A Guide to Iconic Rolex Watch Collections

A Guide to Iconic Rolex Watches

Shopping for a luxury watch? Rolex is one of the world’s most well-known luxury watch brands, and you may have come to find that there are many collections to choose from.


Over the years, Rolex has released many different collections of watches, each with its own unique designs and features. From the Submariner to the Milgauss, each Rolex collection tells a story, embodies unique physical characteristics, and includes some stand-out models. This guide will give you a closer look at some of the most celebrated Rolex watches you can shop for, starting with the ever-iconic Submariner collection.

Did you know Rolex used to make red boxes? Watch this YouTube Short video on the evolution of Rolex watch boxes: 

The Rolex Submariner

The Rolex Submariner watch was launched in 1953 and is known as the first divers’ wristwatch. It is waterproof to a depth of 1,000 feet. It is characterized by a graduated rotatable bezel, a luminescent display, and large hands and hour markers for optimum performance and visibility underwater. The bezel insert, manufactured by Rolex from a hard, corrosion-resistant ceramic, has a special chemical composition that cannot corrode. Today, the Submariner remains an iconic timepiece enjoyed by both diving professionals and everyday watch enthusiasts. Standout models include the 50th anniversary “Kermit” watch and the “Hulk. Read more about special edition Rolex watches here.  

The Rolex Datejust

Known by Rolex as “the watch for the dates to remember,” the Rolex Datejust was created in 1945 and symbolizes Rolex’s definition of elegance. It is known as the first self-winding waterproof chronometer wristwatch to feature a window displaying the date (hence the name). The date is magnified by a cyclops lens, offering comfort, legibility, and daily time management. It’s an ideal timepiece for the daily active watch wearer. Rolex continuously releases new Datejusts to perfectly adapt to all the personalities of its wearers. Standout models include Datejust models with unique dials and bracelets. 

The Rolex GMT-Master II

The Rolex GMT-Master II is the successor to the model created in 1955 for airline pilots. It is the ideal watch for crisscrossing the globe, according to Rolex. With an additional 24-hour hand and a two-color rotatable graduated bezel, the GMT-Master II is known for simultaneously displaying two timezones. It also features a chromalight display that allows the hands and hour markers filled with luminescent material to emit a long-lasting glow in the dark. The two-color bezel makes this Rolex style instantly recognizable by onlookers.  Standout models include the GMT-Master II “Pepsi,” “Sprite,” “Batman,” “Batgirl,” and “Root Beer.”

The Rolex Day-Date

First conceptualized in 1956, the Rolex Day-Date is a widely recognized watch that displays both the day and the date. The technology of displaying both day and the date was revolutionary for the time.  Learn what makes a fake Rolex Day-Date fake in this post. 

On the Day-Date, the date is located at 3 o’clock, and the day is spelled out in full at 12 o’clock. Rolex offers different languages for its wearers to choose from to allow for cultural identity expression. Today, both the day and date capability makes the Day-Date a precious timepiece for everyday use. According to Rolex, this style presents the balance between elegance and technical excellence, sometimes giving it the nickname “presidents’ watch.” Standout models include platinum diamond versions. 

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Launched in 1963, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is become an icon and is linked to the famous Daytona racetrack and overall the racecar profession. According to Rolex, the Cosmograph Daytona stands out by virtue of its chronometric precision as well as its unfailing reliability. The style is characterized by its distinctive bezel, minute track, and three counters. Today there are so many versions, including different colors and cases. Standout models include the Rolex Daytona “Panda,” distinguished by a white background and black counters on the dial, which was initially worn by racecar driver and entrepreneur Paul Newman.

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is so quintessentially Rolex. The watch is designed with a waterproof Oyster case providing the Rolex movement with optimal protection from water and other elements like dust. This style is made exclusively of Oystersteel and has a perpetual rotor which is a patented self-winding mechanism developed by Rolex and rotates whenever the wearer moves their wrist, which winds the mainspring. Many Rolex watches from various collections include the perpetual rotor. Standout watches include dials in vibrant colors, like this one.

