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Illustrations by Mr Nick Hardcastle

So you want to buy a Rolex. The reasons are irrelevant - perhaps you were in Milan and liked the way the suave locals were wearing them, or maybe you just got a nice bonus. Regardless, once you have made the decision, you are likely to start some online research. The next thing you know, you're seriously overwhelmed, reading about vintage Bart Simpson dials and Single vs Double Reds, and lying awake at night wondering how to tell an original Paul Newman dial from a repainted one. Relax! Just stick to the tips I have outlined above and not only will your watch-loving friends be impressed by your superior take, but there will be a smile on your face every time you glance at your wrist and see the face of an expertly considered Rolex looking right back at you.


You may fall for, or obsess over, the first Rolex you see, and want to buy it immediately. Don't. Get a bit of perspective - Rolex made more than half a million watches in each of the past 25 years alone. Do your research, bide your time and find a source you trust - it will be worth the wait.

Don't enter into a marriage that will never work. Sometimes you will find a 1980s watch with a 1970s dial, or a Submariner with a bracelet that was only ever used on other models. While it may be attractive, it is wrong, and not only will it be hard to resell, but once you know the truth it will irritate you every time you glance at your wrist.

There are dozens of books on Rolex watches and even more websites. Take your time, read up and talk to dealers and other collectors before taking the plunge. No hour spent on research is a wasted hour.