How To Spot Counterfeit Watches

Before spending a great deal of money on a new watch, learning how to spot counterfeit watches can come in quite handy to make sure you are purchasing the real thing. Rolex, the top producer of high-quality watches, and other watch manufacturers add a variety of small details to authentic watches and knowing how to identify these small things, or lack there of, is key to learning how to spot counterfeit watches.

  1. Find the serial number. Nearly every high-quality watch will have a serial number etched into the casing.  If a watch does not have a serial or case reference number, it may be counterfeit. If a number is available, contact the manufacturer to trace the serial number.  If the details of the serial number records do not coincide with the watch, such as having the serial number assigned to a different model or brand watch, the watch is likely fake.  Similarly, if more than one watch from the same seller has the same serial number, all are likely counterfeit.
  2. Listen for the tick. Rolex watches and many other brands feature hands that move constantly and flawlessly. Lower-quality and counterfeit watches often move in ticks, which can be heard. As the smooth hand movement requires precision engineering during the manufacturing process, many counterfeit watches will not include that detail. A visible or audible tick should be a big red flag pointing to a counterfeit watch.
  3. Examine the sticker. For security purposes, most high-end watches come with a hologram sticker on the back plate, stating the brand or brand symbol and a reference number. Authentic stickers will be holograms whereas counterfeit watch stickers will simply change when viewed from different angles.  
  4. Look at the back plate and under the case back. Some counterfeit watches will feature a clear back plate, allowing you to see the movement held within.  Rolex has never produced a clear-back watch and those claiming to be authentic, but have a clear back are counterfeit. As the dealer to open the back plate of the watch to view the moving parts. Watches that are counterfeit will have jerky mechanical movement, rather than the authentic perpetual movement in an authentic piece.
  5. Double check the spelling. As simple as it seems, many counterfeit watches will have spelling errors in the brand names or other markings. Unless the words on the watch are in perfect spelling, the watch is likely fake. Take special note of letters like I, which can be replaced by a 1 and zero, which can replace an O.
  6. Inspect for imperfections. Smudges, smears and other imperfections, as small as they may be are signs of a counterfeit watch. People willing to pay the big bucks for authentic watches expect the best and the manufacturers take much care to send those flawless watches to customers.  
  7. Use common sense. If someone on the street is claiming to have an authentic watch for sale at a fraction of the price, more likely than not its counterfeit.  Use common sense and remember that when a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is.
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