When you talk to anyone in the horology community, one name will always pop up as a must-have luxury piece in your collection: Rolex. Because of its status, the brand is often a target for those looking to make a quick buck off of the name. Hence why there are so many fakes around.
Rolex watches made in foreign countries are more susceptible to being copied. As such, they are harder to tell from real models out there. One quick way is to look at the price. Fake Rolexes typically run from $20 – $250. Some of the most popular models for counterfeiters to hawk are knock offs of the Rolex Datejust and Submariner collections.
Don’t freak out if you have gotten a fake model because even the most experienced watch seller has been fooled at least once. Many fakes are easy to spot. But as we said, newer generations have become really good at making these watches look as close to the original as they can.
So how do you tell if your Rolex is fake?
In this guide, we go over some points that may help you determine if you’ve been had. With just a little knowledge and patience, you will be able to keep yourself from being duped. So, let’s get into some things you can do to prevent that from happening.
Things To Look Out For
Even before we get to the design features and markers that constitute an authentic Rolex, you should always know enough to buy from a reputable dealer. This is perhaps the easiest way to keep yourself from walking around with a fake Rolex on your wrist.
If you are buying from a dealer you don’t know, then practice due diligence and check them out. Read reviews and ask around on forums since other watch enthusiasts will be happy to give you proper information.
One place you must be particularly careful of are sites like eBay or Craigslist. These sites are a breeding ground for counterfeits. If you intend to take this option, you will need to take special precautions before purchasing. The truth, however, is that most watch collectors will steer you away from sites like these altogether.
Now that you have an idea of where to shop, let us look at features that you can investigate to figure out if you are dealing with real models or not.
When looking at serial numbers on a real Rolex, you will notice a few things. Each of the numbers are precisely and deeply etched with delicate and consistent lines. These lines should shine when placed under a light at an angle, almost like a diamond cut edge.
On a fake watch, the process for marking is done with lesser quality tools. This leads to having “serial numbers” that look like they are made of tiny dots strung together. They may also have a sandy appearance that comes from acid etching.
Name & Logo
One of the most obvious ways to tell a real watch from a fake one is the presence of the Rolex logo. If you are dealing with a low rent model, you may find that the little crown and subsequent lettering do not appear on the watch face. If that is not there, then you are dealing with a fake Rolex.
If you take the time to take off a watch’s case back, you will be able to see its movement. This happens to be one of the best ways to detect fraud.
A fake watch will not have the mastered craftsmanship needed to make a Rolex movement. First off, a real movement is engraved with a Rolex marking and each of the pieces that contribute to the whole mechanism usually consist of a beautiful finish.
Another important fact to know is 99% of Rolex watches use a mechanical movement. That means if you are looking at a Rolex watch with a quartz movement, then it is most likely fake.
Now just like most things, modern technology has helped counterfeiters get better at concealment. However, even with the best fake, you can see that the movement simply doesn’t have the minute detail and precision as a real Rolex would.
Take a real close look at the dial and you may be able to detect if your Rolex is genuine or not.
Rolex is known for its quality control. This means that on a real dial, everything is perfect from the spacing of letters to the evenness of the wording.
In fakes, you will often find misspellings or uneven fonts, and often the spaces are just a touch off. So, if you look at your dial and you see any of that, then your Rolex is a fake.
When you are dealing with a real Rolex, one of the features to look at is the cyclops lens.
With a genuine Rolex, you can see a convex lens that magnifies the date by two and a half times its original size. If you look at your Rolex or the one you intend on buying, and you see that the lens is flat with little to no magnification, the odds are that it is a fake.
One of the best things about Rolex watches is that they are designed to be super water-resistant. But even if you have the time and the equipment, unless you are a professional, doing a water-resistance test could lead to possible damage. So if you are not sure about your watch, take it to a professional and let them do the job because they will be able to tell you with more certainty if you are handling a fake Rolex.
