Is Your Luxury Watch Real or Fake?

High end, luxury watches can be very expensive.  That’s just the way it is.  Unfortunately, just because a watch is expensive, it doesn’t mean that it is genuine.

As with anything that has value, over the years, someone has probably found a way to counterfeit it in order to make a profit from unsuspecting buyers.  That’s good for them, and bad for you if you don’t know what you’re buying.

Many luxury watch brands have been counterfeited over the years, and perhaps none more than Rolex.  A good Rolex watch, even a second hand one, can cost thousands of dollars.  A replica, on the other hand, can usually be purchased for less than $50.  That means that if someone is selling a replica to you but attempting to pass it off as genuine, you’re risking a lot of money.

Here are a few suggestions that may help you separate the fake watches from real ones:

  1. Know what you’re trying to buy.  The more information you have about what the watch should look and feel like, the better off you will be.  If you can, visit a jeweler and look at and inspect a real one.  Or look at photos from reputable auction houses, such as Sotheby’s or Christies.  These companies are quite good at making sure that what they’ve offered for sale is genuine, so photos you see there are likely of the real thing.

    That’s no substitute for experience, and knowing what a real example of the watch you’re trying to buy feels like can help.

  2. Is the watch light?  High end luxury watches are surprisingly heavy.  They’re made of fine materials and often contain gold or platinum, which are heavier metals than steel.  A genuine luxury watch is going to weigh more than you might expect it to weigh.  A counterfeit, on the other hand, is likely to have relatively little heft to it.
  3. Look for serial numbers and company marks.  While not all brands do this, Rolex puts a number on both the band and the watch case.  Make sure they match and that they’re well-formed.
  4. Listen to the watch.  You might expect that a working watch would tick, but high end watches are surprisingly quiet.  That’s because they’re well-engineered and made with precision.  Inexpensive replicas will likely tick loudly.
  5. Look at the quality of the printing on the watch face.  A lot of replicas are surprisingly poorly made and that is often visible when you closely examine the writing or marks on the watch face.
  6. Documentation can help.  Many older watches that have been carefully stored may include paperwork and other documentation from the date of the original purchase.  Does this watch have such paperwork, or is it being sold as-is?  Can the seller provide any provenance about the watch at all?  Did it come from an estate?  The answers to these questions can help a lot.
  7. Consult with an expert.  If you can, have a jeweler or reputable watch dealer examine the watch.  Someone who sells watches on a regular basis will usually be able to spot a fake from an original in a matter of seconds.  It’s worth consulting with a pro, even if you have to pay them for their time.

It’s unfortunate that counterfeit goods are flooding the market these days, but there’s money to be made by taking advantage of people.  Don’t let them take advantage of you.

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