How to Easily Read a Rolex Reference Number (Color-Coded)

How to Easily Read a Rolex Reference Number (Color-Coded)
April 3, 2023 5 min read
How to Easily Read a Rolex Reference Number (Color-Coded)

For watch enthusiasts and collectors alike, Rolex reference numbers are more than just a string of digits; they represent a fascinating story behind each timepiece, revealing details about its design and materials. As one of the world's most renowned luxury watchmakers, Rolex has continuously evolved its reference number system to accommodate the expanding range of models and innovations over the years. Whether you're a seasoned collector or simply curious about the intricacies of these iconic timepieces, join us as we delve into the captivating world of Rolex reference numbers. Please understand that this guide may not work for the watch you are attempting to identify. Some older watches won't usually follow this pattern.

 

WHERE TO LOCATE YOUR REFERENCE NUMBER

For all Rolex watches, the reference number will be located in-between the lugs at the 12 o'clock end, (the top) of the watch. The only way to get to the reference number is by disconnecting the bracelet from the head of the watch.

Yellow Gold Rolex Lady-Datejust laying down showing the location of the reference numberYellow Gold Rolex Lady-Datejust laying down showing the location of the reference number

At the top of the watch, you will find the reference number

 

HOW TO EASILY READ A ROLEX REFERENCE NUMBER

Rolex Milgauss gallery shot with the reference number color codedRolex Milgauss gallery shot with the reference number color coded

Rolex Milgauss with a Domed Bezel in Stainless Steel with a Green Sapphire Crystal

 

 

LET'S BREAK THAT DOWN

Rolex Model - The first 3-4 digits

Bezel Type - The second to last digit

Material - The last digit

Letter Code - Some watches will have a string of letters at the end. This is commonly used on watches that are set with gemstones or have unique features

 

ROLEX MODEL

The first 3-4 digits of the reference number tells you the exact model of Rolex watch you have. The numbers shown here are the potential starting numbers to your reference number.

(116400GV)

 

1908 - 525-

Air-King - 43-, 49-, 55-, 57-, 65-, 140-, 114-, 1169-, 1269-

Cellini - 41-, 42-, 51-, 52-, 53-, 61-, 66-

Cosmograph Daytona - 62-, 165-, 1165-, 1265-

Date 34 - 15-, 150-, 115-, 1152-

Datejust 31 - 682-, 782-, 1782-, 2782-

Datejust 36 - 66-, 16-, 160-, 162-, 1162-, 1262-

Datejust 41 - 1263-

Datejust II - 1163-

Day-Date 36 - 65-, 18-, 180-, 182-, 183-, 1181-, 1182-, 1183-, 1282-, 1283-

Day-Date 40 - 1182-, 2282-, 2283-

Day-Date II - 2182-

Day-Date Masterpiece - 189-

Deepsea - 1166-, 1266-

Explorer - 1142-, 1242-, 2142-

Explorer II - 165-, 2165-, 2265-

GMT-Master - 65-, 16-, 167-

GMT-Master II - 167-, 1167-, 1267-

Lady-Date 26 - 69-, 691-, 791-, 792-, 1791-, 1793-

Lady-Datejust 26 - 690-, 691-, 791-, 792-, 1791-, 1793-

Lady-Datejust 28 - 2791-, 2793-

Lady-Yacht-Master - 696-, 1696-

Milgauss - 65-, 10-, 1164-

Oyster Perpetual 24 - 760-

Oyster Perpetual 26 - 1762-

Oyster Perpetual 31 - 77-, 1772-, 2772-

Oyster Perpetual 34 - 102-, 152-, 1152-, 1242-

Oyster Perpetual 36 - 1160-, 1260-

Oyster Perpetual 39 - 1143-

Oyster Perpetual 41 - 1243-

Oysterquartz  - 170-, 190-, 191-

Pearlmaster 29 - 802-, 803-, 803-

Pearlmaster 34 - 812-, 813-

Pearlmaster 39 - 862-

Sea-Dweller - 166-, 1166-, 1266-

Sky-Dweller - 3261-, 3269-, 3362-

Submariner - 55-, 140-, 1140-, 1240-

Submariner Date - 16-, 166-, 168-, 1166-, 1266-

Turn-O-Graph - 162-, 1162-

Yacht-Master 35 - 686-, 1686-

Yacht-Master 37 - 2686-

Yacht-Master 40 - 166-, 1166-, 1266-

Yacht-Master 42 - 2266-

Yacht-Master II - 1166-

 

BEZEL TYPE

The second-to-last digit in a Rolex reference number indicates the bezel type of the watch for the Air-King, Date, Datejust, Day-Date, Explorer I/II, Lady-Date, Lady-Datejust, Milgauss, Oyster Perpetual, Sky-Dweller, and Turn-O-Graph models only.

(116400GV)

 

0 - Smooth/Domed

1 - Engine Turned/Rotatable

2 - Engraved

3 - Fluted

4 - Gem-Set 

6 - Rotatable

7 - Various

8 - Gem-Set

 

MATERIAL TYPE

The final digit in the reference number tells you what material the watch is. This applies to all Rolex watches.

(116400GV)

 

0 - Stainless Steel

1 - Stainless Steel & Rose Gold

2 - Stainless Steel & Platinum

3 - Stainless Steel & Yellow Gold

4 - Stainless Steel & White Gold

5 - Rose Gold

6 - Platinum

7 - 14k Yellow Gold / RLX Titanium

8 - Yellow Gold

9 - White Gold

 

Want to delve deeper into the world of Rolex's number system? Check out our journal entry on how to decode Rolex serial numbers, here.

 

ROLEX LETTER CODES

The Rolex letter codes tell you what kind of gemstones adorn the watch or other unique features of the watch.

(116400GV)

 

BLRO (Bleu/Rouge) - Blue and red bezel

BLNR (Bleu/Noir) - Blue and black bezel

CHNR (Chocolat/Noir) - Brown and black bezel

GRNR (Gris/Noir) - Black and gray bezel

GV (Glace Verte) - Green sapphire crystal

LB (Lunette Bleu) - Blue bezel

LN (Lunette Noir) - Black bezel

LV (Lunette Verte) - Green bezel

RBR - Rolex branded rehaut

SABLV (Saphirs Bleu Verte) - Watch set with blue and green sapphires

SABR (Saphirs, Brillants) - Watch set with sapphires and diamonds

SACO (Saphirs Cognac) - Watch set with cognac-colored sapphires

SAFUBL (Saphirs Fuchsia Bleu) - Watch set with fuchsia and blue sapphires

SAJOR (Saphirs Jaune Orange) - Watch set with yellow and orange sapphires

SANR (Saphirs Noir) - Watch set with black sapphires

SARU (Saphirs, Rubis) - Watch set with sapphires and rubies

TBR - Watch set with diamonds

TEM - Watch set with emeralds

 

CONCLUSION

Now that you know how to easily read a Rolex reference number, try your best on decoding these reference numbers and see how you do!

(Click on the reference number to see a photo of the watch and see if you are correct.)

 

 

How did you do? How many did you get right?

Let us know in the comments.

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