Our guide to buying a birth-year Rolex

When you buy an engraved watch, it’s a nice touch that adds a little personal significance to something that is likely mass-produced or, at least, very popular. It’s a way of making what you have different to anybody else’s. With an engraving, you can make your watch a one of a kind.

However, there is another way of making your watch even more personal: buying a birth-year watch (specifically, a birth-year Rolex, as the company publicly shares its model manufacturing data).

With a birth-year watch, you can wear something that was ‘born’ the very same year as you. Here’s everything you need to know about buying a birth-year Rolex watch.

Briefly, what is a birth-year watch?

There are a few watch companies that publicly share the manufacture information of their watches, but the most exhaustive and readily available list is provided by Rolex. There is a sentiment within the watch enthusiast community that wearing a birth-year watch is a personal touch that is more significant than an engraving, or perhaps a customised strap.

For sentimental reasons, more people have been collecting birth-year watches. If you want to do the same, we’ve used Rolex’s data and information to collate our guide. Take a look! We’ve separated the sections into three steps.

Buying a birth-year Rolex: step 1

Which model do you want?

The first thing you need to do is decide which Rolex model you want. Will it be the Submariner, or would you prefer to wear a Milgauss? Each has a unique manufacture date, and we’ve included some of the most popular models below alongside their date of manufacture.

Buying a birth-year Rolex: step 2

Locate the reference number on the watch

Now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty, and figure out the Rolex reference number that corresponds to your year of birth. Look for the reference number on the watch, it’s fairly clear to see (it’s etched into the metal of the watchcase). In the reference number, the first digits indicate the approximate time of production and the last digits indicate the material and bezel style of the watch.

We’ve broken down the reference details for the models you can see further up the page.

Rolex Yacht-Master

  • Ref. 16622 = manufactured between 1999-2012
  • Ref. 16628 = manufactured between 1999-2012

Rolex Oysterquartz

  • Ref.190xx (Day-Date) = 1977-2003
  • Ref.170xx (Datejust) = 1977-2003

Rolex Sea-Dweller

  • Ref.16600 = 1989-2009
  • Ref.16660 = 1978 – 1989
  • Ref.1665 “Great White” = 1977 – 1983
  • Ref.1665 “Double Red” = 1967-1977

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

  • Ref. 11652x = 2000 – present
  • Ref. 1652x = 1988 – 2000
  • Ref. 6265 = 1971 – 1988
  • Ref. 6263 = 1971 – 1988
  • Ref. 6264 = 1969 – 1972 
  • Ref. 6262 = 1969 – 1970
  • Ref. 6240 = 1965 – 1969
  • Ref. 6241 = 1965 – 1969
  • Ref. 6239 = 1963 – 1969

Milgauss

  • Ref. 1019 = 1960 – 1988
  • Ref. 6541 = 1956 – 1960
  • Ref. 6543 (prototype) = 1954 – 1956

Rolex Day-Date

  • Ref. 118xxx = 2000 – 2019
  • Ref. 182xx = 1988 – 2000
  • Ref. 180xx = 1977 – 1988
  • Ref. 18xx = 1959 – 1977
  • Ref. 661x = 1957 – 1959
  • Ref. 651x = 1956 – 1957

Rolex GMT-Master & GMT-Master II

  • Ref. 1671x = 1989 – 2007
  • Ref. 16760 = 1983 – 1988
  • Ref. 16700 = 1988 – 1999
  • Ref. 1675x = 1981 – 1988
  • Ref. 1675/x = 1959 – 1980
  • Ref. 6542 = 1955 – 1959

Rolex Submariner & Submariner Date

  • Ref. 1661x = 1988 – 2010
  • Ref. 14060/14060M = 1990 – 2012
  • Ref. 168000 = 1988 – 1989
  • Ref. 1680x = 1979 – 1988
  • Ref. 1680/x = 1967 – 1979
  • Ref. 5514 = 1972 – 1978
  • Ref. 5513 = 1962 – 1989
  • Ref. 5512 = 1959 – 1978
  • Ref. 5510 = 1958 – 1959
  • Ref. 5508 = 1958 – 1962
  • Ref. 6536/1 = 1955 – 1959 
  • Ref. 6536 = 1955
  • Ref. 6538 = 1954 – 1959 
  • Ref. 6200 = 1954
  • Ref. 6205 = 1954 – 1955
  • Ref. 6204 = 1953

Rolex Explorer & Explorer II

  • Ref. 114270 = 2000 – 2010
  • Ref. 16570 = 1989 – 2011
  • Ref. 14270 = 1989 – 2000
  • Ref. 16550 = 1985 – 1989
  • Ref. 1016 = 1963 – 1989
  • Ref. 1655 = 1971– 1985
  • Ref. 6610 = 1956 – 1963
  • Ref. 6150 = 1954 – 1959
  • Ref. 6350 = 1953 – 1954

Rolex Datejust

  • Ref. 162xx = 1988 – 2005
  • Ref. 160xx = 1977 – 1988
  • Ref. 16xx = 1960 – 1977
  • Ref. 66xx = 1955 – 1960
  • Ref. 63xx/ Ref. 61xx/ Ref. 60xx/ Ref. 50xx/ Ref. 44xx = Pre 1955

Buying a birth-year Rolex: Step 3

Look for the serial number to get manufacture year

After having done the research into which Rolex model you want, have a look for the serial number to get the exact date of manufacture. You should note that since 2010, Rolex started using random serial numbers – so it’s unfortunately impossible to get an exact date for watches manufactured after 2010.

All you need to do at this point is cross-reference the serial number on your Rolex with the one in the list here, and you’ll get your exact year,

Do you have watch protection for your Rolex?

Now that you’re able to get yourself a birth-year Rolex, you should look into getting a watch case. We have a vast range of cases available, so be sure to take a look. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled over on our blog section for all watch-related updates.

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