The Rolex watch company began making watches over 100 years ago in 1905. Originally named Wilsdorf and Davis, the company changed its name to Rolex in 1915 and became an innovator in wrist watches and the creation of new watch technologies. They developed the first waterproof watch (The Oyster), the automatic date (The Datejust) and the first diving watch water resistant to 100 meters (The Submariner).
Since their beginnings at the turn of the 20th century, Rolex watches have become recognized world-wide as one of the most coveted high-end luxury timepieces. Rolex watches are very popular and highly sought after, making the market for used Rolex watches profitable, and the purchase of a used Rolex a very wise investment. However, because of their popularity, there are many replicas and fakes out there and it is very wise for anyone looking to purchase a used Rolex watch to know what to look for.
Rolex and their products are examples of the highest quality. Their watches are precision instruments. They do not feel or look cheap. The items that accompany a watch are also of the highest quality. Even the inner and outer box is premium in quality. If any piece feels cheap beware. If you have the chance to look at the dial with a Jewelers loop, you will also see quality and precision. The dial, hands and all markings will look perfect, even under magnification.
First and foremost, know the price. Rolex watches are an expensive, although well worth it, investment that can run several thousand dollars. If you see a price online or in a store for a few hundred dollars that looks too good to be true…it is. If you’re in the market to buy a used Rolex, do your due diligence and research prices online, or at a trusted and accredited seller. Knowing the price range of what you’re looking to purchase is the best place to start to ensure that you acquire a real Rolex timepiece.
Other than price, there are several ways to identify whether a Rolex is real or fake.
The caseback or underside of the watch should be smooth and free of markings. Many fakes will have a clear caseback allowing you to see the inner workings of the watch, or an engraved caseback. Both of these are giveaways that it is not the real thing.
The Hologram Sticker
Check the hologram sticker on the back of the watch. Viewing it from different angles, the background should change on an authentic Rolex. Many fakes will have a sticker, but not a three dimensional hologram like the real thing. You can further identify authenticity by asking the year of the watch. Watches from 2002 and later have the crown logo in the sticker and a black reference number. Pre 2002 Rolex watches have a gold reference number and no crown logo.
The Date Magnifier
The bubble attached over the crystal face on a genuine Rolex should magnify the date 2.5 times. Most fake Rolex watches only magnify it 1.5 times.
An authentic Rolex watch should feel heavy. Rolex watches are made from either 18k gold, platinum or a solid bar of stainless steel. A fake will be made from a cheaper material and therefore be much lighter.
Additional Notes And Items To Look for In a Genuine Rolex
A genuine Rolex comes new with an inner and outer logo box, a burgundy Rolex hologram hang tag, a green Rolex hang tag with the model and serial numbers printed on it, instruction books, service books and most important a genuine Rolex warranty certificate or card with the watch model number and serial number. The warranty documents have a place to write in the buyer, dealer and sale date (they aren’t always filled out by the selling dealer). Some newer versions or the warranty documents identify the style of the dial as well. It is important to note that many used Rolexes don’t have all of these items because they were lost or misplaced over the years and/or as the watch changed hands.
It is popular to customize Rolex watches, especially ladies models. There is a large market for “custom” or “aftermarket” parts and accessories. These can be custom dials, bezels or even watch bands. These parts are real gold, steel, diamonds or other precious stones they just were not manufactured by Rolex. They will not be of Rolex quality upon close inspection. As an example the writing on an aftermarket Diamond Mother of Pearl dial will appear splotchy under magnification. Also, many older Rolexes, especially gold models, ended up with aftermarket watch bands. When the originals wore out or “stretched” beyond repair their owners chose to replace them with aftermarket bands, which are typically a third of the cost of a factory replacement band. There is nothing wrong with custom or aftermarket parts, as long as they are disclosed by the seller as such. The presence of custom parts should make you slow down and evaluate the watch closer.
While it is important to do your own research and to be educated in spotting an authentic Rolex watch, it is just as important to find a dealer or retailer who is trustworthy and who has years of experience in these matters.
The key to getting the right watch is to know and trust the source. If you’re buying it from the original owner and the papers have their name on them and the price makes sense you’re safe. If its a private party and they were not the original owner and some or all of the accessories are missing proceed with caution. Your best served to have the watch checked out by a qualified watch maker. The safest way to purchase a used Rolex is to buy it from a trusted dealer with a good reputation who employs a qualified watch maker. You don’t have to go to an authorized Rolex dealer and pay the premium associated with doing so to be safe, just make sure you choose the right independent.
Here in Orange County, CA one such dealer is Jewelry-N-Loan in Costa Mesa. They are a family run business with a reputation of being fair, friendly and trustworthy. They have over 50 years experience in the watch and jewelry business and always have many beautiful, authentic Rolex watches in stock.
Jewelry-N-Loan employs a full-time Master Watchmaker who certifies the condition of each and every watch which allows them to offer a guarantee on your purchase.
Not only does Jewelry-N-Loan offer used Rolex watches for sale, but the also buy watches, jewelry and diamonds and offers cash for gold and other precious metals. Additionally, they are able to repair your fine timepieces or jewelry and restore them to pristine condition.
Jewelry-N-Loan is located just off the 55 freeway on Newport Boulevard in the Old Town section of Costa Mesa, CA.