ROLEX WATCHES: How to Buy a Pre Owned Rolex Watch

November 29, 2019 5 min read

ROLEX WATCHES: How to Buy a Pre Owned Rolex Watch - Swiss Watch Trader


Pulling the trigger and buying a pre owned Rolex watch can be a daunting and at times stressful experience. Use this handy buyers guide so you know how to buy your next pre owned Rolex watch with confidence. You will learn what to look for, what to avoid and the questions you need to ask to ensure you buy the very best pre owned Rolex watch. With so many outlets for people to choose from including Facebook, Gumtree and eBay, plus the many established sellers such as ourselves, Watchfinder and Blowers, the questions you need to ask yourself are from who, how, when and where should you buy a pre owned Rolex watch from?



1. Buy the seller, not the watch.

Do your research. Google is your friend. If you are buying from a private individual, check them out on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin etc. If you are buying via eBay, check their feedback and completed listings. If you see that the watch you are interested in buying has sold before, there is a chance that the seller is trying to sell it multiple times before the buyers, eBay and PayPal catch up with them. If you are happy with the seller then there is a good chance that you will be happy with the watch. This goes for buying from a dealer too. If the dealer is open and honest about the condition of the watch, is happy to supply additional photograph or videos, and offers a full refund policy then you should be ok. Always check reviews on Trustpilot, Facebook and eBay though. Most sellers, both private and professional, are more than happy to discuss the watch over the phone or if possible in person prior to a sale. And if in any doubt, walk away.

2. No such thing as a bargain?

Like my mum always used to say, if something looks too good to be true - it probably is. There are of course exceptions to this, but as a rule, if you are being offered a Rolex Submariner for £4000 there's probably a reason, a reason you want to avoid! Use your head and always go with your gut. Pre owned Rolex watches are more popular than ever and finding desirable models such as the Rolex Daytona at a bargain price are sadly a thing of the past. It is therefore essential to research pre owned Rolex watch prices to get idea on the current market value of your chosen model. If you are offered or locate a pre owned Rolex watch at a price lower than you would expect, there may be a reason. Reasons can include it being stolen or counterfeit and the seller wants to move the watch on quickly. Or as is often the case with vintage Rolex watches, it may be made up of spare parts - known in the trade as a Frankenstein watch.

3. Box & Papers - are they really worth it?

For some, buying a pre owned Rolex without the original boxes and papers isn't a problem. They are often cheaper and there are sometimes good reasons why the boxes, papers and hang tags may be missing. However, if you have one eye on future values, or think there may me a possibility that you will sell or part exchange in the near future, buying a Rolex without the original boxes and papers may be a false economy. 

4. Check Serial Numbers.

Any Rolex without an engraved inner rehaut will have the serial number engraved between the lugs at the 6 o'clock position and the model number at 12. You will need a special tool to remove the bracelet but any good dealer will have one and be more than happy to show you that the numbers on the watch match the paper warranty certificate or green warranty card. The serial number will also be on a white sticker attached to the rear of the green swimpruf hang tag. 

5. Check dates on manuals.

Here's a good one to check that the full set you are buying isn't made up of random manuals from eBay. Every Rolex manual will have a date printed on the rear or just inside. If you are looking at a D serial Rolex Submariner from 2005, the date on the manual should be ideally be 2005. However, back in the mid 2000's, consumers didn’t demand a Rolex like they do today and certain watches would sit in the window for a period of time meaning you may end up with a manual from 2006. Generally, you need to make sure that the date on the manual is around the production date or the date of sale. For example, a 2005 D serial would not have a 2003 or 2007 dated manual.

6. Hang tags.

This is an important one if you are looking at a Rolex Submariner 16610 LV or GMT Master II 16710. With prices of the Rolex Submariner 16610 LV now over double the price of a standard 16610, some less honest sellers may wish to cash in on this and try their luck by adding an aftermarket maxi dial and green bezel to a 16610 in the hope of fooling a buyer into parting with their money. One way to establish if the watch began life as a Rolex 16610 LV Submariner is via the sticker on the rear of the green swimpruf hang tag. The sticker will have the serial number and will show the watch as being a 16610LV. This is also true for the GMT Master II 16710. The model number on the sticker will show 16710BLRO for a red/blue "Pepsi" bezel, 16710LN for a black bezel and 16710 for the red/black "Coke" bezel.

Please note that this list will continue to grow. I will also expand on certain points such as the pros and cons of buying on eBay, what constitutes a "full set" and the types of paperwork you should expect to receive with your pre owned Rolex.



Our collection of pre-owned Rolex watches include the Rolex Submariner, Rolex Daytona, Rolex GMT Master and GMT Master II, Rolex Explorer & Rolex Sea Dweller. At Swiss Watch Trader we specialise in selling only the very best mens Rolex watches and unless there is a valid reason, ALL our Rolex watches will include their original boxes and papers. When buying any modern or vintage Rolex watch you need to ensure you are getting the very best example with as much of the original paraphernalia as possible. You should always look for a Rolex watch that is complete with its original inner and outer boxes, warranty certificate or card, manuals, hang tags and if possible original sales receipt. For more information on how to buy a Rolex watch from Swiss Watch Trader and the the services we offer including buying a Rolex watch on finance, head over to the information section.

For more information on other Rolex watch models including the Sea Dweller, Daytona and Explorer, head over to the News & Reviews section. Please get in touch if you have any questions about any of our new, used, pre-owned and second hand mens Rolex watches.


Contact Us today if you have a question about any of our pre owned Rolex watches for sale - we will be happy to help!

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