Did your watch got stolen or did you lose it? You will need the serial number to report the theft. Also when you just want to find more information about your watch, you will need the serial number. Where can you find this number?
How to find the serial number on a watch?
To find the serial number of your watch:
- Look at the papers or documents of the watch
- Check the case back of the watch.
- Check between its lugs (Rolex)
- Check the movement of the watch (transparant)
- Open the inside of the case back
Do all watches have a serial number?
Yes, all original watches have serial numbers. The serial number is the unique identification number of the watch to mark its authenticity. It is also the most important tool to identify and recover a stolen or lost watch. Next to the serial number watches also have a reference or model number.
Look at the papers or documents of the watch
You might save yourself some effort if you have documents of your watch, such as warranties, receipts, etc. A model number can be referred to as a “reference number,” while the serial number may be listed without any qualifications.
Check the case back of the watch
The most common place to find the serial number is on the watch’s underside. However, you need to differentiate a serial number from the reference number, what is a model number. When in doubt, do an internet search for each number and the name of the watch company and see what comes up.
Check between its lugs (Rolex)
Rolex places their model and serial number between the lugs of the watch. Take off your strap, and you will see it right away. Model numbers are generally four, five, or six digits long, while serial numbers can be up to eight digits long. When in doubt, enter the two numbers into Google with the word “Rolex,” and you will be able to tell which one is the model number and which is serial, depending on the search results.
If the watch has a transparent case back, look at the movement
Some luxury watches have a sapphire case back so you can see the movement from the back. It may be difficult to tell the serial number apart if it’s engraved on the movement from the back of the case, but it’s worth looking around, especially if you have a magnifying glass.
Open the inside of the case back
Open the case back. Some watches have the serial number on there. A vintage Longines watch featuring the watch serial number and model on the inside of the watch case.
See if there is an online database of company serial numbers
Oftentimes, you can find serial number databases online that will help you figure out the year your watch was made. Longines offers this service free of charge for all of its watches. You email them the number from your watch and some pictures and then wait for a response.
Luxury timepieces and the location of their serial number
Audemars Piguet: Each Audemars Piguet watch is identified by two unique digits. The first is inscribed on the watch’s mainplate mechanism. To see it, the caseback must be removed. The caseback’s alphanumeric serial number is engraved on the outside. The paperwork includes the reference number for the watch.
Breitling: The model/reference number (which normally begins with a letter) is engraved on the caseback’s exterior. The serial number, which is merely digits, is likewise etched on the caseback.
Cartier: Cartier casebacks contain a four-digit code engraved on the surface that indicates the case’s style (i.e. the collection). Only the documentation contains the “W” Cartier reference/model number. The serial number is engraved on the caseback’s surface as well.
Chopard: Chopard casebacks contain a four-digit code engraved on the surface that indicates the case’s style (i.e. the collection). Only the paperwork contains the complete Chopard reference/model number. The serial number is usually etched on the caseback’s exterior.
Jaeger-LeCoultre: On the exterior of the caseback of a Jaeger-LeCoultre watch, there are a few distinct numerals etched, but you can usually notice a string of digits (XXX.X.XX). This reference number is not the same as the JLC “Q” code reference number on the paperwork. The serial number is located on the exterior or interior of the caseback, depending on the year of manufacture.
Omega: The Omega model/reference number is inscribed on the caseback’s interior. To see it, you’ll need to remove the caseback. The serial number is usually etched on the caseback’s exterior.
Panerai: Panerai watches contain a variety of numbers etched on the outside of the caseback (serial, case style, production number out of a series), but none of them are PAM codes (these are on the paperwork).
Patek Philippe: On the interior of a caseback, the Patek Philippe model/reference number and case number are etched. The movement’s serial number is inscribed on it. To see them, you’ll need to remove the caseback.
Rolex: On the 12 o’clock side of the watch, between the lugs, the Rolex model/reference number is etched on the case. To see it, you’ll need to take off your bracelet. The serial number is etched on the other side of the watch, between the lugs, at 6 o’clock. If your Rolex was created after 2005, the serial number is engraved on the 6 o’clock side of the rehaut (the area between the dial and the crystal).
TAG Heuer: On the exterior of the caseback, the TAG Heuer model/reference number (which normally starts with a letter) and the serial number are engraved.