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How long do you have to wait for a new Rolex?

Rolex and its waiting lists. A tiresome topic for anyone who decides to acquire one of the most popular watch models directly from Rolex. You will find the most bizarre numbers and speculations on the internet, but we can tell you the actual waiting times and status of the waiting lists for Rolex watches. Furthermore, we will let you know how you can get the coveted watch models without having to wait so long.

2021 and 2022 Rolex waiting lists: an unpleasant reality

When it comes to waiting lists, people usually think of an order. Order lists suggest to a prospective buyer that a watch can be ordered and that it will arrive after a certain delivery time.

Rolex Datejust watches in front of a light grey background

Waiting lists, order lists, and prospective buyer lists

In fact, it has been impossible to place a binding order for watches from Rolex for a long time. Waiting lists for Rolex watches, as one would normally expect, do not exist at all. Instead, if you are lucky, you will land on a so-called "prospective buyer list". This means that the respective retailer has only noted that you are interested in a specific Rolex. That is you and likely 1,000 other interested customers.

By the way, just because you have filled out a form does not mean that you are on a Rolex waiting list. Often, retailers dismiss interested parties without them even knowing it. To ensure that you are on a waiting list, asking to be sent or receiving a confirmation email is a good sign, for example.

And now?

What should you do? Make a down payment? No professional jeweller will offer this option nowadays. They would be agreeing to a contract with you that they cannot guarantee they will be able to honour. So are there any other options?

On the one hand, it might help to visit your jeweller in the traditional way every now and then. On the other hand, as a regular customer with a good relationship to the concessionaire or salesperson, it's naturally easier to get hold of particularly popular models. All in all, buying a new Rolex at the list price is almost like a dance. A charade. In short, it's almost absurd in a way to have to make the effort of an applicant to be allowed to buy a luxury watch in the high-end price segment – that doesn't seem right at all. And who's "to blame" for the whole scenario? The free market. Supply and demand determine the price and have consequently influenced the sales behaviour of concessionaires and jewellers.

What does this mean for potential buyers?

Unfortunately, the chance to obtain a Rolex at its list price is in most cases – unless you are already a good customer or are blessed with some luck – very small. This is true for nearly every model. The most important tip we can offer to "make it" onto a waiting list is to be polite and personable, avoid words like "investment" or "value investment" and be honest. If you just want a particular watch, say so and stick to it. Don't get talked into something just to have a "purchase history".

The Most Popular Rolex Models in 2022

Here are the Rolex models for which waiting times have taken on absurd proportions. First of all, the following waiting list times are in part based on individual experiences and are more theoretical in nature. They do not constitute official information that should be entirely relied upon, let alone used to make a decision.

1st and 2nd: The "Pepsi" 126710BLRO and Daytona 116500LN

It should hardly surprise anyone that the steel models of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona are among the most sought-after watches of all time. One thing that actually is a bit surprising though, is the fact that the Daytona 116500LN apparently no longer sits alone on the throne of Rolex watches with the longest waiting times. The GMT-Master II ref. 126710BLRO, which was introduced at the Baselworld in 2018, has not entirely surpassed the former king of sports watches, but is an equal opponent to the Daytona.

Rolex Daytona 116500LN stainless steel white dial beside Rolex GMT-Master II 12670BLRO blue and red bezel watch with Jubilé bracelet

Concessionaires and jewellers have begun to close their waiting lists, for example, the affectionately named "Pepsi" ref. 126710BLRO has to be ordered up to 20 years in advance. The same is true for steel Daytonas like the ref. 116500LN and was also the case back in the day for the meanwhile discontinued ref. 116520. Interestingly, the Daytona hype has now spread to models made of Rolesor, which is Rolex's steel and gold combination, and solid gold models. In short, there actually is no Daytona model that's still easy to acquire. While about a year ago, it was still possible to be put on the ridiculously long waiting lists, these days concessionaires only offer to put you on so-called "prospect lists". But this is only done if someone really insists on being put on this list, as this is usually unsuccessful anyway.

3rd: The "Batman" 126710BLNR – lost in Gotham?

