Rolex Rainbow: Gold Watches With Colorful Gems
Rainbow watches are among the most extravagant timepieces produced by Rolex. Sapphires in the colors of the rainbow decorate the bezel, and diamonds stud the case and dial. Proud owners of these treasures include celebrities like Mark Wahlberg.
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 features a 36-mm case in 18-karat Everose-Gold and ten baguette-cut sapphire indices on its dial, each in a different color of the rainbow. Diamonds fully encrust the dial and bezel and adorn the middle links of the President bracelet. Rolex exclusively sources flawless gemstones for their timepieces. The Day-Date 36 Rainbow is also available in white or yellow gold.
To date, Rolex has created three official Rainbow Daytona models: the refs. 116598RBOW, 116599RBOW, and 116595RBOW. The 116595RBOW is an Everose gold watch and debuted in 2018. You can recognize it by the eleven 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. Levine even wore his Rainbow Daytona while performing the halftime show at Super Bowl LIII in February 2019. The two other official models premiered in 2012 and come in white and yellow gold, respectively. Both versions have eight diamond indices. All three Rainbow Daytonas share a black lacquer dial and diamond-studded lugs and crown guards.
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.
5 Reasons to Buy a Rolex Rainbow
- Exclusive, high-priced Rolexes
- Very rare and coveted: Potential to appreciate in value
- World-class finishes, materials, and technology
- In-house caliber 4130 and 3255 with a power reserve of 70+ hours
- Popular with actors and singers
Prices at a Glance: Rolex Rainbow
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Case|
|Rainbow Daytona, 116595RBOW||330,000 USD||18-karat Everose gold|
|Rainbow Daytona, 116598RBOW||300,000 USD||18-karat yellow gold|
|Rainbow Daytona, 116599RBOW||270,000 USD||18-karat white gold|
|Day-Date 36 Rainbow, 128345RBR||120,000 USD||18-karat Everose gold|
|Aftermarket model (basis: Daytona Ref. 116520)||20,000 USD||Stainless steel|
How much does a Rolex Rainbow cost?
The white gold Rolex Rainbow Daytona sells for at least 270,000 USD in mint condition on Chrono24. Pre-owned pieces change hands for about 260,000 USD. Those prices are even more impressive when you remember that the white gold edition had an original list price of about 86,000 USD back in 2012. The yellow gold version is even more expensive, with prices ranging from 270,000 to 300,000 USD. At over 330,000 USD, a new Everose gold model from 2018 is the most expensive Rainbow Daytona to date. While you'll rarely find this watch used, if you do, you can save tens of thousands of dollars.
The Rolex Day-Date 36 Rainbow is Rolex's least expensive Rainbow watch. You can purchase a new 18-karat Everose gold ref. 128345RBR with a diamond-studded bezel and bracelet for around 120,000 USD. Models without diamonds on their bracelets are even more affordable and require an investment of roughly 83,000 USD. The white and yellow gold editions occupy a similar price range. Since the Day-Date 36 Rainbow just launched in 2019, very few pre-owned versions have made their way to market.
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 extremely 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, the 2018 ref. 116595RBOW boasts another eleven sapphire indices on its dial. The lugs and crown guard are also decorated with diamonds. The white and yellow gold Rainbow editions – i.e., those from 2012 – use eight diamonds as hour markers, while the 3, 6, and 9 are marked with golden Arabic numerals (15, 30, and 45). A golden five-pointed 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.
Don't let its glitzy appearance fool you – the Rolex Rainbow 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 automatic movement features 44 jewels, is 30.5 mm in diameter, and 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 Rainbow Replicas
Since the original Rainbow is such a rare model, there are also numerous replicas on the market. Interesting among these are the so-called "aftermarket" models, 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 imitated, 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 watch with a stainless steel case might sell for as little as 20,000 USD, whereas a white or yellow gold timepiece could set you back around 41,500 USD. The rose gold editions demand the highest prices at between 41,000 and 71,500 USD.
The Rolex Rainbow Daytona's Design
The 40-mm case of the Rainbow Daytona is available in 18-karat white, yellow, or Everose gold. The yellow gold model has the most impressive appearance thanks to its matte black dial and diamond indices. There are golden Arabic numerals (15, 30, 45) at the 3, 6, and 9 positions and Rolex's five-pointed coronet at 12 o'clock. Perhaps the most striking feature is the Everose gold subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. These subdials function as the 30-minute counter, small seconds, and 12-hour counter, respectively. The three small hands are red like the main stopwatch hand, while the other central hands for the minute and hour are golden. A three-piece link Oyster bracelet in 18-karat gold completes the look and holds the watch securely on the wrist.
History of the Rolex Daytona Since 1963
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 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 rough start, leading Rolex to limit its production. Vintage Daytonas from the 1960s are, thus, especially rare and highly sought after.
The "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. Unlike typical Daytonas, the Paul Newman model has multicolored subdials and a 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.