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How to Guarantee a Pre-Owned Rolex is Real

February 17, 2012

BY Paul Altieri


Are you currently considering a pre-owned Rolex watch, or have you recently bought a used Rolex and you want to know how to tell a genuine Rolex from an imposter? Let’s take a look at a few used Rolex watches. There are a number of things you should look for in your investigation effort including, but not limited to:

Genuine Rolex

  1. Case Reference Number.  The best way to assure a Rolex is genuine is to refer to the serial and case reference numbers. Even used Rolex watches follow this. They are always engraved on the side of the case, between the lugs. Rolex engraves serial numbers with extremely fine lined characters, while counterfeits tend to feature acid-like etchings with larger lettering/numbering. Additionally, counterfeiters often use the same reference numbers on many watches instead of unique serial numbers.
  2. Rolex Case-backs. Counterfeit Rolex watches often feature either clear or engraved case-backs. A clear one allows for you to see inside of the watch and into the various parts that make it work, while an engraved version can include a logo and other items. Genuine Rolex case-backs are always smooth and never engraved or clear.

    real vs fake rolex caseback

    Real vs fake Rolex caseback

  3. Micro-Etched Crystal. Many (but not all) Rolex models made from 2002 to present include a tiny logo etched into the crystal at 6 o’clock. It is quite difficult to see the mark without the help of a magnifying glass. Look for the crown logo, and if you don’t see one visit a Rolex certified Rolex dealer for their professional opinion.

    Micro Etched Crystal

    Micro etched Crystal can help determine the authenticity of a watch.

  4. Watch Hands and Features. Counterfeit Rolex often have less refined watch details and features. This is why it important to carefully study official photos of the exact model of watch you are intending to purchase. On some watches the hands, dials, and bracelet clasps will differ considerably.
  5. Triplelock Crown Seal. When considering a Submariner sports watch, Sea-Dweller or Daytona, they feature a Triplelock crown with a black o-ring. Most counterfeits don’t include this feature but will utilize basic screw-down threads. Also, newer counterfeits are beginning to feature a similar black seal, but if you look closer, you’ll notice that it is only cosmetic and not functional. Significantly modified since Mercedes Glietze’s swim in the English Channel.

When purchasing a pre-owned Rolex, it is a good idea to purchase one that includes the original box and certificate of authenticity. This provides extra proof as to the watch’s authenticity. Additionally, it is definitely recommended that you find a dealer that specializes in Rolex.

There is a benefit to building a relationship with a Rolex broker because many will often sell Rolex for full market value!



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