The Rolex Yacht-Master

The Rolex Yacht-Master embodies the brand’s nautical spirit and the brand’s ties with the world of sailing. Most recently, the Yacht-Master II version, built for yachting competitions, was presented in 2007. The Yacht-Master line is recognized for its bidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated bezel, which according to Rolex, allows the wearer to view two-time intervals, for example, the sailing time between two buoys. It also has a programmable countdown timer that can be set to start from 1 to 10 minutes, making it perfect for timing regattas and other sailing events. Additionally, it has a unique mechanical memory allowing the wearer to quickly reset the countdown timer to the same starting point if necessary. Standout models include dials with colors borrowing inspiration from the sea. 

The Rolex Sea-Dweller

The Rolex Sea-Dweller is a watch designed for professional divers and underwater explorers. It was first introduced in 1967 and has since become one of the most respected diving watches in the world. The Sea-Dweller features a helium escape valve, which allows the watch to safely release built-up helium during deep saturation dives. It is also water-resistant up to 4,000 feet, making it ideal for deep-sea exploration. Standout models include the “James Cameron” Sea-Dweller, which was created in 2014 and commemorates James Cameron and his voyage to the deepest parts of the sea.

The Rolex Air-King

The Rolex Air-King is a watch designed for pilots and aviation enthusiasts. It was first introduced in the 1940s and has since become known for its simple and classic design. The Air-King features a durable and reliable automatic movement and a clear and easy-to-read dial with large 3, 6, and 9-hour markets. The Air-King is available in several different materials, including stainless steel, and has a comfortable and secure bracelet that is perfect for pilots who need to wear their watch for long periods of time. Standout models include the Air-King with a distinctive black dial.

The Rolex Explorer

As the name suggests, the Rolex Explorer and Explorer II (introduced in 1971) is a watch designed for adventurers and explorers. The design is inspired by information gathered from an Everest expedition following Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. It was first introduced in 1953 and has since become known for its rugged and durable design. The Explorer features a simple and classic dial with large numerals and reliable automatic movement. It is also water-resistant up to 100 meters, making it suitable for a variety of outdoor activities. This style exudes a timeless design that is sure to appeal to anyone with a sense of adventure … and a love for luxury that can withstand extreme conditions. Standouts include the Explorer 36 and Explorer 40 with black lacquer dials bearing the emblematic 3, 6, and 9 numerals.

The Rolex Lady-Datejust

The Rolex Lady Datejust is a watch designed specifically for women. It was first introduced in 1957 and has since become known for its elegant and luxurious design. The Lady Datejust features a smaller case size than the traditional Datejust, making it the perfect size for a woman’s wrist. According to Rolex, the Lady-Datejust is the perfect blend of proportion, robustness, and elegance. It is one of the most varied lines within the Rolex collection of watches. Standout versions include mother of pearl dials with diamonds around this bezel, such as this one. 

The Rolex Sky-Dweller

Another watch for world travelers is the Rolex Sky-Dweller, created in 2012. What makes this watch stand out are its features: a dual time zone with the Saros annual calendar. The dual time zone display allows the wearer to keep track of two different time zones simultaneously, making it perfect for frequent travelers. The annual calendar only needs to be adjusted once a year, making it a convenient and practical choice for busy professionals. Standout models include Sky-Dwellers with an Oysterfelx strap, providing the wearer with style and comfort.

The Rolex Milgauss

The Rolex Milgauss is a watch designed for scientists and engineers who work in environments with high levels of electromagnetic fields. It was first introduced in 1956 and has since become known for its unique design and innovative technology. The Milgauss features a unique Faraday cage that protects the movement from magnetic interference, making it extremely accurate and reliable in even the most challenging environments. It also has a distinctive lightning bolt-shaped second hand and is available in several different materials, including stainless steel and white gold. The Rolex Milgauss is a watch that is not only functional and reliable but also has a bold and eye-catching design that is sure to appeal to anyone looking for a unique and high-tech timepiece.

Which Rolex watch do you prefer? 

Since its inception, Rolex has released many different collections of watches over the years, each with its own story, unique design, and features. From the rugged and durable Explorer to the timeless and classic Datejust, there is a Rolex watch for every style and taste. 

Whether you’re an avid collector or simply looking for a luxury watch that will last a lifetime, Rolex is an ultra-luxury brand you can trust. Shop 100% pre-loved Rolex watches at FASHIONPHILE.