Counterfeit luxury items have been around for virtually as long as the authentic item itself, fine Swiss watches included. It is estimated that 40 million counterfeit watches a year are sold with a net profit of 1 billion dollars. That’s real money the last time I sat in a math class gazing out the window. A billion dollars catches everyone's attention.
Some, or a lot of that money, it’s hard to tell, is coming from what some are calling “super fakes.” Unlike some knockoffs of the past sold on street corners from Hong Kong to New York, this new generation of of counterfeit Swiss icons of the horological world are are made by master counterfeiters who have put in the time perfecting and mastering the products they are copying so well that some fakes, from Rolex GMT Masters to Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendars are fooling the experts at an alarming rate. Technologies employed by legitimate companies are also a counterfeiters best friend and have played a large role in their rise, right to online communities praising the closeness of design to the originals.
For Swiss brands such as the aforementioned Rolex, Omega, Breitling, Cartier, Blancpain, Hublot, and Bulgari, just to name a few, counterfeiting can translate into an erosion of exclusivity, damage to the brands reputation, and lose of revenue by taking away one’s desire to save for that special day and enjoy that huge sense of accomplishment of working hard and enjoying the rewards. The new super fakes are appealing to the darker side of man as we shall see in a moment. Along with the level of perfection counterfeiters have achieved in their products, they have also taken to closely copying the counterfeited brands own approach to marketing, the internet making their job quite easy. And even if a site is shutdown, through social media these criminals can inform their clients exactly where to find them next, often in a matter of hours. Type in replica Rolex Datejust II and you will be inundated with companies offering every level of quality and price. I found 16 pages researching this article some advertising Swiss Valjoux and ETA movements ranging in price from just under $400 to $1300, Counterfeits equipped with Asian made movements can be found in the under $200 range. Super fakes undoubtedly at the top of this price list.
So all of this data, to me at least, begs the question what, beyond money, or lack there of, better stated, is the psychology behind people supporting such a devious billion dollar industry and how does supporting known deception affect the purchaser of a fake Hublot Big Bang Limited Edition.
Well one study carried out by three psychological scientists, one each from Chapel Hill, Harvard Business School, and Duke University came up with some evidence which may surprize some people as to the psychological effects of sporting counterfeit products of any type. These three scientists assembled a large group of young woman and gave them all real Chloe sunglasses to wear, with half of the woman lead to believe that they were wearing knockoffs. They wanted to find out if wearing fake designer sunglasses which in and of itself is a form of dishonesty, would make them act more dishonestly in other types of situations life presents us all. When given a complicated set of mathematical problems to solve which would be completely impossible to finish in the allotted time and furthermore told to grade themselves on the honor system, fully 70% of the women who thought they were wearing fake Chloe sunglasses cheated on the test.
In another test to determine if an inauthentic image would would make people feel as such and therefore have a more cynical attitude towards others. The participants were asked to complete a survey about someone they knew to determine their perception of others with whom they had personal knowledge. The results came back overwhelming once again as the women who thought they were wearing fake glasses saw others as dishonest and more likely to act unethically. According to this study it appears that misery on any level loves company and demonstrating that wearing fake watches, including that Rolex Yachtmaster you’ve had your eyes on while browsing the pages of almostarolex.com, (to my knowledge not a real site), undermines your internal sense of authenticity and this counterfeit self is much more open to lying and cheating in the real world.
Of course there are many good people that have been taken by slick willies all over the world and have been sold a fake Rolex. We of course have not included them in any aspect of this subject and extend our deepest sympathies to each and everyone of them. So for them there are some steps you can take to save yourself that horror once again.
1. Know Your Dealer
A good place to start avoiding a fake watch is the place you actually start looking for a Rolex. The dealer himself. Do your diligent research about the store you are walking into or the virtual one you are browsing through. Google has done a pretty good job of placing reputable dealers in your sight first off, one of these being Hal Martin's Watch & Jewelry Co. in Houston, Texas, the largest pre-owned dealer in the southwest United States. Being in business since 1973 gives a good indication of the quality of their products. There are multiple platforms to find reviews on dealers so be sure you check them all before making a final decision of where to shop.
An authentic Swiss watch whether it be an Omega, Breitling, Cartier, Carl F. Bucherer or Rolex will have some considerable weight to it due to the quality of steel used in the case, bracelets and the movement itself. A gold rotor hidden behind a solid caseback can add considerable weight that counterfeit watch manufacturers will not consider using in order to contain costs.
3. Printing on Dials
A good place to eliminate very quickly, some counterfeit watches is to look at the lettering printed on the dial. A high quality Swiss watch will have very pristine tight printing of all text and numbers. In the case of all Rolex watches the printing should be convexed in nature. If you see any type of blurring or the look of paint leaking under tape when painting a wall rest assured this watch would have never passed inspection of any Swiss made luxury watch manufacturer..
4. Serial Numbers
Serial numbers can be a very telling sign as to the authenticity of a watch, especially in the case of Rolex. In the case of a real Rolex you will find the model number engraved on the case at 12 o'clock and the serial number engraved on the case at 6 o'clock. In both instances the watches bracelet must be removed to reveal the numbers which should be solid very fine lines that will actually glow in the light at an angle like a diamond cut edge. Starting with the M serial numbers in 2007 Rolex began engraving the serial number on the inner bezel under the crystal. Also in terms of engraving the case backs are always free of any markings. The only exceptions made were a SeaDweller engraved with “Rolex Oyster Original Gas Escape Valve” engraved around the outside edge of the case, along with the Milguass with a similar design. If someone offers you a Rolex with an exhibition caseback, unless it’s a “Bubble Back” model from 1930, run for the hills. I actually had a customer offer me such a watch and it floored me how little research some counterfeiters are actually willing to do.
5. Visit a Trusted Watchmaker
If you really want to cut to the chase and get your answer quickly, the best way is to take the watch to a trusted watchmaker so he can remove the case back and inspected the movement. Rolex as well as Cartier, Omega, Patek Philippe, just to name just a few, have spent years and a mountain of money to design, engineer, and build the incredible movements inside them and counterfeiters can not meet their bottom line by attempting to give birth to the very extravagant heart beating inside a Rolex Daytona.
So as we have seen, buying counterfeit watches has a myriad of problematic symptoms attached to the purchase, the greatest may be the assault on your own identity.