How Much Is My Vintage Rolex Watch Worth?

MORNINGTUNDRA | October 2020

Just because a watch is a genuine Rolex and it’s old, doesn’t mean it will sell for what you want. Your watch is only worth what someone will pay for it. Exactly what they are willing to pay will depend first and foremost on condition.

CONDITION

Destroyed Rolex Watch
A well used Rolex watch. Credit Someone on Instagram
A watch that has been heavily worn will be scratched and scuffed. It may have been poorly polished, softening and rounding the case shape. It may be corroded with moisture in the movement or pitting in the case. Harsh sunlight may have damaged the dial paint and lume material. The bracelet may be stretched with links missing.

All of these condition-factors negatively affect price.

Even an attractive Rolex in apparently decent running condition, can have replacements parts or components. Some might be authentic Rolex parts from an authorized Rolex service center. Others might be after-market parts from an independent watchsmith. These too will negatively affect price.

DESIRABILITY

Condition aside, you may be surprised to learn that your vintage Rolex is worth little more than the scrap value of the precious metals and gems.

This is most often the case with models that are not currently popular or collectable.

It can strike many as strange that a rather plain looking stainless steel mens model can be worth more than a solid gold ladies model.

It is also true that very rare models are not necessarily desirable or collectible, and interest and demand may be weak. This holds true for antique models like pocket and purse watches.

MONEY

The key to understanding what your Rolex watch is actually worth is knowing two things, the model reference number and the serial number. In most vintage Rolex these are be found engraved between the lugs of the case, and examining them requires removal of the bracelet or strap.

The serial number will be used to date the watch and get an approximate year of production. The reference number will be used to determine the popularity and collectability of the watch. These two data points, combined with the general condition will get you to a price range.

Once you know the age and model, you can research asking and sale prices from places ranging from Ebay to Chrono24, from Philips to Antiquorum and numerous other market places. As you perform your research keep in check your own bias and emotions. Buyers in the market will seldom rate your vintage Rolex as highly as you do and everyone’s looking for the best price.

Once you get to an approximate price range, you will have to make allowances for the market place you choose to sell on. You can expect commissions and fees of anything upto 25% depending on where you sell.

Your final cash-in-hand can be considerably less than the price range you researched.

The Bottom Line

Temper your expectations and emotions, and expect to walk away with less than your research suggests. Don’t sell a vintage Rolex watch unless you really need to, as the only people assured of making money are professional dealers and middlemen.


VRFM book image

The Vintage Rolex Field Manual
Hard Cover Chevalier Print Edition

ISBN: 978-0578630823
Size: 8.5 x 0.9 x 11 inches
Weight: 2.5 lbs
Format: Hardcover
Published: 2020


196 vintage models
1,400+ distinct references
Timelines, charts, tables
Examples, photos, history
Watchmakers, restorers, dealers

What To Do Next

For a comprehensive list of models and their features, consult the book everyone's talking about.

At US$ 85.00 The Vintage Rolex Field Manual Chevalier Edition is a modest investment for a comprehensive education that could save you tens of thousands of dollars in expensive mistakes. It will introduce you to some well known and trusted professionals in the vintage Rolex industry. They will provide a starting point in your journey and help you reach your goals and find your first, next or last vintage Rolex.

Buy the book now from your favorite bookstore or right here, with free global shipping.

To purchase a vintage Rolex contact

Scott Baratz
+1 (617) 968 7100

To restore a vintage Rolex contact

Philip Ridley
+1 (817) 821 2118

To refinish a vintage Rolex contact

Mike Hui
+1 (408) 800 3244

To relume a vintage Rolex contact

James Hyman
+44 754 825 2335

To service a vintage Rolex contact

Tanner Morehouse
+1 (701) 840 3287