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crowncollection 1 April 2013 12:59 PM

Rolex diamond bezel authentication and history
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Note: Some photos in this article are borrowed credit to the original photographers.

1800 series:

Men’s diamond bezels are easily identified as original if you understand a few technical aspects of the bezels design and have a good knowledge of what was correct and available historically. Let’s begin with the 1800 series of Rolex men’s presidents. Technically the only models in this series to have a diamond bezel installed at the Rolex factory is the model 1804. The 1805 had a combo, diamond and sapphire bezel. However, Rolex AD could sell diamond bezels separately at the time to anyone with a president from that series 1800-1811 and were encouraged to sell upgrades by Rolex. Many with a standard 1803 fluted bezel president went to an AD and bought a diamond bezel for their 1803. These were factory Rolex parts and genuine, however to a collector an 1804 is much more prized than an altered 1803. The 1805 bezel was never for individual sale at AD and therefore you rarely see them on any other watch other than what it was made for an 1805, like today if you had a problem with your 1805 bezel you had to send the watch to Rolex and they would verify you have the correct case reference for that bezel replacement.

The first diamond bezels were made in white gold. A white gold bezel was paired with a yellow gold case, odd I know, see borrowed photos, and credit to the original photographers. It is not to my taste really and I suspect many others also feel the same way. This caused a bit of a cross over when the 18000 series came onto the market, I will explain later.

Visual inspection.

1800 men’s president series = 46 brilliant set , set in white gold, no identification marks on the back if removed indicating gold purity or the marks showing it as being a Rolex product, no codes or letters seen.

crowncollection 1 April 2013 01:04 PM

18000 series
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However, the new 18000 series bezels were set in yellow gold to match a yellow gold watch case and the diamond count had been reduced to 44 stones. White gold bezels were made for white gold president also in 46 stones settings. I suspect AD had both in stock for a while to cater for both customers sets, those who had the new and the older model. However, customers could see both bezels on display, and many chose to have the yellow gold bezel as it made the watch look more modern. People still do this today with modern style dials etc. to jazz up an older watch.

The new innovative 18000 model with a quickset date and sapphire crystal was big news at the time. This also led to the sale of many 1800 series watches and new buyers altering them with the cash they saved buying used sometimes with an 18000 series yellow gold modern bezel to look like the new model.

With the introduction of the 18000 president series, the bezel options increased dramatically, offering bezels on certain crown collection models in sapphire, ruby and emerald in different cuts like baguette and in combination with diamonds. Some of these had 50 baguettes and others with 24 larger baguettes.

These coloured stone bezels are rarely separated from watches they were made for as the model numbers were different and that would cause a great deal of value loss to the owner. These were strictly controlled and not for sale at AD like plain diamond bezels, you can use some of the following techniques to identify them.

However, basically if your model number is not a crown collection model number like 18158 for a 50 square cut emerald bezel etc. You can just about guarantee it’s an after-market addition to your watch, your watch cannot have a normal model number and have these rare coloured stone bezels.

18000 men’s president series = 44 brilliant set in yellow gold when it came to diamond bezels. Appropriate colour gold to the case it was being used for. Early 18000 had no markings on the back, later we see a letter and a number stamped on the back of the bezel, no Rolex hallmark to identify it as Rolex or purity marks. These letters must be a code I can only report what I have personally seen.
X7, Z4, C2, Z12, Z only, x111.

Below photo marked 18000 series bezel.

crowncollection 1 April 2013 01:06 PM

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18200 men’s president series: 44 brilliant cut diamonds in appropriate metal for the case YG, WG, PLAT. It gets easier now and thank god as the range has exploded in recent years. The back of these bezels have a code stamp and the Rolex stamped hallmark can be seen with a loop, counterfeiters don’t seem to copy the hallmark, so at present your pretty safe if you see it, but that could change so let’s look at the design features now.

