How to Pick a Vintage: A Guide on Quality, Authenticity, and Value

Some of the most difficult Rolex timepieces to shop for are vintage watches, not just for the difficulty that one might have while hunting for a particular reference, but for the growing number of convincing counterfeit watches that are on the market today. Don’t let these factors deter you; finding the perfect vintage watch is possible and can be a very rewarding experience. Today we will focus on three important factors to consider when picking out a vintage Rolex: Authenticity, Quality, and value.


The best way to verify your vintage Rolex you have your eye on is authentic is to do your research. What are its distinguishing features? Is the Rolex Coronet applied properly and are the words on the dial in the correct font and position? If you’re shopping for a vintage sports watch, are the graduations on the bezel correct? Also, does the watch have the proper engravings? For example, the serial number is always engraved on the case as well as the reference number. The bracelet will also have engravings on the links signifying the year that the watch produced and the type of bracelet being used. If any of these engravings are absent, you may be dealing with a counterfeit watch. All of these features should be carefully considered before making a vintage purchase.


While the use of precious metals certainly plays a role in the overall value of a timepiece in general, one of the major determining factors for a quality vintage Rolex is the condition of the parts being used. More specifically, that the parts are original and unpolished, both of which are pretty hard to find. Most Rolex vintage watches have been worn quite a bit and, as a result, sent in to be serviced at some point in their life. It’s a pretty common practice when servicing a vintage watch to replace parts such as the hands, crystal, or crown and polish out any scratches or imperfections. If you’re lucky, you may come across a vintage that was carefully preserved and of very high quality.


One of the first indicators of the value of any particular reference is the model and production year of the watch, which are both engraved on the case. The price of each Rolex can vary significantly based just on these two details. As previously mentioned, Rolex watches that still have all of their original parts, as well as unpolished cases, are more collectible than references that have been overly serviced. Not only do these factors play an essential role in determining the watch’s value, but they are more desirable in general as they add to the history of the watch.
Collectability and the rarity of a particular vintage watch will also affect its overall value. You may have encountered a pretty common vintage watch that has a slight defect or a rare dial, resulting in an extremely limited production run. The way that the dial and patina have aged will also add to the rarity of a particular watch and increase its value. The presence of papers will also greatly increase the value of any Rolex watch as well as confirm its authenticity.

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