Rolex Datejust custom

Rolex with custom dial, custom markers, and custom bezel

There is something to be said about customizing a luxury timepiece. Frank Sinatra did it his way and many watch enthusiast feel the same. Once you have purchased a timepiece it is your prerogative to do with it as you wish, however, be aware of the potential resale issues you might have.

Rolex owns a large portion of the watch market. They have a variety of models ranging from the Air King up to the Cellini King Midas, the difference in price is many thousands of dollars. Rolex, as every major brand (Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Breitling, Panerai etc), invest much of their earnings into research and development, as well as the aesthetics of the timepiece. Money is poured into marketing certain features of a timepiece such as it’s water resistance, anti-magnetism,  gravity resistance,  scratch resistance etc. Customization can compromise the features of a timepiece.

There is a Rolex Day Date Mens President 18k gold, that at first glance, appears it will fetch low to mid five digit figures in its resale. However, upon further review, the crystal is not original nor is the president bracelet. This watch has been customized. Although it’s original crystal was acrylic and its new crystal is sapphire, the water resistance and the aesthetics have been compromised. Where the bezel should sit flush to the case, it now has space. Why?… because the original crystal was formed to precisely fit in conjunction with the bezel and the case. With space between the bezel and the case the opportunity for water to get in is created. Now this beautiful Rolex Day Date President is a mid four digit resale timepiece.

That story and countless others are not bad necessarily. If you choose to exercise your right to customize your luxury timepiece, then by all means do so, so long you are aware of the dangers. From a resale perspective, when you replace the original parts it can become less attractive to collectors, seeking a preserved timepiece, bringing the value possibly down. From an aesthetics stand point, you could be destroying a feature or function detrimental to the workings of the timepiece, again possibly dropping its value. Just be cognizant.

There is a basic formula for understanding customization of a timepiece:

Original Cost - Depreciation after purchase – Customization depreciation (specifically what is customized and how it affects the integrity of the timepiece) + the price of the Customization = True Timepiece Value (TTV)

So If you replace your Rolex Submariner ceramic bezel, valued intact for lets say $8000.00, with a gold diamond bezel costing you $4000.00 to pull off, you have to subtract the dollar amount for customizing the bezel to begin with, coupled with the loss of diamond value (because the value of diamonds are marked up 30-60% from jewelers). You might think your watch is worth $12000.00 ($8000 + $4000) but it’s probably worth 6-8k at best. That is of course your watch is still water resistant.

Know what you are doing or buying before hand and enjoy your luxury watch until it is time to pass it on.

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  1. It was interesting reading this report. Unfortunately, I wish I had read it sooner. I just purchased a used rolex at a jewelry store and they failed to mention that it had a replacement diamond bezel and mother of pearl face. I knew I thought something was different from other watches I had seen as new. Do you think I have any recourse?