top of page

Comprehensive guide to Rolex Reference Numbers and interesting facts about each Rolex Model.

Do you ever get confused about Rolex reference numbers? I know I do and so I created this list with images to help. Before we even get to refence numbers there are dozens of models too!

Datejust, Day-Date, Daytona, Explorer, Explorer II, GMT-Master, GMT-Master II, Milgauss, Oyster Perpetual, Sea-Dweller, Submariner, Yacht-Master, Air-King, Cellini, Cosmograph, Deepsea, Oyster Perpetual Date, Oyster Perpetual Date Just, Oyster Perpetual Day-Date, Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller, Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II, President

Rolex assigns each watch a unique reference number, which is a combination of numbers and sometimes letters, to identify the specific model, material, bezel, and bracelet type. These reference numbers have evolved over time, becoming more complex as new features were added to the watches.

Here's a breakdown of some popular Rolex models and their reference numbers together with some famous people wearing the watches. Afterall, most Rolex sales are driven by the status game. So when a famous person wears a certain Rolex you can bet it becomes more popular and collectable.

1 Rolex Submariner

Reference Numbers:

6204, 6205, 6200, 6538, 6536, 5517, 5514, 5513, 5512, 5508, 16800, 168000, 14060, 14060M, 16610, 16618, 16613, 116610, 116619, 116618, 116613, 116660

Interesting Facts About the Rolex Submariner

  1. The Rolex Submariner was the first diver's watch water-resistant to 100 meters (330 feet) when it was introduced in 1953. This was a ground breaking achievement at the time.

  2. The original Submariner, reference 6204, had a Bakelite bezel that contained radioactive material for luminosity. This was later replaced with an aluminium bezel for safety reasons.

  3. Sean Connery, whilst playing James Bond in the 1962 movie DrNo wore a Submariner 6538 which is the first instance of a Rolex appearing on screen.

  4. In 1969, Rolex introduced the first Submariner with a date complication, reference 1680. This was a significant upgrade from the time-only Submariner models.

  5. The "Kermit" Submariner, reference 16610LV, was introduced in 2003 to celebrate the model's 50th anniversary. It featured a green bezel, the first time Rolex used green on a Submariner.

  6. The "Hulk" Submariner, reference 116610LV, was released in 2010 and featured a green dial and bezel, a first for the Submariner line.

  7. The Submariner is one of the most counterfeited watches in the world due to its iconic status and high demand. Spotting fakes can be challenging for the untrained eye.

2 Rolex ​GMT-Master and GMT-Master II

Reference Numbers:

GMT-Master 6542, 1675, 16750, 16700

GMT-Master II 6760, 16710, 116710, 116713, 116718, 116719, 126710

Top Facts About the Rolex GMT-Master

  1. The Rolex GMT-Master w1s developed in 1954 at the request of Pan Am airlines to create a watch that could display two time zones simultaneously for their pilots.

  2. The first GMT-Master, reference 6542, had a Bakelite bezel that contained radioactive material for luminosity, which led to it being recalled in the U.S. due to safety concerns.

  3. The GMT-Master 1675, introduced in 1959, was the longest-running GMT-Master model, remaining in production for over 20 years with various updates and refinements.

  4. In 1971, Rolex introduced the "hacking" seconds function to the GMT-Master, allowing the seconds hand to stop when the crown is pulled out for more accurate time setting.

  5. The GMT-Master II, introduced in 1982, featured an independent 24-hour hand that could be set separately, allowing the wearer to track a third time zone.

  6. The "Batman" GMT-Master II, reference 116710BLNR, was introduced in 2013 and featured a black and blue ceramic bezel, the first time Rolex used a two-tone ceramic bezel.

  7. The latest GMT-Master II "Batman", reference 126710BLNR, was released in 2019 and features an updated movement and a Jubilee bracelet.

  8. The BLNR at the end of the 116710 reference number stands for "Bleu Noir", which refers to the blue and black bezel on this model.

