Recovering a lost or stolen Rolex isn’t easy; however, with a few precautionary steps such as taking photographic documentation of your watch once you buy it and fast-acting techniques like filing a police report immediately after a robbery, with a little luck on your side, you can increase the chances of getting your lost or stolen Rolex back.
It’s no secret that Rolex is one of the world’s most recognizable luxury brands and Rolex watches are becoming increasingly valuable every day. In some circles, a Rolex watch is as good as cash. While this is generally a good thing for Rolex owners, it can attract the wrong kind of attention too. In fact, in July 2022, the Los Angeles Police Department issued an alert about street and follow-home robberies targeting expensive watches, jewelry, and purses.
While we hope you’ll never have to use all the information in this guide, we do want you to be able to recover your lost or stolen Rolex should the unfortunate occasion arise. So read on for some useful tips and info on how to protect yourself, your watch, and the investment that you made in your Rolex.
Protect your Rolex
If you bought your Rolex in the past five years, it’s likely you either suffered on the Rolex waiting list or paid a premium on the grey market. In either case, it deserves to be protected as best you can. We recommend doing the following to lower the chances your Rolex is stolen and to increase the likelihood you’ll be able to recover it should the unfortunate occasion arise:
Document everything you received with your Rolex
Documenting will not prevent your Rolex from being stolen, but it’s one easy thing you can do to increase the odds of recovery if it is. For documentation, take pictures of your Rolex watch and any accompanying papers and boxes that came with it. You’ll want nice clear photographs of the front, back, sides, and bracelet of the watch. What’s more, you’ll want to have images of any warranty cards, receipts, or service records — and make sure the model number and serial number are easily identifiable in the pictures.
Find the reference number and serial number on your Rolex
If you don’t have any papers for your Rolex, you can still find the model and serial numbers on the watch itself. The Rolex model number can be found between the lugs at the 12 o’clock side of the bracelet. On some Rolex watches, the serial number can be found between the lugs on at the 6 o’clock side of the bracelet. Rolex engraved the numbers here when the watch was produced. You may need the help of a jeweler to remove the bracelet so you can access the serial number.
On newer Rolex watches (made from the mid-2000s onwards), the serial number is engraved on the rehaut (also known as the flange, which is the inner metal ring between the dial and crystal) on the 6 o’clock side.
Store your Rolex documentation
Now that you have copies of your documentation, store these images on a password-protected cloud somewhere (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox, even your email). This way you can access them from anywhere with an Internet connection. The last thing you want is for this photographic evidence to be stored on a physical device that can be easily lost.
Having photos of your watch and papers will make it much easier to recover if it’s stolen since the pictures will allow the authorities to easily identify your Rolex and return it should it be found.
Does Rolex register watches?
Rolex does not have an official online registration system, so you can’t just register your Rolex at will. However, Rolex does register watches that have been serviced at Rolex Service Centers. In the U.S., there are three Rolex Service Centers (RSC):
- Rolex Service Center New York
- Rolex Service Center Dallas
- Rolex Service Center Beverly Hills
However, every official Rolex retailer is authorized to receive your watch for service. Therefore, getting a Rolex serviced at an RSC is one roundabout way to get your Rolex registered into the company’s official database.
There are a couple of caveats to this. If your Rolex watch has been customized, modified, or serviced by a third party, Rolex will refuse to service it at an RSC. Also, it’s likely that these service databases are domestic and not shared across borders.
Note: An earlier version of this guide discussed Rolex Tracker, which was a third-party rolex database where users could register their Rolex serial numbers. Rolex Tracker is no longer operating.
Insure your Rolex
It’s generally a good idea to insure expensive products, including luxury watches. That way, even if there’s great sentimental loss, you can at least recoup the financial loss if your Rolex is stolen or lost.
While homeowners insurance or renter’s insurance normally covers theft and loss of possessions, there are likely to be limits. This means a regular policy likely doesn’t cover the replacement value of your lost or stolen Rolex. Often, home insurance policies will offer additional “riders” to insure your Rolex against theft for an additional fee. Take the time to read through your policy and speak to your insurance representative to fully understand your coverage and obtain any additional coverage if needed. This way you can determine what the insurance company will reimburse in the unfortunate event of a robbery.
For high-ticket Rolex watches or if you find your homeowners or renter’s insurance lacking, we recommend checking out WAX Insurance, an insurance company specifically for high-value collectibles including watches that we have recently partnered with. WAX has made it very simple to apply for and insure your watches with a few pieces of information.
With WAX Insurance, premiums on your collectibles can cost as low as 1% of the value of your collection. Pricing is affected by several factors including but not limited to home location, security system, and a safe (depending on asset category).
We always advise doing your own research to make sure that you pick the best watch insurance for your specific needs.
