What's It Worth? The Holy Grail of Rolex... with Limitations

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We were excited when we got the call. A jeweler in South Florida had come across one of what is considered the Holy Grail of Rolex Submariners. The coveted 6204 is one of the earliest of all Rolex Submariners — made in 1953 with a decidedly different look than today’s Submariners. It’s smaller in size, has no crown guards and is often referred to as the James Bond model.

For this style Submariner in terrific condition, with box and papers, we would happily pay $100,000 to $200,000. While they rarely have original papers, even a really fine example without papers can easily be worth six figures.

We were greatly disappointed when we saw the watch. The movement and case were in good condition, but the most crucial part — the dial — was faded. It was original, but its luminescence had worn off and the dial markers were faded. As we’ve written before, the dial is the most critical part of a vintage watch because it is the first thing you see and the most difficult to restore. And if you do restore them, they bring considerably less than an original dial.

It also doesn’t have the original bezel insert (the outer black rotating part). But in the world of Holy Grail watches it still has value. The seller wanted $50,000; I initially offered $35,000 and we settled on $40,000.

The next decision is whether to restore or sell as is. Within hours of buying it we were inundated with offers to purchase it. We were asking $55,000, and will likely settle in the $45,000 to $50,000 range. When all is said and done, we will probably sell it to one of our long-term Italian or Asian customers. Keep in mind — when it was originally sold in the 1950s it sold for less than $300. Please note we will beat the offer of any dealer in the U.S., whether brick and mortar or internet dealers. Price is no object on pre-1990s Rolex Submariners, GMTs and Explorers.

We are always buying used and vintage Rolex watches. We buy, sell and repair Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and other fine watches.

 


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