How do you pick the perfect Rolex?

I get this question frequently.  Many people want to own their first Rolex and they are not sure where to begin.  The obvious first question is whether you have specific functional needs offered by the various Rolex models.  If you love racing the Rolex Daytona is a perfect fit.  Pilots would be ideally suited for the Sky-Dweller.  Divers would likely opt for the Submariner or DeepSea.  Yachtsman would likely lean toward the Yachtmaster or Yachtmaster II models.  Climbers would best be suited by the Explorer model.  Are you around high magnetic fields or are you a scientist at heart?  Then the Milgauss would fit your needs perfectly.

But let's assume you don't partake in any of these hobbies and want to pick a timepiece that fits your tastes.  Should you just opt for a DateJust and call it a day?  Not necessarily.  Although the Datejust is a perfect first Rolex for many people, it may not be the perfect first timepiece for you.
Yellow Gold Presidential Rolex Day-Date

One question I like to ask is "How you intend to use the watch?"  If you travel frequently, a GMT Master II is a great timepiece that allows you to keep track of 2 time zones.  If you are an executive a Yellow Gold Presidential Day Date would definitely make a statement that you are the top of your game and mean business.  And since it is a favorite of Jack Nicklaus, you know it would be a winner both in the boardroom and on the links.  I personally like the Day Date because of the Day of the Week function at the top of the timepiece - a feature that isn't on any other Rolex and something I chronically need.  However, a simple Cellini Moonphase would be the classic timepiece that would fit your suit and tie without breaking the bank and since it is battery powered, you can swap with multiple timepieces without worrying about keeping it wound. 
Rolex Datejust

If you just want a solid masculine looking Rolex timepiece that could function well both at work and at play without being overly ostentatious, I would say a stainless steel Datejust, a Submariner with Date, Explorer II, or a GMT Master II with a black bezel would be a perfect cross over timepiece.  Take your pick there.  They would all be perfect first Rolex timepieces, and many of them won't break the bank.

Another question you might ask is "How big is the Rolex?"  You will find men's Rolex sizes ranging from 36 mm to 44 mm.  So, depending on the size of your wrist, you may opt for a larger or smaller size. 
Rolex Yacht-Master II

Have a favorite color pattern?  If Blue is your thing, the Yacht-Master II has a beautiful look for you.  Yes, you can find a Datejust with a blue dial, or a GMT with a Red and Blue "Pepsi" bezel.  However, the Yacht-Master is a classic timepiece with the Red White and especially Blue to proudly wear. Check out the new Milgauss with Blue-Green coloring as well. 
Rolex Pearlmaster

Ladies have the luxury of choosing smaller size timepieces as small as 28 mm and diamond or sapphire encrusted bezels such as the Pearlmaster series, or having their wide choice of the men's Rolex collection.  It is more than fine for a woman to sport a Rolex Daytona, making Danica Patrick proud. In fact, my niece has been sporting a Rolex Daytona of her own for the last couple years and loves it. 

50th Annual Rolex Middle Sea Race

From the website
If you ever wanted to know why Rolex is held in such high regard by sea masters and yachting experts around the world, you need to just look at the 50th Annual Rolex Middle Sea Race.  Not only  is this international regatta sponsored by Rolex, but it is in its 50th year since the original race was held.  Rolex is known for its longevity, and its dedication and annual sponsorship to the Yacht Masters of the world is unparalleled. 

From the
Held in Malta Grand Harbor and launched on October 20th at 11 am, the race had 149 total entries.  The winner, Giovanni Soldini’s Italian Multi70 Maserati, completed the race in 2 days, 11 hours 54 minutes 58 seconds.  The Middle Sea Race capped a week of Yacht Racing, since the Coastal Sea Race launched only 3 days before the start of the Middle Sea Race, also sponsored by Rolex.  With so much sponsorship and dedication to Yacht racing, you might ask, what would the world of Yachting be without Rolex? 

Rolex sponsors several races around the world and is highly in tune with Yacht clubs and the needs of their membership.  The Rolex Giraglia is another example of Rolex's dedication to Yacht racing - an event that has been held since 1952.  The Giraglia was a challenge between the Yacht clubs of Italy and France shortly after the 2nd world war, but has since become a worldwide event.  Rolex has increased its sponsorship in 1997 and now the race carries the Rolex namesake at every event.

Rolex sponsors the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup held each September in Sardinia’s Porto Cervo on the Costa Smeralda. It sponsors the Rolex Swan Cup, which combines Rolex with the Yacht builder Nautor Swan. 

The Rolex Fastnet Race is a biennial challenge that attracts more than 300 yachts from 20 countries, bringing together some 2,500 sailors to attempt the 605 nautical mile race beginning at the Royal Ocean Racing Club off the coast of Ireland and England. 

The Rolex TP52 World Championship is a race that is held in different locales around the world but is the culmination of the TP52 series.

Why Does Rolex Use Jewels in the Movement?

Rolex and many other fine timepiece manufacturers utilize precious stones such as sapphires or rubies in the key pivot points in the automatic movement.  This reduces friction and wear. 

The idea of using jewels in the movement was introduced over 300 years ago, but is commonplace today. 

Depending on the complications in the timepiece you may find anywhere from 17 to as much as 100 jewels utilized in any given caliber.  The Rolex Submariner calibre 3135 utilizes 31 jewels.  The Rolex Daytona is powered by a calibre 4130 and has 44 jewels. 

Some jewels might be cosmetic.  However, many of the jewels used today are synthetic jewels, so they are inexpensive to produce.  Rolex utilizes synthetic rubies as a "bearing" to keep the parts of the watch friction-free for the most part.  The Rolex Daytona movement pictured above has a complex chronograph complication and so it requires more jewelry in order to keep friction to a minimum. 

