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Rolex Case Serial Numbers

 
This Rolex case number chart is reproduced with permission from
"The Best of Time
Rolex Watches: An Unauthorized History."
James M.Dowling, Jeffrey P. Hess.
Published by Schiffer Publishing Limited.

 
 1927  21691  1953 IV  116578  1974  4004200
 1928  23969  1953 III  132562  1975  4267100
 1928  24747  1956 I  139400  1976  4538000
 1929  28290  1956 I  139477  1977  5008000
 1930  28290  1955III  282632  1978  5482000
 1932  29312  1957 IV  321884  1979  5958000
 1933  29933  1957 II  345500  1980  6434000
 1934  30823  1958 I  360171  1981  6910000
 1935  35365  1958 I  383893  1982  7386000
 1936  37596  1958 I  362214  1983  7862000
 1938  43739  1958 II  385893  1984  8338000
 1939  71224  1958 III  391528  1985  8614000
 1940  99715  1958 IV  426074  1986  9290000
 1941  106047  1958 IV  412128  1987  9766000
 1942  143509  1960 II  693808  1987 1/2  9999999
 1943  230878  1962 II  763663  1987 1/2  R000001
 1944  269561  1962 I  764754  1988  R999999
 1945  302459  1962 IV  869868  1989  L000001
 1946  387216  1964 I  985015  1990 1/2  L999999
 1947  529163  1964 II  1041729  1990 1/2  E000001
 1948  628840  1964 III  1182076  1991 1/2  E999999
 1951  710776  1965 II  1259699  1991 1/2  X000001
 1952  840396  1965 IV  1345681  1991 Nov.  N000001
 1953 IV  929426  1966  1871000  1992  C000001
 1953 I  930879  1966 III  1994956  1993  S000001
 1953 II  931080  1967  2163900  1994/5  W000001
 1954 I  937170  1968  2426800  1996  T000001
 1953 I  941699  1970 II  2555384  1997 Aug.  U000001
 1954 I  952892  1969  2689700  1998 NovDec  A000001
 1953 IV  955466  1970  2952600  2000 Jan.  P000001
 1953 IV  964789  1971  3215500  2001 Mid.  K000001
 1953 IV  973697  1972  3478400  2002*  Y000001
 1953 III  973930  1973  3741300    
1996/2001 James M. Dowling & Jeffrey P. Hess, from The Best of Time, Rolex Wristwatches, published by Schiffer Publishing Limited.
 

"...whilst it took Rolex almost 30 years (from 1926 to 1953) to use all the numbers between 20,001 and 999,999; at this point the obvious thing to do would have been to add a seventh digit to their case numbering machine(s) and continue into the millions. Rolex, as any student of the company will tell you, was never a company to follow the obvious path and so they chose to re- use previously issued numbers on the new cases. They, once again, chose not to follow the most logical path and begin at 0001; rather they began at 100,001 once again, a number previously used in the midst of WW II. Fortunately when they began to reuse these numbers it was during the period when they were also stamping the date of construction inside the case back; this code consisted of a roman numeral I, II, III or IV representing the four quarters of the year and the last two digits of the year (for example II 54, representing the period April to June 1954). Using these date codes it is now possible to give definite dates to the previously uncertain period in the mid 50s. It was not until the late 50's that Rolex began to use the seventh digit and from this point the numbering sequence became logical and able to be followed with any hope of accuracy. The period in which logic was any use lasted shorter than anyone could have hoped; after Rolex reaches 9,999,999 they chose to initiate a new sequence based on the letters RLEX, the letter "O" was left out because of its resemblance to the number "0". The new sequence began in 1987 and ran through to November 1991. Then a completely new system of case numbering was brought in and is as follows:

S serial numbers were introduced in 1993 and W ones first came in in 1994 and T serial numbers were first introduced in May 1996 BUT All these are still current; with this new numbering system numbers are generated almost randomly. The reasons for this were not disclosed to me, despite asking the question. I was met with the telephonic equivalent of an "enigmatic smile". If you think things are now really confused...it gets worse!! The letter U was introduced in August 1997; and will run concurrently with ST&W."
 

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