What Is a Vintage Rolex Worth?

Updated March 23, 2017

Rolex is a Swiss watchmaking company that was founded in 1905 and still makes the world's most sought-after wristwatches. There are several factors that go into the value of vintage Rolex watches.


As with all watches, the condition of the watch is the primary consideration. Watches in like-new condition, and with their original wristband, are worth considerably more than those that are showing signs of wear.

High-End Models

Certain vintage Rolex models have historical importance, or were considered the first of their kind for technical breakthroughs. These include the Oyster, the Datejust, the first watch to automatically change dates and the Submariner, the first watch designed for deep-sea divers.

Other Models

Other high-demand vintage Rolex models include the Explorer and Explorer II, the GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) Master and the Daytona.


The serial and case reference numbers are also important in valuing many vintage models. These numbers are engraved between the lugs at the top and bottom ends of the watch. The case reference numbers of popular and historic models have lower reference numbers, usually four digits long. Later versions have six-digit reference.

Expert Insight

For valuation of vintage Rolexes, and a discussion of counterfeits, serious collectors and dealers should consult an authoritative reference, such as John Brozek's The Rolex Report: An Unauthorized Reference Book for the Rolex Enthusiast.

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About the Author

Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.