rolex omega panerai iwc patek and other fine watches by Nicholas Hacko Sydney

Written by Nicholas Hacko, Master Watchmaker and Watch dealer

1. Find a right dealer

A Rolex Wrist watch is a commodity like any other. A new Rolex can be purchased from an authhorised Rolex dealer or it can be obtained from an independent, unauthorized watch dealer selling new, near-new, pre-owned or vintage Rolex watches. If your objective is to purchase a current model Rolex yet save on the new price or if you are looking for a specific model no longer available from an authorised dealer, then buying from an independent watch dealer is not only your best option, such a dealer could be your only option.

Even a pre-owned Rolex is an expensive item. Would you buy a car or install a new kitchen without consulting a specialist? It is absolutely essential that you buy your Rolex from a knowledgeable dealer, a dealer you know you can trust.

Millions of dollars are scammed from Australians every year by unscrupulous people promising overseas-sourced products - particularly so-called 'high end' watches - and services yet recovery of payments is virtually impossible if the product fails to materialise or is sub-standard.

So here is my first tip that would save you money, time and a headache:

Only buy a Rolex from an Australian-based dealer (a real bricks and mortar store) who has an Australian registered business name (ABN) and a valid Second Hand Dealer’s license. You can carry out an online business identity check through

Check list: call / email the dealer and ask following questions:

  • Do you have a shop, showroom or office location I can visit?
  • What is your ABN number?
  • What is your Second hand dealer’s license number?

    2. When Rolex is not a Rolex

    Not that many years ago fake Rolex watches were so poorly made that almost everyone could separate the copies from the genuine items. Nowadays it’s a different story with counterfeit Rolex watches almost impossible to distinguish from the world-renowned Swiss masterpiece. Internet online auction houses and individual cybersellers routinely offer very convincing copies in ever increasing numbers. In my opinion, however, the real threat to Australian consumers comes from semi-legitimate, online dealers selling Rolex watches which are a combination of real Rolex and non-Rolex or after-market parts. It is just not possible to make an accurate assessment of these online timepieces which, in the market place, have a very low resale value and deliver questionable performance parameters.

    Furthermore, after sales service support by any reputable watchmaker may be very difficult to achieve while service support by an official Rolex Service Centre would be out of the question.

    The most common and convincing Rolex ‘enhancement’ is the addition of a non-Rolex diamond bezel or dial or even dial and hands. The crystal glass and the bracelets can appear to be totally genuine too yet may not be. Suspicions should be aroused immediately if the watch is described as “Rolex style”, “Italian made”, “aftermarket”, “non-genuine” or “enhanced”. There are other descriptors too but these are dead giveaways and should ring alarm bells.

    A reputable watch dealer would never offer for sale a fake or copy Rolex nor would a reputable dealer assemble a watch from genuine and after market parts, purporting it to be a bona fide Rolex. Well established and time-honoured rules of authenticity apply to all new, pre-owned or vintage Rolex watches.

    Here is my Rolex buying tip number two:

    Make it clear to dealer that you are not interested in buying anything else but a 100% genuine, unaltered Rolex watch.

    Check list: call or email the dealer and ask following questions:

  • Do you offer an unconditional money back guarantee that the watch is a completely genuine, authentic, unaltered Swiss made Rolex?
  • Will you also off an unconditional guarantee that the bracelet does not contain any non-Rolex parts?

    3. What is hiding inside?

    Fine Swiss watches and particularly Rolex watches are very precisely crafted mechanical instruments with a performance comparable to the best and most demanding machines – large and small - in regular use.

    The insurance that underpins the performance of a Rolex watch lies in comprehensive, regular service maintenance and then, only by competent, Rolex-trained technicians who have, at their disposal, all of the genuine Rolex components that could be needed.

    Just as you would be careful about the condition of a car you proposed buying, you need to be cautious about the inner and outer condition of the Rolex you plan to acquire. You do need to be sure that an overhaul is not in the offing; you need to be sure that major components are in superb working condition and not soon needing to be expensively replaced.

    But, how can you know? What is your level of watchmaking expertise? If you only have a limited technical knowledge you will necessarily need to find a specialist in whom you can place your faith. Whatever your course of action, you must avoid risking your money by taking a chance with someone purported to be or advertising as an ‘expert’.

    Buying tip number three:

    Only buy a Rolex watch if it has been recently serviced by an authorised Rolex Service Centre or a reputable and experienced independent watchmaker known to special in watches of the highest grade and who guarantees his work and the watch’s performance, in writing, for a full calendar year.

