Guide To Buying A Modern Rolex Submariner

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Written by ablogtowatch
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The  Rolex Submariner is undoubtedly one of the most popular and sought after wristwatches in modern history. For whatever reason you want to buy one, it can be a daunting task for the uninitiated (if you're new to this, check out our guide on  How to Determine the Best Price for a Watch on eBay). This guide is not concerned with the various motivations one might have for buying a modern (not vintage) Rolex Submariner, only what to look out for when you decide that it's a watch you need in your life. Rolex Submariner watches are a well-known classic and thus have a high degree of collectability. This means the second-hand market for them is more competitive than most other watches of a comparable age or complexity.
A modern Rolex Submariner "No Date" Ref. 114060
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A modern Rolex Submariner "No Date" Ref. 114060

Firstly, do your research. Every model's average price will fluctuate.  Also, there are many Submariner styles to choose from. Not only are there lots of official models, there are high-end customisations on the market also. Despite some positive reviews, auction results are mixed and far more unpredictable than the money expected for a standard model with comprehensive provenance.
Always be sure to search for variations, such as "Rolex Submariner Green" as well as reference numbers.
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Always be sure to search for variations, such as "Rolex Submariner Green" as well as reference numbers.

The Models

First off, you must set a limit on how much you want to spend. This is such common advice it shouldn't need saying, but do not forget it. It's too easy to become emotionally attached to the idea of a watch. If it goes too high, forget it. Another one will be along before you know it. As watch collectors already know, prices for models can vary by something as seemingly minor as a limited edition colour. Take the   Rolex Submariner Ref. 16610 and compare to the prices of the green bezel versions, the Submariner Ref. 16610V and Ref. 16610V. Deciding to pay the "collector's premium" is up to you, but values for both hold very well. Stainless steel models are going to be the most affordable, for the most part. You can expect to spend anywhere between £5,000-£10,000 in this category.
The two-tone Rolex Submariner 116613lb.
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The two-tone Rolex Submariner 116613lb.

If you're looking for a bit more flash, you can step up to the two-tone steel and gold models. Two popular versions are the two-tone Ref. 11613 and Ref. 116613. You're going to be just around (and likely, above) the £10,000 mark for a pre-owned version of these. Finally, for the big spenders - you can opt for the solid 18k gold Submariners. Take a look at the Ref. 16618 and Ref.  116618, which are going to cost you between £15,000-£30,000. Now, that may sound like a lot of money (and it is), but we're talking about a solid gold version of one of the most popular and value-retaining timepieces in history.
Did you know it takes just about a year to make a Rolex watch?
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Did you know it takes just about a year to make a Rolex watch?

Due Diligence

As with any decent watch, but especially one as popular as the Submariner, you've got to be sure it's genuine. It has to contain 100% genuine Rolex parts or it's not worth touching. It's okay if the parts aren't original (if, for example, they've been replaced by a service performed by a certified Rolex watchmaker), but they have to be Rolex. A good way of checking the watch is a genuine Rolex is to look for the laser-etched crown logo on the front sapphire crystal just above six o'clock. Most Rolex owners don't even know it's there, but it has to be or the watch is not worth buying. If there aren't any close-ups on the listing, or any mention of it in the description. Message the seller and request a macro shot of the glass. If it's all above board then this shouldn't be a problem. 
  
A good way to prove original ownership, is the possession of all the paperwork. Ask the seller for pictures of this. If they have proof of purchase, even better. It would also be hugely beneficial if the seller has any details of previous service history (receipts and official service notes from Rolex, for example). 
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Obviously, the Rolex Submariner is a dive watch (one of the best). So you want to make sure it can perform its primary function. Ask for close-up shots of the crystal gasket; enquire as to whether the watch is frequently in contact with water (especially salt water); ask if condensation has ever appeared on the inside of the crystal. 
Request shots of the movement if available. Scrutinise the bridges and wheels for watermarks and check any exposed brass for discolouration that could be the first signs of oxidisation. Brass will react quicker than steel and is a great indicator of ghosts in the machine. Look carefully at the dial paint too – dials are made of painted brass. If there's a moisture problem beneath the dial, it might start to show on the surface before it does anywhere else. A natural, sun-bleached patina on a dial is not really a bad thing – some collectors love a natural fade – but I always like to stick as close to new condition as possible. It protects your investment and promises to be a much happier transaction.

Finally, enjoy! For whatever reason you want a Rolex Submariner - enjoy it! Too often  people treat watches with kid-gloves. Rolex Submariners are tough. Really tough. So, enjoy it, show it off, and be ready for some jealous stares. And, if you're ready - don't forget to look at  20 Rolex Submariners Worth Checking Out.
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