Starting off a new column where we bring Griff to life and talks all things watches and what not. The first topic tackled is an up to date and detailed guide at how to spot fake Rolex watches. The second hand market is exploding and therefore it is very important to know what you are getting into. Fake Rolex watches come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some are terrible and some are getting scary close to the original. Follow the steps in the video to ensure you do not spend your hard earned cash on a fake.
Special thanks to Sedlexdurolex for sharing additional expert insights. Also to WatchWalker and Riva Aquarama for providing additional images of a range of stunning wristwatches.
When assessing whether a piece is genuine or not, make all the checks below that are applicable to the model you are looking at, if any of these checks fail, be seriously worried and think about walking away, if more than one fails the test, definitely walk away.
First of all, we start with the Lume Pip. If your Rolex, say a Submariner, has this – then start here. It is important to understand that modern Rolex watches, are pretty much flawlessly made. In fake Rolex watches, the pearl here, the little circle, often shows certain imperfections: Not centered, much too high, wrong color. This will never happen on a modern Rolex.
CYCLOPS & DATE WINDOW
Next up, if your Rolex has a date window with the famous cyclops, definitely investigate. The cyclops is not there to attract attention, it actually serves a purpose. It magnifies the date 2.5x. It is also glued on without any visible mistakes. If your watch has a cyclops that looks like it is glued on or that doesn’t magnify like the original, walk away. In addition, also study the font that is used on the date wheel as well. On a fake rolex the font will often not match up, being either too little or too big, too fat or too narrow.
Now, moving forward, perhaps your Rolex has a bezel. The modern bezels are ceramic and the numbers on them are platinum sprayed. Not just painted on top. The result is that the relief, the texture, is different when looking at the genuine bezel vs the fake one. The platinum ‘paint’ is more textured and less white. If the numbers are too white, it’s surely fake. It can be easily seen with a loupe, just like the lume in the dial markers. Since it’s PVD made, there is no paint-run possibility.
A fun part, and one that will allow a trained eye to spot a fake Rolex from across the room. The REHAUT! Yes, the Rehaut. The Rehaut on a genuine Rolex has a certain height to it and has the words Rolex laser engraved on it. On a tremendous number of fake Rolex watches, the Rehaut is transformed into a Chicago deep dish style plate. Way too big, way too high. In addition, and you may need a loupe for this, the ROLEX engraving will be printed on and not engraved.
The rehaut engraving should be sharp, well centered, with a letter per minute marker and a crownCrown The knob on the outside of the watch that you typically use to either wind the mainspring or set the time [Learn More] at 12 and serial number at 6.
While you have your loupe with you, make sure to check the sapphire crystal at 6 o clock. A genuine Rolex will have the Rolex crown logo laser engraved in the crystal at this position.
The laser etched crown shouldn’t be visible from every angle and light. If too visible it’s fake. You can find a S (for service) in that crown, if the crystal has been changed by an AD.
Another important point is the hand stack. This is the order in which the hands are stacked on top of eachother. For some reason, this is something that fake watches very often do incorrectly, with for example the GMTGMT A GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) complication is a feature found in some watches that allows the wearer to track two time zones simultaneously. It typically includes a 24-hour hand and a bezel or a second hour hand that can be adjusted independently of the main hour hand to track the time in a different time zone. [Learn More] hand not sitting in the middle of the hour and minute hand.
A tad more difficult now, make sure to check all the text and fonts used for printing this text on the dial. If there is anything inconsistent, alarms should be going off. Rolex print is very consistent, with thickness and application being extremely even. On fake watches, the print can often be found lacking ‘perfection’ when zooming in on the details.
In addition, the use of the actual fonts will often be incorrect when comparing the genuine vs the fake models. It helps to have a reference image to compare against, just like in the Spot The Difference game we played a few minutes ago.
Note that Rolex usually changes the dial inscriptions without any warning. For example, in 2018, the f of 1000ft became longer, and the m was closer than the 300. A good tip is trying to compare to a same year model to make sure to check the good details.
CASE, LUGS etc.
8- Bringing things back to the case and lugs, make sure that the dimensions of the case actually match the genuine model of course. Very often the lugs will be too thick or too thin and the same goes for the crown guards. Also make sure the edge beveling actually matches with how they should be. The worst fakes will also just overall be horrible thick in comparison to a genuine piece.
BRACELET and CLASP
The bracelet is a key point to most Rolex watches out there, and it is for good reasons since Rolex bracelets are world class. As such, the fake bracelets often lack the detail of the genuine bracelets. Look at the bracelet links, how are they attached? Screws? Rivets? Does it match to the genuine bracelet? Look at the clasp, is the Rolex logo nice and crisp, or does it show rounded corners and edges?
Another thing to do is to simply weigh the overall watch, Take a scale with you if you have to, but the weight of a genuine Rolex is often not matched by the fake models out there as they tend to use lesser quality metals.
TIP: LUG PRINT
Two checks which you might not be able to do but that are very good checks to do are the following: Remove the bracelet and check for the engraving between the lugs on the case head. This is very often incorrectly copied over to the fake watches. Engraving between lugs should be very sharp with the letters/numbers not too close from each other.
The final check, and again not necessarily one you would be able to do, is to open up the watch and check the movement. Most fakes tend to have movements that you can easily identify as not being a genuine Rolex movement. Note that recent fakes have however upped the ante and started cloning the movements to a great extent so this is also to be studied up close.
Now before you go, let me restate that you should perform all of the above checks where applicable to the Rolex model you are looking at. If one of these tests fails, be seriously alarmed and I would personally walk away at that point. If two fail, definitely walk away.
One final piece of knowledge here relates to the scariest fakes out there. These are the Frankenwatches. These will be fake Rolex watches, but that have certain genuine parts mixed in them to fool the eye. You could have a fake Rolex watch on a genuine bracelet or for example an entirely fake Rolex with a genuine dial or a genuine set of hands. This is why it is crucial to make sure you do more than just a few checks, check everything you can and at the very least everything we mentioned in this overview!
Last fakes are really well made, with the same steel (904L), clone movement, correct hands stack and great box, papers and goodies. The best way to purchase from private individuals is still to get an original invoice.