How To Spot A Fake Rolex Watch
Watch & Bullion20 February 2017 | 4 min read
The industry of faking luxury watches is one riddled with despicable people, yet undeniably their progress in recent years has been remarkable. In this article, we will be providing some tips on how to spot a fake Rolex watch. Whereas not too long ago a fake Rolex would stick out like a sore thumb through tell-tale errors like a cheap quartz movement, tacky interpretations of original designs, or just sheer ugliness, modern fakes have become eerily good.
This also means that it has become increasingly harder to spot fakes. Luckily for us, fakes will never be quite as good as the original, and with that, there are several characteristics that will remain unique to original watches. Below are some tips to stay safe!
Infographic on How to Spot a Fake Rolex in 6 Steps:
9 Top Tips on How to Spot a Real Vs Fake Rolex
1. How much should a real Rolex Weigh?
One of the most copied watches in the world is the Rolex Submariner, the reference 116610LN Submariner Date in Stainless steel, for example, should weigh: 160grams.
When it comes to the Fake Rolex models, due to the cheaper materials being used, it remains near impossible to get the weight of an original watch quite right. A quick search on the web usually reveals the weight a watch should have, which can then be used as a reference before any purchase to check for authenticity.
2. What should the finishing on a real Rolex feel like?
Have a feel along all edges of the watch. This tip is handy when it comes to metal bracelets. Check for sharp edges that feel uncomfortable or whether the bracelets try to eat your hair. While fakers can often get the look of a watch right, they struggle with the feeling, as this is where brands pump millions into finishing.
Pay particular attention to the clasp. It is an essential element often neglected when trying to fake a watch. Check whether the clasp fits the model. Great reference points in the past have proven to be the engravings on the inside of the clasp. The crown on the clasp is hard to get right in terms of attention to detail.
3. Watch out for noisy watches!
Move and shake the watch a bit. Listen out for weird noises like squeaking from the bracelet or a cheap tin-like rattle. A genuine watch is professionally built together and makes no funny noises. If you can hear your watch at arm’s length, it is a bad sign!
4. How accurate is a real Rolex?
Most fakes nowadays use mechanical movements. While these go a long way towards appearing real, upon closer inspection, you will often notice irregularities as cheap Chinese movements fail to live up to Rolex standards of accuracy. To test, you can use an app for your phone. A real Rolex is 200% as accurate as COSC standards which means +/- 2 seconds a day.
5. How can you identify a real Rolex dial?
Use a loupe to inspect the dial carefully. Check whether the letters and numbers have the correct size, font, colour, and distancing. Make sure everything looks crisp and clean. Ideally, you should have a macro image of a real dial to compare it to.
6. How to know if your Rolex has a real movement:
If you do not currently have a tool to open the case back of your watch, then an easy way to check the movement is to use it. Familiarise yourself with the movement of the original watch, and then handle the watch you suspect to be a fake. Check for how the watch can be wound and in what position the different functions operate.
7. How can you tell if a Rolex serial number is real?
Particularly hard to spot are the so-called Frankenwatches. As the name so aptly suggests, these are a mixture of original and fake parts. To check whether a watch is a wild mix of parts, check for the serial numbers on the case and the bracelet to see whether they match. Further, check whether the number is engraved correctly. Fine points made by a laser or a washed-out acid-etched number are indicators of a fake.
8. What kind of crystal does a real Rolex use?
Check whether the watch has the right crystal. First look at whether it is the right material, as a general rule modern Rolex watches all have a sapphire crystal. Most models made the switch in the 80s, the last acrylic crystal model making an appearance in 1991. For especially rare models, you can even go so far as to check the size of the crystal. Certain models (like the Rolex 1665 with a T39 Superdome crystal) have specific crystals which prove incredibly hard to counterfeit.
9. Pay particular attention to vintage Rolex watches
Many fakers artificially age their timepieces to give the impression of a watch being older than it is. However, as good as modern fakers are, faking patina is challenging. Check for any irregularities in the story of the watch. A tropical dial and an unused bracelet don’t add up. There is a whole science to what models age in certain ways under specific conditions, so check whether what you see fits the watch’s story.
The science of spotting fake watches is a well-developed branch of horology. There are entire Instagram accounts dedicated to spotting fakes and reaching cult status within the community, such as Fakewatchbusta.
The only real path to reaching such a status of expertise is experience. Luckily the internet proves an excellent playing ground to sharpen your skills in detecting fakes. Have a go yourself, and see whether you can spot the differences between some of the best fakes right next to a genuine piece!