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Ever wondered about the backstory of your Rolex? If you own a Rolex, especially if it’s a second-hand purchase, you might be curious about when it was made.

Determining the production year of your Rolex is essential not only for personal knowledge but also because it affects the watch’s value, your maintenance schedule, and its authenticity.

While new Rolex buyers typically receive information about the production date, for those acquiring pre-owned timepieces, this detail becomes particularly important.

In this guide, we’ll assist you in uncovering the year your Rolex was manufactured, providing clear, straightforward steps to do so.

Understanding Rolex’s Serial Number System

Every Rolex has its own serial number, a unique identifier that tells you when the watch was produced.

These numbers aren’t just random; they’re part of a detailed system that has evolved over the years. Here’s how you can use them to determine the age of your watch.

Locating the Serial Number

For older Rolex watches, the serial number is engraved between the lugs (the part where the bracelet or strap attaches) on the side of the watch case at the 6 o’clock position.

For models manufactured after 2005, Rolex started engraving the serial number on the inner bezel, right around the dial rehaut (the ring between the crystal and the dial), visible at the 6 o’clock side.

This change was part of a move to a random numbering system, making each watch’s serial genuinely unique.

Decoding the Number

Once you have the serial number, the next step is to decode it to determine the production year. Here’s how the system works:

Before 1987: Rolex used a sequential numbering system that was pretty straightforward. Each number corresponds to a specific year up to the late 1980s. You can easily find charts online that match these serial numbers with years.

1987-2009: Rolex introduced a letter prefix (from R to V) before the numerical serial, each representing a new series of production years.

From 2010 onwards: Rolex adopted a random serial number system. These numbers do not adhere to a predictable pattern, making it more challenging to determine the exact year of production. For watches from this era, it’s advisable to refer to the original paperwork or seek guidance from Rolex directly.

Reference Numbers and Clasp Codes

In addition to the serial number, Rolex watches also have model reference numbers that indicate the specific model and material of the watch.

These are found opposite the serial number at the 12 o’clock position between the lugs. Knowing the reference number can help you verify the authenticity of a Rolex watch and provide additional information about its features and production specifics.

Clasp codes can also be helpful. Found on the Rolex bracelet, these codes can tell you the year the bracelet was made, which often corresponds closely to the watch’s production date.

Special Considerations for Vintage Rolex Watches

Vintage Rolex watches, especially those considered antique, require more detective work. For these older models, precise records may be less accessible, and features like the clasp code and reference number become crucial in verifying the year of manufacture.

Collectors and experts often rely on minor changes in logo designs, dial text, and other details that changed over specific periods to pinpoint the age more accurately.

Using Online Tools and Resources

When you need to verify the production year or authenticity of a watch, several online tools and databases can assist you. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most useful resources available:

1. Rolex Verification Services: Rolex offers verification of authenticity and production years through its official customer service and authorized dealers, without an online public tool. These services are free, providing reliable and accurate information directly from Rolex.

2. Chrono24: A leading online marketplace for luxury watches, Chrono24 provides tools to estimate production dates via serial numbers. Access is generally free, offering a convenient resource for quick checks.

3. The Watch Register: This database allows checks on watches reported as stolen, requiring either a subscription or a one-time fee, ideal for frequent users or industry professionals.

4. WatchBase: Offers extensive details on various watch models, including production years and specifications, mostly for free. Access to specialized data might incur charges.

    Why Knowing Your Rolex’s Year of Manufacture Matters

    Understanding the year of production can greatly affect your experience and satisfaction with your Rolex. Here are a few reasons why:

    Value Assessment: The age of a Rolex can significantly influence its market value, especially for vintage models sought after by collectors.

    Maintenance and Care: Knowing the production date helps in understanding the likely servicing needs and availability of parts.

    Insurance and Resale: Insurers often require detailed information about luxury watches. Similarly, if you’re considering selling your watch, prospective buyers will likely ask about its age and provenance.

    Authenticity Verification: Unfortunately, the market has its share of fake Rolex watches. Verifying the year, along with other details, can confirm whether your Rolex is the real thing.


    Figuring out the exact year of your Rolex might take a little time, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor that adds another layer of appreciation to owning one of these prestigious timepieces.

    Whether you’re confirming the details of a family heirloom, assessing a recent purchase, or just satisfying your curiosity, the process is a simple yet fascinating glimpse into the meticulous world of Rolex craftsmanship.

