What to Look For When Investing in a Vintage Rolex

Shopping for the right vintage watch can be a difficult task. As any decent vintage watch represents a sizable investment that probably won’t be repeated for a while, it is a commitment that requires no small amount of research before making a decision. For this reason, most tend to go the mechanical route and avoid digital technologies that become obsolete almost instantly. As we know, newer isn’t always necessarily better. With so many luxury watch brands out there to choose from today, sometimes, it's best to go with the proven winner. One of the most acclaimed and well-respected names in the watch world, Rolex has been setting the bar for quality since the manufacturer's founding in 1905, and with over a century of successful business behind them, their timeless designs have also dominated the second-hand market. The company is privately held and is notoriously subdued in their marketing tactics, making very few design changes to their intentionally limited product line over the decades. While some see this as a lack of originality, the simplicity of many Rolex designs is the very factor that has allowed them to preserve what makes them unique to collectors.

When getting your feet wet in the world of vintage watches, there are many factors to consider before taking the plunge with such a considerable investment - telling the differences between original, refurbished, and counterfeit watches is crucial. This is where some people who mean well can actually end up making the selection process more difficult for the uninitiated and professional collector alike. Rolex refuses to force a brand identity onto the wearer while still projecting an undeniable image of success. Instead of oversaturating the market with too much variety, the company's “less is more” tactic has allowed each of their models to become a trusted household name with its own unique personality and charms. That being said, most people want to keep their vintage timepiece as close to fully original as possible. Many people think they’re doing themselves a favor by having a watch cleaned and polished to a brand new shine, but even something as seemingly inconsequential, even beneficial, as tampering with a Rolex’s patina can significantly devalue it. The signs of daily use are precisely what make them uniquely “your” watch with its own rich history, instead of a marketing billboard for Rolex.

There is an established worldwide community of enthusiasts who restore old or damaged Rolex watches, even going as far to build complete replicas from scratch. While these are often the result of aficionados having the best intentions, it definitely makes things more difficult for serious and novice collectors alike. In fact, most individuals who find themselves attempting to sell these replicas or counterfeits have no idea what they have, believing their timepiece to be genuine. Even after evaluating all of the components individually under a microscope, the differences between a genuine vintage Rolex and a refurbished or fake watch can be difficult to determine.  With so many fakes and “frankenwatches”, original vintage watches hodgepodged with new replacement parts, it is critical to have any secondhand Rolex purchase professionally inspected for signs of tampering or forgery beforehand. One replacement part can mean the difference of thousands of dollars.

Rolex isn’t making any more vintage models, so their value will likely only increase with time if they’re well maintained, making them a solid financial venture. However, with such a considerable investment at stake, making sure you’re getting what you’re paying for requires  proper research and guidance. With the professional assistance offered at Matthew Green Jewelers, we make sure you know exactly what you’re getting, allowing you to make an informed decision.

- Alexander Toulas 3/28/2016