Rolex is a watch brand that does not need much introduction.
Established more than 100 years ago, it was originally just like most other watches, a tool that you used because you needed it. Today, the market is a bit different, and now, the fact that a watch tells the time is more of a bonus for many people. After all, the watch is one of few accessories and pieces of jewelry that a man can wear.
Now, due to Rolex’s increased popularity, and at the same time, quite high price tags, like for all luxury goods, counterfeiters have started producing replicas of Rolex watches. This does of course not come as a surprise, however, Rolex is the most replicated watch brand in the world, and this is something that is very concerning.
In order to tackle the fake watch market, Rolex has taken many different actions. One of those actions is, of course, making watches that hold such perfection and attention to detail that the counterfeiters have a hard time replicating it. The second action is by introducing various subtle details on the watches.
One of those details is the engraved rehaut (inner bezel ring), and this is exactly what we are going to focus on in this article.
Rolex engraved rehaut
The rehaut is the inner bezel ring of a watch which surrounds the dial.
This is also known as the flange, and it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the “chapter ring.” However, this area is not the chapter ring, which is the circular ring on a clock or watch dial on which the minutes (and sometimes the hours) are engraved, attached, or painted.
The rehaut is located just inside the watch crystal. Older Rolex models have a smooth rehaut – these are now engraved, but, they have not always been.
Now, some people like the engraved bezel, but others are actively looking for watches without it. In one way, the introduction of the engraved rehaut can almost be viewed as a transitional change between vintage and modern Rolex history, as it was during the period in which the engraved inner bezel rings that Rolex started ” modernizing” its collection, and introducing watches which are still available to date.
So, what is the Rolex engraved rehaut? As the name suggests, it just means that the rehaut of a Rolex watch is engraved. On the Rolex watches that have engraved rehauts, you will find ”ROLEXROLEXROLEXROLEXROLEX….” engraved. At 6 o’clock, you can find the watch’s serial number engraved. This is a change from the older Rolex watches, as this led to Rolex moving the serial number – from being engraved on the case, to being engraved on the rehaut instead.
Why did Rolex introduce the engraved rehaut?
The introduction of the engraved rehaut was actually an action taken to make it more difficult for counterfeit watches to be instantly recognized, as this type of engraving on the Rolex watch is extremely precise and quite difficult to do. Of course, this worked in the beginning, but counterfeiters soon caught on. They have a hard time reaching the same level of perfection in the engraving as Rolex has, but today, it is still common to see fake watches have engraved rehauts.
A particularly interesting detail about this is that at the beginning of the engraved rehaut era, Rolex photographed its new watches in the way the watch is portrayed below. As a result of this, counterfeiters thought that the ”RolexRolex..” text went all the way around the rehaut, while in reality, the serial number can be found at 6 o’clock.
Also, another reason is that moving the serial number meant making it much more accessible, as you no longer have to remove the bracelet only to see the serial number.
What is particularly interesting is that the way the text is engraved is of course (as you would expect with Rolex) very well-tought through.
When looking at this image:
You can see how the engraving on the rehaut is set up. At 12 o’clock, you have the Rolex crown, followed by ”RolexRolexRolex”. A tiny detail that not many people are aware of is that on the right side of the dial, the engraving stops at the letter X at every five-minute marking. Whereas on the left side of the rehaut, you can see the letter ”R” on all five-minute markings.
This is an excellent way to spot a fake Rolex which has the engraved bezel, as the counterfeit watches have misaligned text, which follows no real structure.
What is interesting about the inner bezel ring engraving is that the text is actually not engraved anymore. Today, the text is laser etched rather than engraved. Compare the engraving above to this early example of the engraving:
The new laser etched rehaut is more visible and has a brighter finish compared to the the older style which is more elegant and subdued.
When was the Rolex engraved rehaut introduced?
The time of which the engraved rehaut was introduced varies between models, as Rolex slowly but surely introduced it for all their models.
In the beginning, Rolex introduced the engraving on many solid gold models, however, the engraving was first introduced on the Turn-o-graph around 2004.
- The Rolex GMT-Master II got engraved rehaut in 2005. This is at the same time as Rolex updated the GMT-Master II model. The new design was initially exclusive to the all-gold version of the watch (ref. 116718); however, the new model featured a number of technical changes. In 2007, the rest of the models got it as well. Sports watches such as the Submariners, Explorer II, Yacht-Master, and Daytona were updated half through the Z serial in 2007.
- The Daytona in stainless steel got it around 2007 with the Z-series. Same applies to the Explorer II 16750.
- The GMT-Master II reference 16710 and Rolex Explorer 14270 never got the engraved rehaut.
- The last of the Explorer 114270 did get the inner engraving. This was near the end of the model run, before Basel when the new one was introduced:
- Most z serial Rolex watches do not have the inner bezel engraving.
- D and F serials overlap and either could have it, just as the Z and M overlap with the rehaut on the Stainless steel models.
- All the 116400 Milgauss have the engraved rehaut.
- All white gold Daytonas on Oyster bracelet have the engraved rehaut. This particular model was introduced at Basel 2004.
Have in mind that a watch can have an earlier serial number (and thus no engraved rehaut) but a certificate that is dated later, as some authorised dealers may have had stock for a longer period of time, and thus surpassing the date of which the updated rehaut was released.