Best Rolex watches for women: The key styles that will never date

Nothing marks a milestone quite like investing in one of the best Rolex watches for women

collage of best rolex watches for women
(Image credit: Rolex)

When it comes to watches, none is more iconic than the Rolex. It’s a mark of both style and status—just two of the many reasons why the best Rolex watches for women have become such covetable and collectible items.

Buying a Rolex is a big deal. Normally reserved for marking milestone occasions like a promotion, birthday or anniversary, there are few luxury items that hold such widespread appeal. If you’re looking to invest in one of the best watches for women, plumping for one of the best Rolex watches is a savvy move. Whether you’re opting for a Lady-Datejust or an Oyster Perpetual, Rolexes are the perfect kind of investment buy. Incredibly wearable, they're also likely to hold or increase their value over time. While you might only slip on your best designer heels for special occasions or carry your best designer bags with particular outfits, a Rolex can be worn any time or place and will instantly elevate any look. A Rolex will remain a stylish and reliable part of your capsule wardrobe for years to come. 

“Wearing a Rolex adds a heightened level of luxury to any outfit – it speaks for itself,” explains celebrity stylist and private shopper Rachael Perry. “It’s a standalone piece, so you don’t need to worry too much about matching your Rolex to your other jewelry. They look great with precious stones (such as diamonds) and mixed metals. For example, you can still wear a gold Rolex with white gold or platinum jewelry, and a steel Rolex with gold jewelry.”

If you've looked at how to sell clothes online you'll know that the best Gucci bags and best Chanel bags have great resale potential and the same is true for women's Rolexes—particularly because they're so hard to get hold of in the first place. Not all styles will dramatically increase in price in the way rarer watches will, but nearly all will hold their value, making some of the Rolexes for investment a great purchase. It is not a stretch to say that Rolex changed the face of women’s jewelry. Pre-Rolex, even the best jewelry brands only designed pieces for women with aesthetics in mind. Watches and bracelets were always dainty and delicate, instead of built to be functional and durable. Rolex wanted to change that, giving women a watch they could rely on, without compromising on appearance. 

Best Rolex watches for women

Rolex lady datejust

(Image credit: Rolex)

1. Lady-Datejust

Best for all ages

Specifications

Price: From approx $6,500 / £7,300

Reasons to buy

+
Huge range of styles, dials, and metals 
+
Recognizable design
+
Great for everyday

Reasons to avoid

-
Unlikely to significantly increase in value 

A smaller take on the iconic Datejust style, the classic Lady-Datejust was designed to provide its female wearers with a better fit. It is one of the most varied lines in the collection, available in a broad range of styles, dials and metals. Shoppers can choose from the Oyster, President, or Jubilee bracelets, as well as light, colored, dark, gem-set or diamond-paved dials. The options you choose are of course reflected in the price, which range from approximately $6,500 / £7,300 to price on request. Functions include minutes and second hands, instant date settings and stop-seconds. The Lady-Datejust is self-winding via a perpetual rotor, with a power reserve of around 55 hours. 

Oyster Perpetual 28

(Image credit: Rolex)

2. Oyster Perpetual 28

Best for accessible price point

Specifications

Price: From approx $5,400 / £4,100

Reasons to buy

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Iconic Oyster bracelet
+
Waterproof
+
Accessible price point 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not rare enough for collectors 

If you’re after a watch that perfectly summarises Rolexes' history, the Oyster Perpetual is a wise choice. Not only is it the heir to the first Rolex waterproof watch case, but the word perpetual also makes a big nod to the self-winding mechanism which made the brand its name. Combining form and function in a sleek package, the designs remain waterproof today. The Oyster Perpetual 28 is the smallest in the Oyster Perpetual range, with the 28 referring to the 28mm face. Key features include the iconic flat, three-link Oyster bracelet, crafted from robust steel, with a choice of colored faces. As far as Rolexes go, the Oyster Perpetual is a more affordable option, with prices starting around $5,400 / £4,100.

