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Unveiling Rolex Watch Numbers: Serials, Models, and Clasps

Published on
Guide
rolex serial number

Rolex is not only famed for its luxury but also for its unique serial numbers, each narrating the watch’s history since the 1920s. These serial numbers help trace the manufacture year, making it vital for owners to know how to check them.

Rolex serial numbers reveal the production year of the watch, aiding in distinguishing between older and newer models. Until 2010, Rolex began to used a sequential serial number system, with easy-to-follow patterns from 1926 to 1987, and a date code system from mid-1987 to late 2009.

In 1954, Rolex reset its serial numbers at the 1,000,000 mark, creating some confusion for watches made in the mid-1950s to early 1960s. To clarify, Rolex added date codes inside the case backs, which should ideally be checked by a professional Rolex servicer.

Rolex Serial Numbers & Production Dates

In Rolex terminology, “inner engraving” and “rehaut engraving” describe the placement of the serial number inside the watch. Along with the Rolex serial numbers, you’ll often see the iconic “Rolex Rolex Rolex” text encircling the rehaut. 

Finding Your Rolex Serial Number

To find the Rolex serial numbers, examine the side of the watch case, specifically between the lugs near the 6 o’clock position, just behind where the bracelet connects. This 4-8 digit number, engraved by Rolex on every watch, is a key identifier that helps determine the production date of the timepiece.

  • On Models Before 2005: Originally, engraved Rolex serial numbers is on the side of the watch case, specifically between the lugs at the 6 o’clock position, just behind where the bracelet attaches. To view this number, the bracelet must be carefully removed, which can be done using a small screwdriver or by consulting a professional.
  • Transition Period – 2005 to 2007: In 2005, Rolex introduced a change in the location of the serial number. They began engraving it on the rehaut, which is the inner flange located between the dial and the crystal. This change coexisted with the traditional placement, meaning some models during this period may have Rolex serial numbers both on the rehaut and between the bottom lugs.
  • Post-2008 Models: From 2008 onwards, Rolex standardized the serial number location exclusively on the rehaut. The serial number is visible through the crystal at the 6 o’clock position. This shift was partly to enhance security, as the rehaut location is harder to replicate.
rolex models-daytona, submariner, daydate, datejust

Identifying Production Year of Your Rolex

Identifying the production year of your Rolex watch is a crucial aspect, especially when it comes to understanding its market value. The serial number engraved on each Rolex timepiece serves as the key to unlocking this information.

  • For example, if you come across a Rolex with the serial number 23,000, this directly corresponds to a production year of 1954. 
  • By deciphering these serial numbers, you not only gain insight into the age of the watch but also an essential factor in determining its market worth.

A detailed chart provides serial numbers for each production year from 1926 to 2023. The Rolex serial number chart indicates the year and corresponding serial number range for Rolex watches.

Serial NumberProduction Year
2010-PresentRandom/Mixed
G000,0012009-2010
V000,0012008-2009
M000,0012007-2009
Z000,0012006-2008
D000,0012005-2006
F000,0012004-2005
Y000,0012002-2004
K000,0012001-2003
P000,0042000-2001
A000,0021998-2000
U000,0011997-1998
T000,0011996-1998
W000,0011995-1998
S000,0011993 3/4
C000,0011992 1/4
N000,0011991 3/4
X000,0011991 1/2
E999,9991991 1/4
E000,0011990 1/2
L999,9991990
L000,0011989
R999,9991988
R000,0011987 1/2
9,999,9991987 1/2
9,760,0001987
9,300,0001986
8,814,0001985
8,338,0001984
7,860,0001983
7,366,0001982
6,910,0001981
6,430,0001980
5,959,0001979
5,481,0001978
5,005,0001977
4,535,0001976
4,265,0001975
4,000,0001974
3,741,0001973
3,478,0001972
3,215,0001971
2,952,0001970
2,689,0001969
2,426,0001968
2,164,0001967
1,870,0001966
1,791,0001965
1,713,0001964
1,635,0001963
1,557,0001962
1,485,0001961
1,401,0001960
1,323,0001959
1,245,0001958
1,167,0001957
1,095,0001956
1,010,0001955
935,0001954
869,0001953
804,0001952
735,0001951
672,0001950
608,0001949
543,0001948
478,0001947
413,0001946
348,0001945
284,0001944
253,0001943
224,0001942
194,0001941
165,0001940
136,0001939
118,0001938
98,0001937
82,0001936
62,0001935
55,0001934
49,0001933
43,0001932
40,0001931
38,0001930
35,0001929
33,0001928
30,0001927
28,0001926
25,0001925

