Rolex Submariner

We are going to continue to educate and inform about Rolex. Why? We’ve explained before that this is by far one of our most favorite luxury watch brands. This is important to note…all the images that we post are watches we have IN STOCK!! So, if you are in the market to buy OR sell, please let us know as we are always looking for inventory as well. Today let’s discuss Rolex reference numbers.

Rolex reference numbers are one of the most important ones to know, even more than a serial number, which is also important. Rolex reference numbers give you information about your Rolex.

  • Model type – This is the primary purpose of the reference number
  • Materials – The number tells you what materials your watch is made of
  • Production period – The year your watch was manufactured

Where are the Rolex Reference Numbers?

Rolex reference numbers are engraved between the lugs right at the 12 o’clock location on the case. If you remove the bracelet, you will find the reference number on one side, and the serial number on the other side.

Rolex Reference Numbers and the Model

Rolex reference numbers can be from four to six digits. Originally, reference numbers were four digits long, but in the late 1970s, Rolex moved to five-digit reference numbers, and by the end of the 1980s, all reference numbers were 5 digits. Rolex transitioned to 6-digit reference numbers around the 2000s. At this point, they added a “1” to the beginning of the five-digit reference numbers, which can also help you identify the era that a watch was manufactured.

The length of the Rolex reference numbers indicates the following:

  • Four-Digit Reference numbers include Vintage Rolex watches produced before the late-1970s
  • Five-Digit Reference numbers are discontinued Rolex watches produced anywhere from the late-1970s until 1999
  • Six-Digit Reference numbers include Modern Rolex watches produced anywhere from 2000 to present

Rolex Reference Number Model Chart

ModelReference Number Starting DigitsExamples
Air-King55-, 140-, 114-, 116-Air-King ref. 114200 Air-King ref. 116900
Date15-, 150-, 115-Date ref. 1500 Date ref. 115200
Datejust 3168-, 782-, 1782-, 2782-Datejust ref. 17827 Datejust ref. 178240
Datejust 3666-, 16-, 162-, 1162-, 1262-Datejust ref. 116233 Datejust ref. 126234
Datejust II1163-Datejust ref. 116334
Datejust 411263-Datejust ref. 126301
Day-Date 3665-, 18-, 180-, 182-, 183-, 1182-, 1282-Day-Date ref. 128238 Day-Date ref. 118239
Day-Date II2182-Day-Date ref. 218235
Day-Date 402282-Day-Date ref. 228239 Day-Date ref. 228206
Daytona62-, 165-, 1165-Daytona ref. 16528 Daytona ref. 116500
Explorer61-, 63-, 66-, 10-, 142-, 1142-, 2142-Explorer ref. 14270 Explorer ref. 214270
Explorer II165-, 2165-Explorer II ref. 16570 Explorer II ref. 216570
Lady-Datejust679-, 791-, 1791-, 2791-Lady-Datejust ref. 179171 Lady-Datejust ref. 279163
Milgauss65-, 10-, 1164-Milgauss ref. 1019 Milgauss ref. 116400
Oyster Perpetual176-, 177-, 116-, 114-Oyster Perpetual ref. 114300 Oyster Perpetual ref. 116000
Sea-Dweller16-, 166-, 1166-, 1266-Sea-Dweller ref. 116600 Sea-Dweller ref. 126603
Submariner55-, 140-, 1140-Submariner ref. 14060 Submariner ref. 114060
Submariner Date16-, 166-, 168-, 1166-Submariner ref. 16610 Submariner ref. 116618
GMT-Master65-, 167-GMT-Master ref. 1675 GMT-Master ref. 16700
GMT-Master II167-, 1167-, 1267-GMT-Master II ref. 116718 GMT-Master II ref. 126710
Oysterquartz170-, 190-Oysterquartz ref. 17014 Oysterquartz ref. 19018
Yacht-Master 29696-, 1696-Yacht-Master ref. 69622 Yacht-Master ref. 169623
Yacht-Master 31686-, 1686-Yacht-Master ref. 68628 Yacht-Master ref. 168622
Yacht-Master 37268-Yacht-Master ref. 268621
Yacht-Master 40166-, 1166-, 1266-Yacht-Master ref. 126655 Yacht-Master ref. 116622
Yacht-Master 422266-Yacht-Master ref. 226659
Yacht-Master II1166-Yacht-Master II ref. 116680
Sky-Dweller326-Sky-Dweller ref. 326934

Case Materials and Bezel Style

The last digit in five and six-digit Rolex reference numbers indicate the material of the watch. A 4-digit reference number does not apply here. The second-to-last digit in a five or six-digit Rolex reference number indicates the bezel style of the watch for the Datejust, Date, Day-Date, and Oyster Perpetual only.

Rolex Material CodeMaterialExample
0Stainless Steel (Also known as Oystersteel)GMT-Master II ref. 116710
1Two-Tone Steel & Everose Gold (Also known as Everose Rolesor)Datejust II ref. 126331
2Stainless Steel & Platinum (Also known as Rolesium)Yacht-Master ref. 126622
3Two-Tone Stainless Steel & Yellow Gold (Also known as Yellow Rolesor)Submariner ref. 116613
4Stainless Steel & White Gold (Also known as White Rolesor)Datejust ref. 116264
518k Everose Gold (Rolex’s patented rose gold alloy)Sky-Dweller ref. 326935
6950 PlatinumDay-Date ref. 228206
714k Yellow GoldDate ref. 15037
818k Yellow GoldDaytona ref. 116508
918k White GoldGMT-Master II ref. 126719
CodeBezel StyleExample
0Smooth/DomedDatejust II ref. 116300
1Engine-TurnedDate ref. 15210
3FlutedDatejust II ref. 126334
6Turn-O-GraphDatejust “Turn-O-Graph” ref. 116264

Rolex Reference Letters

Some Rolex reference numbers include letters at the end, which signify the color of the bezel or the types of gems used in the bezel. There is only one instance where the letters refer to the color the crystal.  These letters are abbreviations to signify either the color of the bezel or the types of gems used in the bezel. There is one instance where the letters refer to the color of the sapphire crystal.

LettersMeaning & TranslationExample
LNLunette Noir Black BezelSubmariner ref. 116613LN
LVLunette Verte Green BezelSubmariner ref. 116610LV
LBLunette Bleu Blue BezelSubmariner ref. 116618LB
CHNRChocolate-Noir Brown-BlackGMT Master II ref. 126715CHNR
BLNRBleu-Noir Blue-BlackGMT Master II ref. 126710BLNR
BLROBleu-Rouge Blue-RedGMT Master II ref. 126710BLRO
SARUSaphirs-Rubis Sapphires-RubiesGMT-Master II ref. 116758SARU
SANRSapphirs Noir Black SapphiresGMT-Master II ref. 116759SANR
SABRSapphirs-Brilliants Sapphires-DiamondsSubmariner ref. 116659SABR
RBOWRainbow Multi-colored SapphiresDaytona ref. 116595RBOW
GVGlace Verte Green CrystalMilgauss ref. 116400GV

In Conclusion

When you understand how to read the Rolex reference number, it is easier to recognize the details of a specific watch such as materials, bezel, dial color, and which model you have.  If there is a specific reference number that you see above, put together a code and let us see if we can find that watch for you! If you have a Rolex watch to sell, please contact us so we can discuss the reference number on your Rolex.

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