5 Ways to Spot a Fake Rolex

You know the old saying about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery? Well, when it comes to buying exquisitely designed, engineered, and manufactured Rolex timepieces, the imitators tend to veer more toward flatulence than flattery. In most cases, fake Rolexes are amateurish at best and it doesn?t require a jeweler’s loupe to spot the many flaws. Fake Rolexes often feature misspellings, an extra point on the famed logo’s crown, sharp or ragged edges on the case, bezel, and bracelet, and feel unusually light for a timepiece supposedly crafted from 14K or 18K gold or another precious metal.

However, bear in mind that there are vast differences between $50 fake Rolexes being sold by friendly, helpful fellows on city streets and $500 Rolex replicas sold by friendly, helpful jewelers whose ethics and motives are somewhat suspect. In recent years, counterfeiters have become increasingly crafty and better at concealing their forgeries. The best fake Rolexes are undetectable by anyone but an experienced jeweler who can remove the caseback and examine the watch?s inner workings.

Here are five probable (but not entirely foolproof) ways to spot a fake Rolex:

1. Lettering’In many replicas there are often obvious misspellings and letters that are not spaced with the precision found on authentic Rolexes. Blurry or poorly rendered letters can also mark a timepiece as a forgery; however, the lettering on the high-end fake Rolexes is faithfully reproduced and cannot be detected even with the aid of a magnifying glass.

2. Case Reference Numbers’The serial and case reference numbers on an authentic Rolex are engraved in exquisite detail and located between the lugs (the metal prongs that hold the bracelet in place) on the side of the case. The engraving on an authentic Rolex will reflect light and the spacing is very precise. On fake Rolexes, even the better fakes, the reference numbers are often etched into the side of the case with a corrosive substance and are somewhat dull in appearance. They also lack the clean, crisp appearance and fine lines of authentic Rolex engraving.

3. Second Hand Movement – An authentic Rolex features a second hand that moves smoothly in a continuous sweep around the face without any hesitation discernable by the human eye. A very close examination of this movement under magnification will detect eight distinct ‘ticks’ for each second?s progress. In cheap replicas, the second hand will hesitate and then advance to the next second due to the simplicity of the inner mechanism. Again, however, high-end fakes can replicate the continuous movement very well and therefore this factor alone is not a reliable method of determining authenticity.

4. Etched Logo on the Crystal – In 2002, Rolex began etching their logo precisely below the ‘6’ on the crystal on some, but not all, of their timepieces. This micro-etched coronet is difficult to discern with the naked eye and is best examined with a loupe for authenticity. Counterfeiters have since added this identifier to their replicas as well, but the etching is often not centered properly below the ‘6’ on the crystal, and the detail and proportions are incorrectly rendered.

5. Casebacks – Many forgeries are sold with clear casebacks so that the buyer can view the inner workings of the watch. Also known as a ?skeleton caseback, authentic Rolexes have never featured clear casebacks with the notable exception of some exquisitely rare promotional models they made in the 1930s.

With a few exceptions to the rule, Rolex does not engrave the casebacks, either, so this is another way to spot a forgery. Some ladies? models in the early 1990s featured minimal engraving in an arc and some authentic Sea-Dweller models also feature engraving in an arc saying, ‘ROLEX OYSTER ORIGINAL GAS ESCAPE VALVE’. The holograms found on the casebacks of authentic Rolexes are another clear way to separate the fakes from the genuine article, but unless the Rolex is seldom worn and kept in pristine condition, most of these holograms are removed by the owner for a more pleasant feeling against the skin.

Lower-end reproductions of Rolex watches are much easier to spot. However, spotting the higher-end fake Rolexes is much more difficult, especially with the exceptions to the rule by Rolex itself. As Rolex holds its place as a luxury staple, the stakes have risen in recent years and the counterfeiters have responded by making ever more faithful reproductions. The best way by far to ensure that you’re purchasing the genuine article is to buy only from reputable resellers of Rolex watches either online or in person.

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