Should Rolex Develop an Eco-Drive Timepiece?

Rolex has developed so many technologies over the years.  Although Rolex adopted the Oysterquartz--adding the Quartz powered technology to some select models of the Rolex family, we have yet to see an Eco-Drive timepiece produced by Rolex. 

So, first, what is an Eco-Drive watch?  A good example is that produced by Citizen.  It has a solar panel under the dial and it is powered by converting solar energy into electrical energy.  Most Rolexes are powered by the movement of one's wrist when wearing the watch.  So, daily use will power the timepiece just fine.  The newest calibers of Rolex even provide more power reserve than older models.  However, the power reserves are still far behind timepieces such as the Panerai which has a 10 day power reserve model. 

Eco-Drive models have been reported to have a reserve for several months to several years.  Citizen invented the Eco-Drive technology as early as 1976, and so its timepieces are quartz watches which can be powered by artificial, natural and even dim-lights without replacing the battery.  According to one of the Citizen manuals, a fully charged cell will function for 9 months with NO exposure to light.  Nine months is an incredible timeframe since most Rolexes are currently providing power for 48 hours to 72 hours - or generally no more than 3 days of power reserve. Even the exceptional power reserve of Panerai 10 day models look deficient against 270 days. 

The charging time for an Eco-Drive system is extremely efficient.  10 minutes of outdoor sunlight is all that is needed to charge up a timepiece.  Indoor lighting can charge the timepiece in 4 hours.  Indoor lighting takes much longer, but most people will have sufficient charging through normal use.

However, Citizen does recommend that you charge the watch under direct sunlight once a month for 5 to 6 hours. Although it doesn't say what would happen if the charge was completely depleted, our assumption is that the watch would stop working and may need a battery replacement to work again.  This might be why Rolex has opted to avoid the Eco-Drive thus far.  Rolex has hung its hat on building timepieces that can be long term investments which can work under most rigorous conditions. 

The advice gets grimmer the further down you read the specs.  Citizen warns to avoid charging the watch at high temperatures of 60C /140F or more, and to avoid high temperature light sources.  Even incandescent lights can cause heat damage.  The Citizen does seem to have a way to deal with overcharging.  However, heat sensitivities can be a big drawback for Rolex.  Since many of Rolex's watches are built for outdoor activities such as diving, climbing, yachting and more, sun heat and outdoor exposure is a given.  This is a critical flaw in the eco-drive technology.  Although the long battery life is a major plus, the potential for damage from sun or other light exposure is enough to scare the Rolex designers. 

It might work in a Day Date or Cellini which are typically used in an executive environment, but even then, these timepieces are ready for sport.  Certainly Golfers like Jack Nicklaus don't want to be worried about overexposure when donning their Presidential Day Date on the golf course.  Although he probably wouldn't have to worry about the 5 hour a month direct sunlight requirement since he is on the course regularly, most other owners might find that requirement an annoyance.

Although the technology is exceptional, it isn't quite up to the Rolex standard.  It is unlikely to see it appear in the Rolex lineup any time soon. 

The Best Places to Buy a Pre-Owned Rolex Timepiece

The biggest question I get is always "Where is the best place to buy a used Rolex watch?"  This is difficult because there are so many scammers on the internet and the Rolex is probably the most targeted timepiece for fakes of all kinds.  Even top sellers such as Amazon and Ebay are breeding grounds for unscrupulous sellers, trying to pawn off Rolex knockoffs or Rolexes that may have non-Rolex parts such as no-name bands which are not Rolex in any way.  Remember that Rolex takes great pride in the development of even the bands of the timepieces they make. 

The list is no specific order.  Also, I am not guaranteeing anything about what is sold on these sites.  This list is really a starting place for you to begin your research. These are the sites I look at when I am evaluating a Rolex Pre-Owned purchase.

King of the Hill Rolex Auctions
If you are a collector and you are looking for specific rare pieces then you want to first look at Sotheby's or Christies.  Both are auction houses and have low priced and high priced Rolexes for sale.  These are some of the best watches, but you are competing with collectors all over the world.  However, I find it important to look at what is sold here so that if I am looking at Pre-Owned, I know what really moves the needle in terms of value:

General sites to find Rolex Deals
Although I wouldn't recommend Ebay or Amazon, these three sites are worthwhile looking at.  You might find some good deals and also some rip-off artists here.  So, definitely beware.  However, it is a great place to find how much a timepiece is selling for and where the deals are.  There are reputable dealers selling through here. 
Watch Finder
The Watch Box
Chrono 24

Specific Dealers
I like to focus on specific dealers that have been around for awhile and have a reputation to protect.  There are many of them out there that sell Rolex, but these seem to me to be the most reputable sources for Pre-Owned Rolex timepieces.  Although I haven't purchased from all of these locations, I would say this is probably the Top-Shelf of dealers and that you would be able to get both a good deal and a Genuine Rolex which is serviced properly.  Most have a good return policy in case you find something you don't like about the timepiece. 

I would love to hear from my readers to see if anyone has had a good or bad experience with any of these.  Keep in mind that every time you go to these sites, the inventory will be different.  So, you might need to visit the sites regularly if you are in search of a specific model Rolex such as a Yellow Gold Rolex Day Date with Arabic numerals.  You can also let them know what you are looking for so that they can be on the lookout for the specific timepiece you are trying to acquire:
Timeless Luxury Watches
Moyer Fine Jewlers
Becker Time
Radcliffe Jewelers
Crown and Caliber
Watches of Switzerland

Do you agree with my list above?  Am I missing any Rolex Pre-Owned dealers that you had good experience with?  Please feel free to share your thoughts with me. 

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