From the front:

Check that the stones are set perfectly and the correct number is diamonds are present. The stones will always be VVS clarity and above E in colour. If you see inclusions with the naked eye it is not Rolex. The colour of all stones will match, there will not be a “bad stone” All diamonds will be size matched, if you see a visually larger stone, it’s not Rolex.

The setting style is very distinct see the photo below and study it has a distinct X shape and has not changed much over the years, look for the perfect symmetry of each and every setting and that the shape of the setting is same all the way around the bezel. The stones will be evenly spaced apart and the setting perfectly replicated over and over.

crowncollection 1 April 2013 01:10 PM

identification a deeper look
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Now you need to remove the bezel as shown in the photo to be sure.

Check that the holes in the back are centred and evenly spaced. The rear surface (gold) will show a concentric grove pattern from being hewn from solid block of gold, Rolex do not high polish the back of the bezel. However, be careful as careless watchmakers may have polished this surface over the years.

Look inside the holes are they perfectly round and do they will still show tool marks, they have a slight bevel to them.

crowncollection 1 April 2013 01:13 PM

cartouche 80's bezels
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There are some rarer bezels from the mid 80’s with 40 diamonds on men’s crown collection and 36 on ladies watches, they were called cartouche bezels, see photos they are very distinct and engraved with Rolex on the front. You can apply the above tests.

crowncollection 1 April 2013 01:21 PM

ladies diamond bezels
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Ladies diamond bezels.

Many of the orchid range of ladies Rolexes had diamond bezels; these were varied in setting and style. They were not really functional bezels, rather a decorative setting of stones in the form of a ring around watch case (they did not hold the crystal in place). These are so varied and I cannot begin to explain them all. All you can do is check for known examples and check is that the diamonds are high quality and consistent in size and colour, with elegant settings. In this time period there were not aftermarket suppliers of any bezels for Rolex, so you’re pretty safe with these. I am sure the odd person asked a jeweller to make a diamond bezel but it was not common or available for separate sale anywhere for these models.

Modern ladies diamond bezels:

40 diamond brilliant cut.

You can use the same principles as above to authenticate, early bezels were not marked with the Rolex hallmark or any stamping like the men’s.

The new model men’s president 118200 series offers a 52 stone diamond bezel; all modern bezels are clearly marked with the Rolex hallmark. However, in today’s world the fakers may start to reproduce the stamping of bezels, utilise these authentication techniques above to be safe.

I hope you enjoyed this post when I get time I will be following up with how to identify Rolex links and diamond dials.

crowncollection 1 April 2013 02:58 PM

I forgot this with regard to the 1800 series presidents in the original post there were 2 other gem stone combos and I mistakenly implied they were only 2 bezel types available. Below are two other gem stone references.

Rolex Day-Date 1816 Diamond baguette cut bezel

Rolex Day-Date 1817 Emerald / Ruby / Sapphire / Diamond

These bezels were not for sale seperately and are only seen on these case references only and not available as an upgrade.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

cajunron 2 April 2013 08:42 AM

Wow! This is OUTSTANDING reference material, David. Another aspect of Rolex that I was essentially clueless about. I hope the mods make this a sticky. Thanks my friend. :thumbsup::cheers:

caryyee 2 April 2013 09:20 AM

Great information David, many thanks for taking the time to post this.

P.S. I love diamonds on the DD, they look fantastic! Blings it up yes, but that's the look I like!

crowncollection 2 April 2013 12:55 PM

additional notes
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bezels available for individual sale.
1800 series- 46 brilliants set in white gold

18000 series menís day- date Ė
44 brilliants set in yellow gold (part code MBZ4488)
44 brilliants set in platinum (part code MBZ4466).
46 brilliants set in white gold (part code MBZ4690)

Ladies 69000 series gold case only watches.

32 full cut brilliants set in white gold (part code LBZ3490)
40 brilliants cut diamonds set in yellow gold (part code LBZ4088)
40 brilliants cut diamonds set in white gold (part code LBZ4099)

Midsize Rolex watches 68200 series.
18kt white gold with 40 brilliants diamonds (part code MSB4090)
18kt yellow gold with 44 brilliants diamonds (part code MSB4488)
18kt white gold with 44 brilliants cut diamonds (part code MSB4499).

