How Long Will a Rolex Last? Rolex Through Generations

Rolex Submariner 16610

How Long Will a Rolex Last? Rolex Through Generations

If you pay thousands of dollars, maybe even tens of thousands of dollars for a Rolex watch, you obviously expect it to last for a long time.

But how long will a Rolex watch last?

That’s what we will answer in this article.

A Rolex watch is not cheap when you compare it to the wide spectrum of prices when it comes to wristwatches. Rolex is somewhere at the top when it comes to prices, even though there are of course much more expensive alternatives.

With the price tag of a Rolex watch, you naturally expect it to offer impressive build quality and long-lasting durability. And it does. Rolex is a watch brand that consistently has strived for perfection over the years. It’s not a company about revolution, more so evolution.

Rolex takes small but consistent steps in order to improve and perfect its quality and luster over the years, you can definitely say they have done a good job doing so.

Something that is evident with Rolex is that in recent decades, they have focused on improving their watches so that they look just the way they do when they are brand new, many years later. Or, at the very least, as similar as possible.

Rolex OysterQuartz Datejust Reference 17000

When you look at the models that Rolex has released, you will see that the brand has released different versions of the same models. The Submariner, for example, has been produced in a bunch of different references, including 6528, 5512,5513, 16610, 114060, and many more.

While the design can vary more or less between new references and their preceding versions, each reference has been improved in one way or another. And if you look at the whole picture, the Rolex watches of today are built to look just the way they do today, 50 years from now. This is thanks to materials such as ceramic inserts, robust  904L stainless steel, and Superluminova.

Rolex Datejust 1601 silver dial

How long will a Rolex last?

There is no exact answer to this question, but one thing is sure, and that is that a Rolex watch can last for generations.

There are many vintage watch enthusiasts who collect vintage Rolex watches, and what you will find is that many of the popular vintage models are from the 1940s, 1950s, or even older than that. And these are of course perfectly functioning.

Sure, these old Rolex watches have many signs of aging such as discolored lume plots, potential rust, aged dial, faded bezel inserts, and worn case and bracelet, but they are very much still in working condition. Especially after service by a skilled watchmaker.

And worth having in mind is that all of these signs of aging are what vintage watch collectors appreciate about a vintage Rolex watch as it is what gives them character and appeal.

This brings us to the next point, which is servicing

How long will a Rolex last? Servicing

A Rolex watch will last forever, really. But there’s a difference between simply having the watch or having a functioning watch that is still performing by keeping good time.

A Rolex watch is a mechanical piece of engineering, and like all mechanical things, it needs looking after in order to function properly.

When it comes to movements, Rolex is known for making robust workhorses that continue ticking year after year. We have had many customers who have had a Rolex for ten, or even twenty years on the wrist and never had it serviced, yet still, it is keeping perfect time. This is impressive, to say the least, but eventually, your Rolex watch will need a service.

Rolex Submariner 16610

A Rolex movement can continue to tick for a long time without a service, but if you want to make sure that your movement is in perfect operating condition, it is good to have it serviced occasionally. 

The movement is the thing that is most delicate about a Rolex watch, and normally what people discuss when they ask how long a Rolex will last. A Rolex is a watch meant to tell the time, and when it doesn’t anymore, it is not doing its job.

There are always repairs & servicing

What is so amazing about a Rolex watch is that if your Rolex watch has stopped working, you can take it to a watchmaker who gets the watch fixed, and up and running again. Regardless if it is close to 100 years or if it is 20 years. A Rolex movement can almost always be fixed unless it has severely rusted, where it would be cheaper to simply replace the whole movement.

A Rolex watch can be fully functioning with a faded bezel, an aged dial, and yellowed lume plots, but if the movement is not serviced when it needs it, the watch will ultimately stop working.

But the bottom line is still that if you service your Rolex movement regularly, or when it needs it, there really is no limit to how long a Rolex will last. It can last forever. This is also what makes a Rolex watch such a great heirloom that can be passed on from generation to generation.

Rolex Submariner 16610 VS 14060

Each new Rolex watch that is sold has a five-year warranty, which means that Rolex guarantees that your watch will be running perfectly for five years. Furthermore, if you have your watch serviced at an official Rolex service center, then you will get a further 2-year warranty on the watch.


