Today we briefly clarify a topic that has been causing quite some controversy on the interwebs for the past couple of decades (not really): How can a genuine Rolex wristwatch be considered a fake by Rolex?
The proof it seems is in the pudding, in this case said pudding is Rolex’s servicing guidelines. Rolex is known to have very strict standards when it comes to servicing its watches. On their official service page they state very cleary “Any intervention by a non-Rolex-authorised third party or the addition of any non-Rolex-manufactured parts or accessories will void the Service Guarantee.”
What that means is, if you happen to have had one too many and decided to bling out your favorite genuine Rolex wristwatch with diamonds by a local artist, Rolex no longer considers the watch authentic and will refuse to service it. Any changes or alterations done to a Rolex watch using non-authentic Rolex parts will directly result in it being considered Fake by Rolex voiding any warranty or access to Rolex’ servicing. The reason being that Rolex wants to avoid sub-optimal parts being added to their near-perfect timepieces. In addition, they also are of the opinion that any non-authentic parts used would by default lessen the overall quality of the watch and therefore result in a lesser product, not up to Rolex’s standards.
To better understand Rolex’s reasoning, we browsed the latest filing of Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc. v. Reference Watch LLC et al. This is a case where Rolex is going after watch customizer laCalifornienne and accusing them of selling counterfeit Rolex watches.
A nice summary was given by Malloy law, “Rolex asserts, La Californienne modified watches (although derived and customized from original Rolex watches) should be deemed “Counterfeit.” […] Rolex was able to determine La Californienne had at least reprinted or re-attached some of Rolex’s registered trademarks, and more subsequently, installed non-genuine products of Rolex on the watches such as a crystal, refinished the dial surface, which may lead to debris in the movement of the watch to affect time keeping ability, and improperly fitted a bezel, which may allow water to leak through the watch adversely affecting the watch.”
Note that the case deals with trademark infringement and other such fascinating topics. If you want a broader summary of everything at play definitely check it out here at the IP law blog by Malloy Law where they lay it out in human-speak.
The most debated modification online seems to be genuine Rolex wristwatches that have diamonds applied to them after the watch leaves the factory by a third party. Rolex’s stance on that is pretty clear, it would consider the end result of that intervention a counterfeit and will surely refuse to service such a watch.
So beware when doing any modifications to your Rolex and know what this will mean for your warranty, and certainly forget any dinner invites by Rolex after any such modifications.