By Carl Blackburn
As I discussed last month, investment-grade Rolex watches can be an amazing investment. Not only does their value increase each year, providing a solid return, but such an investment is also a beautiful and functional work of art. Part of the responsibility of owning a high-end Rolex watch is getting it insured, and this means finding the right Rolex appraiser. Locating a qualified watch appraiser is not as simple as stopping into your local jewelry store. It involves finding an insurance appraiser who has in-depth
in valuing used Rolex watches—an appraiser who won’t undervalue or overvalue your timepiece.
Beware of Inflated Rolex Watch Appraisals
When obtaining a Rolex appraisal, you might think that having your Rolex undervalued is your greatest concern. Actually, the most common mistake is an inflated appraisal value. And if this happens, you may end up over-paying on insurance fees for your insured Rolex. For example, your Rolex watch might be appraised at $6,000, yet you can buy the same used watch (same model, same year, same condition) at a jewelry store that sells used watches or on eBay for only $3,000.
Why does this happen? There are a couple reasons why your Rolex appraisal might have an inflated value. One, the appraiser might inflate the value so as to justify his or her own appraisal fee. The insurance company will not have a problem with this inflated value because it means they can charge you a higher insurance premium. Since the majority of insurance companies will replace your used Rolex with another used Rolex if it is lost or stolen, it doesn’t matter to them if the appraisal is over-inflated, since they will be replacing your watch, not paying you the amount that is listed on your appraisal.
The other reason for an inflated Rolex appraisal is that the appraiser just might not know any better. Many professional jewelry apprasiers who are very good at appraising the value of diamond and precious gemstone jewelry have little experience in appraising high-grade timepieces. When appraising a used Rolex, they simply look up the value of the watch online, and when doing so they may come up with a number that is anything but accurate.
Over-paying on insurance is not the only bad side effect of an inflated Rolex appraisal. Another problem that arises is the let-down you’ll experience when it comes time to sell your Rolex. Imagine how it feels to inherit your grandfather’s Rolex President, have an appraiser give you a written appraisal that says it’s worth $26,000, only to find out when you go to sell it that you can buy the same watch on eBay (retail) for only $7,000, and that no watch dealer in the country will pay you more than $4000 for it (wholesale). As crazy as this seems, it happens more often than you might think.
How to Choose a Good Rolex Appraiser
In order to truly be up to speed, a good Rolex appraiser needs to be out in the field, traveling, going to trade shows, etc. If you go to your average jewelry store, you may come across a gemologist who sits in his or her shop all day, and (as I mentioned before) they might simply look up your watch online. But there is no
for watches like there is for diamonds or
Kelley Blue Book
like there is for cars. The worth of a watch is like a living organism, it’s constantly changing, and you want to make sure your Rolex appraiser has the experience necessary to give you an accurate assessment.
When looking for a fine watch appraiser, ask how often they attend trade shows and if they belong to any watch organizations. The International Watch and Jewelry Guild (IWJG) is one of the world’s largest such organizations, and being a member ensures that your appraiser has the experience you’re looking for.
How a Used Rolex Appraisal is Made
When taking your timepiece to a qualified fine watch appraiser, there are at least six different factors that the experienced Rolex appraiser will consider:
Whether you’re dealing in diamonds, fine art, or a home, you’ll always hear that “condition is everything.” Rolex watches are no different.
A Rolex President watch made in 1985 should not be appraised at the same value as a Rolex President watch made in 2012 (though believe it or not, a large number of jewelry stores make this mistake when doing appraisals on used Rolexes!).
What was the production size for your particular model of Rolex watch during that year? This could greatly affect value.
A luxury watch can have as many as 200 small intricate parts, and as many as 15 mechanical functions, also known as “complications. Often referred to as “functional jewelry,” luxury watches are miniature works of art, each one individually hand-crafted by master watchmakers. These are living, moving mechanisms that generate their own power and perform complex functions and calculations without any electronic circuitry. The degree of complexity found in your Rolex watch contributes significantly to its value.
Just like with all fine art or jewelry, what your piece is made of makes a big difference.
This, above all else, can fluctuate almost daily.
Because of the many elements that work together to determine the value of a used Rolex watch, it’s imperative that your Rolex appraiser is well-versed and experienced with all of these factors and how they each affect the value of your timepiece.
If you are looking to sell your luxury watch or need a written insurance appraisal on your Rolex watch, please stop by our La Jolla store or contact us at
or 858-454-2200 to benefit from our decades of experience in fine luxury timepieces.