For insurance purposes, update a photo journal of your personal property within your home every couple of years. Also, don’t forget to regularly update the value of the watch according to the current market. If not, you may only be entitled to what you originally paid for it, which may be significantly less than it’s worth today. Be sure to include the make and model of the safe you use to store your watch. Take photos of the watch in the safe and store these somewhere else (such as a cloud service we mentioned above) and not in the same safe.
Avoid a stolen Rolex: safes and smarts
Speaking of safes, it’s probably a good idea to store your expensive watches in a secure spot in your house that only you and important family members can get to. If you leave them lying around, there’s a higher likelihood of them getting pinched during a break-in.
A safe is a classic method to securely store valuables at home (even better if it’s a bolted-down safe) but you may even consider a safety deposit box at a bank for highly collectible Rolex watches that you don’t wear every day.
Regardless of where you keep your watches at home, it’s best not to let too many people know where you like to store them. An expensive Rolex watch may be just too tempting for some to take if the opportunity arises. However, home is of course not the only place that a Rolex can get stolen. If you’re wearing your Rolex out, always be prudent of your surroundings, and understand that many recognize the watch on your wrist as an exceedingly prized item. Consider strongly whether you need to take your watch on that vacation – the answer is probably not.
While the chances are slim of recovering a stolen Rolex, there are stories of people getting reunited years later. Taking steps before anything happens is your best chance of recovering your lost Rolex watch if it is ever stolen.
What To Do If Your Rolex Has Been Stolen
The sooner you take action, the better chance you have to recover your stolen watch. If your Rolex has been stolen, here are the following steps to take:
- File a police report immediately. Make sure to provide any photographs of the watch, along with the serial number and any unique engravings or features of the watch. If you have your Rolex’s documentation outlined above, offer to send it.
- If your watch is insured, call the insurance company as soon as possible. The sooner you get it documented and the more info you provide, the better the chances of recovering the insured value of your watch.
- Submit a report to the Rolex Database of Stolen Watches (more on this below)
- Call around to pawn shops or jewelers in the surrounding areas to inquire about a watch like yours. This may help your chances of recovering your stolen Rolex
- Check Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or online auction sites to see if your stolen Rolex appears for sale
- Consider posting on popular watch forums, such as rolexforums.com, or Facebook groups (like Grey Market on Facebook) that your watch has been stolen along with pictures and a description of the watch and the events that occurred
It might also be worth reporting your stolen Rolex to Jewelers’ Security Alliance as well, which is a non-profit trade association (with over 20,000 members) that works closely with the FBI and local law enforcement agencies. You can also consider reporting the stolen Rolex to thewatchregister.com, which is the largest international database of lost and stolen watches. If your watch turns up for sale at an establishment that checks its inventory with The Watch Register, then it’ll be flagged and you’ll be contacted to recover your Rolex.
The Rolex Database of Stolen Watches
Rolex keeps a database of reported stolen watches. If your Rolex is stolen, you should make a report with them once you have the official police report — and any insurance claims — in hand.
In the United States, you will need to:
- Fill out Rolex’s Missing Watch Report (which you can request from Rolex USA)
- Fax it to Rolex Watch U.S.A., headquartered in NYC (Fax: 212-980-2166, “Attention: Lea DiLuca”)
- Include any additional paperwork with the report such as copies of the police report or insurance claim
If your watch surfaces in an American Rolex service center, it will be checked against the Rolex Database of Stolen Watches. There is a chance that someone buys the watch thinking it is “clean” and sends it for servicing. Once they do, alerts will be set off and the authorities will have all the contact information they need to find the person in possession of your stolen watch.
In short, filling out the Missing Watch Report as quickly as possible may increase the likelihood of recovering a stolen Rolex.
How At Risk Are You Of Having Your Rolex Stolen?
There have been plenty of headlines in the news recently about thefts involving high-priced watches in major U.S. cities. The San Francisco Police Department is investigating an uptick in high-value watch robberies while NYC has had its fair share of Rolex thefts too.
According to the FBI, more than $100 million worth of jewelry is stolen each year — there is even an FBI’s Jewelry and Gem Theft Program to combat this type of crime. Jewelry thieves use fences, which are people hired to sell stolen on behalf of the thieves. The most popular fencing cities in the United States are Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, and New York City.
This information isn’t meant to scare you from enjoying your cherished timepieces, Rolex or otherwise. We just want you to take the necessary precautions to stay safe.
It may seem like a long shot to retrieve your watch after it has been stolen. Dealing with theft and recovering a stolen Rolex isn’t a topic luxury watch owners want to think about. Sentimental value can never be replaced or insured. However, making smart decisions and taking a proactive approach may help in the event your watch is taken from you.
More Guides From Grey Market:
Watch Size Guide: Does Size Really Matter?
Patek Philippe Watches Prices: Historical and Current From Actual Sales Numbers
Rolex Serial Numbers: The Ultimate Guide
How Many Links Does a Rolex Come With?
How Does The Rolex Waiting List Work? Can it Be Avoided?