So you’re ready to sell your pre-owned Rolex. But where do you start? How do you get the best price and the best service? For the uninitiated, the secondary market of luxury watches, particularly secondhand Rolex watch niche, can be an overwhelming one. Rolex’s history is well over a century year old. And that longevity, coupled with the number of watches the Swiss watchmaking giant produces every year, makes for a wide assortment of different Rolex watches in circulation. Lucky for you, we are covering everything you need to know about selling used Rolex timepieces. Welcome to our ultimate guide to selling pre-owned Rolex watches.
Step 1 – Find Out the Reference Number of your Pre-Owned Rolex Watch
First things first, you need to figure out what type of pre-owned Rolex watch you have to sell. Note that the terms reference number, model number, and style number are interchangeable—they all mean the same thing.
These strings of digits are the key to understanding the Rolex model you have. For instance, a Rolex model can be a Datejust, a Day-Date, a Milgauss, a Submariner, a GMT-Master, and so on.
Rolex Reference/Model/Style Numbers
|Rolex Model||Rolex Reference Digits|
|Air-King||10xx, 43xx, 49xx, 55xx, 57xx, 65xx, 140xx, 114xxx, 116xxx|
|Date||15xx, 16xx, 50xx, 60xx, 63xx, 65xx, 66xx, 150xx, 152xx, 155xx, 1152xx|
|Datejust||16xx, 160xx, 162xx, 1162xx|
|Datejust - Ladies||65xx, 69xx, 69xxx, 79xxx, 179xxx, 279xxx|
|Datejust - Midsize||68xx, 68xxx, 78xxx, 178xxx|
|Day-Date (President)||65xx, 66xx, 18xx, 180xx, 182xx, 183xx, 189xx, 118xxx|
|Daytona||62xx, 165xx, 1165xx|
|Explorer||10xx, 55xx, 6xxx, 142xx, 1142xx, 2142xx|
|Explorer II||16xx, 165xxx, 167xx, 216xxx|
|GMT-Master||65xx, 167x, 167xx,|
|GMT-Master II||1676x, 1671x, 1167xx, 1267xx|
|Milgauss||65xx, 10xx, 1164xx,|
|Oyster Perpetual||10xx, 15xx, 6xxx, 142xx, 142xxx, 114xxx, 116xxx|
|Oyster Perpetual – Ladies||67xx, 67xxx, 76xxx, 176xxx, 177xxx|
|Oyster Perpetual – Midsize|
|Pearlmaster||80xxx, 812xx, 862xx|
|Sea-Dweller||16xx, 166xx, 1666x, 1166xx, 1266xx|
|Sea-Dweller Deepsea||1166xx, 1266xx|
|Submariner||62xx, 65xx, 55xx, 140xx, 11440xx|
|Submariner Date||168x, 1661x, 1680x, 168xxx, 1166xx|
|Yacht-Master – Ladies & Midsize||686xx, 696xx, 168xxx, 169xxx, 268xxx|
Sometimes, the Rolex reference numbers are followed by a string of letters. These letters are codes for a particular bezel style or sapphire crystal color.
Rolex Reference Letters
|Rolex Reference Letters||Code Meaning (French to English Translation)|
|BLRO (GMT-Master II)||Bleu/Rouge – Blue and Red Bezel|
|BLNR (GMT-Master II)||Bleu/Noir – Blue and Black Bezel|
|CHNR (GMT-Master II)||Chocolat/Noir – Brown and Black Bezel|
|LN (GMT-Master, Submariner, Daytona)||Lunette Noir – Black Bezel|
|LV (Submariner)||Lunette Verte – Green Bezel|
|LB (Submariner)||Lunette Bleu – Blue Bezel|
|GV (Milgauss)||Glace Verte – Green Sapphire Crystal|
|RNBW (Daytona, Yacht-Master)||Rainbow – Multicolored Sapphire-Set Bezel|
|SA||Saphir – Sapphires|
|SANR||Saphir Noir – Black Sapphires|
|SARU||Saphir/Rubi – Sapphires and Rubies|
Another thing that your Rolex reference number can tell you is what metal it is made out of by looking at the last digit. However, keep in mind this does not apply to Rolex Professional (aka sports models) watches made prior to the 1980s.
|Rolex Reference Number Last Digit||Metal of Rolex Watch|
|2||Stainless Steel & Platinum|
|3||Stainless Steel & Yellow Gold|
|4||Stainless Steel & White Gold|
|7||14k Yellow Gold|
|8||18k Yellow Gold|
|9||18k White Gold|
So how do you find out the reference number of your pre-owned Rolex watch? There are two main ways to determine this. If you have the accompanying paperwork of the watch, such as the warranty card, receipt, or service records, then it is written on there. Simple enough.
