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A super-rare Rolex watch is up for sale — this is what you need to know

Rolex only made 13 of these watches

Rolex Space Dweller
Diamond Watches London

One of the rarest Rolexes of the 1960s is currently on sale for $125,000. There are very few Rolex Space Dwellers in the world, with some sources claiming only 13 of the limited edition watches ever made. There is also a suggestion that the special edition watches were made to boost Rolex’s presence in Japan through association with the Mercury astronauts — who were amongst the first to orbit the Earth.

As with most rumors concerning the iconic Swiss watchmaker, Rolex hasn’t commented on the supposed ties to one of America’s first space programs. Still, the unconfirmed tale adds a touch of prestige to the rare timepiece. In addition to its unique dial, the Space Dweller boasts a 36mm case, Mercedes hands, and a 1560 movement—just like the Explorers of the early 1960s. The dial and hands display the sort of patina you would expect on a 60-year-old watch, and the bracelet appears to show some very minor wear.

You may have guessed from the limited run, but the Space Dweller never really caught on and definitely didn’t reach the stratospheric heights of Omega’s Moonwatch. The Speedmaster, which is still produced to this day, has official ties to NASA and even accompanied the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon, hence its nickname.

While the price tag may seem hefty, it’s actually a bargain when you compare it to a Space Dweller that sold in a 2023 New York auction for $190,000. Despite its desirability, the watch is also a little controversial, mostly because it is very similar to a more basic Rolex model from the mid-1960s.

Rolex Space Dweller
DIamond Watches London

Although rare, it has some more affordable lookalikes

While the “Space Dweller” is one of the more collectible vintage watches for men and packs a price tag to match — there are almost identical watches available for a fraction of the price. Aside from the marginally different dial, it’s just a Rolex Explorer Mk III, which also happens to carry the reference 1016.

A Mk III Explorer isn’t the cheapest watch you can buy, with a retail price that tends to range between $15,000 and $25,000 — but it’s far more accessible than its space-dwelling spinoff. This similarity also leads to the following warning. You have to be very careful when buying something like a Space Dweller, as someone could simply swap in a counterfeit dial and make eight times their money selling something almost indistinguishable from the real thing. A genuine patina on the dial will help authenticate it, and if you’re handing over six figures, the paperwork should all be on point. But with large sums involved, it’s always worth getting a well-qualified expert involved so the watch can be verified before purchase.

If you want to get your hands on the real deal, Diamond Watches London still has its Space Dweller listed for sale at the time of writing this piece.

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