Rolex watches have long been considered a symbol of success. Sporting a Rolex on your wrist is a sure sign that you have arrived. It comes as no surprise that most people who are thinking of buying a luxury watch envision it to be a Rolex. Not only has the brand stood the test of time, it has also proven to be a fantastic investment. Like a fabulous work of art, a genuine Rolex never loses its value. It’s an heirloom you can pass down to future generations.
The high demand for these watches has spawned an entire industry that specializes in manufacturing Rolex knockoffs. The two models that are highest in demand in the fake Rolex market are the Submariner and the Datejust.
In the early years when this trend was just beginning, the imitation watches were rather crudely made with glaring faults that were a dead giveaway. The finish was crude in some pieces. In others there were misspellings, uneven fonts, smudged lettering or even a wrongly designed crown logo or no logo at all.
Today, this industry has become more sophisticated and the quality of the replica Rolex watches has improved tremendously. Identifying a phony today can be truly challenging. In some cases the replication is so good it is almost impossible to identify the flaws with the naked eye.
Real Rolex. Image credit: Rolex website
A Look At How Rolex Manages To Preserve Its Integrity
Despite all efforts to duplicate Rolex watches, there are a few hallmark features of the brand that are difficult to reproduce to the same standards. This is because Rolex uses only the highest quality materials and state-of-the-art equipment to construct and brand their timepieces.
All precious metals are made, alloyed and rolled in-house so that the integrity of the materials is not compromised at any stage. The bezel, dial, crown, bracelet, clasp and bracelet are all crafted to perfection. The finish is refined and rounded with no sharp edges.
You can subject a genuine Rolex to the most stringent scrutiny but you will not find the smallest flaw. Every timepiece that rolls out of the workshop is absolutely perfect right down to the smallest detail.
The same cannot be said for a fake Rolex. Spurious manufacturers cannot afford to go to the same lengths to manufacture their replicas. They cut corners here and there and that shows up in the end result. It’s those little overlooked details that can help you distinguish an imitation from the real deal. If you are shopping around for a Rolex watch here are a few things that you need to take a closer look at to help you determine if the piece is genuine or a knock off.
13 Things To Look At When Buying A Rolex Watch
1. Serial & Model Number Stamping Every authentic Rolex comes with a specific serial and model number engraved on the case. The engraving is always deep with solid, deep lines and sharp edges that are perfectly formed. Fake Rolex watches typically do not have any engraved information on the case and even if they do, the work is visibly substandard. Instead of neat, deep lines the numbers will either have a grainy appearance or they will appear as tiny faint dots. This is because the counterfeiters cannot afford to invest in the high tech equipment that Rolex uses to engrave the serial and model number.
2. Writing on the Dial As with every other part of a genuine Rolex, the dial too is flawless. If you inspect the lettering on the original dial under a magnifying glass you will see that every number and letter is absolutely pristine. The letters are slightly convex with not the slightest sign of bubbling. If you put the dial under a magnifying glass and you see that the fonts are even slightly blurry, uneven or smudged or the spacing between the lettering is inconsistent, there is no question that it is a fake Rolex.
3. Heft Of The Watch The heft refers to the weight and feel of the watch. An authentic timepiece by Rolex will never be lightweight or flimsy. In Rolex watches, genuine metal is used in the entire construction, which gives the piece a definite weightiness and a solid feel. When you hold an authentic piece in your hand you can distinctly feel this additional weight and the watch will feel solid and smooth to the touch. If the piece you are holding in your hand does not have any heft it, chances are high it is not the real deal. Replicas generally use inferior quality metal, which makes the finished product lighter and definitely flimsier. It would also not feel as smooth to the touch as a genuine Rolex.
4. Crown Logo The brand’s Crown logo is instantly recognizable by Rolex enthusiasts around the world. No timepiece leaves the workshop without the Crown logo stamped onto the dial. Don’t see the Crown logo on the dial? Don’t even bother looking for the other signs of authenticity. The piece is without doubt a copy and not worth the price, no matter how good the price sounds. What’s more, these are of the lowest quality even in the fake market. Most knockoff manufacturers have realized the importance of this hallmark feature and all higher quality fakes will feature the famous logo.
5. Type Of Caseback Flip the watch over and take a look at the back of the case. A genuine Rolex will almost always have a plain metal caseback. Only a few vintage models manufactured in the 1930s were manufactured with see-though casebacks. As expected these rare watches come with a huge price tag. If the watch you are holding has a clear caseback and is a modern model or is ‘affordably’ priced, you know for sure you are looking at an imitation. In replica watches the casebacks are generally made of plastic, glass or crystal to showcase the inner mechanism of the watch. Rolex obviously did not feel the need to do this. They know their mechanism is amongst the best and their loyal customers know it too. No need to prove it.
6. Engravings on the Caseback Genuine Rolex watches have engravings on the interior surface of the caseback but the exterior surface is generally smooth and free from any type of engraving, whether in the form of logos, pictures, numbers or words. Only the Sea Dweller and Milgauss models feature engravings on the exterior of the caseback. The Sea Dweller has the words “Rolex Oyster Original Gas Escape Valve” engraved in an arc around the outside of the case back. Does the watch you are holding have some sort of engraving on the caseback? If it does, you know for sure it is a forgery, unless of course you are looking at a Sea Dweller or a Milgauss.
