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How To Buy A Vintage Rolex Watch? An Easy Guide

July 18th, 2022

Do you think the world’s most prestigious and famous luxury watch manufacturer needs an introduction? Rolex is an icon, and its collections are famous for both luxury and quality. Whether you pick a vintage Rolex timepiece or a more current production, Rolex watches simply stand out for their exceptional characteristics. Not to mention the exceptional value you incur when you sell Rolex watches in the secondary market.

guide to vintage rolex watches

Many of Rolex’s vintage collections like the Submariner, Datejust, Oyster Perpetual or the Rolex Daytona are widely popular. The aesthetic appeal of the vintage Rolex watches is unmatched. But the rising popularity has resulted in the increasing count of fake Rolex watches.

You can do the research online, but there is an endless sea of information.

So, to help you, we have created a list of all the factors that will help you buy vintage Rolex watches with peace of mind.

How To Check The Authenticity Of A Vintage Rolex?

You must inspect a Rolex’s smallest details to verify their originality. Here’s what you can do.

6 Things To Look Out For:

1. Dial’s Condition & Age

Dials play an important role in all Rolex watches, especially the vintage models. Over time the dials can turn brown, termed ‘Patina’. It is not bad, instead shows that the Rolex has finely aged. Such dial types are also known as ‘Tropical’ dials.

There is an equal distribution of collectors who love or hate them. Check whether or not the patina on the watch’s hands matches the lume on the indexes. It will either match or be a contrast. If it’s a contrast, there are chances that it’s a replacement part.

You can easily find the replacement part as Rolex used different luminous materials for different eras.

For instance:

  • Radio as lume – Early 19560s
  • Tritium as lume – Until 1998
  • Luminova as lume – 1998-1999
  • Super-Luminova as lume – In 2008

2. Size & Shape Of Logo

Look closely at the watch’s logo and compare its shape and size with an original Rolex. Logos can explicitly tell a fake from an authentic timepiece. For better understanding, it is always a good idea to do quick research on the model you intend to buy.

Does your vintage Rolex have a printed or applied logo? All these minute details will help to attest to the genuinity.

3. Watch Engravings

A Vintage Rolex has engravings in specific places. For example, you can find the reference number at 12 o’clock or at the top of the lugs. Next, you can see the serial number at 6 o’clock or on the bottom lugs. There’s an engraving of the model number and the stamp relating to the movement on the case back.

Some rare models have the serial and reference number on other parts. For example: the Rolex Oysterquartz. You can also find the engravings underneath the lugs or the case back. Check out the various engravings on your vintage timepiece to confirm its authenticity.

4. Case Back

Besides the engravings, the case back can also tell how the previous owner treated the watch. If you see improper openings causing illegibility of the engravings, it means someone had forced the opening. No good seller will force open the case back. They have the proper tools to open Rolex’s case back.

5. Crown

Most of us miss checking the Crown because of its minimalism. The crown denotes the water resistance of each Rolex timepiece. If you want to understand whether or not the crown is genuine, find the word ‘Brevet’ on the crown’s underside.

In water-resistant models like the Rolex Submariner, you can try looking for the Triplock and Twinlock symbol over the line.

Box & Papers

All Rolex watches come with the necessary documentation. But one can easily buy the boxes and papers online too. So, it is essential to tally the details that come along with the watch. For instance, check if the serial number matches the watch, the box and the paper.

Getting additional documents to prove the watch’s authenticity is even better. If you own a Rolex timepiece and intend to sell your Rolex, having additional documents indicate better value for your watch.

All vintage watches have past lives. But buying it from the right seller ensures its condition. Rolex sells only new models, so you can never really buy any vintage timepiece from the retailer. Therefore, the pre-owned watch market is your only source of obtaining a vintage Rolex watch.

Where To Buy Vintage Rolex Watches?

Finding a reliable seller is of utmost necessity. If you end up spending on a fake Rolex, nothing else counts. So, apart from ensuring that the model you pick ticks off the above list, it is imperative that you buy your watch from a trustworthy seller to avoid discrepancy.

Moreover, pre-owned watches don’t mean that the watches will cost you less or lack quality. Vintage Rolex watches are the definition of timelessness and most are rare in themselves. So, the prices may vary depending on various factors.

Factors that influence the price of vintage Rolex


Rolex produces many watches in small quantities or limited-edition. But this is not the only factor that makes the models rare. Some watches have become rare for they have witnessed a specific history, nurtured some unique peculiarity, etc. Anything unusual indicates a rarity in Rolex. As a result, the prices of those timepieces will be higher.


Everyone has shown their deep liking towards vintage Rolex watches, from celebrities to royalties. For example, you must be familiar with the Paul Newman Daytona or Steve McQueen’s Explorer. The names attached to a particular vintage model will play a significant role in boosting the prices.


Like every other item, a Rolex’s price greatly depends on its condition. Even if the vintage pieces are not in mint condition, they always retain their value because of their exclusiveness.


While most sellers quote an abnormal price for vintage Rolex watches, a few reliable ones still believe in offering the best ones at the best price. However, no matter what you buy, you must take measures to guarantee its condition and authenticity.

A Vintage Rolex can work very well as an investment option that will fetch you a high value when selling Rolex watches. Whether shopping for a multi-million vintage or an entry-level model, Rolex watches are always worth it!

Also Read: Ultimate Guide to Vintage Rolex watches – All In One

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