Article How to Spot a Fake Rolex

Discussion in 'Gadgets and Consumer Electronics' started by JD666, Dec 27, 2014.

Share This Page

  1. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    So after the generous gift bestowed upon me from my loving wife, an idea struck me.

    This was an ideal opportunity to compare a real and a fake watch and find out the differences that set them apart.

    001 intro.jpg
    Can you tell the difference?

    Most people cannot as is wrap their heads around why a watch can be so expensive when a regular inexpensive quartz watch will give the same time and function in the same manner. Well it's the same thing as going from point A to point B in a regular hatch/sedan or in a Rolls-Royce. Both will get you from point A to B, but the experience will be much different.

    A lot goes into the making of a luxury watch. Some brands (not pointing fingers here, but looking at you Omega) simply jack up their prices in the guise of luxury, whereas others put in a degree of effort to make their product unique and durable.

    002 comparo.jpg

    The manufacturing process involved in making an genuine watch is far detailed and complicated than what a knock off or any grade of replica could match. Unless the replica manufacturer is employing the same quality levels of manufacturing (which would make the replica nearly as much as the original), there will always be some missing bits of quality and feel that would set them apart.

    I have seen a huge influx of fake watches in India, growing especially over the last 2 years. Earlier only the high end brands like Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer would be faked and duplicates would sell in Palika Bazaar and other shady markets. However now the trend has changed towards mid segment watches and brands like Carrera, Armani, Kenneth Cole, CK etc are being copied and sold easily.

    003 comparo.jpg

    Yep, they all come from China (having seen a huge underground market for such goods first hand in Shanghai). And from a distance, they look so damn good that it is virtually impossible to tell the difference without closer inspection.

    I hope to highlight some major differences that help in identifying a fake luxury watch. Some can be spotted from a distance, while others would require a closer inspection.

    For the purpose of this article, I will be comparing a Rolex GMT II with a fake Rolex GMT II.

    The fake watch was sourced from a local market here for about 7000 INR.

    I have spent a couple of evenings with both watches and am looking at pointing out differences on the following points -

    1. Bracelet/Case
    2. Clasp
    3. Etching/embossing
    4. Logo
    5. Crown
    6. Dial(s)
    7. Inscriptions
    8. Cyclops lens / Date window
    9. Bezel
    10. Misc.
    Now as you can see, most differences can be identified only when you have the watch in your hand. Which rarely happens, since you cannot just ask the wearer to remove the watch and hand it to you, just coz you would like to 'see'.

    Before I proceed further, I would also like to advise any avid horological enthusiast to get hands on experience with luxury watches so as to be able to identify them better and understand them better. You can always walk into a showroom and inspect the watches to get a better understanding.

    One aspect that I did not mention, and that comes only with experience is the feel and heft of a watch. When you hold a genuine watch and a fake one in your hand, you somehow get the difference yourself. It's not something that can be written down, but only comes with experience.

    I hope to be able to get a comparison of weights of these watches from a jeweller's store as well for review purposes.

    1. Bracelet/Case

    004 bracelet.jpg

    Now this is the first and one of the easiest bits to start off with.The bracelet of the Genuine Rolex are individually machined pieces that use thick screws to hold each link in place. The Oyster bracelet as it is referred to, is easily recognizable with the dull finish on the side and a polished finish in the center.

    005 side original.jpg
    Side profile of the original watch

    Now Both genuine and fake watches are prone to getting scratched on the shiny bit. It's the dull finish portion that's harder to scratch on the genuine watch. So that is one of the points of comparison.

    006 side fake.jpg
    Side profile of the replica

    Secondly the flex will be different between the two. The replica will have more lateral flex versus the original.

    007 links original.jpg
    The links and screws on the original

    Overall as well you will feel a general flimsiness to the bracelet with unwanted clitter-clatter sound from the fake one.

    008 links fake.jpg
    The links and screws on the fake.

    The links also give out a general feel of flimsiness, which is not to be seen in the original.

    2. Clasp

    This difference will be evident when the watch is locked/un-locked on a wrist. The clasp lever is lighter, easier to move and does not have a fixed motion. It feels loose.

    011 latch compare.jpg
    Can you spot the difference in thickness of both latches?

    The bigger difference is in the size of the clasp lock, which is slimmer on the original and broader on the replica.

    012 Latch compare 02.jpg
    I have marked with arrows the difference in finishing of the first lock. The one on the left is the original finish, while the one on the right is the replica.

    Another feature that is present in the newer models is the easy extension. This allows for the links to be extended by 5mm when needed. This feature is present in the clasp.

    The definitive click when I lock the two watches is missing in the replica for sure.

    3. Etching/Debossing

    Now contrary to popular belief, very few Rolex have etching or an inscription on the underside of the watch. This is one of the biggest and easiest markers for identification. If you look at the below pictures, you will find that the replica has some marking indented on the underside, whereas the actual watch is absolutely plain -

    030 reverse original.jpg
    The underside. The plastic tab is of the protective cover.

    029 reverse fake.jpg
    The indentation on the replica is clearly visible.

    Also there are certain inscriptions that stand apart between the original and the replica. On the clasp, the Rolex Logo, the Stainless Steel material mention and the "Geneva" , "Swiss Made" all look different. The ones on the original watch look better finished with more effort and detail. The ones on the Replica simply feel too light and not deep enough.