3 Rolex ​DateJust

Reference Numbers:

Rolex DateJust 1600, 1601, 1603, 1607, 1630, 6305, 6518, 116244, 6604, 6605, 6827, 16000, 16013, 16014, 16018, 166201, 16030, 16078, 16200, 16203, 16220, 16233, 16234, 16238, 16248, 16250, 16364, 17000, 17013, 17014, 116138, 116139, 116188, 116189, 116199, 116200, 116238, 116201, 116203, 116208, 116231, 116233, 116234, 116243

Rolex DateJust II  116300, 116334

Top Facts About the Rolex DateJust and DateJust II

  1. The Rolex Datejust was the first self-winding (automatic) wristwatch to indicate the date in a window on the dial when it was introduced in 1945

  2. The Datejust was released to celebrate Rolex's 40th anniversary. It was equipped with Rolex's new Jubilee bracelet, which was named after the jubilee occasion.

  3. The first Datejust, reference 4467, was made in solid 18k gold and featured a full gold Jubilee bracelet.

  4. The Datejust has been worn by many famous figures, including US Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. during his "I Have a Dream" speech.

  5. Rolex introduced the iconic Cyclops magnifying lens for the date window on the Datejust in 1953.

  6. The Datejust is Rolex's most-sold model due to the wide range of sizes, materials, and configurations available, from 28mm to 41mm.

  7. Notable Datejust wearers include actor Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho" and the Dalai Lama

  8. The differences between DateJust & DateJust II is 36mm case versus 41mm for the DateJust II

4 Rolex ​Daytona

Reference Numbers:

Rolex Daytona 36240, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264, 6265, 6269, 6270, 16520 ("Zenith Daytona"), 16523 (two-tone "Zenith Daytona"), 16528 (solid gold "Zenith Daytona"), 116500LN (current stainless steel model with ceramic bezel), 116505 (current solid 18k rose gold model), 116506 (current platinum model with ice blue dial), 116508 (current solid 18k yellow gold model), 116509 (current solid 18k white gold model), 116515 (current 18k Everose gold model with Oysterflex bracelet), 116518 (current 18k yellow gold model), 116519 (current 18k white gold model), 116599 (rare diamond-set models)

Top Facts About the Rolex Daytona

  1. The Daytona was named after the famous Daytona International Speedway in Florida, where Rolex became the official timekeeper in 1962.Da

  2. The Daytona was not an immediate success when it was first introduced in 1963. It wasn't until actor and race car driver Paul Newman started wearing one that the watch gained popularity and became a cultural icon.

  3. Paul Newman's personal Daytona watch sold for a record-breaking $17.8 million at auction in 2017, making it the most expensive Rolex watch ever sold.

  4. Over the years, the Daytona has been worn by numerous celebrities and high-profile individuals, including racing legends, musicians, and actors. Some famous Daytona wearers include: Paul Newman, James Dean, Eric Clapton. Jay-Z, Cristiano Ronaldo to name just a few.

  5. The Rolex Daytona was initially powered by manual-wind Valjoux movements when it was first introduced in 1963. However In the late 1980s, Rolex sought to develop its own automatic chronograph movement to replace the Valjoux. They turned to Zenith and its ground breaking El Primero movement.

  6. This modified Zenith movement, called the Rolex Caliber 4030, powered the Rolex Daytona reference 16520 introduced in 1988. This "Zenith Daytona" was a major success and helped transform the Daytona into an iconic model.

  7. Today, Rolex is estimated to produce around 40,000 Daytona watches per year to meet the high global demand, which is why there is such a large grey market for used Daytona's.

  8. A Stainless steel Daytona (ref. 126500) has a list price of $15,100, and a waiting list so long they are out of reach for most people. That is why they sell for $35,000 on the grey market - even Millionaires have to pay a premium if they want one!

5 Rolex ​Day-Date (President)

Reference Numbers:

Rolex Day Date (President)  6510, 6511, 6611, 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808, 18038, 18039, 18078, 18238, 18239, 18248, 18249, 18298, 18299, 118138, 118139, 118208, 118209, 118235, 118236, 118238, 118239, 118288, 118289, 218206, 228235, 228238, 228239

Top Facts About the Rolex Day-Date (President)

  1. The Rolex Day-Date was introduced in 1956 as the first wristwatch to display the date and day of the week spelled out in full.

  2. It earned the "President" nickname due to its early association with influential figures like Lyndon B. Johnson, who was the first US president seen wearing a gold Rolex Day-Date.

  3. The Day-Date is only available in precious metal cases, such as 18k gold (yellow, white, or rose) or 950 platinum.

  4. Rolex launched the exclusive "President" bracelet specifically designed for the Day-Date model, further cementing its status.