If you like the appearance and technical qualities of the Pepsi, but do not feel like waiting 20 years for your wristwatch, then you might want to consider the GMT-Master II 126710BLNR as an alternative. The new "Batman" with a Jubilee bracelet, originally launched at Baselworld 2019, has not gone missing in Gotham, but it is surely one of the most sought-after objects in the watch world and has a waiting list of 7 years already. Although this is still better than having to wait for 20 years to get a Pepsi, it is still quite a long time. Even if you are not the Joker, but still want to get your hands on the "Batman" right away, chances are good that you can buy a 126710BLNR second-hand without having to wait for years.

Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR Batman watch with black-blue bezel and Jubilé bracelet

4th: From 116610LV to 126610LV – the wait continues

The angry green giant from the Marvel comics was also chased by many people, but he was probably not as popular as the Rolex Submariner 116610LV which was named after him. As an absolute classic in the world of Haute Horlogerie, the green Submariner requires at least 3 to 4 years of patient waiting from its potential buyers. The Hulk has been discontinued in 2020, but its value and popularity are steadily increasing. Its place in the Rolex range and on the waiting lists has now been taken by the new Submariner 126612LV "Starbucks" or "Cermit". The 126610LV comes with a black dial, but also with a green bezel – and years of waiting. Here, too, the second-hand market is promising. Whether it's the Submariner 116610LV or the 126610LV – if you buy a used model, you can hold your favourite timepiece in your hands just a few days after you have ordered it.

Rolex Submariner 116610LV Hulk Green Dial and Bezel Watch

5th: The Deepsea 126660 – desired as a deep-sea treasure

Are you a fan of the Rolex Submariner, but need to exceed the limits of what this model can handle? For even more extreme requirements, the Swiss company with the crown has a suitable timepiece on hand – the Rolex Deepsea enables you to dive up to a depth of 3,900 meters. Still, for all collectors who go diving rarely or not at all, the massive and since discontinued Deepsea (ref. 126660) has enjoyed enormous popularity. As a logical consequence, the Deepsea (ref. 136660), which was re-released in 2022, now entails a waiting time of up to 3 years. The "D-Blue" dial with a colour gradient from blue to black and the "Deepsea" lettering in neon green is even more popular than the classic black dial. This means that friends of Haute Horlogerie will have to be patient with the Deepsea, as well.

Rolex Deepsea 126660 stainless steel black and blue dial black ceramic bezel watch

6th place: the sky is the limit – the Sky-Dweller (ref. 326934)

What is new and unknown in the beginning quickly becomes a crowd favourite with Rolex. The Rolex Sky-Dweller, which was only introduced in 2012, is the model with the most complications within the Geneva-based brand's product range and, in addition to a day and date disc, also features the Saros annual calendar that can be adjusted by means of the Ring Command system. While the Sky-Dweller series is very popular in general due to its 42 mm size and striking appearance, the reference number 326934 seems to have particularly impressed watch enthusiasts. With its blue dial, fluted white gold bezel, and Oyster or Jubilée bracelet made of Oystersteel, this model seems to have captured the spirit of the times. This model makes its fans wait for about 3 years – and as a new customer without an aforementioned purchase history usually even longer!

Waiting times for different Rolex models

The following table is only meant to be understood as a rough guide and based on personal experience. Official Rolex dealers are wary of giving exact waiting time periods, which could then even be invoked in a claim as a worst-case scenario.

Nevertheless, this table is intended to provide a rough idea of how long the minimum amount of time to expect on a Rolex waiting list is on average, if you are that determined to buy a Rolex new at the list price.

Model Duration*
Air-King 6 to 12 months
Datejust 3 to 12 months
Day-Date Over 3 years
Daytona Over 5 years, occasionally much longer
Deepsea Over 2 years
Explorer I 6 to 18 months
Explorer II 1 to 2 years
GMT-Master II Over 5 years, occasionally much longer
Milgauss 6 to 12 months
Oyster Perpetual 6 to 12 months
Sky-Dweller Over 3 years
Submariner 1 – 2 years
Yacht-Master 6 to 18 months
Yacht-Master II 6 to 18 months

*These figures are intended as a rough guide and are in no way corroborated by Rolex or any official dealer. Furthermore, these figures can vary greatly depending on your relationship with the seller.

