Rolex bracelet codes : how to decipher them ?
You will find in this article a short guide on how to locate and decipher the codes on Rolex bracelets.
Where to find Rolex bracelet codes ?
The numbers of the Rolex bracelets can be found in 3 places:
- on the clasp,
- on the last links
- and at the ends of the bracelet connecting the bracelet to the case.
These codes make it possible to determine the exact model of the bracelet, its year of production and the references of the watches on which it was mounted.
This is the only way to determine if a Rolex bracelet is original or a replacement bracelet. A vintage Rolex with an original bracelet will have a higher value on the market. But bracelets are rather fragile and are often replaced, especially on old vintage Rolex.
Rolex steel bracelets in their chronological order of production
The first step is to find out to which of the 4 major families of Rolex bracelets the watch strap belongs.
- Oyster riveted bracelets (1960 - 1978): Riveted or riveted (can be expandable) bracelets production started in the early 1960s completely stopped around 1970 for the European market and around 1978 for the US market.
- Folded bracelets, oyster and jubilee, (1968 - 1976): Folded or folded bracelets, introduction towards the end of 1968 and beginning of 1969 until 1976.
- Full" bracelets, oyster and jubilee (1976-2010): The full bracelets with hollow link ends, introduced around 1976.
- Full" bracelets with S.E.L., oyster and jubilee (1983-current): The solid bracelets with solid end links were introduced on the 16660 Sea Dweller in 1983, (but these models are very rare) and it will be necessary to wait until 1999-2000 to see it arrive on the Submariner and other models: Deep Sea, Datejust, Date, GMT, Air King, etc... On the Rolex gold bracelets, especially the "President", the SEL was introduced around 1970.
Rolex bracelet code examples
Rolex bracelet codes on the clasp :
Have a look to this Rolex clasp :
On that photo example: the clasp is engraved "I4 and 93150":
The letter corresponds to a year, I is 1984 and the number to the month, 4 is April, see the table of references.
The number 93150 is the reference of the model, Oyster steel.
So here we have a bracelet clasp Oyster steel ref#93150 made in April 1984. The ends of the links will tell us on which models it could be mounted.
Understanding the Rolex codes on the bracelet and the end links
Let's now take another example with a code on Rolex links :
The engraved numbers are 580 and 93150 which confirms that the bracelet matches the clasp. The number 580 on the end of the link specifies things a little more as we can find 93150 on several models, but according to our information (unofficial), the marriage 93150/580 is only present on three references of Submariner, the Submariner 1680 Date, the Submariner 5512 and the Submariner 5513.
Its serial number must therefore be between 8 388 000, start of production 1984 and 9 299 000, end of production 1985. This excludes the 1680 and the 5512 whose production was stopped in 1978, only the 5513 produced from 1962 to 1990 remains.
We will thus be able to find this bracelet on a second-hand Rolex Submariner 5513. But maybe also on a previous model (1680, 5512), having benefited from a Rolex service revision and whose condition of the bracelet required its replacement, but in this case, the letter "s" (like "service") should be on the clasp.
Letter-Year codes of Rolex bracelets
On the table below you will find a way to decipher the meaning of the letter codes of your Rolex bracelet :
|1976||A ou VA*||1977||B ou VB|
|1978||C ou VC*||1979||D ou VD|
|1994||S||1995||T ou W|
|1996||V ou U||1997||Z ou U|
|1998||Z ou W||1999||X|
* Unofficial information. These letters are supposed to be correct but are not confirmed. The Rolex brand does not communicate on this subject. Since 2011 the codes have 3 random characters (number + letters). For an expertise, go to the official Rolex website to obtain the list of distributors, the only ones authorized to carry out an official expertise.