Ultimate Guide for the First-Time Rolex Buyer

First Time Rolex

Purchasing a Rolex for the first time can be a daunting task. The watches themselves are expensive, and the pre-owned industry is full of counterfeit items and other scams intended to part you from your money. Tiny, seemingly insignificant details on the watches account for thousands of dollars in price, and for those that have never purchased a Rolex before, navigating the process of buying one can be a confusing and stressful task.

Below is a simple and straightforward guide for the first time Rolex buyers who have never purchased a Rolex before, but who want to own one of this manufacturer’s legendary watches.

Choose a Model of Watch

The first thing you must do once you decide to purchase a Rolex is select which one you want. Rolex has made watches aimed at a variety of different sports and activities, from scuba diving and adventuring, to boat racing and even formal situations.
Certain watches will have extra features to better serve their intended purpose, such as the helium gas escape valve on the Rolex Sea-Dweller, or the independently adjustable hour hand and 24 hour hand on the Explorer II and GMT-Master II that allow users to simultaneously reference multiple time zones.

While most Rolex owners never actually use their watches for their intended sports or activities, each watch has its own distinct look and features, and it’s ultimately important to find a watch that will satisfy your needs, both visually and functionally.

Brand-New or Pre-Owned

Once you decide on a line of watches, the next decision you must make is choose whether you intend to purchase one brand-new or pre-owned.

If you choose to purchase a brand-new Rolex, be aware that you will only be able to buy the most recent references of these watches. Rolex has updated their various watch lines over the years, and while many different versions of the same watch exist, you will only be able to purchase the most modern incarnations brand-new.

If you purchase a brand-new Rolex from an authorized dealer, make sure that they are actually an authorized dealer, and that they are getting brand-new watches directly from Rolex. Many jewelry stores and local watch stores sell unworn Rolex watches, however a truly brand-new Rolex will come with blank Rolex paperwork that will be filled out with your name.

If you choose to purchase a pre-owned Rolex, you will have the option of any reference for your selected watch line, vintage and contemporary alike. Rolex reference numbers correspond to the exact model and configuration of a specific watch, so take note of these as you research and browse, as these numbers will correspond to the exact kind of watch that you ultimately want.

Should you intend to purchase a pre-owned Rolex, it is imperative that you trust the dealer from which you buy it. The pre-owned industry is ripe with counterfeit Rolex and “franken-watches” that are full of aftermarket or otherwise non-original parts, and it is crucial that you can verify that the seller is honest, and that the watch is authentic.

A Bit More on Reference and Serial Numbers

If you plan to purchase a pre-owned Rolex, you will want to know the reference number that corresponds to the watch you intend to buy. Rolex reference numbers can range from four to six digits in length, and they describe the watch’s most important and defining characteristics.

As many of Rolex’s watch lines have existed for well over half a century, it is important for you to know the specific reference number for the watch you want, as there will likely be many different watches that closely resemble it. As long as you know the reference number, you will be able to properly identify the watch you intend to purchase.

Additionally, Rolex serial numbers can often be used to figure out the year that the watch was manufactured, and for collectors, this is often of great importance. All Rolex watches manufactured prior to 2011 will have a serial number that corresponds to a specific year of production, and if you see any references to a specific letter or series, then this is what it is describing.

Once you know the specific Rolex watch you want to own, and have found a reputable and trusted seller from which to buy it, the final step is taking the plunge and making the purchase. When it comes to buying a Rolex, you can never do too much research before making a purchase; however the feeling you get from owning one of the world’s finest timepieces makes all the effort well worth it.

Written by Paul Altieri

Paul Altieri is Founder and CEO of Bob’s Watches, the leading online destination for pre-owned Rolex watches. Paul is also a watch collector and has many rare collectible watches in his collection.