For the most part, if you purchase a used Rolex with some scratches, most of it will get professionally finished when it goes in for its first service at Rolex Service Center. Of course major dings can’t be repaired, although some independent shops do offer the service of adding more steel and refinishing the case to smooth out dings.
Photo by Analog Shift
So if you are looking at two watches in different conditions on the secondhand market, don’t necessarily be afraid of choosing one that costs less but may be listed as having some imperfections. If you can be tolerant of some scratches until the Rolex goes in for its first service, you may be better off choosing the less costly model at the outset.
Photo by Timepiece Network
In real life if you look at some older watches, the scratches do look OK in my opinion. After all you are getting a watch that has been worn and no matter what, watches will get scratched with use. Think of the watches you’ve purchased as new. Within a few months, you’ll have earned a few scratches anyway. Right now, with prices inflated for Rolex watches, shopping on the secondhand market is smart. Personally, I’m not into playing the waiting game with an authorized dealer, especially when I genuinely like some older Rolex models better.
I’m not here to argue which era Rolex watches are better. I own both modern and slightly older models and each has its advantages and disadvantages. But I am confident that a Rolex bought on the used market can be restored to like new condition at a Rolex Service Center or with any of the highly qualified independent watchmakers out there.
Photo by King Jewelers
I had my 14060 Submariner serviced once and it came back looking like a new watch. I chose to not replace the entire bezel and there is a small dent at 7 o’clock. You really have to look for it to see it.
Photo from Chrono 24
I accepted the offer for service hands as I know I will never sell my Sub and wanted to have the most functional and sturdy version of the watch on my wrist. I could care less about it being entirely original and RSC’s mission to make watches that come in for service as good as new is what’s needed for most average watch enthusiasts who simply watch a version of their watch that will last the longest.
Photo by Watchcharts
The fear of polishing is unwarranted unless it is a very desirable and hard-to-get vintage model. I respect that an entirely unpolished case is the most sought after condition. Overpolished is another thing, but a true pro will know how to gingerly refinish a watch without ruining its original lines.
So if you are after a used Rolex, just go for the one you want if it’s in good overall condition from a reputable dealer. Wear the heck out of it and when it’s time for service you may just decide you only want the movement serviced and gaskets replaced. A well-worn (but not abused) watch is a beautiful thing.Keep your Rolex watches nice at home with our accessories.