    Check list: call / email the dealer and ask following questions:

  • Do you offer a full, written, timekeeping and water resistance guarantee with your watches?

    4. Too good to be true

    Rolex watches, because of their popular, high-end prestige, are, on a daily basis, bought and sold in significant numbers all around the globe. With the rise and expansion of the 21st Century’s internet phenomenon, the market for pre-owned Rolex and other fine watches has literally become world-wide. A consequence has been the international internet prices of these watches has reached a plateau because they skirt around the taxes and duties imposed on home-based retailers. A further consequence is the increased likelihood that, amid the myriad transactions that are conducted every day, some of the watches on offer and purported to be genuine, are anything but. If you think you have stumbled onto the ‘bargain of the century’ from a dealer based in, say, China or the Philippines or Indonesia or even Russia, you may need to apply some sage advice: If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

    The market for pre-owned watches follows the basic premise that the best, the most collectable watches, will be purchased by reputable dealers and moved on to discerning customers and serious collectors. Watches less desirable will thread their way into the retail jewellery market for on-selling to less particular customers and others, poorly informed. Watches in a warn or scarred condition usually languish in pawn brokers or turn up as sale item with online auction houses.

    Serious buyers really do need to wary and not be seduced by predatory dealers and scammers whose specialty just happens to be copy, fake and ‘put together’ watches of downright dubious origin.

    My fourth buying tip is:

    Quality costs money. If the deal sounds too good to be true, then it will be.

    Check list: ask yourself these following questions:

  • What is it that attracts me to this particular watch?
  • Am I getting best possible value for money?

    5. Mileage on the clock

    If you have decided to buy a pre-owned Rolex watch there is something that you really do need to know. All genuine Rolex watches carry a model and serial number and it is essential that your Rolex dealer discloses these numbers to you because they will accurately identify the correct model and the year of manufacture.

    Credible watch dealers will willingly disclose both the model and serial numbers to you and help you decode them so you can be sure about the Rolex you are buying. With these numbers and access to you can verify the authenticity of the watch and, in concert with its appearance, make a determination about its probable level of wear – its mileage, if you like. An exception would apply if the Rolex was a model from the professional range or if it was an antique or, in some other way, unique.

    If your dealer is reluctant, secretive or otherwise unwilling to disclose the model and serial number, you should terminate the transaction because the watch is unlikely to be a bona fide Rolex timepiece. Furthermore, established and reputable Rolex watch dealers must, within 24 hours, record the model and serial number of a newly acquired unit and electronically transmit them to the police. This tracking and tracing system does help to limit sales of dubious Rolex watches while separating the well-established and honest dealers from those to be utterly avoided.

    The fifth buying tip is:

    A Rolex watch serial number is vital information which must be disclosed to the buyer. If the seller is secretive or unwilling to disclose it publicly then you should not deal with him.

    Check list: call / email the dealer and ask following questions:

  • What is the model reference number and serial number of the watch?
  • Have you submitted the serial and model reference numbers to Australian Police?

    6. Tax evasion

    With taxation avoidance not an issue for most civic-minded citizens, some – the devious and selfless in our community – are using whatever methods they can to avoid their national responsibility and, consequentially, are placing an unfair burden on those who take the payment taxation seriously.

    Businesses deliberately avoiding their taxation obligation through dubious practices significantly disadvantage those committed to their taxation responsibility. Some telltale signs that your Rolex dealer is engaging in these illegal practices could be his (or her) insistence that there is no need to be registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST) while repeatedly exceeding the GST threshold; obviously and incorrectly charging a GST rate that is not appropriate; reluctance to provide the purchaser with an authorised business house receipt; generating false invoices; falsifying the identity of the business, business address, Tax File Number (TFN) and or Australian Business Number (ABN). A business operating under these relaxations has a very significant operating cost and overhead advantage when compared with other, ethical establishments complying with regulations.

    The sixth Rolex buying tip is:

    While paying or being paid in cash is not illegal, failing to declare income or account for GST is! Always request a tax invoice and do not deal with a business that will not provide a valid tax invoice or offers “better deals” by selling goods “GST FREE”.

    Check list: call / email the dealer and ask following questions:

  • If I buy a Rolex from you, will you provide an accompanying tax invoice?

    7. Take your time!

    The commitment to and the actual process of buying a Rolex watch is accompanied by a significant level of excitement and, perhaps, an element of trepidation, given the significant financial investment that the purchase represents.

    For the dealer – regardless of his business standing – there is an ever-present need to consummate sales in order to meet overheads and stay in business.