No other bezels were available for separate sale at the time (1986 reference material) as stated earlier. Many crown collection Rolexes have different colourful stone bezel combos. I will list them in a future post, these are not for individual sale, if the case reference does not indicate a special model number matching that specific set up of stones in the texts, it is 99% aftermarket. Removing such rare bezels absolutely kills the resale value and is rarely done by anyone with a passion for Rolexes.

Below is an example of an older ladies 32 stone diamond bezel used on the 6900 series also set in white gold, the back is unmarked as with older mens bezels.

Psmith 2 April 2013 10:53 PM

Great info David - thanks for posting this!

crowncollection 3 April 2013 08:12 AM

a few rare bezels
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Thanks guys for the positive replies and sorry for the typos in the post, by the end I was tired. Retrospectively, I should have waited to upload the post and completed a final manual edit rather than relying on a computer spell check only. Anyway now the thread is locked and I cannot fix my typos and grammatical errors.

To finish off diamond bezels, I guess I should add the few final rare bezels to this post. These bezels were never for individual sale and are only found on the models with the stated engraved case reference. These are quite rare crown collection diamond bezels. I will add another post with all the other gem stone and or diamond and gemstone combo bezels available and case references they are found on at another time, that will take quite a bit of work so not today. I just wanted to complete the diamond only Rolex bezels.

Rolex Day Date model 19028 Oysterquartz. This is a rare variant referred to as "Egyptian. This watch has factory original diamond bezel with 12 diamonds and factory original diamond dial.

18168- 18kt yellow gold case, bezel set with 24 baguette diamonds, this watch sold at Sotheby’s. This watch also featured a crown collection ruby and diamond string dial. I suspect since Rolex rarely change design the previous model the 1816 in the 1800 series had a similar if not the same bezel, it also had a factory baguette diamond bezel, although I cannot find a photo anywhere of one.

18108- 18kt yellow gold bark finish bezel set with 12 brilliants and bark finish concealed clasp band.

A quick note on case lugs, like these rare bezels they are only found on a few case reference or model numbers, you cannot have original diamond set case lugs without a model number that varies from a standard model number. Rolex crown collections are set in their diamond set ups, you could buy different dials of course to suit any taste, and a special range of crown collection special edition rare dials exists. Rolex diamond lugs have varied the count from 24 total (6 diamonds on each lug) to 28 (7 on each lug) and 32 (8 on each lug) over the years. Here is an example 18138- 18kt yellow gold, cartouche 40 brilliant set diamond bezel, case lugs set with 28 brilliants, 8 brilliant and 2 baguette set diamonds on the dial. The setup of the watch is already set by Rolex, only the dial can be varied to the customer’s taste. In this particular setup a cartouche bezel is used and was discussed earlier, these bezels only came on certain crown collection models and was not for individual sale.

Enjoy that's about it for diamond only rolex factory bezels.

crowncollection 4 April 2013 08:12 AM

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As a final note, letís quickly discuss the new models and their bezels. The menís presidents as discussed earlier can now have a 52 stone yellow gold diamond bezel (pic marked 52). All modern bezels are hallmarked with the Rolex coronet on the back and it is easy for any watchmaker to remove it and check it. Information on new models is also much more available on the net these days and known examples of the model number should exist if you search the net.

Menís / ladies Masterpieces and ladies Pearl masterís models changed everything with new bezels being introduced. They are now so varied I cannot list them all, but information is freely available, you should match the model number to the bezel set up via freely available information on the net. None of the special bezels Pearl Master and Master Piece bezels are available for individual sale.

Here are a few changes I have noticed and a few photos.

