One way to find out the approximate age of your Rolex watch is via the serial number etched on the case. Age plays a role in valuation, so it’s also a great place to start when estimating the value of your pre-owned Rolex watches. The series or first letter of the serial number on a Rolex timepiece can correspond to a certain year or period in which your watch was manufactured. Almost every watch site feels the need to post a Rolex serial number list. We’re not sure why, but in a copy and paste industry (homage is the fancy term used in the watch community), we’re certain that most of the sites copy and paste the information they find online. More than just a list of production dates, we put together this guide to give a better understanding Rolex serial numbers, accompanied by a quick access chart to figuring out the year of your watch. If there’s anything we missed, please add it to the comments below.
In this Rolex serial number guide, we will talk about:
- How to find the serial number
- Are random/scattered serial numbers bad?
- Crowd-sourced data
- When was my watch sold?
- What if the serial number on the watch doesn’t match the paperwork?
- Can the serial number tell me if my Rolex is fake?
- Serial number chart/list
How to Find the Serial Number?
Older Rolex watches have the serial number engraved between the 6:00 lugs. In the past, you would have to remove the bracelet to get the serial number from the watch. On some watches, the endlinks can put scratch marks into the case, cutting into the engraving. The model number can be found between the 12:00 lugs.
Modern day Rolexes do not require the bracelet to be removed. You can find the serial number at the 6:00 position along the inner bezel under the crystal. This style is often referred to as the “inner engraving” or “rehaut engraving”. Watches with this serial number location have the Rolex Rolex Rolex engravings as well.
Rolex may have made this change to make it more difficult for gray market sellers to hide the serial numbers of the watches they’re selling. If the execs at Rolex can see the serial number, they are able to track it back to the original AD and it can help them catch dealers that are selling Rolex watches to other sellers at less than their minimum advertised price.
Are Random/Scattered Serial numbers Bad?
Starting about mid-way through 2010, Rolex started to “scramble” the serial numbers. These are also known as “random serials” or “scattered serials” and are not as bad as they sound. It just means it’s a watch from after 2010 that Rolex began implementing this new serial number system with. Although Rolex claims they made this change to reduce the ability to create counterfeits, many collectors suspect that Rolex did this as a way to maintain balance of the market value and give less power to secondhand Rolex dealers to create value scales based on age of the watch. Also, it helps dealers to be able to hold inventory longer without savvy customers using the aforementioned new-watch-buying tips.
It’s important and interesting to note that any of the serial number information you may stumble upon online is not official data provided by Rolex. All of the serial number information the watch community has is crowd-sourced by enthusiasts and dealers. Also, keep in mind that not every model follows the same serial number cutoff, or model changes. It really comes down to what Rolex decides to do with the model and when they cutoff the production.
Tools on the Rolex Forum said it best:
You can’t take any serial number list as absolutely factual… Rolex simply does not provide that information and all lists are compiled by word of mouth….and they are all actually based on when a particular serial number was sold…. consider it an estimate of the date manufactured, until you find evidence otherwise..
When Was My Watch Sold?
Using the Rolex serial number chart is not necessarily a good way to figure out when the Rolex watch was originally sold by the AD. For that specific information, you will need the original signed/dated warranty card or sales receipt. Although Rolex and dealers do not want watches to sit in the display case for long, it’s not unusual, especially for less popular or solid gold models, to sit in a jewelry store case for years after the manufacture date. You should also know that just because a case has a serial number dated from 2008, doesn’t mean the watch was fully assembled in 2008. As far as we know, Rolex will continue to use each case series until they are used up. If you are about to purchase a Rolex watch at an authorized dealer, it’s a good idea to check the chart below to get an idea of how long the watch might have been in the dealer’s inventory. This could potentially be used as a negotiation point for getting a lower price on the watch. The dealer will desperately want to move older pieces from their case.
What if the serial number on the watch doesn’t match the paperwork?
If you bought the watch based on it having box and papers, then it is likely that you paid a premium. You should always check the serial number on your papers and hangtang immediately to make sure they match the number on the watch. If your paperwork or warranty card has a different serial number, then chances are it got mixed up with another watch. Remember, the papers only add value to your watch if the model and serial numbers match up.
Is the case serial number supposed to match the movement serial number?
In most cases, the movement serial number and the case serial number does not match. These are two separate numbers. The movement numbers are based on COSC numbers issued when certified. Also, remember that movements and cases are not made at the same time. For example, a newer movement can be placed in an older serial case if that is what they have on hand at the time of assembly. In other words, do not worry if your case and movement serial numbers do not match up.
Can the serial number tell me if my Rolex is fake?
Although not a dependable way to determine the authenticity of a Rolex watch, Googling the serial number doesn’t hurt. Most reputable watch dealers will not disclose the serial number of a watch publicly, and there are good reasons for that. So don’t be alarmed if nothing shows up in the search results for your serial number, it’s probably a good thing. However, if your serial number does have some Google action, then pay attention. In the case of a genuine piece, this information could give insight into previous owners and sellers of the watch. More importantly, fake watches have been known to use the same serial number throughout their production runs. These numbers are often reported in forums or can be seen in images from fake watch sellers. Note that modern sophisticated and higher priced super-clones may have unique serial numbers engraved in the case like a genuine piece. Again, this is not a telltale sign of a watch’s authenticity, but an fast and easy first step. Read: Fake Luxury Watch Myths
Serial Number List:
Now that you learned how to find your Rolex serial number, use can use the chart below to approximate the age of your watch by series. This Rolex serial number database is made available for information purposes only. It may not provide 100% accurate info for dating your Rolex Watch. Use this list for estimations only. To make this information better for the community, please report known errors in the comments below.
|2010 1/2 – Present||Scrambled/Scattered/Random|
|12/2008 – 2010 (2008 3/4)||V 000,001|
|1/2008 – 11/2008 (2007 1/2)||M 000,001|
|7/2006 – 12/2007 (2006 1/2)||Z 000,001|
|1/2005 – 7/2006 (2005 1/2)||D 000,001|
|1/2004 (2003 3/4)||F 000,001|
|9/2002 (2002 3/4)||Y 000,001|
|8/2001 (2001 1/2)||K 000,001|
|4/2000 (2000 1/2)||P 000,001|
|1993 3/4||S 000,001|
|1992 1/4||C 000,001|
|1991 3/4||N 000,001|
|1991 1/2||X 000,001|
|1991 1/4||E 999,999|
|1990 1/2||E 000,001|
|1987 1/2||R 000,000|
The watches featured above are a Rolex Serti Sub and Rolex Datejust. We hope this serial number guide was useful. Please consider linking to this page and check out the pre-owned Rolex watches in our watch store.
Rolex Plastic Service Boxes$ 37.50
Rolex COSC Tag$ 25.00
1989 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona BookletUnavailable
Rolex 300m AnchorUnavailable