While iced out Rolex watches may not be to everyone’s taste, the quality of a factory gem-set Rolex watch is undeniably topnotch. Similar to all other components of its watchmaking process, Rolex maintains tight controls over the precious gems that grace its watches. From sourcing the very best stones available on the market to setting them just right, so much of the development of diamond Rolex watches is done in-house and to the highest possible standards.
If you’re at all curious about diamond Rolex watches or are wondering about the drawbacks of aftermarket gems, dig into our ultimate guide to iced out Rolex watches and brush up on everything you need to know.
Gem Setting, The Rolex Way
Rolex spreads out its massive watchmaking operations across over 7,000 employees located at four separate sites in Switzerland. The gem-setting of Rolex watches happens at the Rolex Chêne-Bourg site, which is also where the company produces its dials and bezels.
The Rolex gemology department is tasked with selecting the only highest quality gemstones, which include diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Not only are these precious stones subjected to thorough inspection by trained experts, but they also undergo rigorous testing by state-of-the-art machinery.
Some parameters Rolex sets out for the diamonds it chooses to set into its watches include:
– Diamond color must be between D and G (GIA color chart).
– No observable inclusions at 10x magnification.
Once the gems are selected for their future watches, Rolex’s master gem-setters then set each of the stones into the gold or platinum surfaces of the designated watch parts – by hand.
Factory Diamond Rolex Watches vs. Custom Iced out Rolex Watches
Adding aftermarket diamonds to a Rolex watch is a fairly common practice. There are plenty of independent jewelers that will happily pave any Rolex watch – whether a Datejust, President, Submariner, GMT-Master, or Daytona – with sparkling stones. Unfortunately, contrary to popular belief, customizing a Rolex with diamonds or other gems can quickly devalue the watch – regardless of how much the actual gem setting costs.
Since the timepiece has been altered, Rolex will no longer service a watch with aftermarket gems. Furthermore, buyers and collectors typically favor Rolex watches with genuine parts. This is especially true of Rolex enthusiasts – customized Rolex watches are almost always a no-go for collectors.
If you want a diamond Rolex watch, your best option is to always buy the real-deal rather than adding gems to a standard unadorned model. Luckily for you, we only sell factory diamond Rolex watches, and any iced out Rolex you see on our website left the Rolex factory already impeccably set with those gemstones.
What Rolex Collections Have Gem-Set Watches?
The Rolex watches that are most frequently set with diamonds are the more dress-oriented models such as the Datejust, Day-Date, and Pearlmaster. In fact, all Rolex Pearlmaster watches are set with diamonds, and it is often considered to be Rolex’s collection of jewelry-oriented timepieces.
However, iced out Rolex sports watches are most definitely a thing too. Rolex has produced a number of different gem-set Daytona, Submariner, GMT-Master II, and Yacht-Master models, and Daytona watches with diamond hour markers and Yacht-Master references with diamond-paved dials are currently part of the standard Rolex catalog.
Additionally, there are some ultra-rare Rolex sports watches, such as the white gold Submariner 116659SABR with diamonds and sapphires (worn by Mark Wahlberg) or the Everose gold GMT-Master II 126755SARU with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires (worn by Trevor Noah) that aren’t advertised but discreetly produced in very small numbers.
It is also worth mentioning that previously, certain models like the last generation of 34mm Air-King watches with fluted bezels were fitted with diamond-set dials but at the present time, gem-set configurations are limited to the following Rolex collections:
– GMT-Master II
What Parts Of Rolex Watches Have Diamonds?
The different parts of a Rolex watch that can be embellished with diamonds or other gemstones include the following components:
Dials are the most common area that Rolex decks out with diamonds and/or other gemstones. This style can range from one or two diamond hour markers to full diamond-paved dials and everything in between. Diamond indices on a Rolex watch can be round-cut ones or baguette-cut ones. Furthermore, some Rolex watches, like the Lady-Datejust 28, can have prominent hour markers such as an oversized Roman numeral paved with diamonds.
Rolex Serti Dials
Diamond Rolex dials are sometimes nicknamed “Serti Dials,” particularly on sports models. For instance, when looking at vintage and/or discontinued Rolex sports watches, you’ll often come across various Submariner, GMT-Master II, and Yacht-Master models with Serti dials. These older dial styles often combined diamond hour markers with sapphire or ruby hour markers. The word “Serti” is derived from the French word “sertir” (which refers to setting gems). It is also worth noting that diamond dial versions of a particular reference do not have different reference numbers to non-diamond dial variants.
Another frequent area that Rolex offers gemstone embellishments is the watch bezel, which often features diamonds but can also include sapphires, rubies, or emeralds too. There are bezels entirely set with round-cut or baguette-cut diamonds, such as those found on select Datejust, Day-Date President, and Pearlmaster references. Rolex also makes some Pearlmaster and Datejust references with a dozen or so diamonds peppered around the bezel rather than covering the entire surface, and a particularly collectible iced out Rolex watch is the Rainbow Daytona, which features a rainbow gradient of baguette-cut sapphires set into the bezel.
Rolex Reference Numbers and Gem-set Bezels
The letters in Rolex reference numbers almost always identify a particular bezel style – and this extends to diamond and/or gemstone variants too. Below is a brief rundown of some examples.
– TBR (Tessellate Brillants): Diamonds
– TEM (Tessellate Emeraude): Emeralds
– SABLV (Saphirs Bleu Vert): Blue and green sapphires
– SABR (Saphirs, Brillants): Sapphires and diamonds
– SACO (Saphirs Cognac): Cognac sapphires
– SAFUBL (Saphirs Fuchsia Bleu): Fuchsia and blue sapphires
– SAJOR (Saphirs Jaune Orange): Yellow and orange sapphires
– SANR (Saphirs Noir): Black sapphires, such as GMT-Master II 116759SANR
– SARU (Saphirs, Rubis): Sapphires and rubies, such as GMT-Master II 116759SARU
Although not as common as dials and bezels, Rolex also makes watches with diamond-set cases and bracelets. Some examples include the Lady-Datejust ref. 179159 with diamond-set lugs and the Day-Date ref. 18348 with a remarkable President bracelet featuring diamond-set center links, and the Daytona ref. 116598SACO, which is fitted with a leather strap but features diamond-set lug-hoods that fill the gap between where the strap meets the case.