When a classic timepiece is on your shopping list, it pays to do your homework before exchanging cash with a seller. Below you will find the 10 things you need to know before buying a vintage Rolex to ensure a successful purchase. Rolex watches are manufactured in Switzerland and have a reputation for excellence and opulence. A vintage Rolex may not be brand new, but it should deliver all of the precision timekeeping and elegance that you would expect from any Rolex watch.
1 - What is Vintage?
Vintage can have different definitions when used to refer to a Rolex watch. Technically, for a watch to earn the term “vintage,” it must be at least 20 years old. However, you may find sellers listing a Rolex as vintage when it is “pre-owned,” “used,” “new in the box” or “new old stock.” Don't fall for the play on words.
2 - Benefits of Vintage
Rolex watches increase in value over time. Initially, a brand new Rolex will depreciate in value, largely due to an inflated retail price mark-up. As time goes by, though, the Rolex will gradually increase in value (read “Is Inventing in Rolex Better than Stocks
” ). A vintage Rolex has already built up equity over time, so purchasing it gives you a higher probability that the appreciation will continue as time goes on. Rolex styles haven’t changed drastically over the years, so opting for a vintage Rolex over a brand-new one won’t make your watch look old and outdated. Chances are that no one will ever guess that you bought a vintage Rolex instead of a new one.
3 - Reputable Seller
Counterfeit Rolex watches abound, so it’s imperative that you research a seller before you complete a watch purchase. Ask the seller for information about the watch, including how many owners have owned it, where the watch comes from and any “story” behind it. If you’re shopping with an independent dealer, make sure that you do your homework on their company. Ask for testimonials or referrals from satisfied clients, also. Spending a few minutes on Google verifying the legitimacy of the dealer will pay off handsomely.
4 - Buying Online
Buying a Rolex online requires time and diligence to make sure the watch is genuine and in satisfactory condition. Never rush into an online acquisition of a Rolex before you proceed with a monetary transaction. Examine pictures thoroughly, read descriptions, ask specific questions and check out the seller. If you’re purchasing the Rolex from an auction or commerce website, research the seller’s rating and feedback (especially on Google).
5 - Buying in Person
Finding a vintage Rolex at an estate sale or in an antique store can be an exciting discovery. Ask pertinent questions about the watch, examine it thoroughly and consider having it appraised before you buy.
6 - Genuine or Fake
A genuine Rolex will have both a serial number and a model number – a fake Rolex may have just one or the other. The serial number will have between five and eight digits. Watches made before 2005 will have the serial number engraved on the side of the watch near 6 o’clock. Newer Rolexes have the serial number engraved on the inner bezel. A genuine Rolex will also have a tiny engraved crown near the number six as an indication of authenticity. Fake Rolex watches may have this crown, but it will usually be larger than the crown on a genuine piece.
7 - Inspecting the Condition
Inspect the Rolex carefully to make sure it's in good condition. Take note of damage, rust and oxidation. If you find scratches on the watch face, note their level of severity. It’s okay if the watch looks old – after all, it’s vintage, so it shouldn’t look new. If it looks new, something might be wrong.
8 - Servicing Concerns
Ask about any service the watch may have had. If the watch contains replacement parts, this can reduce the value of the watch significantly. If the watch hasn’t had professional service in the last 10 years, expect to have it serviced immediately after purchase, which will cost at least several hundred dollars.
9 - Consider the Price
The price of the watch should match its value. If the seller is offering the Rolex at a surprisingly low price, find out why. The watch maybe be counterfeit or stolen or, less frequently, the seller may not be aware of the watch’s value.
10 - Sales Policies
Ask the seller about any guarantees the watch may have and what the return policy is (if any). Inquire whether or not the watch comes with documentation that includes notation of the serial and model number. With the proper due diligence prior to your vintage Rolex purchase, you should have the assurance that the watch you buy is genuine, in excellent working condition, and a great investment for the years to come. To see our Rolex selection, click here