Ultimate Rolex Buying Guide: What you need to know

by Tollo Francis
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So, you’re out there looking at luxury watches and you’ve made the decision I’m going to grab a Rolex. Well, gentlemen, if that’s you right now or if that you maybe in a few years, you’re going to love our guide.

I’m going to be walking you through step by step how to buy your first Rolex. So, let’s start off with the question why.

Why buy a Rolex?

These were the five reasons I identified that most men buy a Rolex.

Reason number one: It’s a status symbol.

Make no mistake about this. A lot of people grab a Rolex because they know what it signifies. It signifies for many people you have made it. In fact, I think it was RBC Markets they did this research and they found that 12.3% of people that make over $100,000 had a Rolex on their list of things they wanted to purchase and that blew away any other type of watch. So, a lot of people for them, if you have a Rolex, you are successful.

Now, hold on, I know that you’re different and you’re not a status seeker, so what’s reason number two?

Reason number two: Rolex is it actually is a very functional watch.

In fact, Rolex started off as a tool watch, these were watches that were made to function. They were the first ones to get a watch to go under 100 meters and be waterproof, the Submariner. And their watches when you look at them the way they’re built, they are built to last.

And, let’s talk about precision. A watch has to be able to tell time, but not all watches are going to tell time as well as others. When it comes to automatic watches, Rolex does an amazing job of keeping accurate time throughout the day. In fact, Rolex was the first watch to receive a chronometric precision certificate.

Third reason the grab a Rolex, you appreciate the art of watchmaking.

Rolex is one of the few companies where every single piece every component is made in-house.

Reason number four, resale

Because Rolex has built such a strong brand reputation and so many people know about them, the market is huge for buying used, selling used. So, it’s something if you get tired of your watch, you can actually sell it sometimes at a profit.

Reason number five: Reputation

Rolex has been around for over a hundred years. If you’re just getting into luxury watches, one of the big things is fear. You don’t want to end up buying something that’s going to make it look stupid. Rolex is a company, you’re not going to win awards for creativity for buying a Rolex. It’s a safe bet that you’re going to get a good watch at a, yeah, a little bit more expensive of a price, but there’s many watches out there a lot more expensive and it’s a great place to start.

Now, before you buy a Rolex, you probably want to know a little bit about its history.

History of Rolex

The company was founded in 1905. It was founded as Wilsdorf and Davis, but it was renamed to Rolex because this name was thought actually just to sound better in multiple languages. But, as cool as the name sounds, people aren’t just going to buy a watch because it says Rolex especially when it hasn’t established itself as a brand. So, in 1926, they made a really smart decision. There was a woman that swam across the English Channel, but a lot of people doubted, so she went to do it again. And when she did it the second time, Rolex was there. They actually got her to wear a necklace with a Rolex watch right there. Now, she ended up getting like within a few hundred feet of actually finishing it, so in 1926, you had basically the waterproof watch.

They put that on the map. And not resting on their laurels, in 1931, they created the first self-winding caliber called The Perpetual. And, in 1945, Rolex created the first watch with a date on it called the Datejust and this was caliber 740. And, in 1953, Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary are the first men to climb Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world and guess what they’re wearing? You got it, a Rolex.

Continuing to push boundaries in 1960, Rolex actually had a watch taken down to the lowest point on earth. It was called The Challenger Deep and it went down to 10,911 meters. In 1963, Rolex creates the first racing chronograph, the Daytona. And in perhaps the most important decade in Rolex’s entire history the 1970’s, we saw this company rebrand itself. Not since they took on the name Rolex have they done something so smart which is to say we’re not just about telling time, we are a status piece we are a symbol of luxury goods.

Why did they have to do this? The quartz crisis. So, we had all this cheap quartz watches flooding the market and guess what? People all of a sudden have an inexpensive watch that tells them very accurate time better time than this, so Rolex took a step back said, what are these watches really about? And if you’re looking to buy a luxury watch right now, I bet it is something it’s not about the time, it’s about simply what does when you look at this watch what does it tell you about your time about the time that you’ve got left and your association with time, that’s why men get into luxury watches.

Terminology of Rolex Watches

Now, if you’re going to buy a luxury watch, you need to know a little bit about terminology, so let’s talk about all the various pieces. First up, we’ve got the case. The case is the body of the watch. It houses all the internal moving parts. Now, almost all Rolex watches have a solid screw down case back and this sets them apart from a lot of less expensive watches where you see actually and use a snap-on case back or external screws.

