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How to Spot a Fake Rolex Like a Pro

January 22, 2021

So you want to buy a Rolex? Who wouldn't?

Rolex is one of the most sought after, luxury watch brands globally, and owning one is a status symbol unto itself.

But with great demand also comes a world of counterfeit watches attempting to trick you into thinking they're the real deal.

Protect yourself and your wallet by learning how to spot a fake Rolex. Here are some tips to keep in mind while shopping.

Trust Your Seller

Before we get into the details of exactly how to spot a fake Rolex, the most prominent defence against accidentally purchasing a counterfeit watch is to know and trust the person selling it to you. Whether that person is an individual or an employee of a pre-owned dealer, you need to be able to put your faith in them. There are plenty of reputable Rolex dealers all over the world. You just have to know them.

Google is a terrific resource to verify the reputation of a dealer or store selling Rolex watches. It will highlight reputable dealers and allow you to read reviews from previous customers. Any counterfeit dealing will pop up very quickly in the business reviews if a customer has been dissatisfied or was pushed to buy a fake watch the dealer told them was real. 

Almost all reputable verified Rolex dealers will guarantee authenticity from an in-house expert with in-depth knowledge of Rolex watches. This expert usually has years of experience working in Rolex' servicing department or is accredited by the brand.

When purchasing a Rolex, it's best to avoid online shopping from unverified dealers, unless you know your stuff and plan to meet the seller in a secure place. eBay and Craigslist are a hotbed for counterfeit watches since no one on their end is enforcing proof of authenticity.

Once you have purchased a watch from one of these sites, it is challenging to return it for a full refund if you discover the watch is fake.

Now that you've decided to purchase your watch from a trusted source, let's get into the more specific and detailed ways to ensure your Rolex is authentic.

Second-Hand Stutter

This is a simple trick for how to identify a real Rolex. The seconds hand movement can immediately tip off any watch connoisseur to the authenticity of a Rolex.

On an authentic Rolex, the second hand will move in tiny ticks which appear smooth at a glance. The seconds hand should glide around the face of the watch without pause. However, on a fake, you're likely to see the second-hand tick along, stuttering its way around the face with every second that goes by.

If you cannot tell the difference between the movements with your naked eye, put the watch to your ear and listen closely. A stuttering second hand will make a small ticking noise as it moves along whereas the second hand of a real Rolex will remain close to silent.

Rolex has made a small number of battery-powered watches in the past. These were called 'Oysterquartz', Rolex has never made quartz versions of the Submariner, GMT-Master or other popular models.

Weight Matters

As you know, Rolex is a luxury watch which means the materials used to make it will always be of the highest quality. Another way to spot a fake Rolex is to hold it in your hand. Does it feel heavy, or is it on the lighter side?

A real Rolex uses high-quality metals which means it will not be light. If the watch feels light in your hand, it was likely built with cheaper metal and is a fake.

This advice applies particularly to newer models which have bracelets made from links that are solid stainless steel. Older watches, such as the Submariner reference 16610, have Oyster bracelets with hollow links made by stamping. These hollow bracelets are much lighter than the current lineup. The 'head', the main part of the watch you look at, should still be heavy and feel sturdy.

Check the crown

Another tell-tale sign of a fake Rolex watch is the crown. On a real Rolex, the craftmanship spares no detail. This means even the small piece of metal on the side of the watch known as the crown will be intricate and accurate.

If you spot a watch with a smooth crown or one that seems plain or brushed over, this is a red flag. You'll notice on many fake Rolex watches there is a lack of detail on the crown, usually because the parts have been put together from various places and the metal is not high-quality enough to withstand small detailing like on a real Rolex.

The Big Date

Many Rolex watches will have a date on the dial of the watch, it's a signature of the brand after all. You can tell merely by brushing your finger over the crystal glass. If the lens (called a cyclops) over the date is convex and feels like a substantial bump, that's a sign you have a legitimate watch. If the cyclops is flat, this is a sign your watch is fake. 

 Furthermore, the convex lens will magnify the number on the date, making it appear larger. The cyclops magnifies the date window by 2.5 times. If your date is not magnified, or it doesn't seem to be magnified by much, this is another warning sign.

Note that the Sea-Dweller and Deepsea Sea-Dweller do not have a cyclops lens, even though they have a date function.

Model Number and Serial Stamps

Every Rolex is marked with a serial and model number found on the inside of the watch on the six o'clock side on modern Rolex watches, and between the lugs on older ones. Many counterfeit products will have a serial and model number that replicates the look of those found on a Rolex, so it's essential to understand the details to spot a fake.

On an authentic Rolex, the numbers will be deeply engraved in the metal, and they will appear clearly. When you tilt the watch toward the light, the engraved numbers will catch the light and illuminate clearly to reveal a completely symmetrical number.

On the contrary, a fake Rolex will have a stamp that appears a little messier. The lines will not be as clean. In fact, the imprint will likely look like it was made with several tiny dots or etchings as opposed to one stamp. The fake Rolex stamp will often have a grainy appearance.

Now You Know How to Spot a Fake Rolex

You're now equipped with some knowledge that will protect you from buying a counterfeit watch and the tools that will remind you how to spot a fake Rolex.

These tricks will undoubtedly come in handy the next time you're shopping to guarantee you purchase an authentic product you can hold onto forever.

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