  5. Over the decades, the Day-Date has been worn by many world leaders, business tycoons, and celebrities, solidifying its reputation as the "watch of the elite."

  6. Notable Day-Date wearers include Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Donald Trump.

  7. The Day-Date was the first Rolex to feature a quickset function, allowing the date and day to be set independently.

  8. In 1988, Rolex introduced the "Double Quickset" feature, making it even easier to adjust both the date and day.

  9. The Day-Date II, introduced in 2008, featured a larger 41mm case size to keep up with contemporary trends for bigger watches.

  10. Today, the Day-Date is available in 36mm and 40mm sizes, powered by Rolex's in-house Caliber 3255 movement with a 70-hour power reserve.

6 Rolex ​Oyster Perpetual

Reference Numbers:

Rolex Oyster Perpetual  10, 140, 142, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006, 1007, 1008, 1010, 1014, 1018, 1023, 1024, 1025, 1030, 1038, 1500, 1501, 1565, 5500, 6085, 6103, 6177, 6202, 6284, 6518, 6532, 6546, 6548, 6549, 6551, 6552, 6556, 6564, 6565, 6567, 6569, 6580, 6582, 6584, 6590, 6605, 6623, 6634, 14203, 14208, 14238, 14203M, 14208M, 14233M, 26mm (discontinued), 28mm, 31mm, 34mm, 36mm, 39mm (discontinued), 41mm, 124200, 124300, 276200, 277200

Notable changes & Variations:

  • Introduced in 1945 with self-winding "Perpetual" movement

  • First midsize 31mm model introduced in the 1960s

  • First ladies 24.6mm model introduced in 1964

  • Shifted from acrylic to sapphire crystal in 1986, starting with midsize model

  • Expanded size range from 26mm to 41mm between 2014-2020

  • 26mm model replaced by 28mm in 2020 update

  • 39mm model replaced by 41mm in 2020 update

The Oyster Perpetual has remained a core Rolex model since its introduction, evolving in size and features over the decades while maintaining its classic, simple design.

Top Facts About the Rolex ​Oyster Perpetual

  1. It was worn during Sir Malcolm Campbell's land speed record attempts in the 1930s.

  2. An Oyster Perpetual was worn by Captain Chuck Yeager when he broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 aircraft.

  3. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay wore Oyster Perpetual watches when they summited Mount Everest in 1953, inspiring the creation of the Rolex Explorer.

  4. The Oyster Perpetual's waterproof Oyster case and self-winding Perpetual movement were ground breaking innovations when introduced in the 1920s and 1930s.

  5. Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf got the idea for the Oyster case from the way oysters naturally protect themselves from the elements. The hermetically sealed case was a revolution in waterproof watch design.

  6. The Oyster Perpetual is considered Rolex's most versatile and timeless model, suitable for any occasion from casual to formal. Its simple, elegant design has remained largely unchanged since its introduction.

  7. Rolex has continuously updated the Oyster Perpetual over the decades, incorporating new movements, materials, and size options to keep it contemporary while preserving its classic appeal.

  8. The Oyster Perpetual is often the first Rolex model that new collectors purchase, serving as an entry point into the brand's prestigious lineup of watches. The Oyster Perpetual has served as the foundation for many other iconic Rolex models over the decades.

6 Rolex ​Explorer

Reference Numbers: Rolex Explorer: 1655, 16550, 16570, 216570, 226570

  • Ref. 6610 (1959-1963): 36mm case, black gilt dial, Mercedes-style hands

  • Ref. 1016 (1963-1989): Increased water resistance to 100m, new Caliber 1560/1570 movements

  • Ref. 14270 (1989-2001): Applied metal hour markers, Caliber 3000 movement, sapphire crystal

  • Ref. 114270 (2001-2010): Caliber 3130 movement, continued 36mm case

  • Ref. 214270 (2010-2021): Increased to 39mm case, new Caliber 3132 movement, initially no lume on numerals

  • Ref. 124270 (2021-present): Returned to 36mm case, new Caliber 3230 movement

Reference Numbers: Rolex Explorer II: 6610, 1016, 14270, 114270, 214270, 124270

  • Ref. 1655 (1971-1985): First Explorer II model, 39mm case, orange 24-hour hand

  • Ref. 16550 (1985-1989): Larger 40mm case, updated dial and movement

  • Ref. 16570 (1989-2011): Further refinements, new Caliber 3185/3186 movements

  • Ref. 216570 (2011-2021): 42mm case, "Maxi" dial with larger hands and hour markers

  • Ref. 226570 (2021-present): Latest model, 42mm case, updated Caliber 3285 movement

The key evolution for both the Explorer and Explorer II has been increases in case size, movement upgrades, and refinements to the dial design over the decades, while maintaining their core identities as robust, adventure-ready tool watches.

