(Photo courtesy of: https://www.gentlemansgazette.com/how-to-buy-rolex-and-spot-fake/)
Every once in a while, you hear stories of people getting burnt after realizing they’ve purchased a fake watch, sometimes they receive an inherited watch and don’t know the history behind it, and some watches can slip through the cracks and make their way to legitimate secondary dealers. Avoiding some costly mistakes is the key to maintaining your reputation, collecting authentic watches, and not losing thousands of dollars on knock-offs.
It's important to note that the counterfeit watch industry is huge, and with every iteration, they are getting better and better at replicating the hottest watches in the industry. Knowing some of the things to look for will help you immensely before making such a large and important investment. There are a few characteristics of the watch you should inspect before accepting it as 100% authentic, and the watch should meet all them.
(Photo courtesy of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upAJE_XhT2Y)
Holding the watch will always give you the best perspective, but sometimes you can catch these issues with pictures. The first things to look for would be the material, finishing and color. Counterfeit watches might be slightly off in one or more of these. This is because matching the alloy mixture is very difficult to do, just like it would be to recreate the coca-cola recipe. Similarly, counterfitters likely don’t invest in the same expensive finishing tools and machines that would provide the finishes to the dials, case, markers, hands, etc.
Another tell, is the weight of the watch. Now if you haven’t handled luxury watches before this might be harder to do. Weight is not always a dead giveaway as some vintage watches are generally much lighter than their current model. However, counterfeit timepieces will be made of cheaper and lighter materials most of the time and when holding a real and a fake watch, you should be able to tell the difference quite easily.
(Photo courtesy of: https://atelierdegriff.com/2019/08/07/griff-talks-ultimate-guide-how-to-spot-a-fake-rolex-video/)
Typefaces and engravings can be another tell for spotting fake watches. Similar to the points discussed regarding color, material and finish, the typeface and engravings on authentic luxury pieces are usually very sharp, distinct, and consistent. In counterfeit watches you will often find that the type face doesn't match, they will differ in size and quality of print. Sometimes, you can even spot spelling errors, although this is much less common on any decent fake.
The bulk of the value of a watch is in the movement. If you’re looking at a watch that has some questionable issues, your best bet is to have the movement opened up and inspected by a professional. There have been known to be real watches, with fake movements, or even partially fake movements in order to trick people into thinking it's legitimate. These are known as “frankenwatches”, and you don’t want to end up with one of these unknowingly!
Another tell, although requires quite a bit of experience, is the sound the movement, crown, or bezel make. This is hardly a science, but counterfeit watches will have loose or loud sounds, while authentic luxury timepieces will have very smooth mechanisms and crisp clicks.