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Do Rolex Papers Matter?

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A Rolex wristwatch when purchased new comes complete with a cardboard outer box, and inner spring loaded presentation box, a watch cushion that fits in between the watch and the band, an owner’s manual, a Genuine Swiss red chronometer hang tag, sometimes a Rolex Swimpruf green hang tag with the watch’s model number, and a warranty card. The diving models such as the Submariner sometimes include a metal anchor. Many times there is a plastic bezel protector and cleaning cloth also included in the presentation box.

When purchasing a pre-owned Rolex, do all these materials matter? It really depends on whether the buyer is purchasing a watch, or the watch complete with the watch’s provenance.  Just like with art, antiques, and other historical items, any extra item that contributes to the story of the piece increases its value. The original boxes, papers, and sales receipts all contribute to the provenance of a watch.  For older vintage watches, the original paperwork helps verify authenticity, as well as adds to the watch’s provenance, especially when the original or one of the owners was famous.  Watches that were worn by famous people, especially during historic events, fetch a premium at auction versus the same watch from the same era without any contributing provenance.

That said, should the absence of box and papers prevent a buyer from purchasing a watch that speak to them. The answer is certainly not.  Unless buying a vintage watch whereby the price is based on the watch’s provenance, original box and papers do not increase the value that much. Buying a watch is not like buying an automobile whereby the owner registration is a legal document required for transferring ownership. Sales receipts and watch documents do help in verifying authenticity and legal ownership, but many Rolex watches are transferred among the secondary market among a network of dealers whereby the watches are in fact authentic and the dealers legally own them, but the original paperwork and packaging may have fallen by the wayside, or the presentation box is sold separately. If the watch is relatively new, especially if less than two years old, the warranty card should be included as the watch is still under warrant by Rolex. Also, if the watch was serviced recently by a Rolex Service Center, a new warranty card is issued re-affirming a two-year warranty by Rolex.

Beckertime watches do not have box or papers as they were not retained by the original owner.  Most Beckertime watches come with a 1 year warranty, operating instructions, and a lifetime trade-up certificate to exchange your Beckertime watch for another one carried in the store.

So, if the Rolex speaking to you is a collector’s item, with high value because of the provenance associated with it, box and papers are certainly justified, especially if the watch is going to stay in a box for display.  If the Rolex speaking to you does not have box and papers, it should not be a deal-breaker because it would be hard to wear the box and papers on one’s wrist.

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