3 Tips for Buying a Cheap Rolex

No matter how little you know about watch brands and watches in general, there’s one particular brand I’m absolutely certain you’ve heard of and that everybody seem to recognize, and that’s Rolex.

Rolex has been on the watch market since 1905 and conquered the hearts of many admirers since, and still to this day, this is the brand many fans and collectors acknowledge as the king of the kings of wristwatches.

For the majority of people worldwide, the name Rolex seem to be instantly associated with prestige, status and money.

If You Are Good, Tell the World!

This may be due to a comprehensive advertising campaign that through decades has put Rolex in connection with prominent people as presidents, movie stars, racing drivers, mountaineers and not least… tennisplayers.

Have you ever watched The Championships, Wimbledon, commonly known as Wimbledon, on TV? Chances are that you have.

The legendary Centre Court is plastered with Rolex logos and Rolex clocks everywhere, inside Centre Court as well as outside.

Even the scoreboard has the name ‘ROLEX’ and the well-known five-pointed crown logo on it.

Wimbledon is financed by several sponsors, but since the unique green Rolex color is present everywhere, Rolex is the most eye-catching and the one you remember best.

Rolex are great at manufacturing top notch wristwatches, but they also know how to sell them.

Several famous people have worn Rolex, including Winston Churchill who wore a Rolex Datejust, Steve McQueen wore a Rolex Explorer II and speaking kings, the King of Rock’N’Roll himself, Elvis Presley, wore a Rolex King Midas, the most expensive Rolex at the time, made of solid gold and very characteristic with its square design.

In general, Rolex apparently strive to associate themselves with people that seem to have one special feature in common:

They all worked hard to reach the top.

This is most likely how Rolex see themselves, so the fact that this is a fundamental element in many of their PR campaigns, makes perfect sense to me.

Why Are Rolex Watches So Expensive?

In general whether something is expensive or not, is an open question, if you ask me.

If you consider purchasing a wristwatch, other questions may be more relevant like:

What is your budget? Do you focus primarily on lowest price or highest quality? Do you try to balance between the two?

A Rolex is a luxury watch and therefore not a typical use-and-throw-away timepiece.

While there are various opinions on how often a Rolex needs to be serviced, all Rolex experts seem to agree on at least one thing: They are built to last.

If a newly purchased brand-new Rolex watch is handled with care and serviced regularly, you should expect the watch to work as intended for decades.

Although this is only one of many reasons, obviously this means that Rolex have to price their products accordingly as they can not expect the average customer to be returning for another purchase in the near future, perhaps ever.

Fans and collectors are the exception as they are frequently on the market.

When you buy a Rolex, you basically buy a watch you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

Is it expensive then? You be the judge.

Why Are Rolex Watches So Good?

It’s widely accepted that all quality watches are made in the homeland of wristwatches, Switzerland.

This is because a ‘Swiss Made’ watch has better mechanisms, are made by hand and can be serviced.

In other words, these watches are built to last, if not for a single lifetime, then several.

Of course, this also applies to Rolex, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

“A Chain Is Only As Strong As Its Weakest Link”

In order to understand the quality of a Rolex watch, we have to go behind the scenes and look at how the production of a Rolex actually takes place.

In short, Rolex leaves nothing to chance. This is because all parts that go to a Rolex are manufactured in-house. Thus, the entire production phase from start to finish is completely under Rolex’s control.

I’m a musician and the owner of several high quality guitars, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years about guitars, it’s this: You get what you pay for.

You can easily apply this thumb rule for many things in life, including Rolex watches.

The quality of a Rolex watch is unmatched and undeniably very high. This is not least due to a continuous search for the absolute best raw materials and the careful processing.

If the raw materials are not available in the quality that Rolex requires, they simply make them themselves. That says a lot about the honor Rolex puts in making a watch.

Materials Matter

Most steel watches are made of a stainless steel type known as 316L, but around 2003 Rolex moved their entire steel production to 904L steel.

904L steel has several advantages over the 316L type of steel, including better rust and corrosion resistance. It’s also harder.

Rolex’ own special variants of 904L steel, like the Oystersteel, also acquires an exceptional sheen when polished.

In addition, Rolex uses a very clean version of Platinum, namely the Platinum 950, which consists of 95% platinum, usually combined with Ruthenium.

Another example is the gold Rolex uses. It is 18 ct and thus consists of 75% pure gold and a mix of different substances, including silver and copper, which help to create the different color variants Rolex uses.


A Rolex is handmade.

Simply everything from movements to bracelets are assembled by hand.

Sure Rolex uses machinery and robot technology, but only for the tasks humans aren’t as good at, such as applying the right pressure when attaching pins, aligning parts, and pressing down hands.

Even after all this effort has been put into your Rolex watch, the watch is checked, checked and checked again before leaving the Rolex facilities.

Rolex simply refuses to compromise on quality.

Shoud I Buy Pre-Owned or Brand-New?

The question of whether to buy used or new is really without importance, because even if the Rolex you buy is 10-20 years old, you can expect the watch to last for many years to come.

Obviously you don’t get that special experience of freshness and excitement of unpacking a brand new quality product, if you buy used.

You don’t get the pleasure of being the first to wear the newly purchased watch either.

And you have to assume visible wear to some extent, depending on the age of the watch, how much it has been worn and how well the previous owner(s) have taken care of it.

That being said, there’s a lot of money to save by buying used.

How to Ensure the Genuineness of Your Rolex?

Before we go to the buying tips, I will just briefly explain how you make sure that the Rolex watch you are buying is genuine.

Unfortunately, the watch market is flooded with cheap replica Rolexes that seem to be something they are not; a Rolex!

Most of these come from China.