So why is this the case?

Production capacity

The bottom line is that the availability of Rolex watches is closely linked to their production capacity for movements. On average, Rolex produces about 1.2 million timepieces per year. These are distributed among the different dealers, following orders from the dealer as well as specifications from Rolex. While steel models are produced more frequently than those made of gold or Rolesor, they are also bought much more frequently. After all, a new steel Submariner is less expensive than one made of gold, and it's also not as flashy.

For watches like the Submariner (with or without date) with a black dial, a dealer will receive about 40 units per year. For a GMT-Master II (ref. 126710BLRO), this number is only 20, and for models like the Daytona (ref. 126518LN) in yellow gold, it may be as few as 3 to 5 timepieces per year. It's even more complicated with models like the platinum Daytona (ref. 116506). Here, a dealer may only get 1 or 2 watches... If any at all.

Rolex Daytona 116506 in platinum with blue dial next to cufflinks and blue fabric

Retailers and their "blacklist"

In the meantime, there are at least 100 people on the waiting list or prospective buyers list for each of the aforementioned watches – and the number is rising. Moreover, dealers are afraid of "flippers", i.e. customers who immediately resell a watch on the pre-owned market for two or three times as much. In order to prevent this, customers whose behaviour catches the dealer's attention are put on a blacklist and will no longer have access to highly sought-after Rolex watches in the future. In other words, dealers are encouraged to consider and check carefully who is being offered a watch in the first place.

The popularity of gold and steel models

Another consideration is that gold enjoys enormous popularity, especially in times of crisis, and that causes the demand for gold watches to rise dramatically. Steel, on the other hand, remains generally popular whenever there is no major crisis and enjoys a correspondingly high level of demand.

Rolesor does not seem to enjoy the same degree of popularity as the pure steel or gold models yet, so models in the steel-gold combination are easier to come by occasionally. That said, this shouldn't be relied upon too heavily, as the trend toward the combination of steel and gold is beginning to experience a bit of a revival.

Short, but intense trends!

Perhaps you noticed this hype at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 – a bright turquoise became a trendy colour overnight. Patek Philippe created a completely new trend with a "Tiffany & Co." special edition of the Nautilus. Simply on account of its similarly coloured dial, prices for the heretofore moderately popular Oyster Perpetual 41 (ref. 124300) shot through the roof from just under €9,000 in May 2021 to its current price of between €30,000 and €100,000! The fact that Rolex has since discontinued the turquoise 124300 in 41 mm as part of its 2022 range of new releases has done nothing to counteract this price trend.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 124300 with turquoise dial on white fabric

It is precisely these trends that jump around from brand to brand, making unspectacular models like the Oyster Perpetual an extremely sought-after model. This further contributes to the low availability and long waiting times for Rolex watches.

How can you avoid the long waiting time?

Is there any way to get coveted Rolex models without the long wait? One of the easiest ways to bypass the waiting list is to visit the Watchmaster online store. There, it is possible to find many of the most popular Rolex models and numerous other luxury watches – all refurbished by our watchmakers and available online immediately. We guarantee the authenticity of the available watches, their functionality, and their perfect condition. And best of all, there is no waiting period, purchase history, or similar nonsense.

Alternative watches that you can wear immediately

If you do not mind the waiting, but still want to enjoy the time wearing a new wristwatch, then you might also want to consider one of our alternatives. If you plan on travelling to other countries, for example, you can opt for the GMT-Master II 116710LN, which is no longer in production, or the popular Sky-Dweller 326934. Other alternatives might include popular Explorer II (Ref. 216570) models that come with white or black dials. Both have a date window, second-time zone, and are water-resistant up to 100 meters – and at Watchmaster, it's possible to get an Explorer 2 with no waiting period at all! Furthermore, they are significantly more affordable than the highly sought-after GMT-Master models. If you are likely to stay in shallow waters, the sporty Submariner Date (ref. 116610LN) and No Date (ref. 114060) models are a good alternative to the previously mentioned watches with their endless waiting lists.

Regardless of this, many of the watches offered by Watchmaster are ready to be shipped immediately and could soon be yours. But do not hesitate for too long, because all watches in the Watchmaster Shop are unique pieces and only available once.