Oyster Perpetual 31

(Image credit: Rolex)

3. Oyster Perpetual 31

Best for a Rolex for evening wear

Specifications

Price: From approx $5,500 / £4,200

Reasons to buy

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Accessible price point
+
Elegant design
+
Different sizes available

Reasons to avoid

-
Fewer finishes available 

If the Oyster 28 has piqued your interest but not quite hit the mark, consider the slightly larger Oyster Perpetual 31. It has a very similar dial configuration to the 36 and 41, and is available with a wide choice of colored faces. 

"The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust is the epitome of a classic and elegant timepiece,” says Lisa Broun, Senior Watch Buyer at the Watches of Switzerland Group. “It consolidated all the major innovations Rolex had contributed to the modern wristwatch and was the first self-winding waterproof chronometer wristwatch to display the date in a window at 3 o’clock.”

“Available in a variety of different sizes with a large selection of dials in different colors, finishes and materials, the Oyster Perpetual Datejust combines elegance with precision, grace with resistance and beauty with performance. It remains a major draw for clients and at Mappin & Webb we try to create an experience as memorable as the collection itself.”

Day-Date 36

(Image credit: Rolex)

4. Day-Date 36

Best for collectors

Specifications

Price : From approx $37,000 / £28,000

Reasons to buy

+
Historic style
+
Crafted from luxurious materials 
+
Investment piece

Reasons to avoid

-
High price point 

A watch steeped in brand history, the Rolex Day-Date was the first to display the day of the week in full when launched in 1956. This is a watch that implies status, and is available only in 18-carat gold or 950 platinum. This high quality is reflected in a far higher price point when compared to styles such as the Oyster Perpetual. Prices obtained from Rolex start at around $37,000 / £28,000, with the majority of the styles listed as price on request. The 36mm dial is available in light, colored, dark, gem-set or diamond-paved option, encased in either yellow, pink and white golds, or platinum. As you can imagine, this really is a standout style and idea for wearing with evening wear or for a special occasion.

Yacht-Master 37

(Image credit: Rolex)

5. Yacht-Master 37

Best for performance

Specifications

Price: From approx $9,250 / £7,000

Reasons to buy

+
Available with a non-metal strap
+
Built for waterproof performance
+
Timeless but modern feel

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as formal

The Yacht-Master 37 is a watch built for performance. It is both extremely hard-wearing and waterproof, making it a smart choice for keen sailors or anyone with a love of watersports. Especially as the chronograph feature allows you to use it as both a display watch and stopwatch. The colorways of the Yacht-Master 37 are more limited than other lines, sticking to a sophisticated palette of silver, pink gold and black. Unlike other collections, which only offer metal straps, there is the Oysterflex bracelet option, which bends and moves with the wearer, offering a sporty and less formal alternative—pair with your fave Breton top for the full nautical look. 

Rolex Datejust 31

(Image credit: Rolex)

6. Datejust 31

Best for availability

Specifications

Price: From approx $8,300 / £6,300

Reasons to buy

+
Tends to be readily available to buy
+
Distinctive design
+
Embellished designs available

Reasons to avoid

-
May not increase in price 

Another of the best Rolex watches for women which takes its name from its most distinctive feature, the Datejust was the first self-winding wristwatch to display the date in a window close to 3 o’clock on the dial. Over the years, it has become one of the brand's most iconic, and instantly recognizable designs. There is a choice of Jubilee, Oyster or President bracelets, but the five-link Jubilee is steeped in history, having been specially designed for the 1945 launch of the Oyster Perpetual Datejust. The dials can be light, colored, dark, or gem-set. 

