OK, lets keep this fairly simple to begin with. This procedure is basically written to reduce the risk of buying either:
A) A faulty, damaged or defective Rolex.
B) A counterfeit, replica or fake Rolex.
The first thing I always do when viewing a Rolex watch personally is ask the seller to let the watch run down (so its stopped running when I arrive to view it). This enables you to perform the first check with a double outcome. So here we go, this a Rolex Datejust I purchased a few months ago (just as an example):
1. Unscrew the crown until it pops out to the first position. Try to keep the watch still so it doesnt automatically wind itself while you are handling it. Now, start to manually wind the watch (turn the clock repeatedly in a clockwise direction). The watch SHOULD after just 5-6 turns at the most come to life and the seconds hand should start sweeping. This will indicated the watch mechanism (also know as movement or calibre) is in balance AND that the winding function performs correctly.
2. Now carefully pull the crown out a bit more until you hear a click (This is the second position). Now keep turning the crown of the watch (again clockwise) until you see the date snaps over. Do this right away around the date disk (i.e. 31 times) until you are back where you started. This shows you the date disk works freely all the way round, that all the numbers are in good condition, and that the quickset date mechanism is healthy. PLEASE NOTE, this operation may not be available on some vintage model Rolexes and on GMT function models. Do your research on the model before hand to check it has the “Quickset date function”.
3. Now, pull the crown out once more until you hear a click. This should be the third and last position. You will notice that second hand will now stop. (Again, if the watch is vintage this may not happened). Do your research again and check that the model has a “Hacking feature”. Now comes an IMPORTANT part. Turn the crown clockwise and the hands should also turn CLOCKWISE! If not, you may have a counterfeit on your hands. This principle can be applied to pretty much any Rolex watch as its a distinctive feature of the brand.
4. Turn the watch over now, were going to check some codes on the bracelet and clasp to make sure they correspond approximately to the correct watch manufacture date, and that they are correct for the model. (I wont go into authenticating the bracelet at this stage as that is a chapter in itself). If you look at the clasp you will see some codes similar to the ones seen in the picture below:
The code above the STEELINOX wording is the DATE code, and the model below is the bracelet reference number. You check both these codes to see what they correspond to by clicking here:
(Note, not all models are listed but you can easily find the code meanings using Google)
Now, if you look at the rear of the watch (in this case) there is also a bracelet “end link” code for the type being used. End links are just the pieces (or last links) that join the bracelet to the watch head. See below the codes for the example Im using (code in this case is 455B). You can also check these here:
BRACELET END LINKS:
5. Next, we will be removing the bracelet from the watch head at 6 o’clock. Dont worry, this is very easy. Just use a small screwdriver to push back the spring bars (as seen in the picture above) and at the same time gently ease the bracelet out, one side at at time. Once removed you should see something like this:
This is the serial number of the watch. From this you can verify the watches authenticity (relative to that provided with the documentation) and you can also tell the approximate manufacture year of the watch. Note: this does not necessarily apply to the date the watch was sold! Again, follow this link to cross reference these codes:
SERIAL NUMBERS, DATING THE WATCH:
That pretty much sums things up for this post. This is just a basic check, but If you’ve got this far and everything checks out then its a pretty good sign the watch is fine. For full authenticity verification many more steps are necessary, including opening up the watch, but that is outside the scope of this post.
Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve both enjoyed and found it the post useful. Feel free to leave your comments, suggestions and experiences on this topic.
PLEASE NOTE ALL PROCEDURES AND SUGGESTIONS ARE MY PERSONAL OPINION AND ARE JUST GUIDELINES THAT ARE NOT TO BE SOLELY RELIED ON IN ANY WAY FOR THE VERIFICATION OF A GENUINE ROLEX WATCH. I DO NOT HOLD MYSELF RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY POSSIBLE ACCIDENTS OR DAMAGE THAT COULD POTENTIALLY OCCUR AS A RESULT OF FOLLOWING THIS GUIDE.