Vintage Rolex: Do you know what you are buying?
There is a deep satistfaction in buying something brand new - I will admit that much. You open the box, and it’s pristine, untouched, and shiny. The trouble is, the feeling soon wears off, and pretty soon it’s not brand new anymore.
When you buy something like a vintage Rolex, it’s quite a different experience. Instead of a pleasure that fades, it’s one that grows on you, and you can look at the watch a year later, and love it even more than the day you first laid eyes on it. It is addictive.
The trouble is, a lot of first-time buyers of vintage watches have no idea what they’re buying, and vintage watches usually are not open books. There are plenty of bad ways to spend your money if you’re browsing eBay for a vintage watch or hunting for the best price instead of the best watch.
You might think that it’s as easy as contacting Rolex, and asking them, but unfortunately for newbies, Rolex doesn't comment on or authenticate vintage models as a matter of policy.
The upsurge of interest in vintage watch buying and selling means that there are now plenty of resources available if you want to educate yourself on what you intend to buy. Forums like the Rolex Passion Report, A Blog to Watch, and the ever popular Hodinkee are good places to start. One of the best is the Vintage Rolex Forum, owned by my good friend Eric Ku, who happens to be one of the greatest collectors I have ever met.
On the Vintage Rolex Forum enthusiasts from all over the world exchange their knowledge and browsing through it will give you plenty of references but only reading won’t make you ‘buy proof’. Know your stuff or trust the seller, these two options are the only ones.
Just remember, the seller has access to these resources too – so the more you know, the better.
In fact, the dynamics of the vintage watch market have changed significantly, with more and more people making well educated buys. Collectors and enthusiasts are well educated, these days. There are still unscrupulous people willing to fudge the details about the watches they sell, but that has made authentic, pristine watches so much more desirable.