How to Buy a Pre-Owned Rolex

Rolex Sea-Dweller

When it comes to buying a Rolex watch, one is usually presented with two options: to buy the watch new from an authorized dealer or to buy it pre-owned from a trusted retailer.

In the recent decade, the pre-owned watch market has flourished and grown steadily. Not only is it common for watch collectors to buy secondhand, more and more watch enthusiasts are also learning about its benefits — from the significant cost savings to the increased availability and vast variety of watches.

If you’re in the market for a pre-owned Rolex, there are a number of things to consider for a successful buying process. With that, here are 5 questions to ask when buying your Rolex pre-owned.


Rolex Oyster Perpetual Watches
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Watches


1. What exact model/s do I want?

Nothing will make your search easier than narrowing down the hunt to one, or a few Rolex watches. There is a vast market for pre-owned Rolex watches, and deciding on a model or two will allow you to do a deep-dive on the features and market value of the watch. Doing your homework, and knowing your desired model inside and out, is crucial in ensuring you get both a good deal and a genuine timepiece.

So where does one start? The most practical way to begin is by setting a budget, which will help you define which Rolex models you can choose from. If budget is less of a consideration, then factors like lifestyle, design, movement, and size come into play. For a more comprehensive guide on choosing your next watch, here’s How to Choose a Watch.



Rolex President Day-Date Watches
Rolex President Day-Date Watches

2. Where should I buy the watch?

You would want to buy from a trustworthy and reputable Rolex retailer, instead of buying from a private dealer. Doing so will not only ease concerns when it comes to authenticity, it also helps ensure that you will be given proper assistance when shopping.

One of the best ways to determine a retailer’s reputation is to check for their online presence. A reputable dealer would have a good working website, substantial positive customer reviews and affiliations with respected watchmaking organizations.

The next factor to consider is whether you want to browse for watches and do the purchase online or if you want to go and see the watches in person. Retailers like SwissWatchExpo offer both environments for their customers: a showroom where they can inspect and fit the watch while being assisted by an expert and a website that simulates an in-person buying experience.

If you choose to buy online, it is a must for the retailer to provide images and details of the actual watch for sale and not factory images.

Lastly, a reputable dealer would also have securities in place to prove that they stand behind the watches that they sell and that they care for their clients’ peace of mind. Thoroughly review the retailer’s return and refund policy, warranty, and terms and conditions to ensure that you can return the watch should it not be up to your standards.



Rolex Datejust Steel Everose Gold Ladies Watch
Rolex Datejust Steel Everose Gold Ladies Watch


3. Is the watch authentic?

The great demand for Rolex watches also attracts a booming counterfeit market, and and unfortunately, the fakes are becoming more sophisticated.

Choosing an established and trusted retailer is one safeguard against buying fakes, but it also shouldn’t stop there. Many trustworthy dealers, including but not limited to SwissWatchExpo, provide a guarantee of authenticity with every sale. They are also open to having the watch checked by an authorized dealer for authentication after the sale.

While buying from a trusted dealer eliminates the risk of buying a fake, it’s still useful to arm yourself with enough information about your chosen watch. Knowing the intricacies of your chosen watch will help you immediately spot an obvious fake. Here are some essential tricks on How to Spot a Fake Rolex.



Rolex Submariner Steel Kermit and Hulk Watches
Rolex Submariner Steel Kermit and Hulk Watches


4. What is the condition of the watch?

Even when you have decided on a particular Rolex model, there can still be a vast variation in the condition of the timepiece. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a specific stock:

Scratches, dings, blemishes, and fading – You would want to see all the details of the watch and observe for signs of wear.

Bracelet stretch – Ask if the bracelet has been replaced at some point. The ideal scenario is for the watch to have the original bracelet, but without much stretch.

Box and papers – It is ideal to get a full set with box and papers if you’re getting a newer model, but this is obviously a challenge for vintage pieces. If your chosen stock does come with these, check that they match the specific model you are buying.

Restoration – Improvement on pre-owned watches are standard in the industry, and the older the watch is, the less likely it is that it will be untouched. It is crucial for restorations to use 100% genuine Rolex parts, and for vintage watches in particular, time-correct parts. Any custom work (such as gem-setting or PVD) or the use of non-genuine Rolex materials will harm the value of the watch.

Service history  It’s also important to know if the watch has been serviced recently. A full service means that the watch was opened, cleaned and some parts of it were fixed or repaired if there is damage — preventive maintenance that is recommended every 3 to 5 years. The average cost for this procedure is anywhere from $600 to $1000. If the watch has not been serviced, calculate the cost of paying for this service yourself in addition to the watch’s price, and then decide whether it is still worth going forward.



Rolex Yacht-Master Everose Gold Watch
Rolex Yacht-Master Everose Gold Watch


5. Are the payment and shipping methods safe?

Finally, consider the buying and shipping conditions. This, in fact, applies not only to Rolex watches but to any watch. Now that you’ve found your next watch, the last stretch is in making sure it arrives to you safely! Look out for the following:

Secure payment methods – Trusted retailers will have a secure website and would provide multiple payment options at the convenience of their customer. These include credit cards, phone orders, PayPal, and bank wire transfer.

Insured shipping – This ensures that you are protected and will be reimbursed should your watch get lost, stolen or damaged while in transit.



Buying a pre-owned Rolex may present more considerations for the customer, but it can certainly be enjoyable and worthwhile. Explore our collection of pre-owned Rolex watches for men and women, at





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