Rolex Submariner Watch
Rolex Submariner Watch

5 Expert Tips for Buying a Rolex

Words by Jody Hume | 9.16.14
With a rich history, world-class design and enduring value, Rolex is perhaps the most iconic name in luxury watches. And when you’re ready to make the investment in a timepiece of Rolex calibre, you want all the facts. We talked to The RealReal’s in-house Horologist, Andrew Smith, who possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of timepieces, their history and their inner workings. For Smith, buying a Rolex represents not just an investment, but a personal milestone. Read on for his tips on purchasing the right Rolex for you.

1. Consider the occasion

Are you looking for versatility in one watch, or the right watch for the right occasion? “For business casual to casual, any Rolex is appropriate, but for black tie you want to go with at least a Submariner, or even a Yachtmaster or Skydweller,” advises Smith. For an all-occasion solution? “The reference 5513 Submariner worn by James Bond in Live and Let Die — it’s the perfect watch for any occasion.”
Rolex Datejust Oyster Perpetual Watch
Rolex Datejust Oyster Perpetual Watch, $3,700

2. It’s about personal style

“Many assume that owning a Rolex is just a status symbol, but it’s not just about being able to flash your Rolex; it’s about the individual enjoyment of a true work of art. Once you pick the perfect Rolex, it becomes like an extension of you.” In this regard, Smith advises that, “It’s not necessarily about price or materials – it’s about image.” This is why it’s important to take your time doing research about the variety of designs and functionality offered by Rolex timepieces.
For women, the world of options is even larger. Smith points out that, for a different take on watch size and design, many women are choosing men’s watches. “If you’ve been wearing Michael Kors and you’re ready to upgrade to a luxury watch, you might want to consider a Submariner or Daytona instead of a ladies’ Datejust.”
Rolex President Day-Date Watch
Rolex President Day-Date Watch, $9,800

3. Learn about the care that goes into maintaining your Rolex

“Rolex watches are well-made, but you want to treat them like any other precious object.” Smith recommends servicing your Rolex at least once every four years. “It’s akin to servicing a car — the internal workings are basically like an engine, but because most are self-winding, at least you never need to replace the battery.”

4. Look for value

Buying a pre-owned Rolex can provide a strong value. “We got in a rose gold Skydweller with an oyster clasp and a chocolate leather strap,” says Smith. “Whoever bought it got an amazing deal. If someone buys a watch from The RealReal, as long as it’s maintained, it will always hold its value. It may even be worth more over time.”
In addition to value, choosing a pre-owned timepiece can be a matter of style. While some people are perfectly comfortable wearing a popular newer style, “Vintage timepieces, like the Rolex GMT, are a rare opportunity to buy something you won’t see on everyone else’s wrist,” advises Smith.
Rolex Two-Tone Diamond Submariner Watch
Rolex Two-Tone Diamond Submariner Watch, $7,900

5. Authenticity is key

“Rolex is the most sought-after name in luxury timepieces because everyone knows who they are. For this reason, Rolex is also one of the most faked, replicated, and modified brands out there,” Smith cautions. “The majority of replicas are easy to spot, but there are some ‘super replicas.’ There is very little variance in Rolex’s designs — they always make a perfect product. So if anything seems off or askew, there’s reason for concern. Some things I look at are the font, the general spacing of the printing, the weight of the timepiece and the kind of movement.”
One way to determine a Rolex’s authenticity is to research the reference number and serial number to make sure that the the bracelet, bezel and design match up for that particular watch. “You can find these numbers by popping off the bracelet and looking at the top and bottom of the case,” says Smith. Only if a Rolex meets these rigorous standards of inspection is it accepted at The RealReal. Buying from a trusted source with horology experts is a way to ensure you’re getting a fully authentic timepiece. “You never want to assume,” advises Smith.

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