Next up, let’s talk about the crown. The crown is an external knob that’s on the side. It’s used to wind and stop the watch and/or adjust the time and date. It’s marked often with a crown logo with Rolex and for Rolexes, they’re screwed automatically onto the case making them waterproof. Next up, you’ve got the watch glass. And the watch glass is the transparent convex crystal that covers the face of the watch.

Since the 1970’s, Rolex has been using a synthetic sapphire crystal to make their watch glasses. Next up, we’ve got the bezel. And the bezel is the outer ring that seals the case.

Now, when you hear the word bracelet, this is going to be the band that attaches the case and holds it to your wrist. Next up, we’ve got lugs. These are the protruding edges of the watch itself that attach to the bracelet.

When people say model, what they’re referring to is the outer design of the watch. The reference number will tell you the year and version as well as the caliber. And so, what’s the caliber? The movement the caliber, that’s the type of mechanics inside the watch. Next up, we’ve got the concealed clasp, the crown clasp. That’s a clasp that’s concealed under the bracelets link.

Basically, it makes the bracelet look like a continuous loop. And, let’s talk about the Cyclops lens. If you’re going to buy a Rolex with a date, you’re probably going to see that Cyclops lens. It’s a very distinctive feature of Rolex because they patented in 1950 and it was something that just stood out from all the other watches out there.

9 Basic Rolex materials

First up, we’ve got Oyster steel. This is Rolex’s own super alloy and basically it’s a 904L steel that is resistant to corrosion. The next material we have is Rolesor. This is the combination of Oyster steel and gold in a two-tone Rolex. Next up, we’ve got Everose 18 karat gold. This is a rose gold that gets a unique color from added silver and copper and doesn’t lose its color.

Next up, we’ve got yellow 18 karat gold. This is Rolex’s own gold alloy with an iconic color. Next up, we’ve got white 18 karat gold. This is Rolex’s white gold that many people think seems to radiate light.

Next up we’ve got platinum. Rolex uses a 950 Platinum which basically mean we’ve got 950 thousands of platinum and it’s generally combined with a little bit of ruthenium.

Next up, we’ve got Cerachrom. This is Rolex’s proprietary ceramic that they use in their bezels.

It’s scratch-proof and UV-proof, so the color won’t fade. Next up, we’ve got precious stones. You’re going to find these on higher-end Rolexes and they use a wide variety of the different precious stones out there, diamonds being the most common.

And finally, we’ve got Chromalight. This is Rolex’s lume. Basically, it looks white in daytime, but it glows blue in the dark. So now, let’s talk specifically about the bezels.

There are six types of bezels you’re going to see on a Rolex.

First up, you’ve got the plain bezel. You’re going to see that in steel and precious metals. Number two on our list, we’ve got the fluted bezel. You’re only going to see that in precious metals. Next up, you’ve got the engraved fixed bezels. You’re only going to see this on the Explorer II and the Daytona Cosmograph. Next, you’ve got the rotating bezel with inserts. This is used on the professional watches. And then, you’ve got rotating precious metal bezels. You’re going to see this on the sporty, but elegant watches such as the Yacht-Master. And finally, we’ve got the bejeweled bezels. As that sound, these bezels are going to come encrusted with precious stones. Now, let’s talk about the six types of Rolex bracelets.

First up, we’ve got the Oyster bracelet. This is going to have larger three-piece links for a sporty look. Now, the Oyster bracelet only comes with the Oyster lock clasp.

Next up, we’ve got the Jubilee bracelet. This has a five-piece link. It’s used in dress and sport watches and it comes with either an Oyster lock or a Crown lock clasp. Next, we’ve got the President bracelet.

It’s less common. It uses the elegantly rounded three-piece links and only comes with a Crown lock clasp. Then, we’ve got the Pearlmaster bracelet. This is Rolex’s most elegant bracelet with five-piece links and a Crown lock clasp. Now, we’ve also got the Rolex leather bracelet. It comes in a variety of colors.

And you’ve got the Oysterflex rubber bracelet. The luxury rubber with an Oyster lock clasp. Now, we’ve talked about clasps quite a bit, but what are they? They’re the locking mechanism that’s basically going to open up the watch bracelet, so that you can slip it on and then attach it to your wrist.

Rolex has two types that they’ve made popular. The first is the Oyster clasp/Oyster lock and basically this has a two-part mechanism. You open it up right there and then you open it up like that and then you secure it and is the most popular because it comes off as the most secure. Next up, we’ve got the Crown clasp the Crown lock. And this one right here simply opens up like that. As you can see, there’s no second mechanism right here.

So, we’ve talked about the outside of the watch.

