Should I Buy a Rolex Without Its Original Bracelet?

3:54 PM

When shopping for a vintage or preowned Rolex online, you may come across a listing for a watch with a leather, NATO or rubber strap on the original Rolex case. While aftermarket straps are a wonderful way to change up your wristwatch configuration, especially for outdoor activities, buying a watch without its original bracelet could become a problem for you in the future should you decide to send it to Rolex for servicing or replacement parts. 

Rolex Explorer II Case
The legal notice on Rolex's official website makes it clear that any modifications to the watch, including the bracelet, void their warranty:

Any addition or substitution of parts or accessories with those not manufactured by Rolex, as well as any alteration, modification or other material change made to or on Rolex products by a third party not authorized by Rolex cancels the warranty. Rolex does not approve any modification made by non-authorized third parties on the Rolex products, including the addition of verbal and graphic elements, as well as any customization activity (such as black coated watches, the addition of aftermarket diamonds, bezels, dials and bracelets, etc.). These modifications may harm the quality and the integrity of the Rolex products. (source: rolex.com)

I called their customer service department in New York City to verify this and they confirmed that in order for the watchmaker to perform any service to the timepiece it must have all of its original parts, including the bracelet. They also confirmed that their replacement parts are available on a trade-in basis only, so you have to send them your original bracelet in order to purchase a new one. What this means is that if you buy a Rolex case with no bracelet, not only will you not be able to get it serviced by them, but you will also not be able to purchase a replacement bracelet from them, either. 

Rolex Oyster Bracelet (photo: Rolex)
This information seems to contradict what some Rolex owners have posted to forums about purchasing bracelets as 'spares' or 'extras' in addition to their originals. However, I would be weary of purchasing replacement bracelets from anyone other than Rolex because it is very likely that if you are purchasing a Rolex part on the secondary market, it is not authentic. After all, if everyone has to trade in the original bracelet in order to purchase a new one, the chances of finding an authentic bracelet anywhere else are slim to none. 

It may be tempting to purchase a Rolex without its original strap based on the price, but the money you save on the initial purchase may not be worth the trouble of figuring out what to do with your watch in the event that you need to service it in the future. As long as you have the original bracelet, not matter what condition it's in, you will always be able to purchase a replacement from the watchmaker in the future.


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