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 7 minutes

What Your Rolex Says About You

By Sebastian Swart

“This is an automatic diving watch,” said the Rolex salesman as he showed me a brand-new Rolex Submariner a few years back. I admit I was pretty disappointed; I had always thought this model was some kind of device for measuring seismic activity up to that point. But what did the salesman think about me? Are the clichés floating around out there about Rolex wearers accurate? Are they truly clueless, status-hungry dimwits that are amazed about how the battery they think powers their automatic watch still has some juice left in it, even after five years? Then you’ve got the nerds who have memorized every single Rolex reference made since the brand’s inception in 1905 and who love to flaunt their knowledge on some obscure watch forum. What you’re left with is one kind of person who buys a Rolex to show off their status and another kind who loves the brand and its history. Who exactly are we trying to be while wearing a Rolex?

Today I’m taking a look at the different Rolex “types” out there and what the models on their wrists say about them. (Warning: plenty of stereotypical nonsense ahead)

Submariner: The Desk Diver’s Favorite Watch

Picture the scene: As a leading expert for complex underwater welding, you head a team of COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises) divers working deep under ramshackle oil platforms, making frequent saturation dives to patch up leaks with world-class precision. All kinds of catastrophes have been averted thanks to you, the daring swashbuckler that you are – no wonder the world rejoices in your efforts just about daily. And faithfully accompanying you on your wrist? A Rolex Submariner. Reference number? Who cares? It’s a Sub! Only a Rolex Submariner is tough enough to withstand the adverse underwater conditions you regularly encounter. And, together with its trusty decompression scale, your Submariner has rescued you countless times from what was certain to be a fatal case of the bends.

Your colleague calls your name, and you snap out of it. Instead of a wetsuit and welding torch, you’re wearing Hugo Boss and brandishing a pen. The good news, though, is that your Submariner is still there on your wrist, safe and sound. You’ve done enough for one day and shut down your computer to head home. “Another day wasted in some regular old office,” you think, “and just what exactly was the thing with that… what was it? Decompression scale?”

For desk divers longing for adventure: the Rolex Submariner

Flashes of Scientific Brilliance: The Rolex Milgauss

If you’ve got a Rolex Milgauss on your wrist, it’s a clear sign you trace your roots back to a dynasty of prominent natural scientists. Thanks to your perfect French, you, of course, know that the French word for “thousand” is mille, hence the name “Mil-Gauss.” You had your first lessons on the work of German mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauß in the cradle, which later on made you the undisputed best-in-class, straight-A student (some of your classmates preferred the term “dork”) in school. You loved math, chemistry, and physics, and you later completed several doctoral degrees. Today you’re a top professor for nuclear physics and a leading expert in particle acceleration, working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). That really awesome, unfathomably high-tech Large Electron-Positron Collider that runs below France and Switzerland? Yeah, that was you. You currently spend your workdays pondering the origins of the universe.

Not true? Not even some of it? Well, wearing a Milgauss does put you in some illustrious company. Celebrities like Eric Clapton, Tom Hanks, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sylvester Stallone, and Jennifer Aniston have been seen donning this model on their wrists. By the way, you’ll get back to us on that whole “origins-of-the-universe” thing, right?

Ceaselessly searching for the meaning of existence: Rolex Milgauss wearers

GMT-Master I and II: Many, Many Colorful Numbers

New York, Rio, Tokyo: If you’re wearing a Rolex GMT-Master, you’re obviously on the go as either an international business traveler or a pilot. Non-stop jet-setting is the name of the game for you. Even though your busy schedule keeps you “up and at ’em” every day, you still manage to stay in touch with your family, who maintain many residences around the globe. Criss-crossing time zones is an inevitable part of your routine, so you require a highly effective, reliable tool that will keep you and your entourage on track and on time. Batman? Coke? Pepsi? Which color scheme is perfect for your wrist? And whether new or vintage or with a Cerachrom or aluminum bezel, you know your GMT-Master is going to look great. The bottom line for you is a timepiece delivering outstanding function and world-class precision.

Just between you and me: You always wanted to own a Rolex, but the Submariner was always a tad too worldly for your taste. And you see every other pizza delivery guy wearing one anyway. Your finer watch taste led you to select the colorful, much more expensive Rolex GMT-Master with the numbers on the bezel, not to mention that really cool fourth GMT hand. Now, it’s worth noting you’ve given up using the GMT feature. You somehow can’t get it to set properly. Making matters even more difficult is that your kids still live at home, and your office is only five or six miles from your house. Although this isn’t exactly the cosmopolitan lifestyle you dream of, you can’t get enough of the envious glances from your friends and colleagues every time they see your GMT-Master.