    I have tried my best to capture this information in the photographs below. Hope they help first timers identify.

    013 inscription 01.jpg

    014 inscription 02.jpg

    The one on the left shows a deeper/clearer Rolex logo plus inscriptions.

    This difference can also be seen in the second part of the clasp where the material is mentioned -

    015 marking 01.jpg

    The above is the replica, and below the original

    016 marking 02.jpg

    As you can see, the marking is much smaller on the Original.

    4. Logo -

    The Rolex logo, or Crown is present at a few locations on the watch. First up is on the clasp, where it is hard to tell the difference apart to be honest.

    009 Crown original.jpg
    The original above and the replica below

    010 crown fake.jpg

    The other locations is that the crown is on the Crown of the watch :D and inscribed on the ring between the bezel and the dial. But we will come to that in a bit.

    5. Crown -

    Now these are some of the interesting bits, since the difference is pretty evident here. So much so that the difference in font is more than visible.

    First up, we look at the crown on both watches -

    017 Crown Original.jpg
    The original

    018 Crown Fake.jpg

    And ze fake.

    Now the crown on the Rolex screws into place. So if you want to wind or adjust the watch, you need to unscrew the crown and then pull it out. Now if the watch is genuine, the crown will always secure fully in the upright position as can be seen in the first image. If it is a replica, they don't bother with such details, so the crown can be pointing in any direction when locked. Also the finish on both watches is vastly different.

    6. Dial(s)

    There are a couple of differences that I saw, especially with the dial. First up, as I checked from the Rolex showroom, they have stopped inscribing the Rolex Logo on the Sapphire Glass of the watch. However this watch still bore the mark. Now I am not sure, whether they are trying to replicate an old model, hence it has been included. But present, it is -

    023 crown fake.jpg
    You can see the crown visible (as pointed by the arrow).

    Here is a zoom of another bit that I found out of order -

    The hole in the hour dial is clearly visible. And this is visible from a distance as well. Such errors make the replica stand out like a sore thumb.

    Here is an image of the original for reference sake -

    024 front original.jpg
    7. Inscription

    There is an inscription between the Bezel and the Dial, which reads Rolex on the sides. It depicts the Rolex crown at the 12 'o clock position and the Serial number of the watch at the 6 'o clock position. The difference in depth, font and size is clearly visible from the following pictures.

    019 Etching bezel original.jpg
    The Rolex etching and crown visible on the Original

    020 Etching bezel duplicate.jpg

    The difference on the Replica.

    021 serial duplicate.jpg

    Above - is the light etch of the serial number. This should be heavy and visible as seen on the original below

    022 Serial original.jpg
    8. Cyclops lens / Date window

    The Cyclops lens (Named after some one-eyed god) magnifies the date to about 1.5 times the original size. In a fake/replica watch, the date might not align perfectly. It is also possible that the date might not get magnified as much as the original.

    Some watches also have a difference in how the date changes, but that is under Misc differences.

    Here is a picture of the Cyclops lens on the Original -

    026 cyclops original.jpg

    And on the replica -

    025 cyclops fake.jpg

    You can make out how the numbers are not aligned and the lens is not also cut properly. In addition you can spot the difference between the crown of the original and the replica.

    9. Bezel

    Here's a comparo of the bezel finish. Though extremely close, the original has a machined stainless steel bezel, while the replica has a cast or finished bezel that does stand out.

    The below is the fake bezel -

    027 bezel edge fake.jpg

    And this is the original -

    028 bezel edge original.jpg

    Now there are several other differences that I'd like to compile under miscellaneous, because it would get too boring and long otherwise :D.

    The bracelet lock that connects to the case does not fit as snugly as that of the replica -

    031 bracelet lock fake.jpg
    The finish just does not add up.

    031 bracelet lock original.jpg

    The original reflects the master craftsmanship.
    There are a number of other differences. For instance, an original watch uses Sapphire crystal, that would have a slight violet or purple tinge when viewed from the side. A replica would have the generic bluish tinge (since it's just glass). Also the replica would scratch easy (not that I would recommend testing it ).

    Other difference that I read online was that the ticking sound of a Rolex is barely audible. For the first 2 days the ticking on the original was pretty audible, however now it's barely audible as mentioned. The ticking of the replica is pretty evident and crisp.

    This also affects the sweep of the seconds dial, however they (replica makers) have been able to bring it pretty close. So you won't really be able to tell unless you have an original for reference.

    I also read that there is a difference in how the date changes, with the change being pretty fast in the original watch (within 15 minutes or so of midnight), while it takes longer in a replica (an hour). This is a useful indicator to be honest.

    This is about as much as I could research in the 2-3 days I had my hands on these watches. I hope to read and research more and share more useful tips as time goes by.

    Thank you for reading. Here's a final shot of both watches -

    032 final shot original.jpg

    033 final shot fake.jpg
    Stuge likes this.
  2. Stuge

    Stuge RAID Rookie

    Likes Received:
    Excellent comparision JD :D .. Kudos :)
  3. Acroback

    Acroback RAID Rookie

    Likes Received:
    What is this comparison doing on a poor forum like raid101?
  4. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    Bhav badane ka. (Increasing the value of this poor forum)
  5. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    BTW, here's a video detailing what goes into the servicing of a Rolex. This is a Submariner model, not as many complications as the GMT -

  6. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    Bumping this up

Share This Page