    So grab your magnifying glass and let the treasure hunt begin!

    Best Places to Buy New and Pre-Owned Rolex Watches Online:


    Screenshot of StockX website that sells Rolex Watches

    StockX stands out with its meticulous authenticity verification, transparent pricing, and robust buyer protections. Every purchase is bolstered by warranties and informed by seller ratings, guaranteeing a secure and confident buying journey for all customers.

    Key features of StockX’s platform for buying Rolex watches:

    1. Rigorous Authentication: StockX does employ stringent authentication procedures to ensure that Rolex watches sold on their platform are genuine.

    2. Seller Ratings: StockX does provide a rating system for sellers, allowing buyers to assess the reliability and reputation of sellers before making a purchase.

    3. Buyer Protection: StockX offers guarantees against counterfeit items and assists buyers in resolving disputes, ensuring a safe and secure purchasing experience.

    4. Transparent Pricing: StockX provides clear pricing information for Rolex watches, promoting fairness and transparency in transactions.

    5. Warranties: Many Rolex watches sold on StockX may come with manufacturer warranties or seller-provided warranties, offering additional peace of mind to buyers.

      The RealReal

      Screenshot of TheRealReal website that sells Rolex Watches

      The RealReal offers a curated selection of pre-owned luxury timepieces, backed by meticulous authenticity checks and expert curation. With buyer protection policies in place, including guarantees against counterfeits and transparent pricing, The RealReal ensures a trustworthy and secure buying experience for luxury watch enthusiasts.

      Key features of TheRealReal’s platform for buying Rolex watches:

      1. Authenticity Guarantee: The RealReal ensures the authenticity of Rolex watches through rigorous authentication procedures.

      2. Expert Curation: Their platform offers a curated selection of pre-owned Rolex watches, curated by luxury experts.

      3. Buyer Protection: The RealReal provides buyer protection policies, including guarantees against counterfeits and assistance in dispute resolution.

      4. Transparency: Clear pricing information is provided for Rolex watches, fostering transparency in transactions.

      5. Warranties: Some Rolex watches may come with warranties, providing added assurance to buyers.


      Screenshot of JOMASHOP website that sells Rolex Watches

      JOMASHOP offers competitive pricing on luxury watches, significantly below retail. Their extensive selection of rare and coveted Rolex models is complemented by exceptional customer service, including knowledgeable support, responsive communication, user-friendly website navigation, secure transactions, and comprehensive after-sale care, ensuring a smooth shopping experience from start to finish.

      Key features of JOMASHOP’s platform for buying Rolex watches:

      1. Competitive Pricing: They offer some of the best prices in the market, making luxury more accessible.

      2. Authenticity Guarantee: Every Rolex sold is guaranteed to be authentic, giving you peace of mind.

      3. Extensive Selection: JOMASHOP stocks a wide variety of models, including hard-to-find and limited edition Rolexes.

      4. Positive Customer Reviews: They have a strong reputation backed by positive reviews from satisfied customers.

      5. Reliable Warranty: JOMASHOP provides a warranty on watches, ensuring your investment is protected even after purchase.

      Watches of Switzerland

      Screenshot of Watches of Switzerland website that sells Rolex Watches

      Established in 1775, Watches of Switzerland is a premier retailer of luxury watches, boasting over two centuries of expertise. The company features an extensive selection of both classic and modern timepieces across numerous showrooms in the UK, US, and Europe. Alongside its diverse inventory, Watches of Switzerland offers comprehensive aftercare services and robust warranty options, ensuring longevity and customer satisfaction.

      Key features of Watches of Switzerland’s platform for buying Rolex watches:

      1. Extensive History: Established in 1775, they have centuries of experience and a longstanding reputation in the luxury watch market.

      2. Wide Selection: Customers can choose from a vast array of luxury watches, including exclusive and limited edition models.

      3. Expert Service: They offer detailed watch and jewelry aftercare services, ensuring maintenance and longevity of your luxury items.

      4. Global Presence: With approximately 192 showrooms, including dedicated mono-brand boutiques in major global cities, they are easily accessible for international customers.

      5. Commitment to Quality: Each piece is curated to meet high standards of quality and craftsmanship, reflecting the company’s commitment to excellence.