A Rolex serial number is a key piece of information when authenticating a watch. It is engraved on the case of the watch, usually between the lugs at six o’clock.
Prior to 2009, the serial number was a letter followed by 6 digits. Since then, they have been randomised and can only be determined by taking your watch to an authorized dealer or checking the watch’s papers.
Examine the Serial Number
The serial number of any watch is a vital piece of information that can be used to confirm its authenticity. Rolex assigns a four to six-digit model number to every watch that they produce and engraves it discreetly on the case between the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock lugs. This unique code can help you identify the model type, bezel, and material of your particular watch. The model number is also used to determine the year of production for watches made before 2010, however, since 2011 Rolex switched to a random serial numbering system making it difficult to use this method of authentication.
While counterfeiters have attempted to replicate this unique coding system, it is a notoriously difficult task due to the precision and tools required for engraving such a small space. Fake serial numbers often look jagged or faint and lack the smooth lines that are a hallmark of authentic Rolex watches. This is especially true for older models that require you to remove the bracelet with a specialized tool in order to see the engraved number.
In addition to the model number, some newer Rolex watches will have a clasp code that can be used to determine the date of manufacture. This unique code will contain a letter and a series of numbers that correspond to the month and year the clasp was produced. For example, a clasp code that reads L5 would indicate the watch was manufactured in May of 1985.
For watches that are not marked with a clasp code, you can use our Rolex year look up tool to estimate the year of production based on the serial number. You can also check the Rolex website for a list of current production dates and model numbers.
In addition to the model and serial number, examining the watch for any visible damage is another crucial step in ensuring its authenticity. If the watch has been damaged or altered in any way, it is likely a fake. For this reason, it is never recommended to buy a watch from an online auction or second-hand seller. These websites are not held accountable for the quality of their products and can be a breeding ground for fraudulent sellers.
Rolex watches have been made with unique serial numbers since the 1920s for the purpose of tracking each watch’s production date. This information is important because it can help you determine if the Rolex watch that you’re looking at is authentic and if its movement is in good working order. The serial number is located on the watch’s case or case back and it will be engraved between the lugs (on older models) or laser engraved on the dial Rehaut (on newer models).
The first two to four digits of a Rolex serial number will indicate which model the watch is, while the last digit will provide information about the material the watch was made of. In addition, the digits that are included at the end of the serial number can provide further information about specific options or features that were added to the watch during production.
After 2005, Rolex began engraving the serial number on the Rehaut of their watches instead of between the lugs. This change was likely done in an effort to make it more difficult for fraudsters to produce fake Rolex watches by using a pre-made Rolex case. However, the serial number is not an absolute identifier of the watch’s production date as components may have been stockpiled for years before they were assembled into a finished product.
Another way to check for the authenticity of a Rolex watch is to listen to the second hand’s movement. In genuine Rolex watches, the second hand will move smoothly and will not make a ticking sound when it moves across the dial. In contrast, many phony Rolex watches will make a ticking sound that is very noticeable and can be a clear indicator that the watch is not a genuine Rolex.
It is also important to note that many Rolex watches will feature a clasp code on their clasps that can be used to verify their authenticity. The clasp code will typically consist of a letter or two that indicates the year in which the bracelet was made. This can also be a good indicator of the watch’s age.
Subtle Design Features
If you’re a true Rolex enthusiast, you should know that the brand has some subtle design features that can help to authenticate a pre-owned watch. For instance, on some Rolex models from 2002 and later, the company has etched a small logo at the six o’clock location on the glass/crystal. This etching is so small that it may require a magnifying glass to detect and is a key feature for identifying counterfeit watches.
Rolex has also engraved or otherwise assigned a 4-6 digit model number to each watch it produces. This model number is located on the case between the lugs at 12 o’clock and can be used to find out more about the specific watch type, bezel style, and material. For models made before 2010, you can also use the letter codes that accompany the serial numbers to determine the year the watch was manufactured.
Starting in 1987, the serial number on a Rolex watch began to include a letter that corresponds with the year it was produced. This information is easily retrieved by looking up the serial number in a chart on the Rolex website and using the year to find the appropriate chart. After 2010 Rolex switched to a random numbering system and this makes it more difficult to pinpoint the age of a pre-owned watch by its serial number.
While these tips are useful, they should be used as a supplement to professional authentication. There are many other factors that can be used to determine if a second-hand Rolex is genuine. For example, a genuine Rolex will have a smooth and polished case back. Counterfeit Rolex watches, on the other hand, will have a rougher surface that may appear dull and discolored. In addition, the screws that hold the case back on will have a different screw head that looks smaller and less refined. Finally, the Rolex hallmarks will be engraved or stamped on the back of the watch instead of being molded into the case as they are on counterfeits. If you are concerned that a watch you have purchased is not genuine, we recommend having it professionally tested by one of our certified experts.
Rolex watches have a unique model numbering system that gives you a wealth of information about the watch’s history and production date. You can find these numbers engraved between the case lugs at 12 o’clock. The first 2 to 4 digits of the model number indicate the watch type while the last digit indicates the material. Sometimes the model number is accompanied by letters to further specify characteristics such as the bracelet or bezel material. For example, a reference number 16610LV means that the watch is a Submariner-Date with an engine-turned bezel.
In addition to the model number Rolex also engraves clasp codes (also known as bracelet codes) on each end link of the watch bracelet. These codes are based on the month and year that the bracelet was made, so they can help you identify the model of the watch. You can look up these codes using the clasp code charts in our article on determining the model type and production date of a Rolex bracelet.
Some of the earlier authentic Rolex models also have a serial number engraved on the inside of the case, or Rehaut. This makes them easier to identify by searching online, but it is important to remember that these serial numbers can only be used as a general guide and are not as reliable as the ones engraved on the lugs or clasp.
The lugs of a genuine Rolex should be tight and have a polished finish. The clasp should close smoothly and feel weighty. If a watch feels cheap and flimsy, it is likely a fake.
A genuine Rolex will have a clearly engraved model number that is deeply inscribed, with smooth edges. It should also shine slightly in the light. A fake will have a sloppy engraving and look worn down or rubbed off in some places.
If you’re trying to determine the value or worth of your Rolex watch, it’s also a good idea to enter the serial number into a Rolex year-lookup tool. These tools can provide an approximate year of production, but they are not foolproof and may return inaccurate results for some Rolex watches produced after 2010. This is because after 2010, Rolex switched to a random numbering system for their watches.