Authorized dealers are often the go-to sources for brand-new Rolex watches; however vintage Rolex timepieces can only be purchased on the pre-owned market. Since every vintage Rolex is an used watch, the sources from which one can be purchased can range dramatically.
Vintage Rolex watches can be purchased from an incredibly wide variety of different sources; however not all of them can be considered equal for the purchase of a rare and valuable timepiece. Even the smallest, seemingly insignificant details can account for thousands of dollars in value, and it is important to choose reputable sellers that honestly and accurately represent their products.
Well-Known Auction Houses
The large, well-known auction houses, such as Phillips and Sotheby’s are almost always safe bets when purchasing vintage Rolex watches; however they are also among the most expensive options. Phillip’s recent Daytona Ultimatum auction was a curated collection of some of the most unique and well-preserved Daytona watches in existence; however five of the watches in the auction broke the million-dollar mark, and only one watch sold for less than six figures.
The Rolex watches sold by these premier auction houses are generally the more rare and valuable vintage references, and as such, they often attract large numbers of serious bidders. While it is highly unlikely that you will ever encounter a counterfeit timepiece being sold by one of these auction industry heavyweights; it is also equally unlikely that you will find an excellent deal on a highly sought-after timepiece that has escaped the notice of other collectors.
Small Independent Dealers/Boutiques
The experience of purchasing vintage Rolex watches at small, independent dealers and boutiques can vary greatly depending on which dealer or boutique you end up visiting. Some small independent dealers carefully curate a selection of wonderful watches and offer them at fair prices, while others engage in less-than-scrupulous behavior and try to take advantage of uneducated buyers.
Since independent boutiques actively source interesting and well-preserved watches for their inventory, a well-stocked independent boutique often will often have a decent selection of vintage Rolex watches. While purchasing a vintage Rolex from an independent boutique can be somewhat of a hit or miss experience, working with a smaller dealer allows buyers to have a more personalized experience than what can be found at larger vendors or auction houses.
In addition to the big auction houses and the small independent boutiques, Bob’s Watches is an excellent place to purchase a vintage Rolex. As the world’s first pre-owned Rolex exchange, Bob’s Watches publishes both buy and sell prices to make it easy for buyers to put the value of their old watch towards the purchase of their next watch. Additionally, every single watch is guaranteed to be 100% authentic, and the variety of inventory covers everything from humble Oyster Perpetual watches in stainless steel, to gilt-dial Submariners and Paul Newman Daytona chronographs.