If you do not have any paperwork for your secondhand Rolex, then you’ll have to look at the watch itself. However, the reference number of a Rolex is typically hidden from plain sight (the exception to this are the Oysterquartz models, which have the reference number engraved on the back). The reference number of a Rolex is engraved on the 12 o’clock side of the watch case—it is in between the watch lugs hidden behind where the bracelet meets the case.
Therefore, you will have to remove the bracelet (again, on the 12 o’clock side) to see the reference number engraved in the case. If you are comfortable doing this on your own, there are plenty of YouTube videos to show you how to safely remove a Rolex bracelet. Alternatively, you can bring your watch to a jeweler/watchmaker, who will have the proper tools and experience to do this for you.
Step 2 – Find Out the Serial Number of your Pre-Owned Rolex Watch
Once you know the reference number of your Rolex watch is, then you need to figure out its serial number. A Rolex serial number is unique to each watch. As a result, a serial number can determine the approximate production date of your secondhand Rolex. However, there are a couple of important exceptions to using Rolex serial numbers to date your watch.
First, in 1954, Rolex reset their serial numbers after they reached #999,999. Therefore, a vintage Rolex watch from the 1960s can have an identical serial number to one from the 1950s. One way around this is to open up the caseback of the watch (with the help of a watchmaker) and you will see a date code on the interior of the caseback to indicate whether the watch was made prior to the mid-1950s or after the mid-1950s.
Another exception is towards the end of 2010, Rolex began using random serial numbers instead of chronological ones. Subsequently, if your used Rolex has a random serial number, it is impossible to date it except to know that it was made after 2010.
Below is a table of Rolex serial numbers and the corresponding production year. However, since Rolex never divulges any information pertaining to serial numbers and manufacturing dates, these are all approximations made possible by Rolex watch enthusiasts compiling data over the years.
Rolex Serial Numbers and Approximate Production Year
|Prod. Year/s||Rolex Serial||Prod. Year||Rolex Serial||Prod. Year||Rolex Serial|
|2010 - Present||Random||1989||L,980,000||1966||1,275,000 – 1,485,000|
|2010||G||1988||R,598,200||1965||1,105,000 – 1,275,000|
|2009||V||1987||R,000,001||1964||1,000,000 – 1,105,000|
|2008||M OR V||1987||9,860,000 – 9,900,000||1963||865,000 – 1,000,000|
|2007||M OR Z||1986||9,155,000 – 9,860,000||1962||755,000 – 865,000|
|2006||D OR Z||1985||8,785,000 – 9,155,000||1961||650,000 – 755,000|
|2005||D||1984||8,375,000 – 8,785,000||1960||550,000 – 650,000|
|2005||F||1983||7,600,000 – 8,375,000||1959||450,000 – 550,000|
|2004||F||1982||7,130,000 – 7,600,000||1958||350,000 – 450,000|
|2003||F||1981||6,560,000 – 7,130,000||1957||250,000 – 350,000|
|2002||Y||1980||6,205,000 – 6,560,000||1956||150,000 – 250,000|
|2001||K OR Y||1979||5,865,000 – 6,205,000||1955||50,000 – 150,000|
|2000||K,000,001||1978||5,430,000 – 5,865,000||1954||0 – 50,000|
|2000||P,000,001||1977||5,085,000 – 5,430,000||RESET||RESET|
|1999||A,000,001||1976||5,000,000 – 5,085,000||1953||880,000 – 999,000|
|1998||U,932,144||1976||4,115,000 – 4,260,000||1952||725,000 – 880,000|
|1997||U,000,001||1975||3,865,000 – 4,115,000||1951||700,000 – 725,000|
|1996||T,000,001||1974||3,570,000 – 3,865,000||1948-1950||620,000 – 700,000|
|1995||W,000,001||1973||3,200,000 – 3,570,000||1947 -1948||500,000 – 620,000|
|1994||S,860,880||1972||2,890,000 – 3,200,000||1945 -1946||300,000 – 500,000|
|1993||S,000,001||1971||2,590,000 – 2,890,000||1941 -1944||200,000 – 300,000|
|1992||C,000,001||1970||2,240,000 – 2,590,000||1938 -1942||40,000 – 200,000|
|1991||N,000,001||1969||1,945,000 – 2,240,000||1927 -1937||20,000 – 40,000|
|1991||X,000,001||1968||1,710,000 – 1,945,000||1926||0 – 20,000|
|1990||E,000,001||1967||1,485,000 – 1,710,000|
Rolex Model Debut Years
|Rolex Model||Approximate Debut Year|
So where do you locate your Rolex watch’s unique serial number? Again, there are a couple of options for this, beginning with the official paperwork. The warranty card, receipt, and or service records will have the Rolex’s serial number on there.
