Rolex makes great watches and unfortunately there are many fakes flooding eBay and other places. Many fakes are easily spotted. Such fakes range from Japanese quartz movement pieces to flimsy dials and bezels. There are modern fakes that are very well made and hard to spot as fakes, most of these being Swiss made fakes.

Below are some tests that apply to all mechanical Oysters. Some well made fakes might slip through these beginning tests. If you are still in doubt, have the seller open the watch case and check the caliber. If they refuse to do so then DO NOT buy from them, regardless of the “good deal” they try to give you. Many sellers prey on a buyer’s greed and offer such a low price that the buyer’s greed will override their common sense. Do not be one of these buyers.

Test #1 – Check if the watch you are being offered even exists. Many fakes are of watches that Rolex does not even make! Go to Rolex’s website for their line of currently produced models. They have in depth pictures that can be very helpful in determining their real ones from a fake one being offered. You can sometimes find information on discontinued models in older literature, but in those cases check the movement.

Test #2 – If the watch is stopped you should be able to move it in a few clockwise circular movements and it will run. Rolex’s automatic movement is reliable and should not be broken. If it refuses to run I would not buy it.

Test #3 – The second hand should sweep smoothly, not tick or have any other mannerisms. Any other motion by the second hand is quartz movement and a fake (with the exception of Rolex’s Oysterquartz models).

Test #4 – A second hand that appears to float or sweep smoothly could still be a fake. An authentic Rolex second hand will move about 5-6 times per second giving it the sweeping motion. Does the watch give a ticking sound or is it jumpy and random in its sweeping second hand motion? If so, then it is most certainly a fake. Some older models may have a noticeable 5 ticks a second, but it will be consistent, never jerky or random.

Test #5 – Listen to the ticking. It should be almost inaudible with a very fast beat. Slow ticking is a sure sign of a fake.

Test #6 – When you apply the circular motion in Test #2 put it to your ear and listen to it carefully. The motion makes the winding motor go round. On an authentic Rolex you should not be able to hear the rotor.

Test #7 – Test the crown and move it and maneuver it. The crown of an authentic Rolex is always a screw down one with a diameter of 6mm for most and 5mm on early Oysters. The crown must bear the Rolex crown with a line under it or three dots for the triplock crown on the Submariner model and Sea Dweller model (these models are 8mm).

Test #8 – The crown’s stem has an o-ring which is uncovered when the crown is unscrewed and pulled out. This is on triplock crowns such as the Submariner, Sea Dweller, etc.).

Test #9 – Look carefully at the dial and hands. The dial should have certain inscriptions (some models will not have certain inscriptions). These inscriptions should be clear and crisp. They should be nicely colored and finished. Fakes are notorious for poor inscriptions, mismarkings, and misplaced inscriptions. The hands on fakes many times are too short and misshaped. The fakes also many times will have mixed up the hands for other models with the model you are looking at. For example, a Daytona has rounded ends on the hands, but many fakes will use the flat tipped Day-Date hands. A common thread in the fakes in inconsistency and lack of attention to detail.

Test #10 – The hour markers, second hand, hour hand, and minute hand should all match the case. That is to say that they should have a gold color for gold and two tone model cases. For silver model cases they should be silver. This is not universal, as older models can have all manner of different coloration combos. This mainly applies to current models.

Test #11 – The bottom of the Rolex case will never have a glass bottom. The bottom is steel normally and bears no hallmarks, inscriptions, serial numbers, logos, etc. It will be plain, with the possible exception of a previous owner’s personal engravings. There are a few authentic watches that have “Rolex” engraved on the back along with COMEX. These watches are rare and highly desirable. Other exceptions to this rule are ladies’ models pre-mid 1990 which had “Original Rolex Design” or a similar phrase engraved on the caseback in an arc pattern. The Sea-Dweller caseback have “Rolex Oyster Original Gas Escape Valve” engraved around the outside of the caseback in an arc pattern.

Test #12 – The bezel should match the dial color and the model. See reference numbers below.

Test #13 – An authentic Rolex case is very well finished. It does not have sharp edges with the exception of the lug ends. The sides of the case are mirror polished flawlessly.

Test #14 – Check the numbers. The seller should give you the opportunity to take the bracelet off and check the numbers located between the lugs. The serial number is located next to the “6 O’clock” point of the dial and can tell you the approximate age of the watch. The reference number is located next to the “12 O’Clock” point of the dial and is engraved with the phrase “ORIGINAL ROLEX DESIGN” and a 4-5 digit number under it. This number MUST match the model. (SEE SERIAL NUMBERS BELOW)! Some better fakes may have serial numbers, but they are generally acid etched in and not engraved. If the watch does have a serial number but it looks poorly engraved or barely etched then DO NOT buy it! In 2005 Rolex started engraving the Case’s Serial Number in the inside edge of the case (at the “6 O’clock” position, under the crystal and below the bezel).

Test #15 – If no numbers are found between the lugs then the watch is a fake. The correct numbers do help ensure it is real, as wrong numbers assure it is a fake.

Test #16 – The bracelet is not an easy way to tell a fake because Rolex bracelets are not very well made. You could easily mistake an authentic Rolex for a fake and a well made fake for an authentic if you were using the bracelet as a deciding factor. I have seen Swiss made fake Rolex’s that have bracelets that are better than the authentic Rolex bracelets! Some pre-owned watches may have an after market bracelet if the original broke, so the bracelet is not a reliable determination of the authenticity of a watch.

