Many Rolex owners are more concerned about the watch holding its value as an investment instead of using it as a practical timepiece. This affects how the watch is used and often means that it is never worn and instead languishes as part of a bigger collection.

Unfortunately, due to the 904L stainless steel alloy Rolex has used since 1985, they are easily scratched. If the Rolex is scratched, it should rather be left in the damaged state because if the scratches or dents are polished out, it will cause a massive loss of up to 80% in value.

When collectors evaluate a Rolex, they obviously look at the watch’s condition. While this is important, if parts have been replaced or any polishing has changed the shape of the watch, it will lose its originality, and the reduction in value will be extensive.

Rolex Watches Do Scratch Easily

Unfortunately, Rolex watches have developed a reputation for scratching easily.

The category of stainless steel alloy that Rolex use in the manufacture of their watch cases is softer than the specifications of stainless steel alloy used by other manufacturers.

Why Do Rolex Watches Scratch So Easily?

In 1985 Rolex became the first watch manufacturer to use 904L stainless steel alloy in their watch products. The new alloy replaced the 316L stainless steel alloy, which formed the basis of all Rolexs’ and other manufacturers’ watches.

The main improvement created by using the new allow was its ability to resist corrosion, and Rolex developed a reputation for being virtually immune to rust.

The disadvantage of using 904L stainless steel alloy was that it scratched more easily than the older 316L stainless steel alloy.

A little bit of background. While Rolex uses 904L stainless steel, a blend it created, it is worth noting that bracelets employ two types of finishes:

The new alloy enabled the manufacturer to offer two different watch finishes.

Brushed Finish

The brushed is generally used on tool watches needing a rougher, more resilient finish that is much more scratch-resistant.

Polished Finish

The polished finish is offered on watches used in formal situations requiring a better, seemingly higher-quality finish.

The polished finished watches are very much more susceptible to being scratched.

How Do Scratches Affect  Rolex Value?

The position of the scratches on a Rolex has varying effects on the value of a Rolex watch.

The areas to consider include the following.

  1. Scratches On The Watch Case
  2. Scratches On The Bezel
  3. Scratches On The Crystal
  4. Scratches On The Bracelet

Scratches On The Watch Case

Unfortunately, the 904L stainless steel alloy which is used to manufacture the Rolex watch cases is a softer material and very prone to being scratched.

While the case has the essential role of holding the watch movement and protecting it from damage, collectors appear less concerned when it is scratched.

Scratches on the watch case are not easily seen, and as a result, the impact on the watch’s value is only +-5%.

This is not the situation if there is visible damage to the watch case, such as deep scratches or dents. The only way to have these fixed is for a watchmaker to polish them out, reducing the watch value by up to 50%.

This is because the degree of polishing required may alter its original shape.

Scratches On The Bezel

The bezel is a stainless steel alloy that circles the watch next to the watch crystal (face).

In chronographs, the bezel can rotate around the watch to help calculate speed and distance.

Unfortunately, this is one of the easiest components to scratch because it is an exposed edge between the face and the case. This makes it easy to knock, and the bezel will likely be hit if the Rolex is dropped.

Scratches on the bezel are very common, and most collectors are not phased b a few light marks.

A lightly scratched bevel result will reduce the Rolex value between  1-10%.

If the bevel has some unsightly dents or deep scratches, it may require a new bezel. In turn, this will cause the Rolex to lose its originality and will reduce its value by approximately 60%.

Scratches On The Crystal

The crystal is the glass covering the watch’s face.

There are several types of glass used by manufacturers, as follows.

  1. Acrylic Glass
  2. Mineral glass
  3. Mineral glass plated with sapphire crystals.
  4. Sapphire crystals

The current production of Rolex watches exclusively uses sapphire crystals.

This material is very scratch resistant; however, it is vulnerable to cracks of chips appearing on the surface.

When these appear, it means the whole structure of the crystal has been compromised, and as a result, if there are cracks, nicks, and dents, the effect will be a 5% to 10% reduction in the value of the watch.

There is a risk that if a hard enough force is applied, the crystal will shatter, requiring its complete replacement. This will reduce the value by up to 70%.

Scratches On The Bracelet

The bracelet is very vulnerable to damage, whether it be from an impact or from being scratched along an abrasive surface.

A lightly damaged bracelet will reduce a Rolex’s value by approximately 20%.

What Can Be Done To Prevent A Rolex From Being Scratched?

There are some simple habits the Rolex owner can develop to minimize the potential of scratching it. Some of the recommendations are obvious, while others are not.

  1. Always take the Rolex off and put it in a safe place when working around the house, particularly if tools are being used.
  2. Remove the watch whenever taking part in sports or other outside activities.
  3. When removing the watch, never leave it lying loose; instead, always ensure that it is kept in a sealed box.
  4. Don’t wear other arm decorations or jewelry on the same arm as the Rolex.
  5. As far as possible, do not expose the Rolex to extreme temperature changes.
  6. Try to remain conscious when wearing the Rolex to not rest your arm on abrasive surfaces.

What Action Should Be Taken When A Rolex Is A Scratched?

The general rule is that a Rolex should be kept clean; however, as far as possible should never have any parts replaced.

While this may be impractical and prevent the watch from being useful, if the device loses its originality, it will lose more value than being slightly scratched or knocked around.

If you plan on selling your watch for a profit, the best course of action might just be to do nothing.

If you don’t intend ever selling the Rolex and are irritated by scratches and other damage, it can be polished, and parts can be replaced.

This type of intervention will reduce the value by up to 80%


Due to the 904L stainless steel used in manufacturing, Rolex watch cases are very easy to scratch.

When scratches inevitably appear in the Rolex, they should be left untreated because polishing the alloy or replacing damaged parts will result in the Rolex losing its originality and, therefore, a substantial part of its value.


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