Updated: Jun 28
Many vintage watches don't have papers.
Until recently, the papers that came with your watch were just that, papers that were filled in by the jewelry store at the time of sale. You can buy blank vintage Rolex papers on eBay and fill in whatever you want.
Many watch collectors go crazy over the original box and papers.
More power to them.
I personally do not carry my original box and papers with me when I wear my watch.
No one has ever asked me for my box and papers when they see my Rolex.
The truth is, it's nice to have the original box and papers. If you find someone who will pay you more for your watch with box and papers, then you're lucky. Your jeweler certainly will not.
Secret: What's really important is that your watch is 100% authentic, and that it keeps accurate time.
For example, how important are papers from 10 years ago if you dropped your watch and had your local jeweler do the best he could with generic parts. You could sell that watch with papers and forget to mention that it's no longer 100% authentic.
For example, how important are papers from 10 years ago if you never had it serviced but wore your watch every day and even went swimming with it. Just before the sale, you got the watch serviced by Rolex. Almost everything inside was destroyed and you paid a fortune for a new movement, dial, and hands. Your watch was quite rare but now is no longer original because Rolex threw in new replacement parts. The value has dropped considerably.
When you buy a watch, unless you are buying directly from the manufacturer, you are taking a chance. Most credit card purchases protect you against fraud for a period of one year. If the used Rolex you bought from eBay or Chrono24 turns out not to be authentic, then you have recourse with the help of your credit card company to get your money back.
The only way to tell if a used watch is 100% authentic is to do a complete tear down or "overhaul" and examine every single piece of the watch. All the pieces need to be authentic and the general age of the parts should be consistent. It's not just a matter of looking at the watch and confirming that it has a serial number.
Simon at WatchArtExchange has been servicing luxury watches for over 30 years. Simon knows our watches inside and out. With papers or without papers, our watches are 100% authentic and they keep accurate time.
This is what really matters.