Menís bezels diamond count reduced down to 40 larger diamonds in platinum and yellow gold masterpieces and a 42 baguette cut diamond bezel.
Ladies masterpieces diamond count reduced to 32 larger diamonds. Many other new designs such as double rowed set bezels have now been released as shown in the photo below.

crowncollection 4 April 2013 08:14 AM

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and a few more

brutus123 15 July 2013 11:15 AM

Cartouche bezel

Originally Posted by crowncollection (Post 4060130)
There are some rarer bezels from the mid 80ís with 40 diamonds on menís crown collection and 36 on ladies watches, they were called cartouche bezels, see photos they are very distinct and engraved with Rolex on the front. You can apply the above tests.

Thank you David,

I cannot locate ANY information on this rare bezel and would greatly appreciate any other info you might have about them. I own it in the Rolex 69178 ladies President with a Rolex Cartouche Bezel 18kt Gold model and would love an tidbits you might have. Many thanks!!



WilliamFoley 15 July 2013 06:30 PM

Absolutely stunning..only Rolex can have those watches manufactured..such is the reputation of this company..that everything it shells out is so out of the blue and amazing..

cruvon 16 July 2013 10:22 PM

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Thanks for sharing David, beautiful writeup. I am looking for a diamond bezel for my wife's watch, which one do I look for this watch in 26mm?

Also, would any Rolex 26mm diamond bezel fit this watch like these?


B17NNS 16 January 2014 01:20 AM

Thanks for sharing.

Was the emerald/diamond bezel ever available as a Rolex item or are they aftermarket?|[/IMG]|[/IMG]

crowncollection 17 January 2014 04:11 PM

Not in steel like that. White gokd with a special band. Very expensive and rare.

Model 116649EMBR

robisan 18 January 2014 01:06 AM

Nice bling up Rolex watches, still with lot of class.

crowncollection 21 January 2014 07:13 AM

Noticed one pic did not work.

Tonka007 15 April 2014 12:29 PM

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This is a picture of my '66 Super President

Tonka007 15 April 2014 12:31 PM

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Here a better view.

SubsCoverage 17 April 2014 01:15 PM

That Green Emerald Sub is absolutely stunning!

Thanks David for the 411 on these bezels

cycling4life 27 May 2014 11:17 AM

Hi David,

I've just seen a 2001 R8029999UB7294 18ct white gold Rolex Pearl Master, diamond bezel, diamond MOP dial.

It has been guaranteed to be original but on closer inspection the diamonds are only set with two claws rather than four that I have seen on other examples. I was told this is because it is an early model of a Pearlmaster. Have you heard of this.



crowncollection 1 June 2014 08:12 PM


Originally Posted by cycling4life (Post 4985173)
Hi David,

I've just seen a 2001 R8029999UB7294 18ct white gold Rolex Pearl Master, diamond bezel, diamond MOP dial.

It has been guaranteed to be original but on closer inspection the diamonds are only set with two claws rather than four that I have seen on other examples. I was told this is because it is an early model of a Pearlmaster. Have you heard of this.



Ladies patterns of setting is different. A bezel on a watch that new will have stamps on the back identifying it as Rolex no exceptions cheers.

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baguettesjewelry 19 June 2014 03:48 AM

Please guide me on this one. Need help if this has been replaced by aftermarket bezel or all of the parts are original.. Thank you.


crowncollection 25 June 2014 07:51 AM


Originally Posted by baguettesjewelry (Post 5038307)
Please guide me on this one. Need help if this has been replaced by aftermarket bezel or all of the parts are original.. Thank you.


at a glance i can tell its is all aftermarket

badass09 13 July 2014 01:37 PM

What about diamond dial variations on other models....???

crowncollection 15 July 2014 07:39 AM


Originally Posted by badass09 (Post 5095574)
What about diamond dial variations on other models....???

when i have time i will post about diamond dials, impossible to show them all as so many variations, but you can tell by the setting once again and by removing the dial and looking at the back, also knowledge of time periods for various setting helps regards, PM a pic of the dial in question:cheers:

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