Sunday, March 16, 2014

How to tell instantly whether a luxury watch is fake?

You all know the story- you’re at a flea market where people are selling fake Rolexes.  You know they are fake, but they look very good anyway.  What’s worse, there are different types of fakes, so a Grade A fake looks practically like the real one.  But through trial an error, I’ve discovered the #1 way you can tell whether a luxury watch is fake…

Which one is real and fake? 
Interesting story-I was once approached by a guy saying that he was selling luxury cars (Bentley) and his “Arab” buyer was so wealthy he didn’t care about the watches.  He then showed me a fake business card (or it could have been real, just not his) that he worked there, and had a whole elaborate story of how he needed to sell them right away, otherwise he’d have to bring it back to his boss.

The watches were excellent quality, and given someone who didn’t know the various secrets it could easily be thought of as real.  Unless you know the brand in and out it’s pretty hard to determine whether it’s fake or real.  If only I could have said to him, “you’re a liar, and these watches are fake, and here’s how I can tell..” 

But alas I could not.  Thinking about it days later I discovered what really couldn’t be faked:  The glass!

Spot anything unique? 
So people will tell you that you can see by the movement.  This is very hard.  Yes battery powered watches will have the second hand that tick, tick, tick, and this is a dead giveaway for any luxury watch (though some luxury ones do use battery!).  But what if they use a good Japanese movement?  These replicate swiss watches quite well, with the sweeping hand moving in one fine motion- the Grade A watches will use these. 

Strap?  That’s useless. What about the dial, and the designs?  Yes but you have to know the brand really well.  But the glass is something that can’t be faked, and this is a dead giveway.

Here it is:  As you look at the watch, slowly rotate it 45 degrees so you are looking at it from an angle.  Can you still see the time?  Great, now keep rotating it a bit more until you can no longer see the time.  Did the watch glass fog up?  That’s a fake!!!

**Worth noting that many watch makers use mineral crystal, which do fog up.  It doesn’t mean its fake (Calvin Klein, Swatch, etc), but just that it’s a cheaper material.  However if you see a very high end watch (Breitling, Rolex, IWC) use mineral crystal, then its definitely fake.** 
Still can see time on one...

And there you have it, and now time to explain why!

Cost.  That’s it.  A sapphire crystal costs about $225-$275 to replace for a top watch like a Rolex at an independent dealer.  So while that costs includes labor, but really there’s no way to sell you a fake watch for $200 on an excuse if it costs $200 just for the real glass.  This is why I believe they won’t be changing it for awhile.  To check, really you can try to scratch it, to make sure its not plastic.  And looking at the angle, you’ll be able to know!

If in the UK, and you see some funny person in a car trying to sell you watches, copy down his license and report him to the police.  Fraud line: 0300-123-2040.

As you can now see the left (real) you can still see the time, while the right is totally fogged up! 

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