When you hold a real Rolex, you can automatically notice the difference from a fake Rolex. With a genuine Rolex, you get a watch made of high-quality materials of the finest grade. This leaves the watch with a bit of heft to it.
On the flip side, when you are holding a fake Rolex, you will notice the significant lack of weight. This is because they use cheaper materials and mechanisms. So, if your watch feels a little light, then you are probably dealing with a counterfeit model.
Turn the watch over and examine its case back. There are very few models that have ever been manufactured by Rolex that have a clear case back. That being said, a few vintage models from the 30s have this feature. But except for those, the rest of Rolex’s case backs should be solid. You should not be able to see the movement within the housing. If you can, then this is a fake or a very rare find.
For the most part, you will not find any engraving on the case back. This means there should not be any logos or any words unless of course, they are personal engravings from the owners of the watch before you.
If you happen to be dealing with vintage watches, you may run into a few models that have features like stainless steel or registered design on their backs. The best way to make sure that a Rolex actually has engravings is to simply do a little research to ensure you are dealing with an authentic Rolex and not just another fake one.
Any model that is meant to have been manufactured after 2002 should bear the micro-etched tiny crown logo at the 6-position on the crystal. This is a great authenticity marker to look for. It is very small and may be hard to see, so make sure you bring a magnifying tool or move it around in the light until the light catches the etching. If your model has been designed after 2002 and it does not have this etching, then that is definitely a fraudulent piece.
Get into a quiet location and listen to the watch for several seconds. Most Rolex watches use a mechanical movement, and that means no battery as well as the absence of a ticking noise. If you listen and do hear a ticking, then the odds are that the watch you are holding uses quartz in its movement and that is a sure sign (for the most part) that the watch is a fake Rolex.
Many fakes use quartz movements because they are cheaper, and that leads to loud tick-tock noises. The ticking usually coincides with a second hand as opposed to the smooth sweeping movement of a Rolex mechanical movement.
We mentioned this above, but it bears repeating. A genuine Rolex often will have a price tag beginning in thousands of dollars. Therefore, if you are looking at one that has a price tag in the hundreds or lower, the odds are it is a fake, or possibly stolen. Either way, you want to walk away as fast as possible and find yourself a more reputable place to get your statement piece.
On a Rolex, the second hand is used to tell the secondary time zone. This hand should move with a smooth sweeping motion. Thus, if you see any jerk in it at all, this can only mean one of two things.
The first is that the more unlikely is that this Rolex watch needs some serious maintenance done and has not been very well taken care of. And the more likely possibility is that it is a fake Rolex. Typically, this movement is caused by a quartz movement. And since we have already established that most Rolex’s use a mechanical movement, this is a dead giveaway that the piece is not a real Rolex.
Pay close attention to the materials used in the Rolex watch you are looking at. Rolex watches do not use 14k gold or even gold-plated metals in any of their designs. If you are dealing with a real Rolex, you will find stainless steel, 18K gold or their own proprietary metal blend called Everose. If you see anything else, then it is is a fake Rolex for sure.
You can also look at the winding crown to tell if you are dealing with a real or fake Rolex. The first thing is that it should be in line with the 3 on the watch face. A real Rolex will have finely etched grooves and a crown engraved on its top. However, many fakes lack this all together; instead, they will have a plain and simple winding crown.
Adding a Rolex to your watch collection could be a great way to fill out your statement pieces. But only if they are real. That is why when purchasing a new Rolex, you will definitely want to pay close attention to where you are buying it.
Stick to reputable dealers and sites that offer a guarantee. If you deal with a private collector, they should not take offense at you ensuring that the piece in question is a legitimate model.
By taking the time to dissect a Rolex watch, you will quickly be able to determine if it is a fake. We hope that with the points we made above you feel better equipped to know how to tell if your Rolex is fake or not. After all, the last thing you want to do is spend all your hard-earned money on a watch that you have dreamt of only to find that it is not the real thing.
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