The Best Buys In Vintage Best Quality UK Rolex Fake Watches For $10,000 Or Less
Hop in the wayback machine with me for a minute, will ya? Let’s dial it back to 2012, when one John Mayer wrote an article recommending his “best buys in vintage Rolex for $8,000 or less.”
In those halcyon days, back when we all carried around a diminutive iPhone 4S in our pockets, we were able to recommend four-digit classics like the UK top replica Rolex Explorer 1016, GMT-Master 1675, and Submariner 5513 watches.
Eleven years later, many of these recs are decidedly out of reach if your budget is limited to eight grand, so I figured it was time to revisit the idea. But wait, you might say, doesn’t the headline say “$10,000 or less?” Why yes, yes it does. I think it’s fair to say, more than a decade later that – fires up the inflation calculator – $10,000 is the new $8,000. And my editors told me “best buys in vintage Rolex for under $10,000” would be better for something called SEO, so here we go (I used the keywords again guys!).
This time around, I surveyed a few dealer and collector friends for recommendations for the best vintage luxury Rolex fake watches under $10,000. With a lot of those classic four-digit references out of reach for our budget, many continue to look to “neo-vintage” Rolex from the 1980s and ’90s for value, mostly defined by the five-digit reference numbers Rolex used. Many of these references are “transitional,” with Rolex slowly introducing some of the modern updates we now expect from luxury Rolex – sapphire crystals, LuminNova, quickset dates, glossy dials – but still feature some of that vintage DNA that made them the tool 1:1 Rolex replica watches we love.
Replica Rolex Explorer 14270 Watches
Like our 2012 list, we have to start with the Explorer – among those I asked, the China Rolex Explorer 14270 replica watches, produced from 1989 through 2000, was easily the most recommended. Kind of like the older 1016, it’s simple, perhaps the purest expression of a Rolex tool watch, just a little more luxurious now.
When I asked Ben for his rec, he simply responded “Early 14270.” For what it’s worth (and it’s worth a little bit), the 14270 was Clymer’s first Rolex (that one a rare blackout version because of course), while Eric Ku once told us it was the “first Rolex I ever loved.” For what else it’s worth (considerably less, if anything), it was also my first Rolex purchase.
The 14270 saw a number of changes over its production, typically delineated by the lume compound used on the dial, from “T-Swiss” to “Swiss Only” to “Swiss Made” over the course of a decade. There are also other changes to the dial, case, and bracelet, which Danny Milton’s explored in an in-depth article about the 14270. But for under $10k, you can have your pick of variants, except for the rarest, like those blackout dials.
Like Ben, my vote would be an earlier 14270 “T-Swiss” Explorer with tritium lume and lug holes to make for easier strap/bracelet changes – part of the Explorer’s beauty is that it works on pretty much anything. Swiss made Rolex copy watches transitioned away from lug holes on the 14270 around ’94, and away from tritium in about ’98. But if you want to geek out more about variants, check out Danny’s article (“Tritanova” dial, anyone?) – I’ll leave you with a quote from that piece that explain the 14270’s best-of-both-worlds appeal:
“With the 14270, we have a watch that represents so much to the idea of a modern Rolex, and a watch with enough of that good ole’ minutiae to keep things interesting for years to come.”
Price: $5,500 – $6,500
Fake Rolex Explorer II 16570 (Polar) Watches
The Swiss movements replica Rolex Explorer II 16570 “Polar” watches has long been an enthusiast favorite – it’s a clean white dial sports watch, something that’s not very common in the Rolex catalog.
“I love the size, the functionality, the mix of old and new Rolex, and the continuation of the Explorer II as the oddball of everyday Rolex,” says James Stacey, my colleague and proud 16570 owner.
“I’d say 16570 white dial, every time. Ideally tritium,” agreed Tim Bender of Fog City Vintage when I asked him the $10,000 question.
