How to Pick A Vintage Rolex

Whether you’re new to the world of vintage Rolex watches or planning on expanding your collection, picking the right Rolex may prove to be a pretty daunting task.  Chances are, you’re searching for a stylish watch that will hold its value well. Sounds simple, right?  It’s actually a little bit more involved than simply finding a watch that you like and purchasing it. So how do you go about picking the perfect vintage watch?  Below is a quick overview of just a few factors that you should keep in mind.

Personal Style

You won’t get far without first considering personalstyle as well as application.  Do you prefer the functional and masculine design of a sports watch?  Or the sophisticated and timeless style of a dress reference?  Are you in the market for a men’s or a women’s Rolex?  Also, where do you plan on wearing your vintage watch, if you plan on wearing it at all?  Just like modern watches, vintage Rolexes can be foundin dress, sports, or cocktail watches.  The aesthetics between these options vary greatly, giving the collector quite a few options.


Another factor to consider when purchasing a vintage Rolex watch is authenticity.  While it’s important to trust your seller, it’s ultimately up to you to make sure that the Rolex you are purchasing is genuine.  Authenticating a Rolex watch may seem like a difficult task but can be doneif you pay close attention to the fine details ofthe timepiece, such as the dial, clasp, or lugs.  Do your research and become familiar with every aspect of the particular watch that you seek.  Your persistence will be rewardedin the long-run with a highly collectible piece that may even continue to appreciate in value, depending on its rarity and collectability.


History also plays an essential role in the overall value of a vintage timepiece.  As a company that has been in business for over a century, nearly every Rolex watch has an intriguing history, even new additions to the catalog.  For example, the ref. 116500 was the first stainless steel Daytona to feature a ceramic bezel.  However, there is something special about a vintage Rolex with an intriguing story, such as a transitional reference or a watch worn by a celebrity, which ultimately adds to its collectability. The more desirable the story behind a particular reference, the higher the demand.

It’s All in the Details

As previously mentioned, paying close attention to the fine details of the vintage Rolex that you are about to purchaseshould be your top priority.  The dial will speak volumes.  Markings near the sixposition will indicate the age of the watch by revealing the type of lume that is usedon the markers and hands.  The lume may also display a degree of patina that can increase its desirability among vintage collectors.  Other details to consider are the defects on the dial.  Does the dial have any noticeable flaws such as a large scratch, a missing marker, or an uneven fade?

Is the Watch All Original?

Finally, you should also determine if the watch has all of its original parts.  Some collectors may consider a vintage watch to be less valuable if any of its parts have been replaced, a practice that is quite common thanks to a plethora of spare parts. If the watch has ever been sent into Rolex to be serviced, chances are, it’s not all original. To guarantee that all of the components are original, pay close attention to the crown as well as the engravings on the lugs and inside of the case.  You may also want to consider sending your vintage watch to someone who specializes in older Rolexes and will respect your wish to keep the original parts intact when servicing it.

There are so many other factors to consider when purchasing a vintage timepiece.  In fact, we could dive even further into each topic listed above.  This guide serves as a quick reference to get you headed in the right direction.  We hope that you consider each factor carefully, as it’s not an easy task purchasing a vintage timepiece.