How to Spot a Fake Rolex
Have the Movement Examined to Find a Fake Rolex
Fake Rolex watches are getting really good—so good that many can pass the eye test. It is getting harder to tell whether a "Rolex" is real or not, but here are some tell-tale signs of a fake:
- Made in China logo
- Clear back
- Weighted improperly
- Peeling paint
- Spelled Rollex
These may sound comical, but counterfeiters do make obvious fakes, as well as really good ones. The trickiest forges to spot are in the fine watch category. There is a whole industry out there spewing out knockoff Rolexes and, some of the time at least, they are nearly identical to the real thing.
There is only one way to tell the high-quality imposters from the real thing and that is by opening up the case. At this point, most experts can tell by looking at the movement, but not always. There are books with certification numbers and holograms much like licenses that are much more difficult to copy.
The bad news is, even experts get fooled from time to time. Some counterfeits are exact replicas with serial numbers that match real watches manufactured from the same materials with the same movement. For all purposes, they are just as high quality, just not genuine Rolex.
The Official Rolex Hologram
It's Easy to Avoid the Low-Quality Replicas
How do you make sure you don't fall prey to scammers? The most obvious answer is that you should purchase your watch only from a reputable Rolex dealer, not from the back of the truck or from Craigslist. Have an expert examine the watch for authenticity.
A good way for a layperson to ascertain the timepiece's authenticity is to take it to a certified appraiser. If you are more of a do-it-yourselfer, however, buy a magnifying glass and learn certain tricks of the trade that will shed light—literally and figuratively—on your Rolex. It's never recommended though to open the watch yourself. If it's real, opening in up yourself can void the warranty.
Counterfeit Rolex Watches: How to Know if it's a Fake
One of the easiest ways to spot a counterfeit Rolex is by its clear display, or caseback, which allows you to see the inner workings of the watch. The real McCoy does not have such a feature, with the exception of some vintage 1930s exhibition models that were never mass-produced.
Just as Rolex never manufactured clear casebacks, it did not engrave them either. Genuine models will have a smooth caseback, whilst fakes might feature engraved logos and other designs. The rare exceptions are the pre-1990s ladies' models, which had "Original Rolex Design" or a similar variation thereof, engraved on the caseback. Another exception is the Sea-Dweller display, which has "Rolex Oyster Original Gas Escape Valve" engraved around the outside of the caseback.
A real Rolex has a 3D hologram-encoded sticker on the caseback. For models produced after 2002, a Rolex crown can be viewed on the sticker and it changes patterns when you see it from different angles. A replica usually has a repetitious Rolex pattern printed on it and does not change when viewed from other angles.
Keep in mind too that Rolex has introduced a tiny crown logo etched onto the crystal in the area around the six o'clock direction after 2002, so this should not be present in earlier models. This feature may not, however, be applicable to all Rolex watches.
Another sign is that the crystal in authentic current date display models (with the exception of the Sea-Dweller) will have a Cyclops lens attached to the crystal, magnifying the tiny aperture 2.5 times. Fake Rolex watches, however, will offer only 1.5 magnification, though some "better" replicas now feature a larger font date to give an illusion of a bigger magnification. Just how sneaky can these scammers get?
Is my Rolex a Knock-off? Key Things to Look for in a Fake Rolex
Look for the triplock crown seal. What, you never heard of such a thing? It can be identified by three very small dots positioned under the Rolex "crown" logo engraved on the end on the winding crown.
GenuineRolex models featuring the triplock crown (Submariner, Sea-Dweller, and Daytona) use an extra seal within the threads of the winding crown's tube. Most counterfeit models will not feature this seal and will have basic, screw-down threads.
One of the most accurate ways to identify a counterfeit is by locating the Serial and Case Reference numbers engraved on the side of the case between the lugs. Engraving on a genuine Rolex features light-reflecting, very fine lines. A copy has a more "etched" appearance and the spacing in the numbers may be too close. Not only that, fakers will sometimes use the same numbers on all their watches.
This is by no means, an exhaustive list. Trying to spot a fake Rolex might be quite an exhausting undertaking. Let's put it this way: given a choice between a counterfeit Rolex and a Donald Duck watch, I shall opt for the latter. At least if it quacks, I know it's an original!
Checklist of Fake vs. Real Rolex
Extra seal within the threads around triplock crown
Clear display or caseback
Maybe. Many have logos
3D hologram-encoded sticker on caseback
Yes on models after 2002
2.5 magnification on Cyclops lens
No, most fakes have 1.5 magnification
Serial and case reference numbers on side of case
Yes, and is light-reflecting and very fine
Yes, but most have poor spacing and lines are etched
Would you buy a fake Rolex?
Swiss Replica Rolex: The Unofficial Fake
I have to tell you right off: I am not a fan of companies selling fake Rolex watches.
If you are thinking of buying a Swiss Replica Rolex, be forewarned: Selling fakes is against the law and there are documented cases of legal ramifications for the manufacture and/or sale of counterfeit watches, with perpetrators being indicted on felony charges. Montres Rolex SA has even gone after eBay.
Quite apart from the legal aspect of counterfeiting, there are other points to be considered before you kiss your money goodbye (and yes, when you buy a fake rolex, you might as well be throwing your money out the window).
There is, of course, no shortage of companies that sell fakes and go out of their way to convince the gullible buyer that their replicas look exactly like the genuine Rolex watches. Yes, dealers are well aware that they are running afoul of trademark laws, but I suppose they are willing to take that risk. Should you? Read on and then decide.
You might have seen the name "Swiss Replica Rolex," however there is no company with that name. If you Google "Swiss Replica Rolex" you will get a slew of listings of distributors offering fake watches, so I am assuming this is a global term for counterfeit watch peddlers. A common denominator of these companies is that none of their fakes is actually manufactured in Switzerland, but mostly (if not exclusively) in Asia.
Why Not Buy a Swiss Replica Rolex?
Here is a reason you should not fall into the trap (aside from the legal ramifications): You don't know who you are dealing with. I've actually gone online, checked some of these companies out, and noticed that none of them provides an address. Surprised? Not really. If I were breaking a law, I'd want to remain anonymous as well. A reputable company will always display its full address as well as the names of its board of directors. So the lack thereof should sound off an alarm in your head.
Another problem with fake Rolexes is the after-sales service. While these companies do offer a warranty, can you really trust a firm that is breaking the law in the first place, and whose exact geographical location is a mystery?
Also, there is always a good chance that sooner or later these operations will be shut down. They will likely re-appear under a different name since they don't want to give up their share of a very lucrative market. In the meantime, you can't be sure they won't skip town with your money in their pockets.
The true enjoyment of owning a genuine Rolex is not merely that it is a status symbol. It is the pleasure you get from knowing that the timepiece around your wrist represents the culmination of years of research, top-quality parts and materials, and meticulous craftsmanship. You will never get this feeling from a fake watch you buy from fly-by-night, dubious dealers.
I understand that what motivates people to buy fakes is that they don't want to spend the money on a genuine Rolex. Keep in mind though, that replicas are not Rolexes, and if you would like to own a real Swiss watch, look into some moderately-priced ones, such as the Tissot line, for example. They manufacture good quality dressy and sports watches, and I have owned quite a few of these models over the years to my full satisfaction.
Likewise, there are plenty of opportunities to save quite a bit buying a preowned Rolex (naturally, one that has the certification to prove it's genuine).
So don't be fooled by names like Swiss Replica Rolex and don't fall prey to illicit practices. It may end up costing you more than the price of a fake Rolex.