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Rolex box and papers

Rolex Warranty Cards and Authorized Dealers

Rolex box and papers

The number of Authorized Dealers of Rolex watches online = 0

KeepTheTime deals in new and pre-owned authentic watches, but one thing you won’t see on our site is a Rolex being sold as brand new. That’s because it’s impossible for a brand new Rolex to be sold online. Perhaps it’s subjective, but we have a firm belief that the term “brand new” entails the watch is being delivered exactly as intended by the manufacturer.

One point of an AD is to control the distribution of higher end brands to keep a level of service, experience, pricing, etc… consistent with what the brand wants, so they create these “exclusive” places to buy the brand. –Jiman on watchuseek

In the case of Rolex, they sell watches to their ADs, then the AD sells the watch new, unsized, with stickers attached, at full (or very close to it) retail price. Discounts are highly unlikely, but you’re getting a “brand new” watch with the full warranty, etc. Speaking of warranty, here’s a question we often get asked about Rolex warranty cards:

A Rolex watch without a warranty card? How do I know it was sold by an authorized dealer?

As mentioned in the quote above, Rolex is a highly regulated brand that controls every aspect of distribution very tightly. With or without a warranty card, the chances of buying a Rolex watch that didn’t originate from an AD is basically zero, unless the watch fell off the back of a truck or was brought in from overseas. In that situation, the serial number on the watch can provide insight. Having the card would make it easier to find the serial number on the older models since it was located between the lugs, but even then you should always match the number to the one on the card.

Some Rolex dealers are known to “file the card” for you or keep it safe in their vault. This is just another way of controlling the sale of the watch on the second hand market. They don’t want you to go to their store, negotiate a great price on an all steel sport model, then go online to flip it for a profit to some poor soul in a region that doesn’t have the said model in stock. Dealers will pretend to be nice, doing you a service, but are actually protecting their own asses by hanging on the to card and matching hangtag.

With or without a warranty card, authentic Rolex watches are first shipped directly to a dealer, then sold either to a customer over-the-counter or to a wholesaler. Rolex is very strict about their dealers wholesaling watches, which is why you don’t see many “brand new” Rolex watches for sale online. It’s just worth it for them to risk losing millions of dollars worth of revenue to sell a few pieces online. Also remember, there is no such thing as an online Authorized Dealer of Rolex watches.

Are Rolex warranties transferable?

Rolex warranties have recently been extended from 2 to 5 years of coverage, but keep in mind that for Rolex watches sold in USA, the warranties are non-transferable. At least that’s how many have interpreted the warranty jargon contained in the warranty booklet (ref 563.83):

ROLEX WATCH U.S.A. INC. warrants this watch against manufacturing defects for the period of two years from the date of purchase, under normal use. This warranty does not cover normal wear and tear, accidents, loss, misuse, abuse or neglect.

ROLEX WATCH U.S.A. INC. will remedy any covered defect at no cost tot he consumer, once the consumer delivers the watch, with the original warranty card, to either (1) an Official ROLEX Jeweler or (2) any of the Official ROLEX Service Centers listed in this booklet.

This warranty will be valid only if (1) the watch was sold to a consumer by the Official ROLEX Jeweler whose name appears on the warranty card and (2) the warranty card is completely filled out by the Official ROLEX Jeweler at the time of purchase.

This warranty is void if there is any intervention by a third party, or if the watch is modified by the addition or substitution of parts or accessories not supplied by Rolex.

This warranty gives you specific legal rights and you also have other rights which vary from state to state.

Some say the warranty follows the watch, not the person.

This is an ongoing argument online. The confusion stems from the term “third party” as mentioned in the booklet. What is a third party? Does the original owner become a third party when they sell a watch? Is a gray market seller a third party? If true, this means that even when buying so-called “brand new” Rolexes online, you won’t be getting the warranty – whether you have the card or not. If you have a good relationship with an AD, they may take the watch in on warranty for you… but if you have a good relationship they are going to wonder why you didn’t buy the watch from them in the first place.

Brand new, yo!

Other brands aren’t as tightly controlled, so you may find that there are countless “brand new” models being sold online at a discount. These so-called new watches may be in unworn and in new condition, but often do not include the original papers or warranty card. The reason might be that the seller wants to hide their source (dealer name stamped on the card), or because the warranty is not valid in the first place because it is not being sold by an Authorized Dealer. The trade off is that you are getting the watch you want at a discount compared to what you’d pay at an AD, but without a manufacturer’s warranty.

KeepTheTime always lists what is included with the watches we sell. Sometimes the box and papers are not included for other reasons. Watches we sell may be in new condition or unworn, but we do not use the term “brand new” unless we are the Authorized Dealer of the brand. We’d sell a lot more watches if we called them brand new, but full-disclosure is more important to us.

We’d like to hear your thoughts, please comment below.

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Donald Taylor
Donald Taylor

You are incorrect about the warranty. Firstly if “ANY” watch is not going to be covered after being purchased second hand its going to be an overseas sold watch. The only service center in the US that is a pain in the….. about “having a receipt” etc… is New York. They’re specifaclly asking for reciepts, and that’s because they’re having a hard time with the volume of repairs they have to do. The warranty follows the watch, plain and simple. They dont know if I got this watch from my father as a gift or from my wife etc…they honor… Read more »


This is all supposition and largely incorrect, (especially about New Yorks work load, all the centers balance ship with the Pennsylvania overflow center) however its true Rolex does not check whos name is on the card, just that its filled out, regardless of the non-transferable verbiage in the booklet. The lawyers get involved because you have a loud mouth Rolex has an out, for regular warranty service they just stand behind the product and don’t ask questions if a valid card is presented. If you only have a photocopy of the warranty they will demand the original sales receipt and… Read more »


Excellent write up. A friend recently was recently turned away from an AD for warranty coverage because his name wasn’t on the warranty card. I guess it really comes down to the AD you take your watch to.


Interesting and valuable anecdote. Thanks.