How to Research the Rolex Reference Number

How to Research the Rolex Reference Number

One of the first things we recommend doing when learning how to spot a fake Rolex is researching the reference number. Also known as the model number or style number, the reference number on a Rolex watch contains information about the watch including its age (e.g., if it’s vintage, discontinued, modern, etc.), model type, material type, and bezel type. Having this information allows you to compare the specific watch with its reference number to make sure everything matches up as described.

A Rolex reference number can either be 4-digit, 5-digit, or 6-digit numbers that sometimes include letters too. The length of a reference number roughly determines the age of the watch, as Rolex has added digits to their reference numbers over the years. For instance, 4-digit reference numbers indicate vintage Rolex watches, 5-digit numbers indicate discontinued Rolex watches (although not necessarily vintage), and 6-digit numbers indicate Rolex watches made in 2000 and after.

In both 5 and 6-digit reference numbers, the last digit number indicates the material of the watch. Below is an index of which specific numbers indicate which material(s) when used as the last digit of a watch’s reference number:

  0 = stainless steel

· 5 = rose gold

· 1 = two-tone stainless steel & rose gold

· 6 = platinum

· 2 = two-tone stainless steel & platinum

· 7 = 14k yellow gold

· 3 = two-tone stainless steel & yellow gold

· 8 = 18k yellow gold

· 4 = two-tone stainless steel & white gold

· 9 = white gold


For example, a Rolex Submariner ref. 116610 is a stainless-steel model while a Rolex Submariner ref. 116619 is a white gold model.

Similarly, the second to last digit number indicates the bezel type. This number is a bit more complex, with certain numbers signifying different bezel types for different Rolex watch collections. For example, the number 0 as the second to last digit of the reference number for a Rolex Sea-Dweller indicates it has a rotating bezel. Whereas a 0 as the second to last digit of the reference number for a Rolex Pearlmaster means, instead, that it has a gemstone-set bezel. For simplicity’s sake, and because listing out the bezel types of every watch in every Rolex collection and model would easily take the helm of this entire article, we’ll leave it at those examples. When researching reference numbers, a simple Google search can help you look up the bezel type of the specific Rolex you are looking into.

As mentioned, some Rolex reference numbers are alphanumeric and include letters at the end. These letters are codes that indicate the bezel insert colors, specifically for Rolex sports watches. These codes are translated from French descriptors, which determine the letters used as codes for each color. The most frequently used color codes include:

  • LN (Lunette Noir) = Black bezel
  • LB (Lunette Bleu) = Blue bezel
  • LV (Lunette Verte) = Green bezel
  • BLNR (Bleu/Noir) = Blue and Black bezel
  • BLRO (Bleu/Rouge) = Blue and Red bezel
  • CHNR (Chocolat/Noir) = Brown and Black bezel

Here are some examples of Rolex reference numbers including these color codes: a Daytona 116500LN has a black bezel, a Submariner 126610LV has a green bezel, and a GMT-Master II 116710BLNR has a blue and black bezel. 

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Credit to The Watch Standard for these articles.