How do I Authenticate a Real Rolex Watch?

Updated November 21, 2016

Hans Wilsdorf began the Rolex Watch Company by creating wristwatches with precise mechanical movement, which were rewarded with the Swiss Certificate of Precision in 1910. The Kew Observatory in Great Britain gave Rolex watches a “Class A” precision certificate in 1914, an honour never previously given to a watch company. Rolex watches continue to be known for high quality and precision but as with all luxury items, there are many fakes available in the marketplace. There are a few ways to determine an authentic Rolex watch.

Know the price point for an authentic Rolex. An authentic Rolex watch typically retails for £1,625 and up. If the price offered for a Rolex watch is significantly cheaper, there is a high likelihood that the watch is a fake.

Turn the watch over and examine the case back. Most Rolex watches have a smooth case back without engraving. (The exception to this rule is ladies’ Rolex watches prior to 1990 and the Rolex Sea-Dweller watches, both of which have engraving on the case back.) Many fake Rolexes have a clear or semi-clear case back, which is a quick way to tell that the watch is not authentic.

Examine the date window on the Rolex watch. Authentic Rolex watches will have a glass bubble over the date window to provide magnification. The magnification should equal about 2.5 times magnification and the date should appear large and clear in the window.

Look at the watch under bright light or magnification to view a micro-etched Rolex crown at the 6 o’clock position. This is true for Rolex watches made after 2002. When viewed under magnification, the crown should appear crisp and clean. Fake Rolexes may not have the etching at all or will have an off-centre or blurry version of the Rolex crown.

Remove the watch band and look for a serial number and a case number at the 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock positions on the watch. The engraved numbers should be evenly spaced and crisp in appearance. One serial number frequently used by counterfeiters is “R863698”. Authentic Rolex serial numbers can be viewed at websites such as Messina (See Resources)

Things You'll Need

  • Magnifying glass
  • Strong light
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About the Author

Meredith Jameson writes early childhood parenting and family health articles for various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from San Francisco State University.