Second-Hand Rolex Buying Guide

by Haris Hadzalic on September 06, 2021

Purchasing a Rolex watch, whether brand new or pre-owned, can be difficult and intimidating for most people. That’s because both options offer different benefits and risks for buyers and dealers alike.

Nevertheless, more people are getting into purchasing second-hand Rolex watches, especially for those who want to get away with lengthy waitlists.

At CBD Jewellers, we understand Rolex enthusiasts and the Rolex buying experience. To further help you make an informed decision around purchasing a quality second hand Rolex, we’ve put together a complete second-hand Rolex buying guide.

We want to make sure that you receive the absolute highest quality second-hand timepiece. After all, purchasing any type of Rolex should be a fulfilling and timeless experience.

 

Getting Familiar With the Second-Hand Market

Rolex is, by far, the leading brand for luxury timepieces worldwide. However, the grey market has almost twice as many counterfeit watches as authentic used Rolex pieces in the world.

With back-alley traders and mass-produced fakes crawling in the market, you must brace yourself to search rigorously far and wide to find an authentic Rolex watch of pristine quality.

However, the rigorous journey of soldiering through several counterfeits and sketchy dealers will become worth it if you can get your hands on a genuine Rolex timepiece. One way to do this is by getting familiar with the market and knowing reliable sellers from fraudulent ones.

 

Looking for a Second-Hand Rolex Watch

Depending on your purpose and the age of the watch, we always recommend buying the complete Rolex package. Specialists and jewellers call this a Full Set where the product package still includes the following:
 

  • Rolex box and accessories

  • Service booklet

  • Warranty card

  • Instruction manual

  • Other miscellaneous product documents

A full set of Rolex watches should also include the pillow holder and the sturdy outer box. When looking for a second-hand timepiece, always make sure the said components are present and that they belong to the particular model in question.

On the other hand, you can always consider second-hand Rolex watches without the packaging and documentation, especially if you intend to use them frequently.

But if you want to resell or trade the item in the long run, remember that a Rolex timepiece without its box and legal documentation will have a lower value on the market. At the same time, you’ll get to find more affordable Rolex watches in this case — it’s only a matter of finding the right model in desirable condition.

 

Pre-1980s Second-Hand Rolex Timepieces

Finding a complete set for pre-owned Rolex watches dated before the 1980s can be time-consuming. Back in the day, owners didn't pay much attention to paperwork and manuals as they would wear the watch immediately after purchase.

If this is the case, you’re most likely left with no other choices but to look for authentic Rolex watches and repaired ones that utilised genuine parts and not aftermarket alternatives.

One thing that preserves the market value and legitimacy of a Rolex watch is that it only has authentic and original parts.

  • Original parts: Genuine Rolex parts that built into the watch right from production, also known as time-correct parts

  • Authentic parts: Genuine Rolex spare parts used to replace a defective component or to repair the watch

The said factors are more crucial for vintage Rolexes, as a high watch value and quality may plunge if it has defective aftermarket parts.

A vintage Oyster Perpetual Submariner 5508 with the original watch crown and bezel will have an exponential quality and price difference from those replaced with an aftermarket bezel or crown.

You will also need an expert’s opinion and a jeweller’s knowledge to make sure you’re buying the watch at the right price. Our expert jewellers will help you find authentic watches, and you can also sell your Rolex watch to us, where we’ll value them at the best price.

 

Choosing Your Desired Rolex Model

Rolex offers a broad range of timepieces, so it all boils down to choosing your preferred flavour and function.

Remember that no Rolex watch is the same, as the brand builds and tests each piece by hand. With that, choosing the right model for your needs can go a long way as a timeless investment.

  • Datejust: A classic Rolex watch that is known to be the grandfather of modern timepieces.

  • Submariner: Classic Rolex watch designed for resiliency and a staple professional watch in various James Bond films

  • Sea Dwellers: Built with patented Oyster straps and designed for waterproof capabilities up to 1,200 metres or 4,000 feet

  • Sky-Dweller: Specialised watch with an Oysterflex bracelet and a face dial that lets you adjust between different time zones

The said classic models are all within Rolex’s umbrella of timepieces and other professional and classic watches built for unique purposes and characteristics.

Every Rolex watch model will have a different price point, depending on their features and materials used. That’s why you must look through every one of them before choosing your desired watch.

