To determine the approximate age of a Rolex watch, the serial number of the watch can help. This is engraved between the lugs in the case at 6 o’clock and the bracelet has to be removed for checking. For new housings the number is also on the rehaut (that is the inner part of the bezel). The number can also be found on the guarantee certificate.
As Rolex does not provide any official information about age, collectors have collected lists with which the standard age of a serial number is assigned. Unfortunately, there are different lists on the Internet, which tend to be very similar, but have different details. A rough classification of the age is possible via the lists, but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. It is also important to know that the data refers to the year of manufacture. The date of sale of the watch may vary considerably.
The following table is based on the lists (e.g., the list from Hannes Oysterworld) on the Internet, but has been simplified by me and has been supplemented over the years.
|Jahr / Year||Seriennummern / Serial Numbers|
|1987 / 1988||R|
|1988 / 1989||L|
|1989 / 1990||L|
|1990 / 1991||E|
|1991 / 1992||X/N (ab Nov.)|
|1992 / 1993||C|
|1993 / 1994||S|
|1994 / 1995||W|
|1995 / 1996||W|
|1996 / 1997||T|
|1997 / 1998||U (ab/from Aug.)|
|1998 / 1999||A (ab/from Nov.)|
|1999 / 2000||A|
|2000 / 2001||P (ab/from Jan.)|
|2001 / 2002||K (ab/from Sept.)|
|2002 / 2003||Y (ab/from Sept.)|
|2003 / 2004||F (ab/from Sept.)|
|2004 / 2005||F|
|2005 / 2006||D (ab/from Apr.)|
|2006 / 2007||Z (ab Mai / from May)|
|2007 / 2008||M (ab August)|
|2008 / 2009||V (ab Aug.)|
|2009 / 2010||V|
|2010||G (ab Juni / from June)|
|Ab / From 2010||Willkürliche Buchstaben-Zahlen-Kombination, 8-stellig. Vereinzelt ab 2007.|
Random letter-number combination, 8 digits. Sporadic from 2007 on.
One more thing that is important to know: A serial number starting with 44 or 47 refers to a housing replaced by Rolex.
This very interesting chart, was created by the watch collector, Georg Burger, in which he has registered all known serial numbers. An analysis and classification of the serial number can also be carried out using this chart.
This graphic shows a special feature in the serial number assignment:
By the middle of the 1950s, Rolex had reached 999,999 with its serial numbers and, incomprehensible from today’s point of view, decided to start again at 100,000. Presumably, this decision had to be made relatively quickly and was the “path of least resistance,” because of the existing serial numbering tools.
Therefore, it should be noted that the serial numbers of 100,000 to 999,999 occur in two periods. The model must also be taken into account when determining the year by serial numbers in this area. Incorrect assignments are often found in the descriptions of offers for sale on the Internet, which do not carefully observe this.
A GMT 1675 with the serial number 510xxx belongs not to the year 1947, but to the year 1960, because this model was still not on the market at all in 1947.
In 2007 the old Rolex serial number system with the prefixed letters was removed and replaced by (presumably) an arbitrary combination of letters and numbers. This makes it no longer possible to determine the production date from the serial number.