Top Facts About the Rolex ​Explorer & Explorer II

  1. The Explorer was created in 1953 to commemorate the first successful ascent of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Rolex provided the watches worn on this historic expedition.

  2. The original Explorer reference 6298 had a 36mm case, which was considered quite large for the time. This size has remained a core part of the Explorer's design over the decades.

  3. The Explorer's simple, legible dial design with the iconic 3-6-9 layout was specifically engineered to be highly readable in low-light conditions, making it ideal for mountaineering and exploration.

  4. Rolex used a special luminous material called Tritium on early Explorer dials, which gave the hands and markers a warm, golden glow in the dark. This was later replaced by more modern lume materials.

  5. The Explorer has been to the highest peaks on Earth, including being worn on Sir Edmund Hillary's historic Everest ascent, as well as the deepest point - the Mariana Trench - during the Trieste dive in 1960.

and the Explorer II;

  1. The original Rolex Explorer II reference 1655, introduced in 1971, was designed specifically for cave explorers and polar adventurers. It featured a distinctive orange 24-hour hand to help wearers distinguish day from night in environments with limited light.

  2. Actor Steve McQueen was famously photographed wearing a Rolex Explorer II reference 1655, which has led to that model being nicknamed the "Steve McQueen Explorer II" by collectors.

  3. British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, known as "the world's greatest living explorer", has been a longtime wearer of the Rolex Explorer II. He has taken the watch on many of his expeditions to the North and South Poles.

  4. In 2011, Rolex updated the Explorer II with a larger 42mm case size, a "Maxi" dial with oversized hands and markers, and the brand's latest in-house Caliber 3187 movement. This reference 216570 model was designed to be even more legible and robust for modern adventurers.

  5. The Explorer II has been worn by numerous other famous explorers and adventurers over the years, including American mountaineer Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mount Everest in 1963.

  6. Rolex designed the Explorer II to be highly legible in complete darkness by using large luminous hands and hour markers that glow blue, making it ideal for cave exploration and polar expeditions.

  7. In 2021, Rolex introduced the latest reference 226570 Explorer II, which maintained the 42mm case size but incorporated the brand's new Caliber 3285 movement with a 70-hour power reserve.

7 Rolex ​Milgauss

Reference Numbers: 6543, 6541, 1019, 116400, 116400GV

Rolex Milgauss  

  • Ref. 6543 (1954-1956) - The original Milgauss model, with only around 150 examples produced.

  • Ref. 6541 (1956-1960) - The official start of the Milgauss collection, with a distinctive lightning bolt seconds hand.

  • Ref. 1019 (1960-1988) - The most well-known vintage Milgauss model, with a redesigned case and dial.

  • Ref. 116400 (2007-2014) - The modern relaunch of the Milgauss, available in black, white, and green crystal versions.

  • Ref. 116400GV (2014-2023) - The current Milgauss model, featuring a distinctive green sapphire crystal.

The key changes and updates over the Milgauss model's history include:

  • Introduction of the Faraday cage antimagnetic shielding technology

  • Redesigned case shapes and sizes

  • Variations in dial colors, hands, and bezel styles

  • Addition of the iconic lightning bolt seconds hand

  • Relaunch of the model in 2007 after nearly 20 years of discontinuation

  • Introduction of the green sapphire crystal variant in 2014

The Rolex Milgauss has maintained its reputation as a unique, antimagnetic tool watch favored by scientists and engineers over its decades-long history.

Top Facts About the Rolex Milgauss

  1. Designed to withstand magnetic fields up to 1,000 gauss

  2. Features an internal soft iron cage to protect the movement

  3. Distinctive lightning bolt seconds hand on early models

  4. Available in black, white, and "Z-Blue" dial colors