How to Buy a Rolex Watch: A Step by Step Guide to Buying a Luxury Watch

The dedicated experts at Estate Watch & Jewelry Co. aspire to provide you with high-quality luxury items that you'll treasure forever. Treating yourself to a Rolex is the best possible way to honor your hard work, but choosing a wristwatch that fits your style is no easy task.

Rolex Watch

The Rolex watch brand has become a synonym for style and durability. Its functionality, nuances of bezels, and cutting-edge design made Rolex one of the leading brands in the luxury wristwatch market. The brand is known worldwide and has acquired a sterling reputation over the years thanks to its timeless wristwatches that exude elegance.

As the Swiss brand offers a variety of Rolex models, including the Submariner, Daytona, and Oyster Perpetual, to name a few, one has to do some research before adding a new watch to the collection. 

 A first-time buyer might feel a bit confused when faced with all the questions:

  • Which model is the best for me?
  • How much am I willing to spend?
  • Should I choose a new or a pre-owned model?

Worry not - we've done the research for you and gathered all the information in this practical and easy-to-follow guide.

Three Key Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Your First Rolex

Before you head down to the shop, here are the questions to ask yourself in order to make buying your first Rolex watch less time-consuming. 

1. Why do I want a Rolex?

What is your motivation for buying a Rolex? Will the watch be an accessory to your overall look or will you make use of the watch’s special features?

If you’re looking for a watch to complement your style, you'd be surprised to learn that most Rolex watches weren't designed to be worn with suits. Some of the Rolex best-selling timepieces are sports model watches you can wear on casual occasions. 

woman wearing Rolex watch

On the other hand, if it’s the practicality that goes beyond telling the time, Rolex can offer additional features such as water resistance or different time zone display, to name a few. 

Once you know what you’re after, you’ll make it easier for yourself to choose a specific model depending on what your needs are.

2. When and where should I buy a Rolex?

It’s important to consider the price before buying your Rolex. Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks on how to get a better deal on your luxury wristwatch. For instance, try buying a watch after important holidays such as Father’s Day or International Women’s Day. Chances are, some models will have a more affordable price tag. 

The lowest price tag for a brand new Rolex is $5700 and the most affordable model is the Oyster Perpetual. Naturally, other sought-after models such as the Submariner or Rolex Explorer have a much higher price range.

Rolex watches

Although the average Rolex buyer is said to be middle-aged, recent studies have shown that luxury watch brands are making an effort and employing effective marketing strategies to attract younger buyers.

Choosing the right place is also important since you need to feel comfortable being that it’s your first time. Find a reputable pre-owned Rolex store or retailer and check their references or customer testimonials before making a purchase. 

Note that popular watch models such as the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona and green Rolex Submariner (aka the Hulk) usually include a waiting list. Once you sign up for a specific model, you'll be put on the prospect list. 

You can also find high-quality Rolex watches in our Scottsdale store, where experienced Rolex watch experts are available for any questions that you might have.

3. How do I tell if a Rolex is real?

Shopping online on eBay or Etsy instead of going to an reputable dealer may result in you buying a fake Rolex. The trade of fake goods has slightly risen in 2019 and accounts for 3.3% of the global trade. That's why you'll need to know how to tell the difference between the two.

Every steel Rolex has a smooth second hand movement, whereas replicas may quartz dial movements, meaning that there should be no ticking sound coming from an authentic Rolex. 

Knock-offs usually fail to include the famous crown logo, and the case back of an original should be clear, without engravings or symbols. The back of a real Rolex bracelet contains the serial number deeply pressed in the band metal, unlike fake models which have a shallow stamp.

Rolex parts diagram

Rolex parts-Image credit by diamondbanc.com

Understanding Different Models - from Rolex Submariner to Rolex Cellini

Over the years, the watchmaking giant has given its customers an abundance of high-quality models that boast long-term endurance, modern design, and meticulously crafted details. 

Despite all the challenges (including the recent pandemic), Rolex hasn't ceased to produce new stylish watch variations for its customers and its share still accounts for 24.9% of the global market.

Without further ado, let’s take a glance at some of the most famous Rolex watches out there. 

Rolex Submariner

The legendary Submariner sports watch made its debut in 1953 and has since been the number one dive watch. The rotating bezel that enables professional divers to track time and the 300m water resistance level have earned the Submariner the title of the best waterproof mechanical watch.  

Modern Rolex Submariner watches are crafted from stainless steel, with a 40mm case diameter and 13mm thickness. 

Rolex Submariner

The Submariner-Image credit by ablogtowatch.com

Apart from the Submariner, the Rolex watch collection also manufactures other waterproof models:

  • The Deepsea
  • The Sea-Dweller
  • The Oyster collection

Both the Deepsea and the Sea-Dweller boast a water resistance up to 3900m and 1200m, respectively. The Deepsea has a rotatable bezel and luminescent hour markers, making it one of the leading diver’s watches. 