    The ‘across the counter’ buyer/dealer interplay in some establishments may find you under some pressure to seal the deal quickly or risk losing the opportunity to buy or jeopardise the very special offer available today only. The dealer’s expectation will clearly reflect his understanding that you will make the purchase of the Rolex and there will no likelihood at all that you may change your mind or that you could need further time to become self-assured about the transaction.

    Experienced dealers with reputations to protect will not subject a buyer to overt or implied pressure just to make a sale. Your circumstances and decisions will be given the utmost respect with your satisfaction the ultimate objective. A reputable dealer will not hasten the buying process. Rather, the dealer will encourage you to proceed carefully and thoughtfully. A good watch dealer will be more than happy to guide you through the purchase with full and helpful explanations at every juncture. And, if you feel almost committed but would like another day or two to consider the implications of the purchase, you should feel comfortable in asking the dealer to ‘hold’ the watch for you. He will, if he is a considerate and reputable trader, be happy to put the watch aside even without requesting a deposit.

    The purchase of a Rolex watch ought not to be an exception – indeed, such a purchase ought to provide sufficient impetus for you to become familiar with your legal position, your obligations and rights (covering changes of mind, subsequent unsuitability and cheaper options elsewhere) and those of the dealer. Go on line at:

    The seventh Rolex buying tip is:

    Whether you are buying a brand new or pre-owned Rolex, choose carefully! Don’t rush into and don’t be rushed into the deal.

    Check list: call / email the dealer and ask following questions:

  • I would like to do more research. Would you hold a watch for me for day or two without holding deposit?

    8. Be smart, be happy!

    Before you launch into the purchase of a brand new, very fancy and highly prestigious Rolex watch, you should seriously ask yourself if you can really afford it. It’s common for high-end watch dealers to quip that if you have to ask the price, you really can’t afford it. And that may very well be the truth. If it is yet you are set upon owning a Rolex, you ought to consider a sparkling, fully serviced and guaranteed, pre-owned Rolex. Still, if you need to borrow substantially to buy such a watch then my personal and frank advice is that you should be patient and continue to save because buying a luxury watch should be a pleasant experience, not a substantial disruption to your personal or household budget.

    It may surprise you though it’s no secret, the best source of Rolex watches to second hand market are buyers who either made a wrong choice or have financially overcommitted themselves at the outset and find they have to then sell their prized watch to avoid financial embarrassment.

    Rolex buying tip number eight:

    Dealers make money buying Rolex watches from people who cannot afford the luxury then on-sell to those who can. Assess you financial situation carefully and honestly.

    Check list: ask yourself following question:

  • Will my Rolex be an asset or a liability?

    9. It’s all about you!

    The selection of a Rolex watch is a highly subjective process. Watches, like some other possessions, speak volumes about the people owning or wearing or using them. A watch, then, is like jewellery or clothing or even a motor car in that it is a personality reflection.

    A Rolex watch is a very finely crafted timepiece which, in many cases, is not only a classy way of determining the time but a means of calculating other, necessarily important daily data functions.

    Your Rolex should be your choice; your choice of style and design and functionality. The Rolex you pick should reflect your particular and individual taste. Though in the pre-purchase phase you should be receptive to suggestions and embrace some choice flexibility, the Rolex you pay for should be the Rolex you like and desire, not the Rolex someone else wants.

    Buying tip number nine:

    Buy the model you like and one that suits your needs, taste, wearing environment; a watch that will enhance or reinforce your image, look or lifestyle.

    Check list: ask the dealer to

  • Have the watch bracelet adjusted properly to fit your wrist size.

    10. Don’t risk it - insure it!

    Now that you are the proud owner of a Rolex watch, it is appropriate that you insure it. Like any other valuable item on your person or within your household, it is important that your watch is covered for theft, for loss or for damage.

    Although sentimental value can never be adequately covered by insurance, sufficient insurance will enable you to at least buy another Rolex.

    A statistical reminder: The New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics advises that a burglary is committed every minute in Australia and that as few as five percent of those crimes are ever solved by the police. Therefore, the likelihood of your stolen possessions being recovered is very low.

    It is patently evident that for the relatively small cost of insuring your Rolex, the risk of having no cover is a risk not to be taken. The process is straightforward. Contact your insurer immediately you make the purchase and follow up with a fax or email a copy of the Insurance Valuation Certificate. These documents are provided by all reputable watch dealers without cost to the customer.

    My last Rolex buying tip is this one:

    Your Rolex watch is valuable. Insure it!

    Check list: ask your dealer to

  • Provide a free Insurance Valuation Certificate.

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