Inside of Rolex Watches

Now, let’s talk about the inside of the watch, the movements in particular. You need to know these modern movements if you’re going to be out there looking to buy a Rolex. First up, we’ve got the 3135. Now, this movement forms the basis of most Rolexes made today. It was introduced in 1988 and basically it’s got instantaneous dates switch at midnight and it has many variants. So, we’ve got the 3155. It includes the Day-Date. We’ve got the 3130 which has no extra features.

Then, we’ve got 3131. This has anti-magnetic shield, but it doesn’t have the date mechanism. Then, we’ve got 3132. This includes the Paraflex anti-shock system, but has no date.

Then, we’ve got the 2235. This is a smaller version of the original. Then, we’ve got the 2230. This is a smaller dateless version. Then, we’ve got the 3186. This has a 24-hour GMT movement.

And then, we’ve got two 3187. It’s the 3186 plus the Paraflex anti-shock. Now, the next modern movement you need to know is the 3255. This is a highly accurate movement introduced in 2015. Rolex says it’s accurate to plus three minus two seconds a day which is double the standards set by official Swiss testing institution. So, if you’re going for time telling accuracy, the 3255 is the movement you want in your watch.

Next up, we’ve got the 4130. And we’re going to find this one in the Chronograph Daytona.

And, finally, we’ve got the 9001. So, the 9001 includes two time zones and an annual calendar. This is the most complicated Rolex movement and it’s available only in the Sky-Dweller.

Three categories of Rolex watches

 

Well, first, what we have is the Oyster Perpetual Classic. These are versatile waterproof watches in classic styles.

There are six models available here. Next up, we’ve got the Oyster Perpetual Professional. These are going to be specialized performance watches and there are seven models.

And then, we’ve got the Cellini. This is the traditionally styled most dress watch that Rolex makes. They’re going to be less waterproof than the other categories, but they’re still water-resistant.

There are four models here.

So first up, let’s talk about the classic models. The first one I’m going to pull up is the Oyster Perpetual. This right here is the classic Rolex watch. We’ve got the three-hand time-only watch Rolex’s most basic watch. It’s a direct descendant of their original Oyster watches and it works as a sport or a dress watch. In my opinion, the Oyster Perpetual is one of the best Rolex watches out there. It is simple, it is elegant, and it’s at a great entry-level price.

Next up, we’ve got the Datejust. This is the iconic Rolex dress watch. So where does the Datejust get its name from? So, it used to be wristwatches took hours to actually change the date, with the Datejust, the date changes just before midnight. Next up, we’ve got the Day-Date. This is going to be a Datejust plus the date of the week. It’s generally offered in fancier configurations than the Datejust. It only comes in gold or platinum and it’s sometimes called The President because so many world leaders have owned this watch.

Next up, we’ve got the Pearlmaster. And this is going to be a Datejust covered in ethically- sourced precious stones. The blinged-out Rolex is basically what it is. Next up, we’ve got the Sky-Dweller. I like this watch, but I love this quote, “If you want a watch that looks like a Russian oligarch just curled up around your wrist and died, you might be interested in the latest model of Rolex’s Sky-Dweller.”

I personally like the watch because it’s one of Rolex’s most complicated. It’s going to be able to tell time in two time zones and it’s got an annual calendar. Now, let’s talk about the Cellini collection. This is going to be Rolex’s line of dress watches. They’re only available in precious metals and according to the catalog, it uses silver in refined lines. Having seen these in person, I think that they’re fine-looking watches. It really wasn’t my cup of tea, but I know many guys that love these watches and if this is what you fall in love with, all the better to you.

Now, let’s talk about Rolex’s professional watches. We’re going to start this off with the Cosmograph Daytona. So, the Cosmograph Daytona is a very popular racing watch made in limited numbers. Basically, if you want this watch, you’re going to have to get on a waiting list unless you’re going after one of the higher end ones made from precious materials. Me personally, having seen this watch in many variations, it is one of my favorites. It’s not one of the watches I have, I’ve got three Rolexes. Someday, I will pick up a Cosmograph Daytona. But, this is just such a great-looking watch. Next up, we’ve got the Sea-Dweller.

This is going to be Rolex’s largest watch. It’s a heavy-duty dive watch. It’s only available in Oyster steel. The Deep-Sea version went to the bottom of the Mariana Trench with James Cameron. I mean this thing is made to go underwater. Now, this next watch is the iconic Rolex. When people say I saw somebody wearing a Rolex when they buy a Rolex, oftentimes, the Rolex they’re talking about is the Submariner.

Why Buy Rolex Watches in a Nutshell

Now, why is this Rolex so iconic? Because when you look to James Bond, you look at someone like Steve McQueen, you see them wearing a Rolex Submariner.

 

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