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Rolex vs Apple Watch (2020): Which Luxury Watch Is The Better Purchase?

In 2014, Apple introduced the world to the Apple Watch and everyone thought that was going to be the end of the mechanical watch industry. Turns out, however, that we had nothing to be afraid of. Brands like Rolex showed us just how timeless they are and that they’re not going anywhere just because there’s a new piece of technology in the picture. That said, where should you really be putting your money into–the futuristic Apple Watch or the classic Rolex? To help you figure out whose side you should be on, here’s an in-depth comparison of the two (the Rolex Submariner and the Apple Watch Series 5 to be specific), taking their design, functionality, and value into consideration.

Rolex vs Apple Watch Comparison Chart

ModelRolexApple Watch
 Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date 116613Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular, 44mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
DesignSimple, classic, and refinedFuturistic, innovative, and practical
Design ElementsMercedes handset, bezel with luminous insert, dial with a distinct pattern of indices, and oyster bracelet.Casing is offered in different materials including Titanium. Straps are interchangeable and come in different materials such as leather, fluoroelastomer, and nylon.
Specs-water-resistance of 300 meters
-iconic unidirectional bezel that monitors diving time
-equipped with Rolex’s blue Parachrom hairspring for extra resistance against shocks
-water-resistance of 50 meters
-electrical heart sensor
-ambient light sensor
-speaker and microphone
-Apple Pay
-32 GB capacity
Secondhand ValueRetains value wellLoses value over time
Dimensions155 g47.8 g


Rolex has an iconic and timeless design while the Apple Watch has a futuristic and innovative design.

Rolex watches go well with a suit and tie while the Apple Watch is for casual wear.

Rolex has been producing the famous Submariner for over 60 years now but its overall design has remained pretty much the same. This is probably why it’s such an iconic timepiece. The unmistakable elements of the Rolex Submariner include the Mercedes handset, the bezel with a luminous insert, the dial marked with a distinct pattern of indices, and the oyster bracelet. These things on their own are nothing remarkable but put them all together and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece. It’s a simple and classic yet impressive design and it has withstood all the various trends that have popped over the years, including smartwatches.

As for the Apple Watch Series 5, it definitely looks and feels like the future. Its casing is now offered in Titanium, making it extra durable and lightweight. As for the straps, they’re designed to be interchangeable, allowing you to swap them out whenever you want to. There are a bunch of strap materials to choose from, including leather, fluoroelastomer, and nylon, and so you’re sure to find one that fits the activity or occasion. To boot, the Apple Watch Series 5 has an always-on retina display so all the information you need will always be accessible to you. Also, you can customize the watch face however way you want by selecting apps and shortcuts.


Both the Rolex and the Apple Watch boast of great functionality.

The Apple Watch can keep track of your health and daily activities.

The Rolex Submariner was initially made for underwater exploration and diving, built to survive the most demanding conditions. Today, the Submariner is even more solid than when it was first created, its water-resistance having increased to 300 meters. It’s now also equipped with Rolex’s blue Parachrom hairspring, meaning it’s even more resistant to shocks and temperature changes. Of course, it still has the iconic unidirectional bezel which allows divers to accurately monitor their diving time. What’s great about the Rolex Submariner is that while it has the durability of a tank, it also looks refined enough to wear with a suit and tie. This makes it a great all-around watch.

As for the Apple Watch Series 5, its features are a bit more suited for daily activities. If you’re wondering what it can do, the question should actually be what can it not do? It keeps your heart in check, notifying you right away if your heart rate is too fast or too slow. It also helps you achieve your fitness goals, thanks to its advanced workout metrics. It even allows you to stream over 60 million songs as well as your favorite podcasts. Of course, it wouldn’t be the Apple Watch if you couldn’t call or text with it. Oh, and it tells the time too. The Apple Watch Series 5 can help you out in pretty much all aspects of life and so you might find yourself never taking it off your wrist.


Rolex is able to hold value better compared to the Apple Watch.

One of the reasons why Rolex watches hold their value well is because of their amazing quality.

Rolex is considered a great investment because the majority of its models are able to hold their value well. Vintage Rolex watches, in particular, tend to skyrocket in value, some by a hundred or even a thousand percent. The iconic Submariner, for example, is a favorite collectible among watch enthusiasts and enjoys lofty resale values in the secondhand market. So why are Rolex watches able to retain their worth? For one, there’s always a great demand for them. There’s also the fact that these pieces have so much history and prestige attached to them. Of course, you also can’t forget that they’re made with great quality and precision and are able to stand the test of time.

As for the Apple Watch, it’s basically a computer and so Moore’s law applies to it. According to this computing term, the overall processing power of computers double every two years. If that’s the case, then the Apple Watch Series 5 will continue to lose its value and it will only be a matter of time before it becomes completely obsolete. That day may not be so far into the future because there are already talks of the upcoming Apple Watch Series 6 and its capabilities as we speak. So while Rolex watches are passed down from generation to generation, the Apple Watch tends to get replaced a year or even just 6 months after the date of purchase.


Buy the luxury watch that suits your needs.

When it comes to the whole Rolex vs Apple Watch debate, there really is no right or wrong answer. It all depends on what you’re after. If you want a luxury watch that will never go out of style, is as sturdy as a tank, will only get more valuable as it gets older, and will serve as a great family heirloom, then you’re better off spending your hard-earned money on a Rolex. But if you want a futuristic luxury watch that will remind you to exercise, keep track of your meetings, play music for you, and let you keep in touch with people you love, then the Apple Watch is the better pick for you.


📌 Which one has better design, the Rolex or the Apple Watch?

It depends on your preference. If you like the simple, classic, and refined look, then Rolex wins. But if you’re into futuristic designs, then you’re better off with the Apple Watch.

📌 Which has better functionality, the Rolex or the Apple Watch?

It’s safe to say that both Rolex and the Apple Watch have great functionality. The Rolex Submariner has the durability of a tank but at the same time, it’s also refined enough to wear with a suit and tie. This makes it a great all-around watch. As for the Apple Watch, it makes everything so much more convenient, able to keep track of your health, play music, and call and message your contacts.

📌 Which one is able to hold its value better, Rolex or the Apple Watch?

Rolex wins this one. On average, it only takes 6 months to a year after purchase date for an Apple Watch user to replace their current model with a newer one. Rolex watches, on the other hand, are passed down from generation to generation.

📌 Should you buy a Rolex or an Apple Watch?

It depends on what you’re after. If you want a luxury watch that will stand the test of time, go for a Rolex. But if you want a luxury watch that can make life that much more convenient, the Apple Watch is for you.

Last update on 2020-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Denise Jose
Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.