Just to warn everyone up front, this article concerns my personal opinions on buying and collecting Rolex watches. Whether one likes it or not, one cannot deny that Rolex still gets more attention from watch consumers than any other watch brand. I respect Rolex Replica for what it is able to accomplish (producing high-quality watches in large numbers for reasonable prices) and I own and have owned my share of Rolex watches, both vintage and new.
I’ve learned that a lot about buying and collecting vintage Rolex has to do with aesthetics. There is little interest in the mechanical movement; people generally trust it to be good. (It is a Rolex, for crying out loud.) Many collectors tend to be more interested in a nice-looking dial, or matching pair of hands, than to making sure the movement is all nice and fresh. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and these movements are fairly easy to service, but I always make sure that the watch is in perfect technical working order as well.
Rolex GMT-Master – vintage
Rolex GMT-Master, Reference 1675, as some of the vintage-Rolex collectors love to see them: patina on the dial, dark patina on the luminous markers and hands, faded bezel.
Rolex GMT-Master – vintage
Rolex GMT-Master, Reference 6542. Bakelite bezel with colors still intact, clean-looking dial and slightly discolored tritium on the dial and hands (as the author prefers them)
Now, the other side of the story is that there is a lot of fraud going on in the vintage Rolex scene. As with all transactions in which serious money is involved — whether it be classic cars, paintings, real estate, even adopting babies — there are always those who want to cheat and scam other people who wish to own a certain commodity (in this case, a cheap replica watches). There are dealers who claim to have million-dollar businesses selling vintage Rolexes, who claim to be able to supply whatever model you need or whichever is in demand at that moment. Be very careful of those types of dealers. I’d advise you to seek out a guy who trades vintage Rolexes as a hobby (or a passion), rather than to enter a store that has dozens of vintage Rolex replica watches that are labeled “exclusive” and carry crazy price tags.
“Exclusivity” is another important issue. Most Rolexes are not exclusive, in terms of numbers, to start with, even vintage Rolexes. Rolex has always been a watch manufacturer with a high production capacity. Collectors have made them “exclusive” because of their needs for certain models with specific signs of aging or specific wording on the dial. In truth, if you have unlimited resources, you can buy just about any vintage Rolex there is (with exceptions, of course, such as prototypes or models that had a specific professional purpose). You want a Paul Newman Daytona? No problem, as long as you can show the money. The only thing that makes a vintage Rolex “exclusive” is its price tag, to be honest. There are luxury replica watches from other brands out there that are much harder to get, and perhaps also more technically interesting, but let’s face it. The demand for vintage Rolex watches is incomparable.
Rolex GMT-Master II Batman
Another point some watch enthusiasts like to raise is that Rolex watches are outrageously expensive. I beg to differ, actually. Rolex watches were never cheap to start with, so everything is relative, but there are a few things you need to consider.