7. Cyclops In all Rolex models that show the date, the face of the watch has a small magnifying lens right above the date window. This is called the Cyclops. On an authentic watch, the Cyclops is convex and is designed to magnify the date exactly 2.5 times the normal size so the date is neither too big nor too small. The size is just right and makes the date more easily readable. Moreover it is placed dead center above the number so that the font is clearly visible even from the side. In imitation watches, the magnification is not likely to be as precise. In some fake Rolex watches, this glass bubble magnifies the date only 1.5 times so it is still too small read. Some of the smarter counterfeiters have found a way around this too. They print a larger font size on the dial so when you look through the Cyclops, the font size appears almost the same size as that of the original.
8. Winding Crown Run your hands lightly around the winding crown. It is usually placed on the side of the watch at the 3 o’clock mark. If it is a genuine Rolex you will be able to feel the finely-crafted grooves and engravings that run along the crown and the side. In spurious models the crown is merely functional. It is necessary to move the minute and hour hands but the manufacturers don’t have the knowhow or the expertise to reproduce the other adornments. The result is a basic crown with none of the finer markings.
9. Movement Take a look at the second hand of the watch. Does it sweep along smoothly or does it seem to jump from one second to the next? The advanced technology that Rolex uses in its mechanism allows each movement of the second hand to move around the face of the dial in a fluid movement so that it looks like it is sweeping along seamlessly. In most of the knock off watches the movement of the second hand is not fluid. Instead, it appears to jump from one second to the next. You have to be careful when using this as one of the identifying methods. Some of the higher quality imitations have managed to replicate the sweeping movement closely enough to look like the real thing so may need to investigate further and check the actual movement inside the watch. A cautionary note – do not do this yourself. If you think the inner mechanism needs to be evaluated, you should only get it done by a reliable Rolex dealer.
10. Ticking Sounds Put the watch to your ear and listen closely. Do you hear a loud or even a faint but distinct ticking sound? If you do, it is a definite imitation. Rolex uses exceptionally high quality gear mechanism that is fitted to precision so it moves along silently. It would require a significant investment for counterfeiters to attain this level of perfection so they compromise with lower quality gears, which make a ticking sound that is similar to what you can hear with most other watches.
11. GMT hand Most people overlook this details but it is an important one to take into consideration. The green GMT hand in an authentic Rolex is usually placed between the minute and hour hands. In the imitation pieces, this hand is placed closer to the dial, below the minute and hour hands. This is not simply a careless mistake made by spurious watch makers. The fact is, they cannot afford to invest in the technology that allows this unique placement. The counterfeit movements they use have certain limitations that do not allow the GMT hand to be placed in between the other hands. It only works when it is close to the dial.
12. Water Resistance All Rolex watches are not necessarily designed to be worn while diving, but they are all built to be 100% water resistant. This means you can wear them in the rain safely and you definitely do not have to worry about water spilling over it. Fake Rolex watches may or may not be waterproof, depending on the quality. If water gets into the dial it is definitely an imitation but if water does not get into the dial it is not guaranteed to be an original. Further investigations must be carried out and other criteria must be evaluated.
13. The Price When it comes to the cost of the watch you are considering buying, always remember the golden rule – ‘If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”. Are you getting the watch at a bargain basement rate? Don’t be tempted for a second. Just turn around and watch away.
The simple truth is, Rolex is a luxury brand and their products are expensive. There’s no arguing that the price is well worth it because of the high quality materials and mechanism of their watches. Anyone who wants to own one of these classy masterpieces is usually prepared to pay for the privilege. But no, not even on your luckiest day will you find a Rolex watch being sold at a bargain price.
Even those who are selling their pre-owned Rolex watches know the value of the timepiece and will not settle for anything less.
So how do you know what is a good price and what isn’t? Checking out the price of that particular model on a couple of genuine dealer’s sites will give you a better idea of how much the genuine item should cost.
Where Are You Buying Your Watch From?
There’s one more vital aspect that you must consider if you want to make sure you are buying a genuine Rolex. It does not relate to one of the features on the watch itself but to where you buy it from.
The internet has made it easier than ever to find Rolex watches at a wide range of prices. Go on to sites such as Ebay and Craigslist and you will see some fabulous Rolex watches for sale at prices way below the prices listed on some watch dealers’ sites. It’s tempting. However, it’s also very dicey.
These sites are not guaranteeing the quality or authenticity of the watch in question. They merely act as platforms that introduce buyers and sellers. Even if a site claims that a seller is verified, that is no guarantee for quality.
The best way to avoid the ultimate disaster of ending up with a phony Rolex is to only buy from trustworthy, reputable dealers. Read reviews so you know some more about the experiences that earlier customers have had with the company. Call their toll free number and speak to their customer service. The way a company’s customer service handle your queries speaks volumes about their professionalism and their integrity. If you have the slightest doubts after making that call, cancel the store name from your list and test out another.
There are luxury watch makers and then there is Rolex – the Holy Grail of Watch Makers. With its sleek sophisticated styling, attention to detail and precision time-keeping, this Swiss watch brand has carved a unique niche for itself despite stiff competition from other luxury watch brands. Paying heed to the above factors will help ensure that you end up the proud owner of a genuine timepiece and not a fake Rolex.