So how long does a Rolex last? 

The answer is that if it is properly serviced when it needs it, it will last forever.

If you do not do anything with your watch, but simply use it, your Rolex watch will most likely be in working order for ten years fifteen years, twenty years, or even longer. What affects how long a Rolex watch lasts is how you use it. The more stress you expose the movement to, the faster the movement will be worn. If you wear your watch a few times a week and don’t expose your watch to shocks or extreme temperatures, it is possible that your watch will continue to work for several decades. However, if you wear your watch while swimming, bicycling, or even playing golf, then naturally the movement will be worn faster. 

What happens with a movement over time regardless of how you wear your watch is that the mainspring will wear out and the lubricants will dry out. When the lubricants dry out, the movement will suffer damage as there will be more friction on the parts. This can mean that a watchmaker will need to replace parts when it is finally serviced as they have worn out.

8 thoughts on “How Long Will a Rolex Last? Rolex Through Generations

  1. i contacted Rolex service center Singapore and they advice me that they do not guarantee that the service on tritium dial is perfect. meaning that when they remove the hour, min and sec hand, they may crack the tritium. We are paying a premium and no 100% on the workmanship. is this a joke.

    1. Hi!
      I understand your frustration, but for most services, replacement of hands is included due to the fact that they are so delicate and can easily break/become damaged when removing them (which is a necessity in order to service the movement).

      For newer watches, it does not really matter to have the hands changed, but it’s a bit more tricky with vintage watches. And the hands are of course even more delicate when they are vintage.

      Wish you the best of luck!

  2. Is 1980 pre owned Datejust watch worth buy it? I was thinking to get one and the watch seems pretty good condition but I just don’t know if buying a 40 years old watch if can last for awhile. Thanks

    1. Hi!
      It comes down to personal preference.
      A Rolex watch will last for generations if taken care of properly and regularly serviced.
      A Rolex Datejust is a true classic that really never goes out of style.

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches


    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

  4. My parents saved and saved in order to give me a Rolex watch for my high school graduation. The one they chose was/is a beautiful white gold time piece, which came with a black leather cord strap. I don’t know the model number. I saved my money and managed to purchase a diamond bracelet for my treasured watch. I wore it proudly for many years. The time was always spot on. That was 50 years ago. I love this watch. When my son was born, my husband purchased a Gucci watch with changable bezzels for me for Mother’s Day. So I wore that watch for many years, leaving my Rolex in my jewelry box. Any time I wanted to wear it, all I had to do was set the time and wind it, period. A few years ago, my watch needed servicing. The jewelry store which sold my parent’s my watch is no longer in business. I took my watch to the only Rolex dealer in the area. They were reluctant to service it. I was told that my watch has little value, that the bezzle is not a real white saphire (as told to my parents) and they offered to “pay” me for the price of the weight in gold. I took my watch to other jewelers, who all pointed me back to the (seemingly unscrupulous) Rolex jeweler. I couldn’t afford at the time to have the watch sent back to Switzerland (which they offered to do for a small fortune), but offered another way to fix it, which was still a few hundred dollars. I proudly wore my watch again, after the “repair” until I needed to change the time. Now, everytime I try to set the time on my Rolex, I can’t return it to the wind position. I’m reluctant to take it back to the Rolex dealer. I would love to have it put back in original condition. Is there any way to do that?

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for sharing this story. It’s very rare that a Rolex watch is only worth its value in gold. If some parts are aftermarket (not original Rolex and added later on), Rolex will refuse to service it as it has been tampered with and is considered non-original according to them. With that said, you can go to any non-official Rolex retailer and ask them to help you restore it to have all-original parts. If they are not able to assist you to find parts, you can always look on sites like Chrono24 and try to source the parts you need yourself and then go to a watchmaker to assist with changing the parts.

      If you don’t want to change any parts, you can always go to a non-authorized Rolex retailer as they are not obligated to follow Rolex’s strict rules for servicing a watch in regard to aftermarket parts etc. Just make sure that the watchmaker you turn to is reputable, experienced, and know what they are doing so that it is serviced properly.

      Hope this helps!

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

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