For the global hustle and bustle: the Rolex GMT-Master

Daytona: The World’s Ultimate Chronograph

You’d be lost without your Rolex Cosmograph Daytona (as a “real” Rolex guy, you know that’s its proper full name). Your typical day as a successful race car driver sees you setting new speed and time records. Gasoline courses through your veins, and you’re constantly using the chronograph and tachymeter function of the (preferably) platinum or gold Daytona on your wrist. Your model also has that awesome-looking meteorite dial that only Rolex could have harvested from a far-away galaxy. That’s probably why keeping time on your watch is so precise and, as you’ve noticed recently, even a little faster. Face it: You’re a hero, and every day you feel a little bit more like Paul Newman, the greatest Daytona wearer of all time and your biggest role model.

If that doesn’t describe you, and you’re more of a banking or insurance guy, no big deal. Your Daytona is still great for timing how long that batch of muffins you just mixed has been in the oven. And, your Daytona is water-resistant to 100 meters (10 bar, 328 ft), so it’s perfect for seeing how long you can hold your breath underwater in the bathtub. In both cases, you’re not covering any actual distance, so you’re not going to have to fiddle around with your Daytona’s incomprehensible tachymeter scale. Any time you need someone to explain it and show how it works, though, feel free to turn to your trusty pal Carl Friedrich Gauß.

Cool. No compromises. Daytona wearers are always first across the finish line.

Explorer I and II: Ready for Your Next Mountain and Cave Expeditions

Being the bold go-getter you are, you selected a Rolex Explorer for your adventures in the most far-flung, remote corners of the world. If you’re reading this with the Explorer I on your wrist, that most likely means you’re at the summit of Mt. Everest and are taking a quick breather in an oxygen tent with your Sherpa guide. You have the Explorer I to thank for this achievement. It is, after all, the watch whose chronometer level of precision has convinced you that you are, in fact, Sir Edmund Hillary.

It’s nearly the same situation if you’re wearing an Explorer II, just in the other direction. Your work as a speleologist sees you regularly braving your way through a previously undiscovered cave of unknown size in the Peruvian Andes. A quick glance at your brand-new Explorer II and its handy second hour hand will get you back on track any time you happen to lose your sense of space and time down there. You’ll always know whether it’s day or night outside the cave and when it’s time to pull out the thermos for your next coffee break, you old spelunker, you. Suddenly, you’re wide awake, drenched in sweat. Somehow you must have fallen asleep on the film set, and you’re back to your real life as Steve McQueen.

Sir Edmund Hillary looks in the mirror and sees Steve McQueen smiling back: the Rolex Explorer

Women With Ambition: The Rolex Datejust

As the watch brand, Rolex can, of course, also do graceful elegance, perhaps best seen with its Lady-Datejust. A strong woman with grand ambitions, you want to make a name for yourself and show everyone what you’re about. A Rolex embodies this goal while also reminding you of everything you’ve achieved so far. As an elegant, reserved classic, the Datejust exudes a quiet confidence, the perfect complement for you on your pathway to success.

You’ve got enough to think about during a typical day, so you don’t need glitzy diamonds or gaudy colors, to say nothing of nerdy features. All those are going to do is distract you from juggling the million different things on your calendar. You’re constantly jet-setting around the world to rub elbows with the big names from politics and Fortune 500 companies at fancy events. Seriously, you’re probably checking the time on your smartphone anyway, which means that you occasionally set your Rolex down for a day or two somewhere in your walk-in closet and its rows of the latest fashion from the world’s top designers. Not to worry, though. You’ve got an important conference right around the corner, for which the Datejust will be adorning your wrist once again, as you dazzle everyone there with your charm and brilliant ideas. This timepiece is a faithful reminder of how far you’ve come and that you’re going to go even further. Could it be that your next favorite watch will be the prestigious Day-Date, Madam President?

From sunup until sundown, the Rolex Datejust adorns the wrist perfectly


Maybe you saw yourself in one of these (tongue-in-cheek) watch types and were able to enjoy a chuckle or two. If that’s the case, you now have two choices: You can either shrug off the fact that you still have a lot to learn about your Rolex and continue to wear it with pride or take this opportunity to get to know your ultimate functional timepiece better. Google terms like “chronograph,” “GMT-function,” “tachymeter,” “diving bezel,” or “magnetism.” What could be better for an up-and-coming watch nerd like yourself than to discover exciting, useful facts about what you enjoy having on your wrist?

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About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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