Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that these aren’t good watches—far from it. Allow us to paraphrase ex-education minister: every Rolex is a good Rolex, and there are no bad Rolexes. But the fact remains that a staggering majority of Rolex buyers out there are all looking for, in descending order of hotness, the Daytona, the Submariner, the GMT-Master II, the Sea-Dweller and the Deepsea. The rest are just happy to snag a Datejust or an Oyster Perpetual every now and then.
Yet even as every Rolex is a good watch—they are indeed and very seriously built like a tank—not all of them are equally loved, and this definitely busts that lousy myth that goes around saying, “you can never go wrong with a Rolex. Truth bomb alert: You can go wrong with Rolex if you don’t know what you’re getting into. So never buy blindly even if you’re going for the world’s number one luxury watch brand. To begin, check out the list below for the top five Rolexes (almost) nobody likes.
As Rolex’s de facto elegant classic watch, the Cellini went through a nice revamp in 2014 with fancy touches including fluted bezels and guilloche dials. The new pieces were outstanding in comparison with earlier models, with interesting complications such as the moon phase display, but that still wasn’t enough to impress the archetypal Rolex customer, who loves Rolex for its tool watches, not dress watches. Because of the lukewarm demand, Cellinis typically do not resell for much on the pre-owned market.
The only remaining watch of Rolex’s Air series quartet—the other three being the Air Lion, the Air Tiger, and the Air Giant—the Air-King was Rolex’s highlight at BaselWorld 2016. The manufacture released a rejuvenated version of this pilot’s watch which has minute markers in place of the hours, along with the historical typeface found on old Air-King watches. But in spite of its friendly price tag, modernised aesthetics and beautiful backstory, this watch did not set off a buying frenzy. Rather, you could often find one (sometimes two) sitting in a Rolex store waiting to be picked up—something that never happens with any other stainless steel sport models.
One of the later Rolex models to be introduced, the Yacht-Master made its debut in 1992 and contains everything that people love about a Rolex: a robust case, excellent water resistance, the Mercedes-style hour hand, the Cyclops date magnifier, and an Oyster bracelet with the Oysterlock folding clasp. Yet it’s not been particularly desired at least by mainstream collectors. Certainly there are pockets of Yacht-Master fans here and there, but it’s never generated much buzz, not even when it was the first Rolex watch to be paired with a rubber strap.
Just like the Yacht-Master, the Yacht-Master II is not the kind of watch that would spark a Mexican standoff. We wonder if it’s the overall apathy towards yachting in most parts of the world; indeed, yachting and regatta-themed watches don’t really make much of a splash outside of the Mediterranean and certain cities in the US. The fact that the Yacht-Master II is significantly larger at 44mm, and more expensive than regular stainless steel Rolexes—because of the patented ring command bezel—might also be a key factor leading to its (not entirely unjustified) under-valuation.
The quintessential anti-magnetic watch, the Milgauss with its lightning shaped seconds hand has enjoyed brief moments in the sun, especially in the mid-2000s when Rolex released modernised versions of the watch with coloured dials and a green sapphire crystal glass. But ever since watches like the Hulk, Batman, and Pepsi came along, collectors have all but forgotten about this 1950s creation. Today, it’s got cult status at best, although its resale value has yet to go beyond the official list price, with the exception of some historical models.