Buying New Vs Vintage Rolex Watches - What's the better investment?

Buying New Vs Vintage Rolex Watches - What's the better investment? - Twain Time, Inc.

Let me commence by sharing with you the fact why I adore vintage Rolex watches. Like most of the other vintage watches or brands, a Rolex sports watch from the 60s or ’70s has a distinct aura of adventure. The wear on the case & bracelet simply confirms that the watches had something to do with a rough life. The stuff that these watches witnessed or gone through might have been phenomenal. 

The pleasure with the vintage Rolex watches is that you can easily find the specific "configuration" that entertains your personal taste because there are so many of them. It's very evident that the market for pre-owned luxury watches, or, let's say, vintage watches, has been booming for years now. In fact, some of the current analyses put a figure of about $15 billion on the industry as a whole & it is no secret that Rolex accounts for the most substantial share of the models sold. 

Now the question arises why does the brand Rolex take such a big slice of the pie? And what are the pros & cons of buying new vs pre-owned Rolex watches? 

Before going further, let's mention the Nine Basic Rules of Buying a Vintage Rolex:

  1. Look For Authenticity First, Everything Else Later
  2. Check The Age Of The Dial
  3. Check The Condition Of The Dial
  4. Read Between The Lugs
  5. Carefully Examine The Case Back And Crown
  6. Examine The Bracelet
  7. Examine The Accompanying Box And Papers, Should They Exist
  8. Assess The Exact Condition Of The Watch
  9. Realize The Seller Is As Important As The Watch Itself


The question, whether or not it is more economical to buy a pre-owned Rolex or vintage Rolex is not as cut & dried as you might imagine. For the most part, you can probably save a notable amount by going to the secondary market. We all know that brand new watches typically suffer depreciation as soon as they leave the store. Letting their first owner take that hit & then buying the model when they decide to sell it can bring the price down by 20%.

However, this is not the case right when we talk about vintage Rolex watches. With some Rolex watches, the company's strategy of strictly limiting the supply of new models to their own retailer network has meant that they are almost impossible to buy without some serious time spent on a waiting list. 

As a matter of fact, in the entire luxury goods business, nothing retains its value quite like a Rolex watch. Those models you saved 20% or so on probably won't go any lower. Unlike a car, for example, which will continue to drop the longer you own it, a Rolex watch will reach a certain point & then level out.


"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. 

The curse of possessing the sort of success that Rolex keeps is that there are now a strong number of fakes making exactly similar rounds. The brand Rolex is, by far, the most counterfeited watch manufacturer in the world today. Some even claim that there are actually more counterfeit Rolex timepieces in circulation than the real ones.

It has become a significant problem, with the quality of the copies increasing every year until we are in the situation now where even skilled experts can be fooled by the best of the imitations. If you go the pre-owned route, then the age-old phrase, ‘buy the seller,’ has never been more merited.

An excellent place to start is among the many dedicated Rolex forums online, where knowledgeable commenters will happily share their experiences in dealing with individuals or companies. From there, check out the sellers’ credentials & look for things like third-party certificates of authenticity on every watch they sell & some sort of money-back guarantee. The best dealers will also offer their own warranties & stand behind their timepieces with lifetime authenticity guarantees – just like we do at Twain Time.


Before the 80s, it was pretty simple to buy a Rolex watch. You simply had to walk into an Authorized Dealer, select the one you wanted, pay for it & left. However, that all started to change with the quartz crisis. It has only become significantly more challenging to purchase a brand-new Rolex in recent years.

Realizing that it would not compete in terms of price or accuracy with the influx of electronics from Japan, Rolex changed its focus & set about making itself the definitive name in luxury timepieces & aspirational lifestyles, a big part of that included the notion of exclusivity. If just anyone could buy the watch that they wanted without any effort, it diluted the brand's whole essence.

Therefore, Rolex started restricting the number of watches it produces each year, making it harder & harder to acquire. Today, it is more complicated than ever to buy a brand-new Rolex watch. Anyone who has earlier tried to buy a GMT-Master or Submariner at retail in the last few yrs is likely to be still waiting for theirs to be delivered.

This shortage of Rolex timepieces at retailers is probably one of the main reasons why the pre-owned Rolex market has wholly exploded in recent years. Not getting hold of your dream watch at a retailer does not stop you from wanting it, so turning to the secondary market becomes the only choice.


Here we conclude that whatever vintage Rolex you will choose, it will be a quality watch. The chance that something will be wrong with it is minimal. The possible resale value (though there are no guarantees) is another incentive. The key to getting a 100% genuine, worry-free vintage watch is to do your research thoroughly & to always buy from a trusted & reputable dealer that will stand behind their products.


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