Rolex, Cartier, Patek Philippe, Panerai, Philip Stein, A.Lange & Sohne, Omega, Brietling and even Seiko are all brands you can find on the fake market. If you’ve ever taken a stroll down Canal Street in NYC you’ll be sure to see thousands of fake luxury watch brands at your disposal. With fakes ubiquitously spread across the streets and counterfeiters across the world getting very good at mimicking the real thing, make sure you take the necessary steps to protect yourself from getting duped.
First you need to really know your brand. Each brand has its own nuances that either make or break its authenticity. Changing the bezel on your Rolex submariner to a GMT Master II Pepsi bezel? This might look cool, but it actually nullifies the authenticity of your watch by Rolex’s standards.
Is the price too good to be true? Guess what, it probably is. There’s a reason many luxury watches cost a fair amount and true luxury timepieces maintain their value over the years. Don’t expect to get massive discounts on real luxury watches. Avoid the $100 to $300 bargain. You get what you pay for.
Is my Rolex a fake?
Have you checked the caseback? One of the easiest checks is to see if there’s a clear display or skeleton caseback. Rolex only makes solid casebacks (for the exception of only a couple vintage models from the 1930s in circulation). So if you see a transparent back, odds are that it’s a fake.
Is the caseback engraved? Rolex doesn’t do this either. Their casebacks are free from any engravings such as hallmarks and logos. They have smooth casebacks with the exception of a very few out there such as the Sea Dweller from the 1990s.
How big does the date look? Date magnification is a standard 2.5x enhanced by the Cyclops attached to the crystal. The date should take up the entire bubble. Anything less or more is truly a fake. Many fakes use a magnification of 1.5x.
Is that glass or real sapphire crystal? Many fakes save money by using glass composition. Test the water surface tension by spilling water on top the watch. The water should pull together rather than smear because of sapphire’s smooth surface.
How is the crown sealed? For many of the models such as the Daytona, Submariner and Sea-Dweller there should be a triplock crown seal within the threads of the winding crown’s tube. The gasket is a black ring that’s visible when the winding crown is fully unscrewed. Many fakes will not feature this or will include a ring that’s not functional.
Weight? Cheap fakes weigh considerably less than genuine Rolex’s considering the stainless steel and gold materials that are used are heavier than the base metals of fakes. However, this is getting considerably difficult to use as a gauge since counterfeiters are getting much better at making the fakes weigh just as much as the real timepieces.
How does it tick? Does it stutter or is it smooth? A genuine Rolex’s second hand should “sweep” and will always be smooth and continuous (between 5-8 ticks or movements per second). Take precaution however, some higher priced fakes have mastered this feature.
Engravings? There should be a small micro-etched Rolex crown logo engraved below the 6 o’clock position on the crystal. There should also be an engraving on the rehaut (the inner rim of the watch face between the dial and the crystal). Typically the word “ROLEX” with the serial number engraved at 6 o’clock under the crystal is displayed. Check to see if it’s actually engraved and not just printed on the rehaut. Many fakes now incorporate these engravings, however are crude and not precise and as detailed as a real piece.
How clear is the writing on the dial? The letters on the dial should be clear, convex, and precise with utmost attention to detail and no bubbling.
Are those hands from a different model? Many counterfeits will swap hands from one model to another. Many fakes use hands that are either the wrong shape or size. Again know your brand and model!
Can you confirm the serial number? Every genuine Rolex has a unique 5-8 digit serial number which helps determine the approximate year of production for that particular watch.
Pop the hood open. A real good fake may pass all of these inspections and the only way to really tell is to open up the watch and take a look under the hood. Here you can see the real inner workings of the gears and jewels used that create that genuine movement.
As always, remember to buy from a trusted source. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable dealer that has your best interests in mind. And keep in mind, it it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Keep these tips handy when shopping for that must have luxury timepiece.
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