Don't get scammed: how to spot a fake Rolex

Can you be sure that your timepiece is the genuine article?

Peter Iantorno November 27, 2014

Here at EDGAR, we're big believers that when it comes to watches, as with everything in life, genuine is always best.

To buy a fake Rolex is to miss the point of wearing one. Sure, if you get a realistic fake it might well fool a few people, but for us, the joy of wearing a quality timepiece is in the knowledge that it's made from the finest materials, with hours of manpower devoted to its making.

We also see it as a reward for our hard work - it may be an unnecessary luxury that we've paid good money for, but that's okay because in buying a genuine Swiss-made timepiece, we're buying into generations of watchmaking heritage, and you can't put a price on that.

So with that in mind, when we do spend our money, we want to be absolutely sure that what we're getting is the genuine article. Here are the best ways to tell a Rolex from a replica:

Cyclops lens
On Rolexes that display the date (such as the Datejust and Submariner), a genuine model will have an authentic Rolex Cyclops lens, which magnifies the date to 2.5 times its original size. If the date looks small or is difficult to read, either someone has interfered with the lens, or that watch is a fake. Cyclops lens Rolex. Material
Some Rolex models - the Day-Date/President, for example - are only ever made from precious metals such as gold or platinum, and absolutely never made from stainless steel. The only genuine stainless steel Day-Date models are from Rolex's sister company Tudor.

Hand movement
It's a common misconception that the hands of a genuine Rolex sweep around in one continuous motion. Instead, they do in fact tick, but usually at around five or six times per second, which creates the illusion of a sweeping hand movement. Although there are a couple of older models that tick once per second, there weren't very many of these made, so if yours does then it's likely a fake.

Dial
It's easy to get engrossed in the minute details when examining a watch and miss something glaringly obvious such as what is written on the dial. Anything less than crystal clear writing means the watch is probably a knock-off, and some of the worst fakes even have typos!

Caseback
You may think that being able to see the inner workings of the watch through a clear glass or crystal caseback is a good sign that it's genuine, as it shows there's nothing to hide. However, that couldn't be further from the truth, because there are in fact very few Rolex models that have a clear caseback. So if yours does, it's either an extremely rare vintage model, or - far more likely - a fake. Clear caseback Rolex The above examples are telltale signs of poor-quality fakes, but in recent years counterfeiters have been producing knock-offs that are more and more similar-looking to the originals, and unfortunately, unless you're an experienced watch dealer who handles Rolexes regularly, it's difficult to tell them apart.

However, there are a couple of ways that may sound simple, but are actually by far and away the most effective ways of telling fakes from the real mccoy.

How much did it cost?
Luxury Swiss-made timepieces are expensive things, generally because they're the result of years of research and development, hand-built by highly skilled and experienced artisans and made from incredibly high-quality materials. So if you picked yours up for a couple of hundred dirhams, we hate to be the bringers of bad news, but it's definitely a fake.

Where did you buy it from?
Similarly, such magnificent works of horological precision are sold almost exclusively by reputable stores, so if you think the kind man inviting you down a dark back alley to make a purchase is in possession of anything other than a cheap fake, you're sadly mistaken. Even buying online can be dangerous territory.

While there are some decent retailers out there, we think the best way to buy a genuine luxury watch is in person from a reputable business you can trust. That way not only can you see the watch up close and in detail, but you also have someone you can hold accountable should anything go wrong.