With Rolex being as secretive as it is, compiling a list of their bestselling watches takes a certain amount of educated guesswork. The company is actually a registered charity, owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, and as such is not obliged to publish anything in the way of sales figures. And they never have.
So, as a workaround, we enlisted the help of our trusted old friend Google to tell us which models have been searched for the most. Whether or not that translates into them actually being bought in the same volumes only the accountants at Rolex HQ know—and they ain’t saying.
1. The Rolex Submariner
No prizes for guessing number one. The most recognizable dive watch ever made and the blueprint for just about every one that has come after, the Sub has been in a class of its own since the beginning, way back in 1953. Taking full advantage of Rolex’s proprietary Oyster case, it was really the first watch to manage the neat trick of being a highly capable tool while also staying stylish enough to match any occasion and any outfit. Just ask 007.
The classic black edition is, of course, out there in front but interestingly the blue bezel and dialed version (the ref. 116619LB, otherwise known as the Smurf) very slightly beats out the Hulk, the green model, in search frequency.
2. The Rolex Daytona
Again, this is not going to come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last 20 years. The Cosmograph Daytona is Rolex’s legendary racer, and has been about the most desirable model on the planet for the best part of two decades now. It is the one some credit with kicking off the vintage and pre-owned watch market as we know it today, and new versions generate some fearsome waiting lists. Coupled with that, certain references from the archives, such as the so-called Paul Newman Daytonas, are among the most expensive timepieces money can buy.
Gold Daytonas are the most searched for, closely followed by stainless steel—probably from people desperately trying to find ones for sale.