Allison Ruby
June 2, 2017

Luxury Watches: How to Spot a Fake

Watches have been created for a wide variety of uses since the early 1500’s. They have evolved a great deal since then, each more unique than the next. Timepieces can be used as a fashion statement and status of wealth, to track your fitness or even the phases of the moon throughout the year. With so many brands, styles, uses, movements, brands and prices (some reaching more than hundreds of thousands of dollars in price) how can you be sure you are getting something authentic? After all, the more makers there are, the more distributors, the harder it is to tell the difference between a real timepiece and a fake. This blog will offer some insight on how to know what you are buying, no matter who you are buying it from.

  1. Cartier – One of the more popular and affordable brands of luxury watches is Cartier. Not only does this brand offer a great quality timepiece, as far as materials and styles go, but their watches also offer a variety of functionality. With their growing popularity, more and more faux Cartier watches are hitting the market. How can you be sure you aren’t getting swindled?
  • Inscription – Cartier is notorious for putting their inscription (reading “Cartier”) on the hands of their watches. To view this, we suggest using a loupe and paying close attention for this marking. Note: not all Cartier watches will have this, but if the one you are looking at does, you can be sure it is the real thing.
  • Polished Pillar Plate – If your watch lacks the inscription mentioned above, take the extra step to remove the back of the watch casing and inspect the pillar plate or “movement piece”. If it is not shiny and polished, seemingly made of a high grade material, then it is less likely to be the real deal.
  • Screw on Watch Case – If while removing the back of the watch case you notice that it is a simple snap-on backing, that is a bad sign! If the case is held together with small screws that need to be undone to access the movement piece, however, this points to a real Cartier watch.

  1. Rolex – Rolex has been around since 1905 with their specialty being precision luxury watches. Being around for just over 100 years, many people have had time to master the art of reproducing the Rolex brand. Here are a few simple ways to know if you have an authentic Rolex.
  • Look at The Crown – Take a look at the infamous crown logo that symbolizes the Rolex brand. It is located at the number 12 marking on the dial of the timepiece. If this is crooked in any way or seems a bit off, meaning it is not aligning with the center of the watch correctly and just seems a bit left or right of center, your Rolex is not real. The manufacturer would not have made this mistake, being known for precision and all.

  • Quality – If you are worried about an older Rolex in which there is no crown symbol or if you just are not sure, another great way to spot a fake is to just pick up the watch itself and feel how heavy it is. A real Rolex is going to weigh quite a bit more than a fake. It should not feel “light” as all Rolex watches are made from high quality metals. If the metal also seems cheap, that is another red flag.
  • Dial Movement – Still not sure? Try watching the movement of the hands of the watch. They should move seamlessly and the second hand should not shutter along or cause the other hands to jiggle. When changing the current time, the hands should glide along effortlessly, not get stuck or move oddly. Make sure the Rolex is well made. For how much they cost, they should be made with extreme care and it should be apparent.
  • The Winder – One more way to ease your mind about that luxury watch being real is to check out the winder on the side of the case of the watch. This is used to change the time. If it is engraved and has grooves and just seems like a real work of art, it is real.

  1. Jaeger-LeCoultre – Jeager-LeCoultre is a famous high end luxury watch manufacturer. You would be lucky to own such an elegant timepiece. With such a high demand for luxury watches the counterfeit business has sky rocketed. These tips will help you determine if your LeCoultre is real even if you don’t know much about them.

  • Engravings – A high end luxury watch maker would want its markings on the piece they are selling. Try taking a look on the back of the watch case. You should see an engraving for the brand, an engraving for the quality of the metal used, and the presence of the “Swiss Made” marking. If any of these markings are not clear or are smudged or crooked, the piece is a fake.
  • Quality – Again, quality is the big giveaway when dealing with a fake luxury watch. Just like with Rolex, your Jaeger-LeCoultre should be a bit on the “heavy” side indicating it is made with only the finest metals. The hands should move smoothly and the dial should be elegant. Anything less indicates a counterfeit.

If you ever come across that luxury timepiece at a price you just can’t beat, be sure to take a close look to ensure you are getting what you pay for. If you are still unsure of if your watch is a fake or not and you just can’t tell, you can always ask a trusted jeweler to examine the piece for you. They are trained professionals who will know the difference. Also remember to stray away from sellers who are shipping from Asia and those who lack a warranty or return policy. Asia is known to have the highest rate of smuggled counterfeit goods into the United States and this greatly increases the likelihood of an imitation timepiece.