Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer, wristshot
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Buy used Rolex – what you need to know

Quality, prestige, suitability for everyday use… There are more than enough reasons to buy a Rolex. Whether it should be a new model or a used watch is in many cases a question of money, but certainly not in all cases. Some older models are simply better, and often the interesting aspect of “value enhancement potential” is added.

Rolex Sea-Dweller 16660

This model of a Sea-Dweller has several years on its back… but it’s still not a bargain!

Whatever makes you think about buying a used Rolex, you should be aware of the following:

The decisive criteria for buying used equipment

The reason for purchase

Of course, everyone knows this best, of course! However, there are two points we would like to touch on briefly here. As already mentioned, a limited budget is of course a good reason to look for a used Rolex. But which model do you want it to be? “Preferably a Submariner, because they’re not really cheap, but maybe more of an Oyster Perpetual?” The main thing is Rolex, it’s more common than you think. And it is not necessarily wrong, as the name generally speaks for quality. Nevertheless, it is questionable to reduce your wish for cost reasons, at least you should keep the following in mind. The effect and wearing comfort of a watch have to do with size and weight, among other things! For some time now, the trend has been towards ever larger timepieces. Anyone who now basically has a heart for one of Rolex’s sporty and robust professional models, for example a Sea-Dweller, but”for now” buys a much simpler and more affordable model as a replacement, so to speak… will probably hardly feel the true satisfaction on their arm.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer, wristshot

The Explorer is still one of the simpler models, but for which there are many interesting offers

In other words: maybe it makes sense to let the dream mature a little before it is only half fulfilled? Other manufacturers also produce quality, including some at lower prices. Not as a replacement, but simply to have a good watch until the right time has come.

The other point worth mentioning has to do with the so often described “positive price development” at Rolex. An increase in value, as can be seen in many models of the brand, is causing more and more watch lovers to become active than speculators. This often works well and the risk of a total failure is hard to imagine with a Rolex (assuming authenticity and an appropriate condition, but more about this later). However, however great the potential for value growth may be, the range of Rolex models on offer in the world’s countless showrooms is larger! Extensive research and expertise are highly recommended when it comes to realistically estimating the sales prices of the respective models.

Rolex Deepsea D Blue, Sea-Dweller, Daytona

Find out more about increasing the value of Rolex watches here!

Seriousness of the seller

Assessing the quality of a used Rolex is a complex matter. There is extensive literature on this and we will go into it in more detail later on. But at this point we will summarize: it is difficult! And even experts are mistaken. Nothing beats the irrefutable security of a manufacturer’s warranty, i.e. the purchase from a certified Rolex dealer. Now they are of course more specialized in new watches and hardly the cheapest source for used models… but still, this is the safest place to drive! Then come the big retailers, whether tangible business premises or online sales portal. Many of the jewelers and dealers established over decades, as well as the large Internet platforms offer a lot of security. Whether 1000 days guarantee or trusted seller certificate, there are experts who know a lot about the subject and have to stand up for their expertise in a highly networked world with their good reputation. For this purpose, used watches are normally subjected to a comprehensive service check and possibly also maintenance before they are sold. Not less, but not more! Rolex itself takes a very clear position here: either official Rolex dealer, or the warranties expire. But are you thinking about buying a watch of difficult to judge origin? Exchange ideas with people who know something about it and are happy to share their knowledge! The big Rolex Forums are a good address. And read on!

The authenticity of the watch

A very sensitive point! Rolex watches are considered to be the most copied and counterfeit watches of all and considering how cheaply some places produce and others sell… in short, the danger of spending a lot of money on a fake is great! And only one advice is really serious here: have the watch checked by a trustworthy expert!

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, black and white, live

More fakes than originals from Cosmograph Daytona

But how do you know if you’re looking at an original Rolex or a fake? On many details! And since this is such an interesting and extensive topic, we would like to take this opportunity to present to you recommend our article, which deals with it exactly!

What condition is the watch in?

Well, in what condition should a used watch be? “As good as possible” would be a very simple answer, which of course applies in many respects. But it’s more complex! Lovers in particular are in no way in agreement as to which condition is the most desirable for a watch. If the watch was brought back as close as possible to its original condition by exchanging parts (with documented history would be nice…), or is the exact opposite the case. Scratches on the strap and case, a faded dial and even fine cracks in the glass. Traces of real life, that’s what makes a vintage watch so charming for many. Luckily, there’s no need to argue about taste.

Rolex Vintage Submariner Ref. 5512

A Submariner, here a Ref. 5512, is made for use!

The case is clearer with collector’s items where value and its most positive development are in the foreground. One thing counts above all: original condition! A scratch on the case of Steve McQueen’s Submariner, caused by an unsuccessful stunt during the “Bullit” shoot, would probably hardly bother any collector. But apart from that, original condition, no damage and perfect functioning are the decisive factors.

Speaking of Steve McQueen’s Submariner: here’s one!

But how do you check the condition of a Rolex and what do you need to pay particular attention to? Let us briefly repeat: the advice of a trustworthy expert is irreplaceable! But apart from that, we would like to entrust you with some basic knowledge with which you can put a watch through its paces.

  • Take a close look at the watch! Exactly, a magnifying glass makes absolute sense for the inspection of the good piece!
  • Water damage is a major problem with older watches. Whether due to an incorrectly screwed crown, defective seals, or even a defective watch crystal… once moisture has penetrated the watch, it causes serious damage here in most cases. Pay attention to the hands and dial, especially the luminous material! This reacts quickly and strongly to water, normally changes shape and colour and often even partially peels off. Possible corrosion damage is particularly visible on the hands.
  • And what does the whole thing look like in the dark, does the luminous material still do what it should, or does an uneven luminous image appear?
  • In the event of possible water damage, the problems naturally quickly continue inside the watch. You have to look carefully, unscrewing the watch to take a look at the movement is indispensable (and incidentally one of the measures that exposes a fake the quickest). Now it is necessary to search for traces of rust, whereby of course attempts may have been made to remove or conceal them. Take a good look at the inside of the housing around the winding shaft!
  • Although there is no water damage, general pollution is of course also important. At least one revision, with corresponding costs, should be scheduled with reasonable certainty.
  • But what good is it if everything looks good and the watch doesn’t work? Of course, you test that too! Why don’t you start by setting the time and date? Are the crown, hands and date moving perfectly, i.e. without noticeable noises and friction? If the model has special features such as a time zone display or a chronograph function, you can also take a close look. It makes sense to familiarize oneself in advance with the operation of the corresponding functions, which is easy to achieve by means of a short Internet search.

If any doubts should have arisen now at any place, applies as almost always: rather sleep over it again… and consult an expert! Otherwise we wish you good luck with the purchase of a beautiful timepiece and a long wearing pleasure!


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