Reference numbers, serial numbers, bracelet numbers, and movement numbers. What do they all mean and why are they important? Here we will dive into Rolex serial numbers; where to find them, how they have evolved over the years, and what information you can ascertain from them.
Where Can I Find The Rolex Serial Number?
The easiest way to find the Rolex serial number on your watch is to reference the paperwork it came with, like a warranty card. If you do not have this paperwork, don’t fret; you can also find the serial number engraved on the watch. On older models, you can find the serial number engraved on the 6 o’clock side of the case in between the lugs, but you will need to remove the bracelet to access this number.
Rolex serial number engraved on the exterior of the 6 o’clock side of the case
The inner reflector ring etched on the 6 o’clock side of the case
However, if your watch was produced around 2005 or later, you will find the Rolex serial number etched on the inner reflector ring of the watch at 6 o’clock. Also known as the rehaut, this is the surface between the dial and bezel of the watch, where you will see “ROLEX ROLEX ROLEX” engraved on the modern Rolex watches. To locate the serial number, simply tilt the 12 o’clock side of the watch towards you slightly until you can view the rehaut at 6 o’clock. After around 2008, Rolex stopped engraving the case on all models and switched to engraving the rehaut instead.
Rolex Serial Number Location:
Before 2005 – Case engraved in between the lugs (6 o’clock side) only
2005 – 2008 – Case engraved in between the lugs and etched on the rehaut (both on the 6 o’clock side)
2008 onwards – Only the rehaut is etched (6 o’clock side)
What Is A Rolex Serial Number And Why Is It Important?
Every Rolex watch is engraved with a unique serial number before leaving the factory. While the model number is shared by many watches that share the same attributes, such as model, metal type, caliber, and bezel type, the serial number is unique to each watch and acts as a sort of identification code.
So what is so special about a serial number? First of all, it helps with authenticating a watch. If a watch is missing a serial number, it is most certainly a fake. Another thing the serial number can do is help you approximate the production year. For the most part, Rolex serial numbers were issued in the order they were produced, which is why you can normally identify a manufacturing time period.
There is, however, an exception to this order. Once the serial numbers reached 999,999 in the mid-1950s, Rolex had to reset the serial numbers, so you will find duplicate serial numbers if you compare models from 1926-1953 to those manufactured between 1954-1964. Starting around the late 1980s, a letter was added to the beginning of the serial numbers, followed by 6 numbers. And the final iteration of serial numbers started in 2010, which is when Rolex began randomizing their serial numbers. So, after 2010, it is no longer possible to determine the age of a watch based on the serial number alone.
Changes to the Rolex serial number structure through the years
Production Date Lookup Tables
The following tables are approximations that have been compiled by Rolex enthusiasts and collectors over the years. Rolex has never released an official production period chart, so any chart you find will not be 100% accurate, but more of a useful tool to help you estimate the production period of a Rolex watch.
Vintage Rolex Serial Numbers from 1926 – 1953
|Approximate Production Year||Rolex Serial Number|
|1926||0 – 20,000|
|1927 -1937||20,000 – 40,000|
|1938 -1942||40,000 – 200,000|
|1941 -1944||200,000 – 300,000|
|1945 -1946||300,000 – 500,000|
|1947 -1948||500,000 – 620,000|
|1948-1950||620,000 – 700,000|
|1951||700,000 – 725,000|
|1952||725,000 – 880,000|
|1953||880,000 – 999,000|
Vintage Rolex Serial Numbers from 1954 – 1987*
*In 1954, Rolex reset the serial numbers to 0
|Approximate Production Year||Rolex Serial Number|
|1954||0 – 50,000|
|1955||50,000 – 150,000|
|1956||150,000 – 250,000|
|1957||250,000 – 350,000|
|1958||350,000 – 450,000|
|1959||450,000 – 550,000|
|1960||550,000 – 650,000|
|1961||650,000 – 755,000|
|1962||755,000 – 865,000|
|1963||865,000 – 1,000,000|
|1964||1,000,000 – 1,105,000|
|1965||1,105,000 – 1,275,000|
|1966||1,275,000 – 1,485,000|
|1967||1,485,000 – 1,710,000|
|1968||1,710,000 – 1,945,000|
|1969||1,945,000 – 2,240,000|
|1970||2,240,000 – 2,590,000|
|1971||2,590,000 – 2,890,000|
|1972||2,890,000 – 3,200,000|
|1973||3,200,000 – 3,570,000|
|1974||3,570,000 – 3,865,000|
|1975||3,865,000 – 4,115,000|
|1976||4,115,000 – 4,260,000|
|1976||5,000,000 – 5,085,000|
|1977||5,085,000 – 5,430,000|
|1978||5,430,000 – 5,865,000|
|1979||5,865,000 – 6,205,000|
|1980||6,205,000 – 6,560,000|
|1981||6,560,000 – 7,130,000|
|1982||7,130,000 – 7,600,000|
|1983||7,600,000 – 8,375,000|
|1984||8,375,000 – 8,785,000|
|1985||8,785,000 – 9,155,000|
|1986||9,155,000 – 9,860,000|
|1987||9,860,000 – 9,900,000|
Rolex Serial Numbers from 1987 – Present
*Starting in 1987, Rolex added a letter before the six-digit serial number. Towards the end of 2010, Rolex switched to randomized serial numbers.
|Approximate Production Year||Rolex Serial Number Starting Point|
|2001||K OR Y|
|2006||D OR Z|
|2007||M OR Z|
|2008||M OR V|
|2010 – Present||Random Serial Numbers|
Rolex Serial Numbers and Authenticity
When you know the Rolex serial number of a watch, it can help you verify the authenticity of a watch. For example, if you have a watch that was produced in the late 1990s but its serial number starts with a number instead of a letter, you know it’s most likely not going to be an authentic Rolex watch.
Some counterfeiters will use a real Rolex serial number to engrave on their fake watch in an attempt to trick potential buyers. But, one telltale sign in determining if an engraving is authentic or not is by the quality of the engraving. A real Rolex engraving should be deep and sharp with clean lines and the rehaut engraving should be precise. So, just because a watch has a serial number engraved on it doesn’t automatically mean it is authentic. You should always check that the serial number aligns with the production period for that model and that every aspect of the watch is high quality and to Rolex standards. If you are still questioning the authenticity of your watch, take it to a Rolex expert to verify. It is important to always purchase a Rolex watch from a trusted and reputable watch dealer.
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