariner Date

Most wanted #4: Rolex GMT-Master II, Ref. 116710BLNR, aka Batman; Waiting time 3 to 4 years

The Batman, officially initialled BLNR for bleu-noir, has sadly been left in the shadow of its more famous Pepsi brother since Baselworld. But it remains a popular and good-looking model with its blue and black design that made headlines in 2013 as the first ever bi-colour bezel made from a single piece of ceramic. In most countries the waiting list for this beauty is at least 3 to 4 years.

Shop the GMT-Master II

Most wanted #5: Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea Baselworld 2018, Ref. 126660; Waiting time 2 to 3 years

It wasn't just the GMT that got a makeover at Baselworld this year. The Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea, known for its graded blue-black dial and outrageous 3,900m depth rating, was also updated. It received a streamlined case and the cutting-edge 3235 movement - one of the brand's finest mechanical creations. Fans have been appreciative, and the waiting list for the new model is around 2 to 3 years.

Shop the Sea-Dweller Deepsea Baselworld 2018

Further Rolexes worth waiting for: Submariner Ref. 116610, “Single Red Line” Sea-Dweller, Sky-Dweller Ref. 326934, and more; Waiting time 1 to 3 years

There are plenty more watches that will take you a long time to acquire new from Rolex. The regular Submariner (non-green ref 116610) is expected to need 1 to 3 years on a list, while the no-date version (ref 114060), much admired by connoisseurs, will probably take longer - 2 years and up. The "Single Red Line" Sea-Dweller, with its 1,220m water resistance (less than the Deepsea but with a more iconic plain black dial), is likely to have a waiting list of a year, and the all-black bezel GMT Master II is similarly around 1 to 2 years on a list.  Last but not least, coveted Sky-Dweller models with the reference 326934 are expected to have a waiting time of at least 1 year.

Shop Rolex Watches