Test #17 – If the watch in question is gold then be sure to check and see if the name “Montre Rolex S.A.” is engraved inside the works of the watch. The well made gold fakes have been engraved with false numbers.

Test #18 – Gold, diamonds, etc. should be checked by a certified jeweler for authenticity. No Rolex used fake gold, plating, etc.

Test #19 – Date magnification crystal should magnify the date 2.5 times greater than its normal. The fakes barely magnify, if at all. Some fakes now just have larger numbers so that it gives the appearance of the date being magnified. An authentic Rolex’s date magnification will make the number almost fill the magnification crystal; the fakes do not duplicate this or do so in a blurry and poor way making them easily noticeable as fakes.

Test #20 – Yacht-master’s have a larger minute hand than normal. Fake Rolexes have the same size minute hand as other Rolex models in order to save money from having to produce a minute hand for only one model. This is an easy way to spota fake Yacht-master.

Real Rolex Serial Numbers

Rolex model numbers have 4-5 digits. The first two or three tell you the type of watch. If the watch has five digits, the second from the last describes the type of bezel the model should have. The last number describes the metal that the watch is made from (with a few exceptions).


Oyster Perpetual = 10, 140, 142
Airking = 55 & 140
Date = 15 & 150
Datejust = 16 & 162
Daytona Manual Wind = 62
Daytona Cosmograph = 165
Explorer II = 165
Sea Dweller = 16 & 166
Submariner = 16, 166 & 168
Submariner – no date = 55 & 140
GMT Master = 16, 65, 167
GMT Master II = 167
Oysterquartz Datejust = 170
Oysterquartz Day-Date = 190
Day-Date President = 65, 66, 18, 180, 182 & 183
Yachtmaster = 166, 686 & 696
Midsize Oyster Perp DJ = 68, 682
Ladies Oyster Perpetual = 67, 671, 672
Ladies Date = 65, 69, 691 & 692
Ladies Datejust = 65, 69, 691 & 692


0 = Polished
1 = Finely Engine Turned
2 = Engine Turned
3 Fluted
4 = Hand-crafted
5 = Pyramid
6 = Rotating Bezel


0 Stainless
1 = Yellow Gold Filled
2 = White Gold Filled
3 = Stainless & Yellow Gold
4 = Stainless with 18k White Gold
5 = Gold Shell
6 = Platinum
7 = 14k Yellow Gold
8 = 18k Yellow Gold
9 = 18k White Gold

ROLEX Serial Numbers & Production Dates

You can find the year that your watch was made by looking for your Rolex serial number below;

28,000 = 1926
30,430 = 1927
32,960 = 1928
35,390 = 1929
37,820 = 1930
40,250 = 1931
42,680 = 1932
45,000 = 1934
63,000 = 1935
81,000 = 1936
99,000 = 1937
117,000 = 1938
135,000 = 1939
164,600 = 1940
194,200 = 1941
223,800 = 1942
253,400 = 1943
283,000 = 1944
348,100 = 1945
413,200 = 1946
478,300 = 1947
543,400 = 1948
608,500 = 1949
673,600 = 1950
738,700 = 1951
803,800 = 1952
950,000 = 1953
999,000 = 1954*
200,000 = 1955
400,000 = 1956
600,000 = 1957
800,000 = 1958
1,100,000 = 1959
1,402,000 = 1960
1,480,000 = 1961
1,558,000 = 1962
1,636,000 = 1963
1,714,000 = 1964
1,792,000 = 1965
1,871,000 = 1966
2,163,900 = 1967
2,426,800 = 1968
2,689,700 = 1969
2,952,600 = 1970
3,215,500 = 1971
3,478,400 = 1972
3,741,300 = 1973
4,004,200 = 1974
4,267,100 = 1975
4,539,000 = 1976
5,006,000 = 1977
5,482,000 = 1978
5,958,000 = 1979
6,434,000 = 1980
6,910,000 = 1981
7,386,000 = 1982
7,862,000 = 1983
8,338,000 = 1984
8,814,000 = 1985
9,290,000 = 1986
9,766,000 = 1987
9,999,999 = 1987 ½
R000,000 = 1987 ½
L000,001 = 1989
E000,001 = 1990 ½
X000,001 = 1991 ¾
N000,001 = 1991 ¾
C000,001 = 1992 ¼
S000,001 = 1993 ¾
W000,001 = 1995
T000,001 = 1995 ½
U000,001 = 1997 ½
A000,001 = 1999
P000,001 = 2000 ½
K000,001 = 2001 ½
Y000,001 = 2002 ½
F000,001 = 2003 ½
D000,001 = 2005

When Rolex reached 999,999 production serial numbers in the early 1950’s they restarted the production serial number at 100,000 rather than beginning with a 7 digit number at 1,000,000. At this time Rolex also began putting the date code on the inside of their case backs. Look for the Roman number I, II, III, or IV for the quarter and two Arabic digits for the year. In the late 1950’s Rolex once again reached the 999,999 production serial number and then started their 7 digit numeric numbering system at 1,000,000 for production serial numbers. This continued until the 1990’s until production serial numbers reached 9,999,999. Rather than begin an 8 digit production serial number when 9,999,999 was reached, Rolex began their production serial numbers with a letter prefix such as R, then L, E, and X (i.e. ROLEX, minus the “O”). N, C, and S came out during the mid-1990’s. W, T, and U came out shortly later. The current letter prefixes are all running concurrently this way with only Rolex knowing the exact date that any watch was actually produced.


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