 

Second-Hand Rolex Watch Condition

Artisans engineered all Rolex watches to last a long time, but wear and tear from daily use should affect a second-hand watch and its packaging’s overall condition.

With that, finding a pre-owned watch online and looking at posted pictures is the go-to for most buyers, but looking for an original Rolex watch can be difficult.

Sellers can enhance photos to look deceivingly high-quality. That’s why we recommend seeing the watch in the flesh and have a watch specialist or jeweller value it for you.

Vigilance is also crucial in the buying process, as you want to see how the watch looks in person compared to how it looks in the images. You should be keen to notice the minor details and differences that will give away a fake Rolex from a genuine one.

 

Spotting Counterfeit Rolex Watches

Rolex will always stand out and wear the crown for vintage, classic, or professional watches. So if you want to invest in a Rolex watch, you must know how to inspect it so you won’t walk home with a piece of junk.

You can almost always tell a counterfeit Rolex from genuine ones. But for the untrained eye, a quality knock-off is virtually as good as authentic Rolex timepieces.

Take a look at the following tips to spot a fake Rolex watch, so you get value for your money and only buy original Rolex watches built with meticulous engineering and craftsmanship.

 

Watch Face and Dial

Rolex takes pride in its distinct watch face, bezel, and dial. Take a good look at the watch’s face and inspect any printing smudges, uneven digits and fonts, and missing trademarks like the famous Rolex crown.

All Rolex watches also have a very distinct magnifying lens located on their date window. If this lens appears flat and doesn’t magnify the figure up to about 2.5 times, be cautious since you’re most likely dealing with a counterfeit one.

 

Second-Hand Movement

One of the reasons why Rolex stands out among other chronometers is its precision. According to the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, Rolex watches are accurate for about -2/+2 seconds a day.

That said, original Rolex watches use high-precision mechanical movements that tick roughly four to five times per second, giving the illusion of a sliding second-hand.

So if you’re looking at a used Rolex that ticks once every second as a typical quartz watch would, you should be pretty convinced that it’s a forgery.

 

Watch Weight

Weight is another standard indicator of authentic Rolex timepieces. Every Rolex watch uses high-quality 904L steel alloy (Oystersteel) and precious minerals such as Gold, Diamonds, and Platinum.

A Rolex watch uses more than 300 components for its perpetual movement and self-winding mechanism. That’s why there’s no doubt no knock-off can replicate an authentic Rolex’s solid weight and feel.

 

Waterproof Capability

All Rolex watches can withstand particular atmospheric and underwater pressure levels. When inspecting a second-hand Rolex, kindly ask the seller to dip the watch under a glass of water.

If the watch stops functioning, then you’re dealing with an obvious counterfeit product. But if it still works and follows a four-to-six tick per second of movement, there’s a good chance that you’re in the clear.

However, if the seller hesitates to dunk it wet, be mindful of that red flag as the watch’s authenticity must be as sketchy as the seller.

 

Rolex Serial Number Stamping

Rolex watches undergo meticulous production and inspection that no minor detail is left unchecked. That’s why every Rolex watch has a unique serial number stamped on the watch, bracelet, and official documentation.


If the product in question has a faded serial number that looks acid-etched or mass-produced, then you should get an idea that the watch is fake.

 

Product Price

Whatever you’re buying or selling in the market, you’ll always get what you paid for. Besides, some vintage Rolex watches appreciate value, and even pre-owned Rolexes don’t come cheap.

So if you’re offered a second-hand Rolex watch for a couple hundred or thousand bucks, think carefully before giving away your cash, or you might walk home with a piece of junk.

 

Where Should I Buy a Second-hand Rolex?

The market for pre-owned Rolexes is huge, both digitally and physically. So if you want to purchase a used Daytona, Oyster Perpetual, Datejust, Submariner, or any other model, you’ll have tons of opportunities.

What matters is that you’ve read the precautions we’ve discussed above and that you’ll only transact with a reliable, time-tested, and trustworthy dealer. Moreover, buying a pre-owned Rolex in local jewellers is a big advantage since you can inspect the item physically.

In Gold Coast, Australia, CBD Jewellers houses a team of expert jewellers and specialists who will help you get your hands on a genuine, high quality pre-owned Rolex. You can also sell your Rolex watches to us, and our specialists will value your timepiece for the best price.


Speak with our friendly staff at (07) 5571 2658 or contact us via email today.

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