Datejust 36

(Image credit: Rolex)

7. Datejust 36

Best for unisex design

Specifications

Price: From approx $6,500 / £4,945

Reasons to buy

+
Statement, unisex design
+
Good choice of design options

Reasons to avoid

-
May not increase in price 

4mm may sound small, but when it comes to watches it is not an insignificant detail. Some may find that the Datejust 31 doesn’t offer the impact they’re looking for, which is when the Datejust 36 becomes a brilliant option. At this size, the watch is unisex, with features both male and female Rolex wearers will love. Compared to the Datejust 31, the dials are almost identical, with the namesake display date in place of 3 o’clock. Again, the breadth of options is impressive, this time with a choice between the Oyster or Jubilee bracelets, as well as light, colored, dark or gem-set dials. 

Brief history of Rolex watches

How do you become the world’s most iconic watch brand? For Rolex, it all started in 1905, when Hans Wildorf founded a company in London that would go on to create the first waterproof watch to be worn on the wrist, calling it the Oyster. The movements and mechanics in the original Rolexes were manufactured by a Swiss factory in Bienne, before the brand moved to Geveva (a city famous for watchmaking) in 1920.

Between 1926 and 1935, the Rolex was seriously put through its paces, establishing itself as a brand for the adventurous. The Rolex Oyster crossed the channel in 1927 to prove its waterproof capabilities, before being worn by a crew on an expedition to fly over Everest. A Rolex was also worn by driver Sir Malcom Campbell as he broke the world speed record nine times by 1935.

The thing that really set Rolex apart from the crowd and its competitors? In 1931 the brand both invented, and subsequently patented, a self-winding mechanism with a free rotor. It was based on a principle that was later adopted by the entirety of watchmaking, changing the industry forever.

Over the succeeding years, Rolex continued to build a name for itself as a watch brand that did so much more than tell the time. Rolexes were not only worn by adventurers, but their popularity soared with the rise of intercontinental travel, as the need to keep track of the time over multiple zones increased. Rolex quickly came to be associated with excellence, whether that was through achievements, wealth or status.

Key launch dates for the most iconic Rolex watches include:

  • 1945: The Datejust
  • 1953: The Explorer
  • 1953: The Submariner
  • 1955: The GMT-Master
  • 1956: The Oyster Perpetual Milgauss
  • 1957: The Lady-Datejust
  • 1960: The Deep Sea Special
  • 1963: The Cosmograph Daytona 
  • 1967: The Sea-Dweller
  • 1971: The Oyster Perpetual Explorer II
  • 1978: The Sea-Dweller 4000
  • 1992: The Pearlmaster
  • 1992: The Yacht-Master
  • 2007: Yacht-Master II
  • 2012: The Sky-Dweller
  • 2014: The new Cellini collection
  • 2017: Cellini Moonphase

How to shop for a Rolex

Shopping for a Rolex is not always quite as straightforward as buying other luxury items and while you can get a Burberry trench coat online, that isn't the case for Rolex watches. Shopping in-store is not without its quirks too, with low stock levels, there are long waiting lists to consider. 

Fake Rolex watches are rife, so for complete peace of mind it is important to buy in-store through an official, approved Rolex jeweler. This way your Rolex will not only come with full authentication but a five-year guarantee. It also affords you the opportunity to try on different designs, to see which you prefer. You can have the strap or links adjusted with ease too, for the best possible fit. Not to mention the experience in-store is a special one. The sales staff in Rolex are notoriously knowledgeable, turning the process of purchasing one of the best Rolexes for women into something to treasure. 

If the Rolex you’re hoping to buy is a popular style, you may have to join a waiting list. Production is small for such an iconic brand, with only four factories in the world. Styles like the Rolex Datejust tend to be readily available, whereas the Sports models are more difficult to get hold of, with lead times of more than a year. Building a relationship with an authorized dealer and having a purchase history with the brand will help you to rise higher up the waiting list. Hence why so many watch fans and enthusiasts have built up a collection of Rolexes over a long period of time. 

As you would expect, there is a huge market for vintage and pre-loved Rolexes. If you’re buying second-hand, choose a trusted watch dealer and do your research first. You’re parting with a lot of money, so don’t want to end up disappointed. 

Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is a former Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.