If you have been browsing watches or perhaps even looked at buying yourself a Rolex, you cannot have helped but see the term ”full set” being used.

But what does it mean exactly? That’s what we’ll look closer at in this article.

What is Rolex full set?

When people say ”full set”, they are talking about the accessories that come with the watch.

When a watch is sold as brand new for the first time, it is delivered with several different accessories. Shortly summarized, the term ”full set” can be described as all the original accessories that come with the watch when sold new. Another term that is also used is ”box and papers”, but this is a term that is a little looser, and they have slightly different meanings.

The same of course applies to all other watch brands as well, but this time, we are focusing specifically on the Rolex full set.

The issue with the term Full set” in the watch world is that different people have different definitions. This can cause some confusion and misunderstandings.

The general definition for what is included in a modern Rolex full set is:

  • Box (inner and outer box)
  • Original certificate
  •  Warranty cardholder
  •  COSC hangtag (Chronometer hangtag)
  •  Instruction’s manual
  •  Guarantee manual

These accessories are always delivered with a brand new watch when bought from an official Rolex retailer. This is why this term is only used in the secondhand market where different accessories may, for different reasons, maybe missing.

It’s important to point out that during different times, Rolex watches have come with different accessories. The accessories that should come with your watch, therefore, vary depending on when it was made. For example, older Submariner watches used to come with an anchor, but Rolex eventually stopped with this.

What is not mandatory in a full set?

There are a few accessories that may be included in some ”full sets” that are sold but are not crucial to meet the criteria of being a full set. Even if these ”bonus accessories” are appreciated by a lot of people, they are not necessary to meet the definition of ”full set”. One reason for this is that not all Rolex retailers even give these to the original buyer when a watch is sold for the first time.

These items include:

Bezel protector

When Rolex ships watches to official Rolex retailers, they all come with a plastic bezel protector to prevent damage during transportation. And even though some people like to have this, it is not mandatory to be defined as a full set. In recent times, most Rolex retailers keep the bezel protector when they sell the watch. And because it does not come with the majority of watches that are sold, it cannot possibly be a mandatory accessory.

Original receipt

Even though many people appreciate the original receipt when buying a pre-owned watch for provenance, it is not considered an accessory that has to be a part of a ”full set”. The reason for this is that most pre-owned watches that are sold do not come with this. And this can be explained by the fact that the original receipt is a personal item that is intended for the original buyer. It is a document that is to be kept by the original buyer for their own reference. In addition, a lot of people don’t pay too much attention to their receipts either, meaning that they will often be thrown away.

White hangtag

Each Rolex watch that is delivered to official retailers comes with a white hangtag. This hangtag has the reference number, serial number, and a bar code on it. The bar code is used by Rolex for internal tracking at the factory during shipping and sorting but is also often used by retailers as the price tag. These days, the vast majority of Rolex retailers keep the hangtag and do not give the buyer this when they sell the watch. Therefore, it is not considered a crucial accessory of a full set Rolex. 

All of the items above are considered ”bonuses” in a full set and sometimes described as ”extra full set”.

What is Rolex box and papers?

In the same context of Rolex full sets, the term ”box and papers” is often used.

As it suggests, box and papers mean that the watch comes with the original box and the original certificate. Nowadays, most watch brands use plastic warranty cards, but back in the day, most brands used certificate papers, hence why the term ”papers” is still used.

However, what can be confusing is that many people use the term box and papers interchangeably with the term ”full set”. This is why it can sometimes cause misunderstandings when different people have different definitions of full set vs box and papers.

Can you build your own full set?

Here is where it gets interesting when we talk about full sets.

The fact of the matter is that most of the accessories that are considered to be included in a full set are generic items that can relatively easily and affordably be replaced. A Rolex box, for example, does not have anything on it that ties it to a specific watch, meaning that there is no real way to confirm whether it is the original box. The most important part, in this case, is that it is a period-correct box, with the design that it should have had during the time the watch was in production, but a lot of people don’t put too much importance on this either. This is why you can sometimes see older or vintage Rolex watches with modern boxes because they have been replaced some time throughout its life, and the seller hasn’t bothered locating the period-correct box for it.

The only thing you cannot replace is the original certificate, which is why this is the single most important accessory. This is why a watch without the original certificate tends to sell for quite a bit lower than one with the original certificate. At the same time, some people use the term ”full set” even if the watch only comes with a service certificate and not the original certificate. This is an incorrect use of the term because, unlike the original warranty card, a service card can easily be replaced.

Things like the box, COSC hangtag, manual, and booklets, can all easily be purchased on sites like Chrono24 and eBay, which is why a lot of people aren’t putting as much importance on these items. At least when we are talking modern Rolex watches, buying the correct accessories won’t set you back too much either.

At the same time, if you have an older watch and you are trying to source the period-correct accessories, it may set you back quite a bit more. Some accessories have been made only specifically for certain models, which makes it even more difficult to source them. Take the original blue box for the Daytona 116519 beach turquoise, for example. On the rare occasions that these boxes come out for sale, you’re looking at paying more than 10k for the box alone which is a substantial sum.

But for most Rolex watches, in particular the modern, the accessories are generic and relatively affordable.

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