On the other hand, the Sea-Dweller is built from the finest corrosion-proof materials and a special model was produced several years ago to commemorate the only Rolex that made history, reaching a depth of almost 11000m in 1960.

Rolex Sea-Dweller

The Sea-Dweller-Image credit by watchtime.com

The two models were made specifically for divers’ needs, whereas the Oyster collection has a significantly lower waterproof level - 100m.

Rolex Air-King

An homage to aviators, the Rolex Air-King accents the distinctive black dial and large numerals and pays tribute to the original Rolex Oyster. The 3131 certified Swiss chronometer guarantees its accuracy and reliability.

Rolex Air King

The Air-King-Image credit by hodinkee.com

Rolex GMT Master II

The GMT Master II, commonly known as Pepsi due to its blue and red bezel, features self-winding mechanical movement and a bidirectional rotating bezel for tracking multiple time zones, making it perfect for a globetrotter.

Rolex GT Master

Rolex GMT Master II

Rolex Yacht Master

A timepiece ideal for sailors or water sport enthusiasts as its clear display and countdown mechanism makes it perfect for an adventure in the sea.  It is the only model so far offered in three sizes - 42, 40 and 37mm.

Rolex Yacht Mariner

Rolex Yacht Master

Rolex Explorer

A watch made to endure harsh conditions. It can show a different time zone and has a 24h format, which can be very useful once you find yourself in situations where it’s impossible to tell day from night. These features make the watch perfect for the adventurous explorer. 

Rolex Explored

The Explorer-Image credit by watchtime.com

Rolex Oyster Collection

The Oyster collection is well-known for its classic style and trendy designs to suit the wearer on any occasion. All of the watches feature a water-resistance level up to 100m and are available in different case sizes.

Rolex Oyster Collection

The Oyster Collection

The collection includes five models, each of which has a modern design and special functions. 

The models are as follows:

  • Rolex Oyster Perpetual - The model is known for its self-winding mechanism, excellent chronometric precision and waterproof Oyster case.
  • Rolex Datejust - As the name itself suggests, the model features a date window. It is also shock-resistant and has a self-winding mechanical movement.
  • Day-Date - The model is a bit different than the previous one as it features both a day and date window on the dial. In addition, it has a power reserve and a wide choice of languages.
  • Pearlmaster - The model is a Datejust version with an elegant gem-setting, date window, and high-precision movement
  • Sky-Dweller -  What sets this model apart is the Oysterflex bracelet and a clear 42mm case with luminescent display.    

Rolex Cellini Collection

The Cellini watch collection is Rolex’s dress watch line that highlights the elegance of traditional timepieces. The refined materials, clear dial and soft leather strap make the wristwatch a timeless piece.

Rolex Cellini Collection

The Rolex Cellini Collection-Image credit by watchesguild.com

Did you know you can customize your Rolex watch?

If you want to emphasize your personal style and sport a one-of-a-kind model, customizing your Rolex is the way to go. As most Rolex model dials come in black, white and blue tones, you can choose a bright-colored dial and make the wristwatch more eye-catching. That is also a good way for women to make their Rolex wristwatches more feminine.

Inscribing a message or engraving a symbol is a good idea if you want to give the watch a more personal touch, especially when buying it as a gift.

You can experiment with the case and spice up the traditional design with integrated gems, or choose a sparkling diamond to add to the watch’s aesthetic. The bracelet is also replaceable and you can transform your steel watch into a more formal timepiece by adding a leather strap. 

Customized Rolex

When configuring your luxury timepiece, you'll pick out the model, case diameter, bezel and bracelet material - the design is completely up to you.

New vs. Pre-owned - Is a Used Rolex the Best Option for Me?

If you’re targeting a specific Rolex model that’s no longer being produced or looking for a more affordable option, then buying a pre-owned Rolex is the perfect alternative. 

Research done by the Deloitte Group in 2020 shows that prospects for the pre-owned market are expected to improve in 2021 and the number of consumers is likely to grow.

There are several benefits to buying a used Rolex:

  • No waiting list
  • More affordable pricing
  • The watch value increases with time
  • Wide choice of vintage Rolex models

Naturally, the price of a used Rolex is more affordable for the average buyer as they can sometimes be less than the new retail price. In addition, you get to walk out of the store with the watch on your wrist since there is no waiting list involved. 

Rolex watch collectors prefer to buy pre-owned models as the option offers them a wide range of vintage and limited edition models that are no longer in production. If you missed the opportunity to buy a specific Rolex model that has been discontinued, then buying a used Rolex is the option for you. Also, used models increase in value with time as they become rarer in the wristwatch market.

