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Buying Vintage and Pre-Owned Rolex Watches
Top tips about buying vintage and pre-owned Rolex watches

Buying vintage or pre-owned Rolex watches can be a daunting affair, particularly for less-experienced watch buyers. There are so many questions buyers may have about which models to invest in, what details to look out for, and how to tell if a Rolex is real or fake.

So we’ve put together a handy guide with some tips, tricks, and things to keep in mind if you’re buying vintage and pre-owned Rolex watches. Let’s get to it.

The Rolex Brand

Perhaps you’re wondering why used Rolex watches are so in-demand in the secondary market. They are one of the few brands that are known to not only retain value but in some cases even increase in value over the years. 

Why is this? Well, it boils down to name recognition. Almost anyone, whether they’re into watches or not, has at least heard of the Rolex name. And most will also understand that Rolex watches symbolize luxury and success. Rolex watch designs have generally stayed consistent over the years, which has helped them become identifiable status symbols.

Vintage Rolex Daytona

The Main Advantages of Purchasing Vintage or Pre-Owned Rolex Watches

One main advantage of buying vintage and pre-owned Rolex watches is that they maintain their value better than most other luxury watch brands (some exceptions include Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet). This value retention is due in large part to Rolex’s reputation and fame. 

One thing to consider is that the most sought-after Rolex watches are those that have utilitarian designs that once served specific needs but are now regarded as luxurious timepieces. Some examples include the Submariner dive watch, GMT pilot’s watch, and Daytona racing watch. 

Another aspect that adds to the value retention of pre-owned Rolex watches is that certain discontinued models remain very much in demand. Since they are no longer in production, they can only be purchased pre-owned. When Rolex changes a model’s design or movement, some clients prefer the older style; therefore, these clients look to the secondary market to buy that discontinued piece.

pre-owned rolex watches day-date president
Pre-owned Rolex Day-Date “President” watches

Popular Rolex Models in the Pre-Owned Market

For Rolex sports models, stainless steel Daytona and Submariner are some of the most popular. For Rolex dress watches, it’s hard to beat the appeal of Day-Date “President” watches. For an everyday classic, a steel Datejust 41 with an Oyster bracelet is a go-to favorite. It’s a great watch to wear for all occasions and it’s not too flashy. 

The Daytona is an exceedingly desirable Rolex watch that’s gone well beyond the “trendy” option — it has proven its staying power. Pre-owned and vintage Rolex Daytona watches are almost always the most asked about Rolex models and have frequently remained the most valuable references. 

Submariner watches are recommended for sporty people because they’re sturdy, robust, and iconic Rolex watches. For casual wear, a steel Datejust or Oyster Perpetual are solid options since they’re good everyday watches that are simple and sleek. A Daytona chronograph would stand out at formal events given its desirability and exclusivity. For day-to-day business environments, you can’t go wrong with an 18k gold Day-Date “President” as it’s the quintessential symbol of success.

How to Spot a Fake Rolex
Vintage and discontinued Rolex Explorer II watches

What to Look for When Evaluating a Used Rolex for Authenticity

When inspecting the authenticity of any vintage or pre-owned Rolex, the dial is the most important component to look at. Check alignment, spacing, spelling, font, and finishes. 

Generally speaking, it’s important to evaluate all the watch details, including font style and text printing, band and case finishing, and movement parts. 

Furthermore, rough edges and sloppy printing and engravings are signs of a fake Rolex. Proportions and weight can also be good indicators to tell if a Rolex is real or not.

Vintage Rolex Lady-Datejust watches
Vintage Rolex watches for women

Buy the Seller and Seek Out A Trustworthy Dealer

A dealer’s reputation is of the utmost importance when buying a pre-owned or vintage Rolex. A seller’s history is always important — the longer an establishment has been around, the better it is. Buyers should always look for referrals from friends or other clients before making a deal with someone selling used Rolex watches. Reputation is key in this business and only those with a solid track record of honest, transparent, and secure transactions should be worthy of your business.

Vintage Yacht-Master
A pre-owned Rolex Yacht-Master in solid yellow gold

Keep Your Rolex in Good Shape

Just like taking care of a luxury car or even personal grooming, consistent maintenance of any Rolex watch is always crucial. Regular servicing retains the watch’s beauty, integrity, and value. 

Wind and set the watch off your wrist. Also, whether you’re putting on or taking off the watch, do it over a counter to minimize the risk of dropping it on the floor. Have it checked frequently to ensure that all screws are tight, that it is still water-resistant, and that it is keeping good time.

Gray & Sons has 40 years of experience buying, selling, and repairing vintage Rolex watches

Gray & Sons, At Your Service

If you have any other questions you’d like to ask about used Rolex watches, or any other fine timepiece brand for that matter, feel free to reach out to Gray & Sons and our in-house watch experts will be happy to assist. Not only is Gray & Sons an expert in selling, trading, consigning, and buying pre-owned and vintage Rolex watches with over 40 years of experience, but we also operate an independent service facility where we offer repairing and restoration of vintage and pre-owned Rolex watch.