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Confused About Rolex Models? Let us help.

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“I have a 26mm Rolex, will your dial fit my watch?” This is he question that I hear almost every day. 25mm, 26mm, 27mm, 28mm… some people even measure their watches and ask for 26.5mm Rolex… Why is there so much confusion regarding this matter? Lets try to look at the root of this issue.

Not so long ago the things were much simpler – Rolex had only a few models currently being produced and the consumers well understood their watch sizes. But everything had changed when the information became widely accessible to everyone. If not so long ago you would have to go to the store to see a watch and decide which one you’d want, today you can just open your computer and see what this watch model looks like – pictures, videos, and etc.

It did not take long for an average consumer to realize that almighty Rolex has been selling the same model for decades. And most people start wondering why would they purchase a brand new Rolex, pay lots of money for it, and get an identical watch available second-hand, but for much less.

Rolex had to protect their interests. First they went after unauthorized sellers. Somehow many consumers got convinced that, unless you buy your watch from an authorized Rolex dealer, the watch would be fake. Lots of money was spent on bashing “unauthorized sellers” and creating public opinion, but also on litigating jewelers, and creating policies, which would prohibit the sales and service of Rolex watches by unofficial sellers and repairmen. That did not work.

When Rolex realized that their techniques are not working, they decided to change the way customers perceive their timepieces. New models start popping out every year: new sizes, more confusion, and more sales for Rolex. However, it is not that easy to come up with an entirely new watch… after all this product which has been around for over a hundred years, new technology has not been developed, and the watches today are almost the same as they were in the past.

My favorite example – Rolex 6917, produced back in the 70s. At some point in time Rolex called this model “DATE”, then “DATEJUST”. The name change was done without making any changes to the watch – just a different name, but the same model number, same case, same movement, same hands, and etc. However, people got really confused about it. When I tell them it is the same watch, they don’t believe me… and I can’t blame them – why would Rolex do such a thing? The answer is very simple – Rolex is in business of making money and lots of money.

After that “experiment” Rolex became more creative. All the models were classified according to the metal they are made from: gold watches got new 5-digit model numbers ending with 8 (for yellow gold) or 9 (for white gold); all stainless steel models got numbers ending with 0 (for all-stainless models) and 4 (for stainless/white gold models), and finally 3 (for watches made from yellow gold and stainless steel). We all quickly adapted to the new classification, because it was simple and just made sense. I, personally, loved it. And it did not take long to realize that those are the same watches, just made from different metals.

Nowadays, Rolex start using millimeters to classify their watches (in addition the actual model numbers). Plus, they are employing many parts and ideas from the past. For instance Rolex Day-Date had a flat dial since the 80s; now it is a dial very similar to mid-size and ladies’ models (just larger in diameter). I can’t think of the rational behind it, other than making it harder for consumers to purchase a dial from the older model and install it on their new Day-Date. Ladies models did become larger, but it is only a visual difference – the dials are still the same, the bezels are still the same… for now at least. It will change, since right now you can take a dial from a 30 y.o. Rolex Lady-Datejust and it will fit just fine into the brand new Rolex.

Only the time will show what Rolex will come up with. But for now we have to deal with all the confusion and patiently explain to our customers that their Rolex 28 is the same watch as Rolex 27, just with a slightly larger case. In a meantime, don’t hesitate to ask questions – I’m here to help.

  • Rolex
  • Datejust
  • dial
  • face
  • 28mm
  • 27mm
  • 26mm
  • 40mm
  • 36mm

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