The classic Rolex watch has long been a standard for timepieces, and many models of the brand have been made from gold, making these wrist accessories quite valuable with the increasing price point of gold these days. Rolex quality has always been a premium that timepieces have been measured by, and the fact that Rolex watches can include solid gold only makes them that much more desirable over time, especially those models that have been long discontinued. Many Rolex owners or family members who’ve received one as a gift or passed down through an estate have been quite surprised by this combination of value. Being Rolex, the brand has been obvious even to the least familiar with high-end timepieces, but the gold aspect is not nearly as well known and often a welcome advantage.
The Classic Demand for Rolex Watches
Often made famous in movies and by reference, Rolex watches have been as much a high luxury standard as jewellery from Tiffany’s, Mercedes for cars, Chris-Craft for lake boats and similar. Regardless of the materials used, Rolex watches have always been admired for the extreme level of quality, detail and precision used in the assembly of these watches. No surprise then, Rolex’s have been popular in two markets: brand new from retail as well as with aftermarket collectors and sales. Even broken and unusable Rolex watches still have a high demand primarily for spare parts that are original and no longer being fabricated as spares. That said, most Rolex owners are quite familiar with the amount of support and customer service provided by Rolex itself as well as its dealership network.
Unfortunately, where there is a high demand, there is also an opportunity for fraud. The more obvious path of fraud has been with outright duplication of Rolex watches, designed to look like the real thing but completely fabricated with cheap materials and intended to outright steal money from unwary customers. The other channel of fraud is to gut a Rolex of its original parts, leaving the shell as authentic but the internal pieces have been swapped out. This is a far harder fraud to identify without opening up the given watch for sale and has been a far more subtle problem. It’s also quite damaging as the value of a Rolex watch drops significantly when even one non-original part or non-Rolex part is found inside a watch. No surprise, smart owners have been very particular about who works on their timepieces both for maintenance as well as for repair.
Again, even non-functional Rolex watches have value and can be sold in a very vibrant market looking for these defunct watches. The piece to be sold won’t necessarily command the same value as a working Rolex, but there is a demand for watches that are not flawed, scratched or with irreparable parts. In many cases what might be a non-working watch for one party can be fully restored to a once-again valuable Rolex by another who has greater access to repair resources. And then, of course, there is primary gold value in the watch regardless of whether it is working or not. The gold alone could command a very substantial price for a broken watch, especially in today’s market which is five times the spot value of where gold was when many older Rolex watches were fabricated and first sold to the consumer market.
Identifying an Authentic Rolex Watch
As noted earlier, fraud and scams are very common with the Rolex watch markets, both as new units and aftermarket resales. However, many of the lower quality frauds can be spotted very quickly because they simply don’t follow the standards of Rolex that are obvious to a trained eye. For example, if a supposed Rolex watch comes with the case back being translucent glass or similar, the product is a counterfeit. In a similar fashion, any Rolex that has the message imprinted or engraved on it that the watch is made in China is also a fake. Rolexes have never been made with any kind of rubber component, so those that show up with visible rubber grommets, bands, edges or similar are counterfeit as well, even if they look really appealing. Another big standout tends to be the Rolex Oyster Perpetual model; this particular watch was designed with a screwed-back case. Those that show up without it are counterfeit models as well. Once found, any such fake watches should be avoided entirely. Fake Rolexes have such a notoriety, simply owning one without any intention to sell it can still get a person in hot water with law enforcement on hyper-alert for such products. It almost goes without saying, trying to sell one even for a low price and fully disclosed can still get a person in trouble as many jurisdictions have laws on the books banning any kind of fake Rolex sales, period.
Aspects that Add Value
Rolex watches age over time like anything that is used and worn, even if made of metal. The most noticeable area where the Rolex watch will show time is the wristband itself. Used watches will have bands that are stretched out and looser. Whether made of organic material like fine leather or metal such as gold, the bands expand over time. When a Rolex watch is updated with a new wristband, however, it regains a considerable amount of value over a similar watch the same age. No surprise, things that fit better tend to be more popular with aftermarket consumers and Rolex buyers.
Additionally, if the owner of Rolex has the original case and paperwork, it helps authenticate the original identification of the given watch. Every Rolex is part of a unique and limited production run, each one fully identified and referenced in accompanying paperwork and its dedicated case. For collectors, these aspects complete the knowledge and record about the given Rolex, achieving the full historical value of the wrist piece versus Rolex watches that are sold “bare” without any records. In the archaeology world, this would be referenced as the provenance of a relic, and the same idea applies to the Rolex. Understanding the time, context, and record of when the Rolex was made can be just as important as the watch itself. That said, Rolex watches without paperwork are not lost or forsaken; they too can still command a good price as experts know what to look for on the watch itself.