But, if you do not have these papers, then you will have to turn to the watch again. The Rolex serial number is located on the opposite side of where the reference number is on the watch case. You will have to again remove the bracelet from the watch case, but this time from the 6 o’clock side and you will see the serial number engraved in the case.
However, yet again, there are a couple of exceptions to keep in mind. In the mid-2000s, Rolex began engraving the serial number on the rehaut (the space between the dial and the crystal) of the watch on the 6 o’clock side. For a few years, Rolex watches had the serial number engraved on both the watch case and on the rehaut. But sometime in 2008, they stopped engraving it on the watch case altogether. So if you have a relatively new watch, post-2006 let’s say, you can spot the reference number right there on the bottom portion of your watch face without having to remove the bracelet.
Step 3 – Research Approximate Market Value for Your Pre-Owned Rolex
Now that you are armed with your pre-owned Rolex’s reference number and serial number, it is time to do some research. Start out with Googling your specific Rolex reference number and see what kind of search results you get back—you will inevitably see similar pre-owned Rolex watches for sale. This will give you a ballpark figure of how much your watch is worth in the market. But remember, this is an approximation—there are plenty of factors that will determine how much someone is willing to pay for your Rolex. Ask yourself these questions:
Do I have all the paperwork and packaging of my pre-owned Rolex?
Naturally, full sets—those pre-owned watches that come with boxes, papers, warranties, receipts, brochures, and service records—will fetch higher prices than just the watch. In some cases, having all the accompanying papers and boxes can add anywhere between 10% – 20% value to the watch in the secondary market. Also, if you have any extra bracelet links, add those to the set too.
Not only does the full set give more value to the end buyer, but it also helps to guarantee the authenticity of the secondhand Rolex watch—something buyers are always wary of. Of course, you can always sell a used Rolex without the box and papers, but understand that it will not sell for as much as a full set.
What is the condition of my pre-owned Rolex?
The condition of your used Rolex will be a big determining factor on the final sale value. Is your watch in working condition? Is the case and/or crystal scratched up, cracked, or dented? Does the bracelet have stretch? Is the dial damaged? These are all things to think about when comparing with other similar Rolex models for sale.
Furthermore, do you know if your Rolex has replacement or customized parts? In general, Rolex buyers like watches to be as close to its original form as possible without too many modifications and/or replacement components. It may come as a surprise to some, but pre-owned Rolex watches that show signs of wear and tear but have been left untouched are more prized in the vintage market over pre-owned watches that look new thanks to service dials, replacement components, and newer bracelets.
Step 4 – Decide On The Best Selling Method For You
Now that you have all the information you need about your Rolex, it is time to decide on how to sell it. And there are so many ways to sell a pre-owned Rolex watch.
Do you want to do it “offline” and in person at a jewelry/watch store, pawn shop, auction house, or direct to an end-buyer via a classified ad? Or do you prefer to do it online by requesting quotes from websites that specialize in buying and selling pre-owned Rolex watches? Or sell it yourself online through auction sites, pre-owned luxury goods selling apps, or pre-owned watch marketplaces?
Another thing to consider is if you want to sell, consign, or trade in your pre-owned Rolex. Selling it outright will be the quickest option but it will typically yield the lowest amount of money. Consigning will oftentimes get you more money but it can take longer. And trading in your watch will generally get you the highest value, but in credit towards your next purchase.
Regardless of which method you choose to sell your pre-owned Rolex, we always recommend to “buy the seller” and go with the option that has the best reviews, reputation, and resources.