Luxury watches make up a more than $7 billion industry today. While there are plenty of options to choose from, the Rolex is still the king of them all.
This watch brand has stood the test of time, both in terms of prestige and craftsmanship. These watches have been used throughout history by people from all walks of life, and the watchmaker has never taken a step back in terms of care and impeccability.
So, it should be no surprise that the market for counterfeit Rolexes is huge in itself. If you love watches and don’t want to get cheated, you need to make sure you can pinpoint a fake.
Below we’ll explain some ways to spot a fake Rolex vs real.
Check and Reference the Reference Number
The key factor that lets you know a Rolex is legitimate is the Rolex reference number. This is a serial number of sorts that points to the type and model once you know how to differentiate it. It’s a model number that tells you everything you need to know about the Rolex watch, including:
- Its age
- The type of materials
- The type of bezel
- The Rolex model
You won’t know this based on the number alone, but the code breaks down each element when you look at it on a chart. By understanding the reference number, it’ll give you some insight into the watch’s legitimacy. If any part of the code doesn’t match the details of the watch, you’ll know right away that it’s a fake.
Look at the Movement of the Second Hand
Next, make sure that you study the movement of the Rolex watch as you try to decide if it’s real or fake. Pay careful attention to the second hand, because there are some telltale signs of fake Rolexes.
Real Rolexes are characterized by having smooth and fluid movements with both hands. The second hand in particular should move fluidly and smoothly, without stuttering or hesitating. Fake Rolexes generally tend to stutter rather than move smoothly, so pay careful attention to this before you decide to make a purchase.
Verify the Seller
You will learn a lot about your watch when you buy it from a quality seller. You’ll cut out a lot of hesitation and questions when you choose to buy from authorized Rolex sellers, or from the Rolex store itself.
An authorized dealer will have a number that verifies their legitimacy, and will also show up on lists when you do a search.
This aside, make sure that you study the background of the watch shop to see how long they have been in business and how credible they are. Be sure that you do business with shops that come with quality referrals and plenty of 5-star reviews. Do your due diligence when finding a shop and it will greatly reduce the likelihood that you get taken advantage of by a fake.
Get a Feel for the Weight of the Rolex
Pick up the Rolex and hold it in your hand. The weight is one of the biggest giveaways that you’re dealing with either a real or fake Rolex.
Real Rolexes have more weight and heft than fake ones because of the quality of the materials that they use. Even the least expensive Rolex is made with solid stainless steel. A fake Rolex dealer can only make money when they cheap out on the materials, so they can’t afford to match the weight or quality.
Study the specifications of the Rolex that you’re interested in buying and put it on a scale if you have any doubts. While the weight may not match the specifications exactly, it should set off alarm bells if the weight is grossly different.
Authenticate the Metals
Rolex watches are made from quality metals that are verifiable. In addition to stainless steel options, these watches are also made from materials like 14K gold and Rose Gold.
These materials shouldn’t tarnish or scratch, and you should be able to take it to any jeweler to verify that the watch is made from the metal that it’s supposed to be.
Watch the Quartz Dial
You can also look into the quartz dial to check whether or not the Rolex is real. There are always some subtleties that you can notice, even if the fake is a good one. Understanding the details and nuances will let you spot a fake one right away.
For one, real Rolex dials are perfectly aligned, while fakes are typically out of alignment or uneven. Real Rolexes will also have the 5-point crown at the top where the 12 o’clock hand rests. If the crown is too fat or too skinny, or worse, missing altogether, you likely have a fake Rolex in your possession.
Take the time to check other details that you would kick yourself for missing – such as misspellings, missing numbers, out-of-place numbers, or colors that don’t match the official Rolex offerings. The glass should be hard to the touch but clear and never cloudy. Many fake Rolexes have cheap-looking hour markers that may even be fading or scratched.
Real Rolexes also have a lume finish that provides some luster in dark conditions. Fake Rolexes that use regular glass will be missing this trademark feature.
Make sure that you also study the watch side-by-side with pictures or real Rolexes to notice the little details like the placement of certain words or features. You can also read about digital Rolex options to familiarize yourself with these watches.
Pay Attention to the Details of the Bracelet
You will also notice that there are certain bracelet details that set real Rolexes apart from fake ones. For one, if the bracelet is missing the crown logo, it’s another dead giveaway that you are dealing with a fake one. If the crown is too fat or too skinny, the wrong color, upside down, or tarnished, you’re also dealing with a fake.
The bracelet should also look uniform with the watch, and not like two different materials were matched together. It shouldn’t feature any screws or connectors that look cheap or pieced together. Give yourself the chance to study the bracelet under the light to see if it has any fingerprints from being handled by too many people, scratches, or hints of corrosion.
Watch the Crown
The crown at the top of the big hand is often the biggest indicator of whether your Rolex is fake or real. People who aren’t skilled at noticing differences in watch movements can quickly spot hesitation because the crown starts shaking. You should also be mindful if the big hand is missing the crown completely, if it is a different color, or if the quality of the crown doesn’t hold up against the rest of the watch.
Rolex is all about details, and the crown will either serve as the icing on the cake, or an indicator that something is off. Just like the crown at the 12 o’clock marker, make sure that the big hand crown has five points.
Check the Water Resistance of the Watch
Water resistance is also a hallmark of the Rolex brand. Whether you’re buying a diver watch, field watch, or any other model, there’s a certain measure of resistance that you should come to expect.
If you notice that the watch is succumbing to even the slightest water conditions, it’s a dead giveaway that you are dealing with a fake. Look into the specifications of the Rolex that you are purchasing so that you know how much water resistance it has, based on the model.
Study the Different Types of Rolexes
Rolex is a detail-oriented brand, so there are always little bells and whistles that make each one unique. The best thing you can do is study each model so that you are up-to-date on these details and able to spot a fake.
Check out the color, materials, and design of watches like the Rolex Skydweller or Daytona. Find what sets them apart, and which can’t-miss features would be difficult to replicate in a fake.
Be Vigilant During the Transaction
Finally, always be vigilant anytime you’re purchasing a Rolex. Do your research into both the watch and the dealer, and come prepared with questions. Walk away if the dealer is hesitant or abrasive when answering any of your questions.
Make sure that they are forthcoming with all information, and that their answers match your research.
Know How to Spot a Fake Rolex vs Real
The tips above are useful when you want to know how to spot a fake Rolex vs real. If you’re getting into the watch game, it’s easy to feel like a fish out of water if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Keep brushing up on the right information so that you’re always an informed buyer.
Check out our other tips to learn more about watches of all types.