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Source: Hodinkee

Nine Basic Rules of Buying a Vintage Rolex

Originally published by Louis Westphalen on Hodinkee.Shopping for a vintage Rolex can be an intimidating task – frightening, even – given the number of fake and "Franken" watches lurking all around. We even showed you a bad one earlier this week. You've likely heard the advice “buy the seller” a million times before, and just as likely dismissed it. I wouldn't blame you, because in most cases a transaction doesn't scream shady business at first, leaving you to discover much later that your watch may not be as original as you were led to believe, hurting its collectibility, and thus its value. Therefore, this article aims to equip you with the key points that you should always check when hunting for your dream vintage Rolex.This checklist can’t claim to be comprehensive, as numerous books would not suffice to cover all the quirky features of the entire vintage production from Rolex. It will nonetheless provide you with the basic knowledge to avoid being on the losing end during your next quest.

The Dial Is Not Everything, But It's Close To Everything

As surprising as it might sound to the novice vintage Rolex hunter, most of the value in a vintage Rolex comes from the dial. Very rare dials on vintage references can command enormous premiums over less rare dials. For that peculiar reason, extra attention must be devoted upfront to this single part; you must ask yourself the three following questions:1. Look For Authenticity First, Everything Else Later"Is the dial authentic?" is the million dollar question when looking at a vintage Rolex – quite literally, if you are actually considering some of the rarest Daytona chronographs. There is only one way to establish if a dial is authentic: very careful examination. And still I would add the disclaimer "don’t try this at home" in the case of very high value Rolex where fakers have mastered counterfeits – the priciest Daytonas again come to mind. Besides those specific cases, in most instances, a detailed examination of the logo and other text on the dial is sufficient. Comparing with pictures of similar models that you can find in books or other trusted sources (emphasis on "trusted," as it is not unheard of for unscrupulous "experts" to simply make things up, especially when they are also dealers) is a safe starting point: it comes down to analyzing the shape of the Rolex logo, assessing whether it is should be applied or printed, and studying the font of the main lines on the dial. This step should in most cases give you adequate information about the dial, and allow you to progress to examining other aspects of the watch.

1. Look For Authenticity First, Everything Else Later


"Is the dial authentic?" is the million dollar question when looking at a vintage Rolex – quite literally, if you are actually considering some of the rarest Daytona chronographs. There is only one way to establish if a dial is authentic: very careful examination. And still I would add the disclaimer "don’t try this at home" in the case of very high value Rolex where fakers have mastered counterfeits – the priciest Daytonas again come to mind. Besides those specific cases, in most instances, a detailed examination of the logo and other text on the dial is sufficient. Comparing with pictures of similar models that you can find in books or other trusted sources (emphasis on "trusted," as it is not unheard of for unscrupulous "experts" to simply make things up, especially when they are also dealers) is a safe starting point: it comes down to analyzing the shape of the Rolex logo, assessing whether it is should be applied or printed, and studying the font of the main lines on the dial. This step should in most cases give you adequate information about the dial, and allow you to progress to examining other aspects of the watch.


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