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A Comprehensive Guide To Understanding Rolex Serial Numbers


Rolex watches always come with multiple sets of numbers: reference numbers, bracelet numbers, movement numbers, and serial numbers. If you’ve ever wondered what a Rolex serial number is, why it is important, where you can find it, and how it has changed over the years, dig into our guide to get a better understanding of Rolex serial numbers.

Where Can I Find The Rolex Serial Number?

The easiest place to find a Rolex watch serial number is on its corresponding paperwork such as the warranty card. Yet, if you do not have any paperwork then the serial number can be found on the watch itself.

Some older Rolex watches have the serial number engraved on the exterior of the case in between the lugs at the 6 o’clock side. So you have to remove the bracelet to see the numbers.

Rolex serial number engraved on the exterior of the case in between the lugs at the 6 o’clock side. Rolex serial number engraved on the exterior of the case in between the lugs at the 6 o’clock side.

The serial number etched on the rehaut on the 6 o’clock side of a Rolex watch. The serial number etched on the rehaut on the 6 o’clock side.
However, starting around 2005, Rolex also began etching the serial number on the rehaut, also on the 6 o’clock side. The rehaut, also known as the flange, is the inner metal ring between the dial and crystal. This is the space where you can see “ROLEX ROLEX ROLEX” etched around it on modern Rolex watches. To see the serial number on the Rolex rehaut, hold the watch dial side facing up and the 12 o’clock marker towards you and look towards the 6 o’clock area. The serial number should be visible on the rehaut. Around 2008, Rolex stopped engraving the exterior of the case in between the lugs with the serial number and only kept it on the rehaut.

Rolex Serial Number Location:

Until 2005 – Engraved in between lugs (6 o’clock side) only
2005 – 2008 – Engraved In between lugs and etched on rehaut (both 6 o’clock side)
2008 onwards – Etched on rehaut only (6 o’clock side)

What Is A Rolex Serial Number And Why Is It Important?

Each Rolex watch is engraved with a serial number when it leaves the factory. Contrary to reference numbers, which are shared among many watches, a serial number is unique to the watch serving as the piece’s identification code.

So why is a Rolex serial number important? For several reasons. First, one of the initial things you want to check when authenticating a Rolex watch is if it has a serial number. If it does not have a serial number then the watch is without a doubt, a fake. Second, a Rolex serial number can help you determine the approximate production period of the watch. For most of its history (there are a few exceptions, which we will explain shortly), Rolex serial numbers were issued sequentially. Therefore, the serial number can identify a manufacturing time period.

One critical exception to the sequential order is that the company reset serial numbers in the mid-1950s when it reached #999,999. So there are duplicate serial numbers when comparing digits from 1926 – 1953 and 1954 – 1964. Additionally, starting in the late-1980s, Rolex began adding one letter to the beginning of six-digit serial numbers but these were not issued in alphabetical order. Finally, starting in 2010, Rolex began issuing random serial numbers, thus it was no longer possible to date the watches.

A chart displaying the changes made to the Rolex serial number structure. Changes made throughout the years to the Rolex serial number structure.

Production Date Lookup Tables

It’s worth noting that Rolex does not supply the information for these tables. Rolex collectors and enthusiasts have built these charts over the years with whatever data they have on hand. So it should never be assumed that they are 100% accurate and production date charts are often updated when new information is discovered. However, they can be useful tools to approximate Rolex production periods.

Vintage Rolex Serial Numbers from 1926 – 1953

Approximate Production YearRolex Serial Number
19260 – 20,000
1927 -193720,000 – 40,000
1938 -194240,000 – 200,000
1941 -1944200,000 – 300,000
1945 -1946300,000 – 500,000
1947 -1948500,000 – 620,000
1948-1950620,000 – 700,000
1951700,000 – 725,000
1952725,000 – 880,000
1953880,000 – 999,000

Vintage Rolex Serial Numbers from 1954 – 1987
***In 1954, Rolex reset the serial numbers back to 0***

Approximate Production YearRolex Serial Number
19540 – 50,000
195550,000 – 150,000
1956150,000 – 250,000
1957250,000 – 350,000
1958350,000 – 450,000
1959450,000 – 550,000
1960550,000 – 650,000
1961650,000 – 755,000
1962755,000 – 865,000
1963865,000 – 1,000,000
19641,000,000 – 1,105,000
19651,105,000 – 1,275,000
19661,275,000 – 1,485,000
19671,485,000 – 1,710,000
19681,710,000 – 1,945,000
19691,945,000 – 2,240,000
19702,240,000 – 2,590,000
19712,590,000 – 2,890,000
19722,890,000 – 3,200,000
19733,200,000 – 3,570,000
19743,570,000 – 3,865,000
19753,865,000 – 4,115,000
19764,115,000 – 4,260,000
19765,000,000 – 5,085,000
19775,085,000 – 5,430,000
19785,430,000 – 5,865,000
19795,865,000 – 6,205,000
19806,205,000 – 6,560,000
19816,560,000 – 7,130,000
19827,130,000 – 7,600,000
19837,600,000 – 8,375,000
19848,375,000 – 8,785,000
19858,785,000 – 9,155,000
19869,155,000 – 9,860,000
19879,860,000 – 9,900,000

Rolex Serial Numbers from 1987 – Present
***Starting in 1987, Rolex added a letter before the six-digit serial number. Towards the end of 2010, Rolex switched to randomized serial numbers***

Approximate Production YearRolex Serial Number Starting Point
2001K OR Y
2006D OR Z
2007M OR Z
2008M OR V
2010 – PresentRandom Serial Numbers

Rolex Serial Numbers and Authenticity

Knowing a Rolex’s serial number and the meaning behind its structure can also help to verify if the watch in hand was produced when it was supposed to be and is one to be authentic. For example, if you have a Submariner model debuting in the 1980’s but it has a serial number that dates it to some time in the 1960’s, then it’s likely not an authentic Rolex.

Counterfeiters frequently furnish fake Rolex watches with serial numbers in an attempt to trick unsuspecting buyers. However, serial numbers on fake Rolex watches are typically not finished as well as ones on real watches. Serial number case engravings should be deep and sharp and rehaut laser etching should be perfectly precise. While having a serial number is essential to a genuine Rolex watch, the presence of one does not guarantee authenticity. You should always be sure to check the serial number as one of the many ways to ensure your Rolex’s authenticity.

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