Complete Guide to Buying A Second Hand Rolex 

Complete Guide to Buying A Second Hand Rolex 

There is a robust market for second hand Rolex watches with a very positive history of increasing value.  Like most investments, there is a speculative element and increasing value can’t be guaranteed.  However, if you look at the trend in prices over the past ten years or so, you can see that prices have climbed upwards generally, and held steady at the worst.
Author: Chrono Hunter
Last Updated: 1 Apr, 2022

Complete Guide to Buying A Second Hand Rolex 


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Is it worth buying a second hand Rolex? 

There is a robust market for second hand Rolex watches with a very positive history of increasing value.  Like most investments, there is a speculative element and increasing value can’t be guaranteed.  However, if you look at the trend in prices over the past ten years or so, you can see that prices have climbed upwards generally, and held steady at the worst.  


Which type Rolex you buy is an important factor to consider if you’re looking at it as an investment.  Historically, the stainless steel sports models are the best investments.  The Daytona, the Submariner and the GMT are the best ones to look out for in terms of investment.  But although this is something to think about,  you should be sure to get the watch that you most admire and fits your lifestyle.  


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How can you tell if a Rolex is Pre-owned? 


If you're not buying it from an Official Rolex Authorised Dealer as a brand new watch then it's pre-owned.  Any reliable watch dealer will be very open about the watch being pre-owned.  Indeed, it’s preferable for many dealers and watch collectors alike to have pre-owned watches as the value is higher. 


Can you get replacement papers for a second hand Rolex? 

No - it’s not possible to get replacement papers for a pre-owned Rolex watch.  The Rolex guarantee card comes with a brand new watch when it’s first sold to the customer, and cannot be replaced.  This is why it’s so critical to keep your Rolex paperwork very securely when you first purchase your watch - whether brand new or pre-owned.  When you sell, make sure the guarantee card is right there with the watch and you’ll get a much better price.  


It’s good to note that Rolex will service a watch that doesn’t have paperwork, but only after they run a check to be sure that the watch isn’t reported stolen.  



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What Are Rolex “papers” anyway? 


The “papers” that come with a watch really refers to the guarantee which contains the reference number, the serial number, the retailer’s name and the date of the sale.  It used to be on paper - which is why it’s still referred to as “papers” - but now it comes in the form of a plastic card that resembles a credit card.  


You might find some Rolex “guarantee cards” being sold without a watch, such as the ones on Ebay.  These are not valid and the reference and serial numbers will not match your timepiece.  Even if they purport to add your exact reference and serial number to the card (for a price in the region of £250), this guarantee card will likely not be recognised by Rolex, so don’t waste your money.  


It’s good to note that if watch owners can get this kind of fraudulent Rolex guarantee from Ebay and sell their watch claiming that it’s the original, you can very easily get ripped off.  If you are seriously looking for a safe investment, talk to our team at Chrono Hunter for expert advise and guidance. 


Buying a replacement box, on the other hand, is acceptable.  Note that each box has a serial number too, so be careful that you are buying the real deal if you do this. 



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Rolex User Manual 


A brand new Rolex watch also comes with a user manual and second hand watches often include these.  If you’re buying pre-owned, it’s not  vital that the user manual comes with the set as it can be downloaded in PDF format from the Rolex website.  Plus you can also watch videos on their site that show you in great detail how to use the watch’s functions.  

The receipt is a bonus! 

Serious luxury watch owners love to buy a second hand watch that comes with box and papers - and the original purchase receipt.  It can tell the story of the beginning of the watch’s journey - the place, date, price and how it was paid for.  It adds to the history and authenticity of the watch. Likewise, if you buy a second hand watch, keep your receipt as part of the history of the watch and it could improve the value of your watch.   

Is it Worth buying a Rolex without papers? 


It's unadvisable to buy a pre-owned Rolex without the papers.  A certain number of watches are sold without papers and you will pay less for them because of that.  And it’s good to note that watch enthusiasts who like to own and wear watches can place less value in whether or not the watch come with the original papers.  However, without the papers the value of your investment is reduced and when it comes time to sell, the price you can get will also be reduced to reflect that it has no papers. It might also make it more difficult to sell. 


It’s difficult to say exactly how much having the box and papers add value to a Rolex as it varies depending on the reference number, the condition of the watch and the scarcity of it.  In general you can expect to pay somewhere between 10% and 20% over the price of the watch when it comes with box and papers - and likewise - you will get something in that region when you sell with box and papers, compared to just the watch alone. 


Things to check when buying a second hand Rolex


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Does it have box and papers? 

As we’ve already seen, apart from the condition of the watch, this is a really important element to check out when you’re considering making a purchase.  A box and papers will improve the validity of your investment.  You can decide that this isn’t so important to you, in which case you will pay less and eventually sell for less.  If you are sure that the watch is genuine, this is a choice you can make.  


Are you buying it from a reputable source? 

This is another critical element to consider when you’re thinking of making a purchase.  Talk to experts to find out who you can rely on and who you should steer clear of before you move forward.  Stay away from private sellers you don’t know, it’s really not worth the risk. 


What is the condition of the watch?

If you buy your watch from a reputable source, the watch will already have been thoroughly examined for external damage.  On a steel reference, scratches can show up on the watch case as well as on the bracelet.  But a Rolex watch can only be polished a certain number of times before the metal will begin to show signs of being over-polished.  An expert can spot this very quickly.  If you buy from a private seller, you may not be able to identify such a problem.   


Identifying problems with the internal workings of the watch needs to be done by Rolex experts.  If you buy from a reputable dealer, you can rest assured that the watch has been checked thoroughly. 


Have any parts been replaced over time or are they original? 

Here again, only an expert is going to be able to identify the difference between original and replacement parts.  Even the most enthusiastic watch collector is unlikely to be able to tell the difference.  Apart from that, opening the back of a Rolex watch voids the warranty, so it’s unadvisable.  


Has it had a service or is it due one? 

Some watches will have a service record, but many won’t.  A good look at the outside of the watch will give you an overall idea of how well the watch has been looked after.  The lack of scratches might mean it has been serviced and polished - or it might mean that it hasn’t been worn much.  


Knowing if the inside is in good working order is a bit more difficult, but if the watch performs well, keeps good time and any complications work accurately, you can probably assume that the watch is in good working order and has either had a service or at least, doesn’t need one yet.  It makes sense that, if the watch is quite old and working really well, it has probably had a service at some point.  

Is it a fair price? 

A browse through some online watch dealers’ prices and a visit to a local Rolex dealer can give you a general idea of prices.  However, to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal, make sure to talk to experts who have their finger on the pulse of the market at the time you’re buying. 


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Where is the best place to buy a second hand Rolex? 


Everything we’ve discussed in this article points to the value of getting in touch with experts for professional guidance when you’re looking for a second hand Rolex.  If you’re a collector, or planning to become one, establishing a relationship with a responsive and knowledgeable dealer can bring you great peace of mind, not only in the beginning when you’re learning about the watches, but in the long-term. 


Chrono Hunter is the best and safest place to buy a new or pre-owned luxury watch because their team are knowledgeable and highly experienced.   They will work to inform, guide you in your decision and help you get the reference you desire in the best condition, authenticated, for the best possible price.  


With 99% positive reviews on Trustpilot, Chrono Hunter should be your first port of call! 


Buy Or Sell A Luxury Watch The Smart Way With Chrono Hunter 

If you are considering your new purchase or perhaps the sale of a beloved timepiece, Chrono Hunter is the smart way to buy or sell a luxury watch.

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