Used Rolex Watch

Choose your specific model

Find out which specific model you’d like to own in order to avoid wasting a lot of time on finding the watch. Think about your requirements and decide which functions and features you need.

Buying Rolex watch in a store

If you're overwhelmed by the variety of models available, some good Rolex watches to start with are the Oyster Perpetual (39mm), the Explorer (39mm) and the Air King (40mm). For more specific information on these models, you can pay us a visit at our jewelry store in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Consider the condition

The watch can either be in mint condition or used with signs of wear. Mint condition means that, although the watch is pre-owned, there are no dents and scratches. Steel watches are less prone to corrosion, so they can often times be a better choice. We can then divide used Rolex watches into three categories, depending on whether they’ve been altered or not.

Polished

These watches are less expensive because their original state is altered. Polishing is usually done by removing layers of material in order to make the surface smooth and scratch-free. Nonetheless, watch aficionados don't approve of this and prefer their timepiece to be in original condition.

Unpolished

There will be noticeable signs of use on unpolished Rolex models, such as corrosion, dents and scratches. If a Rolex has sharp and well-defined edges, chances are, it has not been polished. To examine a used Rolex, use a magnifying glass to check the case and bezel edges.

Rolex repair service

Establish a budget 

Similar to when you're buying a new Rolex, you'll need to have an established price range for a pre-owned model. Also, check the prices of recently sold watches on eBay to get a solid understanding of the current market prices. 

Forums are also a good source of information where you can learn a lot about dealers and prices. Experienced watch collectors and buyers can give you firsthand advice when it comes to pre-owned Rolex watches.

wearing Rolex watch

Although a used Rolex can be more affordable, it’s advisable to compare prices to find the best one. Some dealers also offer a wide selection of pre-owned models with reasonable prices and it’s sometimes better to seek an reputable dealer than reach out to an individual seller.

Do your research on the seller

Whether you're buying from an independent dealer, a company or website, check the online reviews to see if they vouch for their credibility. Google reviews, Facebook or Yelp are good places to test your potential seller's reliability.

Around 35% of online scamming reports in 2021 ended in financial loss for the tricked consumer, so take this step very seriously.

Once you find a suitable seller, ask about the warranty card - if the watch is younger than five years, you'll benefit from the remainder of the guarantee. However, if that is not the case, check whether the seller is willing to offer some kind of warranty or insurance.

holding Rolex watch

Rolex is More Than Just a Watch

The Swiss watchmaker has been around for more than a century, and during that time, it has established itself as the most prominent watch brand ever. Its history is paved with important milestones that have marked its development.

Here are some lesser-known facts about the company:

Rolex company origin

The company rose to the scene in 1905 and grabbed the attention of the British audience by producing the first waterproof wristwatch, and the demand for Rolex luxury watches has been on the rise to this day forward. But where was the company originally located? 

Your first guess would most likely be Switzerland since we usually refer to Rolex as the famous Swiss brand, but its origin is not what you'd expect. 

Contrary to popular belief, the company originated in the UK, London. It was in 1919 that the company moved its headquarters to Geneva due to a 33% tax duty.  

Each Rolex watch is handmade

Crafting a luxury watch consumes a lot of time and the Rolex company produces an estimate of 800,000 watches per year. Also, every watch is made by hand in Switzerland, and all parts are partly hand-assembled.

handmade Rolex

In order for a watch to be labeled as "Swiss-made", at least 60% of its construction and development must take place in Switzerland.

The most expensive Rolex ever

A jaw-dropping figure of $17.8 million is the price of the most expensive Rolex watch sold at an auction. The well-known Paul Newman Rolex Daytona is a chronograph wristwatch made to be used by racing drivers.

Paul Newman Rolex Daytona

Paul Newman Rolex Daytona-Image credit by robbreport.com

What’s behind the name

The founder Hans Wilsdorf explained he wanted a short name that could be easily pronounced no matter the language. The word itself has no specific meaning - it merely reminded him of the noise a watch makes when being wound.

Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf

Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf-Image credit by belletemps.com

The crown

The trademark Rolex crown is a symbol associated with the brand, but it wasn't until 1925 that they adopted the symbol.

Rolex crown logo

Rolex logo-Image credit by thewatchcompany.com

Nowadays, it's impossible to follow a tennis match or a car-racing tournament without seeing the famous crown pop up as the event's main sponsor.

The Final Word

Hopefully, this thorough guide has answered all of your questions and made it easier for you to treat yourself or your loved one to a luxury Rolex watch. A gift as such is treasured forever and should be chosen carefully.

The doors of our Scottsdale store are open for you and our jewelry and watch experts are happy to assist you with your Rolex purchase.

We understand that the buying process can be a bit overwhelming for the customer, but we’re here to make sure you find a luxury timepiece that’s within your budget.