Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pre-owned Rolex Watches

I definitely do NOT consider myself a luxury watch expert, but at Handiwork Jewelry in Memphis, I have had the opportunity to observe and learn a lot about a few watch brands, especially the well known Rolex watch. In spite of the general awareness and appreciation of Rolex, I am actually more partial to the Cartier, but we shall save that luxury watch brand for another day.

In my personal opinion, I believe the above pictured Rolex Datejust with a two-tone Jubilee band is the most classic and iconic image of a Rolex watch. This style and design has also been replicated and copied as much as possible by other brands and replica Rolex companies. Many people may ask, "Why would I spend so much on a watch? A Timex costs less than $50!"

To that, all I can say is that you pay for what you get, and the fact that Rolex watches from the early 1900s are still traded and collected tells us that they are an investment, a timepiece that can be passed on throughout generations. I also have a Timex, but I do not plan to gift this reliable but velcro strap watch on to my great grandchildren.

The most common question at Handiwork Jewelry is often the simple, "How do I know this is a real Rolex?" This is truly a dilemma, even for jewelers, as fake Rolexes are getting better each year. There are several sites scattered throughout the internet that assist in explaining, like this one:

Here are my top ten hints for beginners based on experience and research.

1. Genuine Rolex watches do NOT have clear backs.
[Image from]

There are few instances where people prefer this clear back and will go out of their way to purchase an aftermarket part, but Rolex does NOT release their watches with this backing.

2. Authentic Rolex watches do NOT have a battery. An oscillator is at the heart of each movement, which means it will keep ticking as long as it is on your wrist. If set down for 48 hours, you will need to give it a gentle shake to jumpstart the Rolex and its infamous perpetual, self winding, movement.

3. The second hand does NOT have a smooth sweeping movement. This is also related to the oscillator, which ticks five to eight times per second, and accounts for its precision as a reliable time piece. Many watches have second hands that "tick" versus "sweep."

4. The cyclops "bubble" magnifying piece over the date of the watch does NOT make the number larger (2.5x). When examining a genuine Rolex watch, you will notice the number without the cyclops is normal sized, while with the bubble it is larger.

5. The model number (at 12 o'clock) and serial number (at 6 o'clock) SHOULD be found upon removing the watch band, along the case between the lugs. For a reference of years based on serial numbers, see here:
Model Number

Serial Number

Something new to be on the lookout for? Since 2006, the serial number usually located where the band meets the case has been moved to the inside face of the watch -- under the rim of the bezel.

6. The Rolex crown icon SHOULD be found on the stem, and there should be a line or three dots under it. The detail of the crown should look crisp with clean lines.

7. The Rolex crown icon SHOULD be found on the buckle of the watch bracelet.

8. Pins connecting the watch links of the bracelet do NOT have split pins like the average watch. They SHOULD have a small slot for easy removal with a screwdriver.

9. The back of the watch does NOT easily come off. Authentic Rolex watches have a grooved backing that fits 144 small teeth.

10. The BEST way to get a 99% accuracy is to open the back of the watch with special Rolex case opening tools that come in different sizes. The distinctive red gears and detailed precision of the movement have eluded many Rolex replica companies.

Those afraid of making a mistake should either consult a jeweler, purchase a pre-owned watch with its original box and certificate of authentication, or trust a reptuatble, well established jeweler. There are authorized dealers selling and maintaining new Rolex watches, and there are small, family owned jewelry stores like Handiwork Jewelry in Memphis who sell pre-owned Rolex watches, backed by a personal guarantee of their authenticity.

To wrap up, please take a look at some recommended sites I came across while writing this post.

For the most recent releases, models, and trends, definitely visit the official Rolex site.

For a history of the London based Rolex company (originally Wilsdorf & Davis) since 1905, be sure to check out this site:

My favorite highlights include: (1) originally women wore wristwatches in the 1800s, while men carried pocketwatches -- Wilsdorf of Rolex was determined to make a precise and reliable wristwatch to withstand the moisture and dirt associated with daily wear; (2) the water resistant nature lead to its current Rolex "Oyster" name; (3) and Mercedes Gleitze swam the English Channel TWICE, but her wrist was a bit heavier the second time as she sported a Rolex presented to her by Wilsdorf.

For watch aficionados and luxury watch collectors, vintage Rolex watches (no longer produced) are in a league of their own, with certain model numbers more coveted than others. I recommend this site for more information on Submariners:

Rolex watch enthusiasts will also appreciate the informative details and high definition pictures on this site:

If you want to start dabbling into other luxury watch brands, I also recommend this site:

P.S. As a scuba diver, I appreciate the water resistance of Rolex and other watch brands to certain depths. The ironic truth, however, is that is not recommended to wear something too shiny with metal in the water, as sea creatures will mistaken it for glistening shimmers of small fish or luring tackle.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Valentine's Day Specials

Happy Hearts Day is arriving in just a little over a week!

We are running a few specials at Handiwork Jewelry

Save up to 30% on our great selection plus receive a FREE pearl bracelet (valued at $50) when you purchase $250 or more.

24 Karat Gold Roses are $55

Precious gemstone color rings, like this smoky topaz ring, are only $99

A heart pendant with 1.00 Carat of baguette and round diamonds is only $249

We will be open Valentine's Day on Saturday, February 14th from 10am to 6pm

Replacing Watch Straps

We get a fair number of customers at Handiwork Jewelry asking us for replacement watch straps, and I have usually been unable to provide concrete assistance, besides suggesting Target or Macy's. Today I found a great site with reasonable prices and selection. It is called, and I was able to find an elusive 6mm leather band!

They teach you how to properly measure the width of the watch strap you will need to order here. Just take a ruler or measuring tape and find the distance between the two lugs, the point where the strap meets the edge of the watch.

Installation is relatively easy, because there is a spring loaded pin which can be depressed into the pin hole of the lug. I find the small tip of eyeglass screws helpful.

Straps, especially leather ones, are susceptible to daily wear, tear, and believe it or not, stink! Some people like to buy different colored watch straps for the different seasons, white for spring and black for winter, etc. More commonly, the leather simply cracks and breaks. Metal straps sometimes have to be replaced if an important piece like the buckle or connector between the lug and strap is lost or broken. I have also seen folks come in with expansion or flexible watch straps that are too big, and these can not be adjusted, but you can buy a smaller expansion strap. Be sure to check out! They're officially for original Timex replacement straps, but it fit my non-Timex watch just fine.

For specific replacement straps by brands, try

Good luck!