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27 Jul

The Definitive Guide To Buying A Vintage Rolex

vintage-mechanical-rolex

When thinking of luxury, high end watches, the first brand to enter most people’s thinking will inevitably be that of Rolex and rightly so because there is a certain status and cache that is entirely synonymous with this ultimate in luxury watchmaking brands.

But when it comes to purchasing a vintage Rolex timepiece, it can be difficult to know where to begin because it is an area fraught with potential pitfalls. We’ll try and be your guide on finding the perfect vintage Rolex for you with our guide to purchasing the perfect one for you.

Vintage-Rolex-Unicorn

There is no doubting the glorious aesthetic appeal of a vintage Rolex watches and owning one is an aspiration of a lot of men all over the world, but finding the right one is something which can be much easier said than done. We’ve outlined our top tips for finding your ideal vintage Rolex timepiece below:

1 - Know The Difference Between Real And Fake

It is an unfortunate reality that the world of vintage Rolex watches is one that beset with fakes and knock-offs and the first obstacle you’ll need to circumnavigate when looking to buy one of your own, is knowing the difference between a genuine article and a fake. Whilst this might sound fairly straightforward, the quality of fake timepieces is ever-improving and this can make knowing the difference a good deal more difficult.

rolex yachtmaster original box and papers

When looking to buy a vintage Rolex, they should ideally be accompanied with the requisite boxes and papers that can vouch for its authenticity and genuine nature. You should always do as much digging into the timepiece as possible to set your mind at ease that it is the real deal because there will be few feelings worse than shelling out a small fortune on a timepiece that turns out to be a fake.

rolex-standard-dial-closeup

The main feature that you should be examing when looking to confirm the authenticity of a vintage Rolex is that of the dial because this holds the majority of the luxury timepiece’s secrets and you should look closely at it when seeking to prove its provenance. The dial of a vintage Rolex timepiece can be very difficult to confirm the authenticity of so seeking independent verification of an expert in the field will always be time well spent because it’s becoming ever more apparent that those creating fake watches are becoming more skilled in their counterfeiting.

There are so many intricacies inherent in the different dials of vintage Rolex watches and it won’t be as simple as looking at it closely - you need to know about the history of the brand, the era of the watch production and so much more so it quite simply shouldn’t be an undertaking you attempt on your own if you’re not completely up to speed with all things Rolex and independent expert assistance should always be sought out when you are looking to make a purchase of this magnitude.

2 - Understand the Nature of Rolex Watches

The watches from Rolex have always been built to last and that’s why there are such a great selection of vintage ones to choose from today. The likes of the Submariner and Daytona from Rolex are built with diving and racing in mind respectively and this something which is reflected in the quality of craftsmanship and the durability of the timepiece.

The fact that they are so rugged and weather so well is part of the appeal of vintage Rolex watches and finding one that is both genuinely and with the character of a well-worn timepiece is the holy grail for a lot of horology aficionados.

Vintage-Rolex-Pocketwatch

There will be certain quirks that come with age that will add to the appeal of a vintage Rolex watch and whether this be a faded dial or a slightly worn bezel, it is great character features and all part and parcel of owning and loving vintage Rolex watches.

3 - Be Firm On Your Price Point

It will soon become immediately apparent when scouring online (or in stores) for a vintage Rolex, the price of these exceptional watches can vary wildly and will be dependent on all sorts of different things. Think about your budget right from the get go and if you’ve got deep pockets, you’ll likely be thinking of the Daytona and Submariner series of watches but for those with a more conceivable budget, the likes of the Datejust and Oyster are much more likely to fit the bill.

Rolex Sea Dweller in a original Rolex Box

To be perfectly honest, when buying a vintage Rolex, it’ll be research, research, research to begin with to narrow down your choices, find the sort of style you want and shoehorning this into how much you’re prepared to spend on such a fantastic piece of horological history.

4 - Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

Purchasing a vintage Rolex watch is going to be a big financial commitment so definitely don’t be afraid to ask the seller questions, no matter how straightforward, or even stupid, they may appear to be providing that they put your mind at ease about your purchase of the timepiece itself.

There are all sorts of questions which you should look to ask when making a purchase of a vintage Rolex such as when was the watch last serviced, does the mechanism keep accurate time, are all the proper documents included with the sale that can prove the provenance of the timepiece and the history of the watch to name but a few. Always endeavour to get as much information about the watch you intend to purchase to paint a picture of its history.

Vintage-Rolex-Unicorn-manual-wind-movement
Vintage-Rolex-Pocket-watch-movement

Prices commanded by vintage Rolex watches are invariably extremely high and this is undoubtedly part of the attraction and they keep their value well in the long run if they are regularly serviced and you make sure that you look after them and give them the respect that they deserve.

5 - The Devil is in the Detail

Those are so many features and details that are important to bear in mind when examining a vintage Rolex timepiece with the intention of making a purchase and it is these very details which should be informing your decision to buy. As mentioned, the dial remains the most important element to pay attention to but it doesn’t stop there by any means.

vintage-Rolex-18k-datejust

For example, be sure to examine the bracelet closely, looking for signs of authenticity. This can include things like a tangible stretching which will have transpired over the years of being worn and will add to the character of the timepiece. It is often a good idea to take a vintage Rolex that you’ve purchased to be serviced or examine before you begin wearing it because it might save you a good deal of money in the long run.

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Owning a vintage Rolex is a rare joy that not many men will experience but if you ever find yourself in the market for one then hopefully our tips above will help you avoid any of the potential pitfalls associated with such a purchase.

Want to check if your Rolex is authentic? We can help, call us at 212-840-0441 or visit our page dedicated to Rolex Repairs.


ABOUT THE EDITORIAL STAFF

Practiced horology since the age of 15, successfully took apart, cleaned and assembled a Rolex Submariner Cal. 3135 at the age of 19, further improved his watchmaking skills with NAWCC School of Horology. “It has been 15 years since I took apart my first watch, my goal is to repair every timepiece ever produced”.

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(212) 840-0441
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