So how to tell the difference?

Rolex only produces quality watches, so in general, if you have the option to hold a genuine Rolex in one hand and a non-genuine Rolex in the other, even a casual comparison should reveal in an instant which is the real deal and which isn’t.

The weight alone is an instant give away as a genuine Rolex watch is much heavier than a cheap imitation.

Camouflaging junk to appear as quality isn’t so easy after all, at least not if you know what to look for.

Now, let’s delve into the details of how to distinguish a fake Rolex from a real one, beginning with the most obvious.

1: Price

A ‘Rolex’ sold for $200-300 is an obvious fake, so that’s an easy one.

However, watch out. A fake Rolex could be offered for a substantially higher amount than for what it’s worth, only to give the potential buyer the impression that he is buying the real thing.

2: Name

Another instant give away is the name. Obviously if the name says “Polex”, it is not a Rolex!

3: Location

Use your common sense. If you are hoping for a bargain in a scary side street or from the trunk of a car, expect to be tricked…!

Geographically speaking just be aware that most fakes are produced in China.

4: Seller

Who is the person trying to make you buy his stuff?

Always make sure to have solid background information on the seller.

If you buy from an official Rolex dealer, which is by far the safest, you can be certain all documentation is valid and genuine, including certification papers and warranty card.

But if you buy online, the risk of purchasing from a swindler is higher.

Now let’s focus on the Rolex watch itself. How to spot a fake from an original?

5: Serial and Model Number

The serial and model numbers on a genuine Rolex are engraved with depth, stand out perfectly and shine at the right angle.

On a fake Rolex the numbers are typically printed with faint dots or is acid etched into the metal, and they will appear two-dimensional.

6: Stampings

The printing should appear crisp and clear, no bleeding and no alignment problems. Some fakes don’t even bother to put the name or the crown logo on the watch!

7: Movement

This one requires to open up the watch and if you happen to have that option, you will see “Rolex” engraved on the movement of an original Rolex timepiece.

8: Dial

An original Rolex dial is designed and produced to leave you with an impression of perfection.

Uneven spaces, smudges and/or misspellings are all obvious indications of a fake watch.

9: Cyclops

The cyclops is the magnifying lens above the date window and it magnifies the date 2.5 times to help readability.

On a counterfeit Rolex often the lens is flat and actually not magnifying at all.

10: Crown

If the crown has a Rolex logo on it, it’s an indication of a genuine Rolex.

Also, when the crown is tightened all the way down, the logo must be vertical.

11: Weight

A Rolex is made of solid, fine materials and a genuine Rolex will therefore have some weight to it.

A fake Rolex watch is typically much lighter due to cheaper construction materials.

12: Clear Caseback

If the watch is equipped with a clear caseback, you can be almost certain you are dealing with a replica watch.

Rolex only produced very few models with clear caseback in the 1930s.

13: Caseback Engravings

Usually Rolex does not engrave the back of their casebacks, neither logo, words or anything else. Only a few older models and some older Lady Rolex Datejust models have words on the back.

If the Rolex you plan to buy has engravings on the back of the watch’s case, it’s a strong indication that the watch is fake.

14: Micro-etched Logo

In 2002 Rolex started micro-etching a tiny logo on the crystal, near the 6 o’clock position.

Now, this logo is hard to spot with the naked eye, so you might need a magnifying glass to detect it.

However, if you are in the market for a Rolex model manufactured later than 2002, look for this tiny logo.

3 Tips for Buying a Cheap Rolex

1: Catawiki

Catawiki was founded in 2008 and was originally a website where collectors could manage and keep track of their collections online.

In 2011 Catawiki began hosting weekly auctions in various categories, including watches.

It’s one of the fastest growing companies in Europe.

Catawiki is trustworthy and has a good reputation, thanks to a team of more than 300 in-house experts.

Every lot is carefully selected and verified by these experts and they provide guidance for both buyers and sellers.

Placing a bid is easy:

  1. Register for free.
  2. Place your bid.
  3. Select payment method.
  4. Receive your item.


2: Amazon

Although Amazon is basically an e-commerce site, it has a lot of credibility and a large number of reputed sellers.

You will find the best prices for Pre-Owned Rolex watches on Amazon.

Search for “Certified Pre-Owned Rolex” and then sort the list by price from low to high to see the best offers on a Rolex watch on Amazon right now.

See the list now.

Remember to check out the seller’s verified buyer reviews by clicking the name of the seller/store below the ‘Buy Now’-button.

Pay extra attention to the percentage of positive reviews as well as the number of reviews. Also read the comments by other customers.

If the seller has a low positive score or a 100% (or close to 100%) positive score based on very few reviews, you should look for another seller.


3: eBay

Basically items on eBay are being sold either as fixed-price items or auction items.

It’s the auction items that’s interesting in this context. If the timing is right and you have a bit of luck on your side, there’s a good chance to win a Rolex watch at a good price.

You can bid in two ways on eBay, manually or automatically.

eBay’s automatic bidding system is quite convenient, if you know exacly how much you are willing to pay for an item you’ve found.

What you do is bid the absolute maximum that you’re willing to pay and the automatic bidding system will take over and do the rest of the work for you.

As soon as your bid is being outbid by another bidder, a small increment will be added to your last bid and compared to the other bidder’s bid. If your new bid is the highest bid, you keep your status as the highest bidder.

This will continue until your maximum bid is surpassed by another bidder or the auction has ended.


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Claus is a laboratory technician, autodidact guitarist, songwriter, music publisher, co-founder of App Division ApS, dad of fraternal twin boys, Sci-Fi lover, incarnated Mike Oldfield fan, pro world peace and an incorrigible coffee addict.

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