Bender is, in particular, a fan of 16570 “Chichi Di Mais” dials (Italian for corn kernels) named after their lume plots that have turned a shade of yellow/orange. These dials are found in early ’90s tritium high quality Rolex Explorer II fake watches (E, X, N, and S serials).
“I even prefer them over cream 16550 Explorer IIs,” Bender said, referring to the prior reference that often ages to a beautiful, creamy patina and collectors pay big bucks for. “Chichi Di Mais are probably as rare as the 16550, but trade at about a third of the cost.”
Today, he said you can expect to pay about $10,000 to $12,000 for one of these. For the sake of this thought exercise, let’s assume I was a bulldog negotiator and Tim sold me one for $10,000. But if you don’t really care about all that Italian stuff, Tim recommends a Luminova dial with drilled lugs and solid end links, which were offered together for only a few years in the early 2000s. These are easily under $10,000.
James emphasized the practicality of the 16570, while Bender honed in on the potential collectibility of variants like the Chichi Di Mais. This is the mix of old and new Rolex James mentioned that has drawn many people to the era of five-digit perfect Rolex super clone watches over the last few years (in addition to four-digit models being increasingly out of reach).
“The white dial appeals to me to an extent that it makes the 16570 my favorite five-digit Rolex, heck, likely my favorite modern Rolex of all time,” James said. Good enough for Stacey, good enough for me.
Price: $7,500 – $9,500 ($10,000 – $12,000 for Chichi Di Mais)
Steel Rolex Datejust 1601 Replica Watches ‘With a Cool Dial’
While many truly vintage sports watches might be out of reach under ten grand today, perhaps the most classic Rolex of all is still gettable: the replica Rolex Datejust watches for men. It is, and always will be, a worthwhile way to spend your money, whether it’s your first or 101st watch.
Unlike the rest of these picks, there are a number of vintage Rolex Datejust fake watches wholesale that offer a seemingly infinite number of bezel, dial, and bracelet combinations. There’s something for pretty much anyone’s taste, and at 36mm, the steel case wears perfectly on just about any wrist.
My pick would be a ref. 1601 or 1603 with a “lavender dial,” a silver dial that’s developed a purple-hued patina over time. But there are all kinds of dials to choose from.
“Unpolished Datejust with a linen dial,” dealer Eric Wind texted me back quicker than a quickset date change when I ask him the “Rolex under $10k?” question. Some buyers might prefer a more modern reference from the ’80s or ’90s with a quickset date (introduced in the 160xx series in the late ’70s) and a sturdier bracelet with solid links, which I’d also understand. With a steel Rolex, sometimes practicality is king.
If you’re into the steel Datejust, here are a few references to search for, along with their defining features: 1600 (smooth bezel, non-quickset date), 1601 (fluted bezel, non-quickset), 1603 (engine-turned bezel, non-quickset), 16000 (smooth bezel, quickset), 16013 (fluted, quickset), 16030 (engine-turned bezel, quickset), 16014 (fluted, quickset), 16220 (engine-turned, quickset), 16234 (fluted, quickset).
Price: $5,000 – $7,000
Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 Fake Watches
The Swiss made replica Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 watches was produced from 1988 through 2008, sitting alongside a couple of the previous five-digit references in the Rolex catalog for many of those years. I like adding a Sea-Dweller to this list because it’s a less obvious choice than a Submariner, and the 40mm case of the 16600 still wears nicely. A little thicker, no cyclops date, and the helium escape valve.
“The follow-up to the now collectible ‘triple six’ reference 16660, this Sea-Dweller is a bit more under the radar without a quick nickname,” Hodinkee’s vintage expert Rich Fordon said.
In a theme that you’ll see has developed here, Rich recommended an earlier 16600 with tritium lume and nice patina (Rolex began to change from tritium to LumiNova just before the turn of the century).
“The sizing is so much more comfortable than any other Sea-Dweller produced since,” Rich said, referencing the fact that the next generation of the cheap Rolex Sea-Dweller replica watches was bumped up to 44mm, doing away with much of the vintage appeal of the original heavy-duty diver.
Price: $9,000 – $10,000