For most, purchasing a new Rolex is an event filled with anticipation of wearing a fine Swiss timepiece with the mechanics and movement of yesteryear, but with nanotechnology that few can visualize. Purchasing a new watch has the same build-up as purchasing a new automobile. There is the expense that most people have to plan, and once purchased, there is some trepidation on driving the new vehicle or wearing a new watch for fear of getting the first scratch.


A new Rolex comes pristine out of the box, with a freshly polished finish that few hands have touched. Keeping a Rolex pristine essentially means not wearing it. Some watch collectors consider some of their watches “safe queens” whereby most of the time the watch sits in a safe away from the activities with which it was designed. Like rare automobiles where they are driven only in shows and tucked away in storage, a “Safe Queen” Rolex only comes out on special occasions or special events.


Unlike other highly mechanical, high-end watches, Rolex is designed to take everyday beating, watch case, crystal and all. All Rolex wristwatches, with the exception of the Cellini line, are water-resistant to at least 100 meters or 300 feet, making it very wearable in the pool, shower, and surface level ocean sports. The ceramic bezels on the Rolex Professional line are impervious to scratches and do not fade in sunlight, and the bracelets are designed to keep the watch on your wrist. One’s arm will break before a Rolex bracelet does.


With all these protections keeping a Rolex watch functional, the area that most Rolex wearers get nervous are scratches. Scratches and wristwatches are a fact of life. Rolex gold, platinum, and 904L stainless steel does scratch with day-to-day use. For many, each scratch is considered a battle scar from life’s daily grind, or from a particularly adventuresome event. There was a time when I used to fret over a new scratch and thought about polishing it out, but now, I just let them pile up. A Rolex with scratches shows patina, character, and that the watch was used as it was intended. When looking at a pre-owned Rolex, the scratches indicate a storyline that only the watch can tell.

Fortunately, most modern day Rolex models can get restored back to factory finish pretty easily by a trained and certified Rolex watchmaker. During a routine Rolex service when the bezel, crystal, crown, crown tube, and caseback are removed, Rolex is able to restore the finish back to when the watch first came out of the box. Any deep dings or scratches Rolex will leave, but the daily wear surface scratches Rolex is able to remove at a regularly scheduled service. Some Rolex wearers want to keep their scratches, and Rolex will honor a no-polishing/finish restoration at the owner’s request.

Keeping scratches on a watch doesn’t mean that the outside of your Rolex should not be cleaned every now and then. Keeping your Rolex clean will keep your bracelet lasting longer, and your watch looking sharp.

Check out these two other Fourtané articles on the benefits of keeping a clean Rolex:

Keep your Rolex Clean:
Keep your Rolex Bracelet Clean:

Keep your Rolex looking sharp, but don’t fret over scratches.

– Sheldon Smith