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What is a Bust Down Rolex?


Whenever someone talks about luxury watches, one brand always naturally comes to mind—Rolex. The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer has been the standard in the industry since it was founded in the early 1900s.

The company is also the largest manufacturer of Swiss made certified chronometers; but despite of their output, not a lot of people can afford to wear a Rolex watch on their wrists.

The cheapest Rolex timepiece will cost you at least $5,000, but with that cost comes the highest quality and design in watchmaking. For many people, being able to afford a Rolex is a hallmark of success. However for those that can afford it, Rolex offers something even more.

Bust down watches

A bust down watch is a modern terminology for something that’s been around for quite some time. In simple terms, bust down watches are basically timepieces that are covered in diamonds from top to bottom. Bust down watches are also referred to as “iced out” or “fully flooded.”

Bust down watches come from many luxury brands but are actually not produced by them. The term “bust down” literally means that a piece of watch has been taken apart to its bare bones in order to encrust diamonds and/or gemstones onto its different parts, mostly including the bracelet, case, dial, and bezel among others.

It takes a lot of skill and incredible workmanship in order to perform this task. The fact that it’s being done to watches that are already valuable makes busting down even more remarkable.

A highly skilled diamond setter usually performs the job, but jewelers and watchmakers are able to do it as well. It takes a lot of trust—and money—in order to put your “plain Jane” watch (untouched luxury watch) into the hands of another person to be taken apart and put together again.

How bust down watches are made

There are specific and meticulous steps involved in the creation of a bust down Rolex. First off, you’d have to start with a plain Jane Rolex. Most people looking to bust down a watch are looking to spend a ton of money doing so. It’s no surprise that the base watches most people bust down are expensive to begin with. Some of the best Rolex pieces to bust down are also generally the fan favorites.

According to this article, the Rolex Submariner is probably the most popular Rolex watch out there. The Submariner has everything that a Rolex is known for, and it’s also got a good base for a full-blown bust down. There are a few variations of the Submariner, and they range in price from roughly $10,000 USD to $16,000 USD.

Once a watch has been chosen, the setter will begin work to take the timepiece carefully apart. The next step is to create settings onto the watch pieces where the diamonds or gems would go. This is done by drilling onto the metal pieces using a specialized excavating tool.

The Bezel

Depending on the watch, the setter might opt to recreate a unique bezel to replace the watch’s original if needed. After all the stones have been set in place, the master at work will then put the bejeweled watch together piece by piece.

It may sound like easy work, but every single setting and every piece of diamond has to be set in place one by one. A single bust down Rolex can have any number of diamonds from 30 to 40 or even 50 if it’s suitable. Typically, a bust down Rolex will have an increased value in comparison to its original form. The value increase is totally dependent on the amount and type of diamonds and/or gems set in place.

Cost of a bust down Rolex

The cost of a bust down Rolex will vary greatly from one piece to the next. Given that plain Jane Rolex’s are already on the upwards of $5,000, you can expect an iced out Rolex to be costly.

The addition of 17.25 carats of diamonds to this particular pre-owned Rolex, for instance, has skyrocketed the price of the watch to $57,000 USD. Most prices will range from anywhere around $20,000 to well over a few hundred thousands of dollars.

Bust down Rolex and pop culture

The icing out of Rolex watches has been popularized in recent cultures, particularly within the hip-hop and rap cultures. Bust down Rolex’s have been a symbol of fame, glamour, money, success, and everything else that goes with celebrity and rich cultures. Most bust down Rolex’s sported by celebrities are as flashy as any watch could get. Famed celebrity dancers Ayo & Teo popularly sport their own bust down Rolexes in conjunction with the dance anthem song they released titled Rolex.


Bust down Rolexes are beautiful things, but buyers must always beware of fakes. There is an entire world of Rolex replicas out there, and it’s easy to mistake a replica for a real Rolex, especially if it’s bedazzled in diamonds. One of the best ways to avoid purchasing a replica bust down

Rolex is to buy from a reputable jeweler. A real bust down Rolex should come with some kind of certification of authenticity. The other way to go about purchasing a bust down Rolex is to buy a plain Jane Rolex first. Once you’ve got the timepiece of your choice, you can then go to a master setter in order to customize your bust down Rolex.

This will give you complete assurance that both the watch and the stones are legitimate. If you’d rather buy a pre-owned timepiece, it would help to make sure that the seller you’re dealing with has all the paperwork that came with the original. Otherwise, you’d be better off looking someplace else.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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