What will diminish the value of a Rolex unintentionally is a consumer attempt to refurbish the watch. This usually involves trying to self-clean the watch with household chemicals or having the piece cleaned and updated by a general jeweller unfamiliar with Rolex watches in particular. Doing so can actually damage the original make of the Rolex in question, which in turn causes its value to drop. The aftermarket demand for Rolex watches expects them to be in the original, unmodified state of being, even if that means they are in outer poor condition. It’s actually worth more in that condition than if someone goes through and starts applying a chemical cleaning that etches the surfaces of the metal involves, which can be very apparent on close inspection. A good example of this is when one takes a coin and puts it in a fast-food restaurant hot sauce. The natural acid in the hot sauce will eat away and clean the surface of the coin. It looks clean but, in reality, the acid has actually damaged the coin microscopically and that can’t be restored after the chemical reaction has taken place.
Pricing an Owned Rolex
Authentic Rolex watches tend to increase in value over time, not lose it. They are sought after, collected, traded, and rebuilt on a regular basis. While anyone with the funds can buy a new Rolex, those with a classic model from 20 or 40 years ago tend to have a higher status among luxury watch aficionados. And, after all, half the fun of having a luxury item is to show it off to others. Keep in mind, however, the original retail price of a Rolex translated to modern times is a bit out of reach. That kind of a price figure includes all the markup of every business that was involved in bringing the given watch to the market for the consumer to buy it. Most Rolex’s will never reach the inflation-adjusted price they were sold for originally. Like a car, that price figure dramatically drops as soon as the watch is transferred and worn by the first owner. That said, an owned Rolex will definitely not sell for pennies. It will command a very substantial price that will accumulate depending on the rarity of the given model, it’s gold content, and the popularity of it on the aftermarket exchange. The Rolexes that due trigger very high demand tend to be the ones that have extreme rarity such as very vintage models, limited-edition runs, and bona fide antique Rolexes from decades earlier.
Getting Ready to Sell Your Own Rolex
If you’ve received a Rolex watch through an estate or you’ve had one for years and think 2021 is a good time to sell it to use the money for something new, there’s a couple of bits of advice to consider and take advantage of.
First, take some time to research your watch. The Internet is an amazing tool that anyone can use to find out basic information about a Rolex watch, a particular model and production run, as well as what people think about it. That immediately gives you a basic understanding of what’s in your hand if unfamiliar with luxury watches in general.
If you’re not sure what model you have in a Rolex watch, there’s a way to identify it. Each watch has what is known as a reference number. It can be located in the middle of the 12:00 lugs. The watch’s serial number, on the other hand, will be located between the 6:00 lugs alternatively. That said, this data is not available externally and one needs a specific tool to find and see them. Most folks use the paperwork they have for the given watch instead because the same information is printed there. To add to its information, proactive owners will have kept any repair and cleaning paperwork as well, adding to the profile of the given watch, which also affects its pricing. Finally, some Rolexes come with spare links, which should be included and kept with the given watch to be sold to complete its offering and set when evaluated. With all this information pulled together, an owner should go back online and perform some additional searches to refine his or her information about the given Rolex. With all of this data then collected, the owner now has a fairly solid record of what the watch is probably worth in general terms, its background and history in terms of production, and what the market considers a fair price range for the given watch.
Once one gets into the vintage or antique Rolex market, things get a bit squirrely. Much of this has to do with the wild swings that occur with collector demand for particular models and watches that were manufactured a long time ago. The earliest models date back to 1905 and the company became official in 1908. No surprise, there was a lot of movement of watches and jewellery between World War I and World War II, so a tremendous amount of paperwork, ownership, parts, and similar changed hands as well in the first 30 years or so of existence. Ideally, a vintage Rolex watch with all original parts command the greatest price and demand in the aftermarket.
Gold Smart Provides Local Help
As you transition to selling a Rolex, working with a gold dealer with a long-standing reputation of expertise and reliability is essential. Gold Smart can provide that critical resource. Transparency and trust are essential and Gold Smart places them in high value with every customer. Gold Smart ensures a fair price for all gold sales it handles, including Rolex watches and link parts. Please call or email for information if interested. We do not pressure any sales, and oftentimes Gold Smart staff spend extra time helping our customers with market education and what to look for with their holdings as well.