Rolex Rainbow: A Colorful Investment
Rainbow watches are among the most extravagant timepieces Rolex produces. Sapphires in the colors of the rainbow decorate the bezel, and diamonds stud the case and dial. Moreover, staggering value increases make them interesting investments.
Rare, Colorful, and Highly Coveted
Rainbow watches are among the most exclusive, rare, and coveted Rolex timepieces. Most Rainbow Rolexes belong to the Daytona collection. However, you'll also find the Day-Date with diamonds and colorful sapphires. One example is the Day-Date 36 Rainbow ref. 128345RBR. This model is made of 18-karat Everose gold and features 10 baguette-cut sapphire indices in a variety of colors. The dial and bezel are completely studded with diamonds. The middle links of the President bracelet are also adorned with sparkling gemstones.
To date, Rolex has created three official Rainbow Daytona models: the refs. 116598RBOW, 116599RBOW, and 116595RBOW. The ref. 116595RBOW is an Everose gold watch and debuted in 2018. You can recognize it by the 11 baguette-cut sapphire indices on its dial. This Rainbow has found fans in several celebrities, including actor Mark Wahlberg and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. When it comes to financial performance, the ref. 116595RBOW has recorded an impressive value increase. In May 2021, this timepiece changed hands on Chrono24 for around 330,000 USD in mint condition. One year later, prices had soared to 770,000 USD – a value appreciation far greater than 100%.
The two other official models premiered several years earlier in 2012 and come in yellow and white gold, respectively. Both versions have eight diamond indices. All three Rainbow Daytonas share a black lacquer dial and diamond-studded lugs and crown guards.
5 Reasons to Buy a Rolex Rainbow
- Exclusive, high-end Rolexes that are likely to appreciate
- Very rare and highly coveted
- World-class finishes, materials, and technology
- In-house calibers 4130 and 3255 with a 70-hour power reserve
- Popular with actors and singers
Prices for the Rolex Rainbow
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Case|
|Rainbow Daytona, 116595RBOW||770,000 USD||18-karat Everose gold|
|Rainbow Daytona, 116599RBOW||430,000 USD||18-karat white gold|
|Rainbow Daytona, 116598RBOW||350,000 USD||18-karat yellow gold|
|Day-Date 36 Rainbow, 128345RBR||81,000 USD||18-karat Everose gold|
|Aftermarket model (basis: Daytona ref. 116520)||30,500 USD||Stainless steel|
How much does a Rolex Rainbow cost?
The most affordable Rolex Rainbow model is the aftermarket version of the stainless steel Daytona ref. 116520 at around 30,500 USD. As an aftermarket model, this timepiece was fitted with colorful stones after it left Rolex's production facilities. The Day-Date 36 Rainbow bearing the reference number 128345RBR is made of 18-karat Everose gold and will cost you roughly 81,000 USD. Daytona models crafted from yellow, white, and rose gold will require a much larger investment. You can expect prices for new timepieces to come in anywhere between 350,000 USD and 770,000 USD.
About the Rolex Rainbow Daytona
The Rainbow is one of the most highly-coveted versions of the Rolex Daytona among fans and watch enthusiasts. This is due to its colorful appearance, as well as the fact that these watches tend to have very limited production runs. According to Rolex, this is because it's very difficult to find high-quality sapphires in even, uniform tones. This also explains the astronomical price tags.
A total of 36 baguette-cut sapphires in all the colors of the rainbow adorn the bezel. Furthermore, 2018's ref. 116595RBOW boasts an additional 11 sapphire indices on its dial that perfectly complement the gemstones on the bezel. The lugs and crown guard are also decorated with diamonds. At the time of writing in May 2022, this edition cost around 770,000 USD, making it the most expensive Rolex Rainbow by a considerable margin. This timepiece's value more than doubled in just 12 months.
The white and yellow gold Rainbow editions – i.e., those from 2012 – feature eight diamonds as hour markers, while the 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions are marked with golden Arabic numerals (15, 30, and 45). A golden five-point Rolex coronet occupies the 12 o'clock position. The luxury watch manufacturer uses a gold alloy on the small seconds dial, the 12-hour counter, and 30-minute counter. This alloy is reminiscent of a gold nugget and matches the color of the 40-mm case.
Prices for the yellow gold version, the ref. 116598RBOW, increased in value by a staggering 100,000 USD between May 2021 and May 2022. Listings for this luxury watch on Chrono24 in mint condition demand north of 350,000 USD.
The white gold Daytona Rainbow ref. 116599RBOW has also performed sensationally. As of May 2022, this model is valued at around 430,000 USD. This is over 200,000 USD more than what the watch cost just 12 months earlier.
Don't let its glitzy appearance fool you – the Rolex Rainbow Daytona is also a high-quality chronograph. Inside the case, you'll find the in-house caliber 4130 ticking away with the precision of a certified chronometer. This movement oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (vph). Rolex crafts the blue Parachrom hairspring out of a niobium-zirconium alloy that is highly resistant to magnetic fields, while Microstella nuts enable fine regulation of the movement. Finally, a column wheel operates the chronograph.
Aftermarket Rolex Rainbow Replicas
Since the original Rainbow is such a rare model, there are also numerous replicas on the market. Among these are "aftermarket" models, such as the ref. 116520, which you can also find on Chrono24. These watches are authentic Daytonas that were subsequently fitted with colorful stones. The stones are often simple crystals, though sometimes sapphires and diamonds are used.
Overall, the quality of the aftermarket models cannot compete with a real Rainbow from Rolex. This is clear from the subdials, which often look copied, and the lower quality color of the crystals added to the bezel. That being said, one of these modified Daytonas is significantly less expensive than an original. A model with a stainless steel case can go for as low as 30,000 USD.
The History of the Rolex Daytona
Rolex introduced the Daytona in 1963, naming it after the eponymous race track in Daytona Beach, Florida. The chronograph has strong connections to motorsport and came at a time when racing chronographs were dominating the industry.
Today, Rolex is most famous for their three-hand watches; some of their most popular models among collectors are the Submariner and GMT-Master. This could be one reason why the Daytona had a slow start, leading Rolex to limit its production. Vintage Daytonas from the 1960s are, thus, especially rare and highly sought after.
The Daytona "Paul Newman" is one of the most beloved Rolex chronographs and gets its name from the actor and racer Paul Newman. It's said that he received his first Daytona as a gift from his second wife. Newman often wore the watch while racing, which contributed to its fame. In late 2017, Newman's personal Daytona sold at auction for the record-setting price of 17.75 million USD. The watch unseated the previous record holder, a Patek Philippe ref. 1518, as the most expensive watch in the world, and held the title for a little over two years. Unlike typical Daytonas, the Paul Newman model has multicolored subdials and contrasting trim around its dial's edge. The three subdials feature Arabic numerals in an Art Deco style, as well as small squares at the end of the line indices.
Like every Daytona, the Rainbow edition also functions as a chronograph. The in-house caliber 4130, introduced by Rolex in 2000, allows you to time periods of up to 12 hours. Thanks to its frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (vph), you can measure elapsed time to within an eighth of a second. Fully wound, the Daytona has a 72-hour power reserve. As a Rolex movement, the caliber also boasts Superlative Chronometer certification.