Vintage Rolexes are unique. Why? Because although it may share its reference number with many others, its story is unique unto its own. Each individual vintage Rolex ages different creating a totally one of a kind Rolex watch. Its wear and tear throughout the years is dependent on its exposure to elements or its unique scratches/dents that reveal a remembered moment of time.
Because each Rolex watch ages differently, it’s very difficult to appraise it accordingly. However, vintage Rolex experts have found a few ways to note its value.
The value of your watch is based on different Rolex watch markings or features, original Rolex parts, and of course, the condition the watch is in. Many Rolex watches have survived generations of passing them down.
One of the unique parts of Rolex is while the are high advanced in using different materials and coming up with more durable systems, the look of the watch usually stays the same or pays tribute to past models. For example, the most recent GMT released in 2019 is on a Jubilee as the first models were released on Jubilee. We discuss more about this model here.
Being able to notice subtle changes and differences between different references of the model is important. When these small changes occur, it can make the models more rare and valuable than their other variations. For example, the modern Rolex Submariner (which may or may not be around much longer - read more here) has the feet measurement first and the meters measurement second. On older dials, the order was reversed. Subtle details can easily be overlooked by those who are not experts. And, these details are incredibly important to the value of the watch.
A vintage Rolex's value is also highly dependent on originality. If a watch has been serviced, it's highly likely certain pieces were replaced because they naturally wore out over time. While replacing small parts with authentic Rolex parts won’t significantly deflate the vintage Rolex’s value, it’s replacing the significant elements that make the vintage Rolex special that will. For example, if the bezel or dial were replaced. Additionally, vintage Rolex experts discourage polishing. The best way to find out if these things occurred is to check the history or service details of the timepiece.
The condition of your Rolex is important. Better value is dependent on less damage to your Rolex - fewer scratches and dents. It’s more important than ever to protect the value of your watch. Preserve your bracelet with Swiss Everest Bands here. But with vintage Rolexes, this is an exception for the watch face itself.
With certain models, faded or worn bezels actually provide more value. For example, vintage GNT and Submariners that have these “ghost bezels” are worth more. The faded bezels increases value because these create a unique and individual Rolex.
The fade on the bezels is dependent on long-term exposure to elemental features like sunlight and saltwater, the bezel colors fade to unique shades of the original coloring. If you are looking to invest in a vintage Rolex, keep an eye out for ghost or faded bezels. These rare variations caused by their unique appearance is found in the watch’s story they tell.