Rolex Model Numbers

When it comes to Rolex watches, understanding model numbers is just as crucial as knowing their serial numbers. These model numbers are engraved between the lugs, right above the 12 o’clock position on the watch case. Typically, a Rolex model number consists of four to six digits, each set meticulously designed to identify specific aspects of the watch such as its model, bezel type, and the material used.

rolex daytona ref. 116506

For instance, let’s decode the reference number 116506. In this number:

  • “1165” indicates the model, which in this case is the Daytona Cosmograph.
  • “0” represents the bezel type, with ‘0’ signifying a polished bezel.
  • “6” signifies the material of the watch, which here is platinum.

Model Number Breakdown

Models

Below is a table showcasing various Rolex models and their corresponding model numbers. Each number is unique, identifying the specific design and features of the Rolex watch, ranging from classics like the Submariner to the renowned Daytona and Explorer series. 

ModelModel Number (First 2-4 Digits)
Datejust16, 162 & 1162
Daytona Manual Wind62
Daytona Cosmograph165 & 1165
Explorer I14 & 124
Explorer II16, 165 & 265
Submariner (No Date)55, 140 & 1140
Submariner (Date)16, 166 & 168
Sea Dweller16, 166, 1166 & 1266
GMT-Master16, 65, 167
GMT-Master II167, 1167 & 1267

Bezel Types

rolex watch bezel

Each type of bezel on a Rolex has its unique characteristics and purposes, from the classic polished look to the functional rotating bezel. Below is a table that outlines the various bezel types you might encounter on Rolex watches. 

Bezel TypeIdentifying Number
Polished0
Engine Turned1
Engine Turned2
Fluted3
Hand-Crafted4
Pyramid5
Rotating Bezel6

Materials

Our table below lists these material codes, helping you decipher the composition of your Rolex watch at a glance.

MaterialReference Number (Last Digit)
Stainless Steel0
Everose Rolesor (Stainless Steel and Everose Gold)1
Rolesium (Stainless Steel and Platinum)2
Yellow Rolesor (Stainless Steel and 18k Yellow Gold)3
White Rolesor (Stainless Steel and 18k White Gold)4
Everose5
Platinum6
18k Yellow Gold8
18k White Gold9

Rolex Clasp Code

rolex clasp

The Rolex Clasp Code is a small yet significant detail found on the inside of the clasp hinge of a Rolex bracelet. This code plays a vital role in indicating the month and year when the clasp was manufactured. Understanding how to decode this can provide valuable insights into the history of the watch.

The clasp code typically consists of a combination of letters and numbers. The letters correspond to the year of manufacture, while the numbers indicate the month. 

  • For instance, if you see a clasp code marked as ‘L5’, this signifies that the clasp was made in May 1987. 
  • Additionally, the presence of an “S” in the code is particularly noteworthy – it denotes a service replacement, implying that the original clasp was replaced during a service.

Clasp Code Chart

Bracelet CodeYear
A or VA1976
B or VB1977
C or VC1978
D or VD1979
E or VE1980
F or VF1981
G1982
H1983
I1984
J1985
K1986
L1987
M1988
N1989
O1990
P1991
Q1992
R1993
S1994
T or W1995
V1996
Z1997
U1998
X1999
AB2000
DE2001
DT2002
AD2003
CL2004
MA2005
OP2006
EO2007
PJ2008
LT2009
RS2010
RANDOM201+

Additional Services and Information

When it comes to Rolex serial numbers, there are additional services and information that can help both watch collectors and casual owners. 

The Rolex’s serial number serves as an important factor when it comes to commanding higher prices for a Rolex watch. Generally, watches with lower serial numbers or those that belong to a rare production run are considered more valuable. 

When considering selling a vintage or pre-owned Rolex watch, understanding various factors that influence its value is crucial. 

  • Model and Reference Number: Popular Rolex reference number models like the Rolex Submariner or Daytona often fetch higher prices. The reference number reveals specific features and materials of the watch, where those crafted from precious metals or with rare attributes tend to be more valuable. 
  • Condition: Watches in mint condition, without any signs of wear like scratches or dents, command a higher value. Similarly, a Rolex maintaining perfect functionality, with all original parts in working order, is more valuable. Regular maintenance, preferably every 3-5 years, is crucial in preserving the watch’s condition and value.
  • Age and Rarity: The age of your Rolex greatly varies. Vintage models with a notable history or limited production are often highly prized. However, it’s not just age but also the demand for a specific model or reference number and its condition that contribute to its value.
  • Original Parts, Box, and Papers: An authentic Rolex watches with all original parts and accompanied by its original box and papers generally holds more value. The box and papers are important for verifying the watch’s authenticity and identifying previous owners, especially for collectors. However, they do not guarantee authenticity on their own.
  • Market Trends: Factors like economic conditions, collector preferences, and the popularity of certain models can affect a watch’s current market value. Some models like Ladies Oyster Perpetual, Cosmograph Daytona, and Explorer may gain value and command higher prices due to trends in the watch community or celebrity endorsements.

Key Warning Signs to Look Out For

With the high demand for Rolex watches, the market is flooded with counterfeit watches as well. Therefore, it’s crucial for potential buyers to be aware of certain warning signs that indicate a fake Rolex. Here are some key points to be watchful of:

  • Flimsy or incorrect materials used for the watch components
  • Incorrect fonts or sizes on the dial
  • Improperly aligned elements such as the magnification lens above the date display, or text on the dial
  • Inconsistent or less precise movement of the watch

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I check a Rolex serial number?

Yes, you can check the serial number on your Rolex watch. To find the serial number, remove the watchband on the 6 o’clock side of the case, where the band connects to the watch’s body. The serial number is engraved between the lugs. Once you’ve found the serial number, you can use online databases or consult with a Rolex expert to determine the production year of your watch.

2. Can I check my watch serial number?

Absolutely! It is not only possible but also recommended to check your watch’s serial number. This helps in verifying the authenticity of your Rolex and determining its age. The same procedure of removing the watchband and locating the serial number between the lugs applies. Make sure to use a trusted online database or speak to a knowledgeable expert to get accurate information about your watch.

3. What is the difference between model number and serial number on Rolex?

The model number and serial number on a Rolex watch serve different purposes. While the model number helps identify the specific design and variant of the watch, the serial number signifies its production age and individual identity. Model numbers can be found in the same location as the serial number, between the lugs on the 12 o’clock side. Keep in mind that knowing both the model and serial numbers can help you verify the authenticity and value of your Rolex.

4. What does the 5 digit number on a Rolex mean?

The 5-digit number on a Rolex watch refers to its model number. It helps identify the specific design and variant of a Rolex watch. This 5-digit number can be found between the lugs on the 12 o’clock side, similar to how the serial number is located on the 6 o’clock side.

Here is a simplified breakdown of how the 5-digit model number system works:

  1. First digit – Watch material (e.g., stainless steel, gold, etc.)
  2. Second digit – Lume type (e.g., tritium, radium, etc.)
  3. Third digit – Bezel type (e.g., rotating, fixed, etc.)
  4. Fourth and fifth digits – Individual model reference number

Final Word

The clasp code, a lesser-known yet significant detail, indicates the manufacturing date of the bracelet, further contributing to the watch’s unique story. Understanding these elements is fundamental not only for authentication but also for appreciating the intricate craftsmanship of Rolex watches.

Key Takeaways

  • Rolex serial numbers, engraved on the rehaut or between the lugs, are essential for dating the watch and verifying its authenticity.
  • Understanding model numbers, including material and bezel type, is key to identifying the Rolex model you own or want to purchase.
  • Clasp codes, found inside the bracelet clasp, offer insight into the manufacturing date of the bracelet, adding another layer to the Rolex’s history.

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