Inspired by a question I received via e-mail this week, I thought I’d take a brief look at how to spot a counterfeit luxury watch. Whilst my anonymous mailer doesn’t want his name to be known to the public, I certainly hope he gets what he needs from today’s post.

Some of the tips are just plain common sense, others are classic insider knowledge tidbits, but all of them can be used to check for replica status on a high-value timepiece.

1. You brought it where?!

If you were offered a watch valued at thousands going for mere hundreds by a dodgy looking fella in your local bar, chances are it’s a fake. Reputable dealers are everywhere, so hunt out a trustworthy source rather than relying on that ‘too-goo-to-be-true’ auction offer on eBay or craigslist!

2. Examine the second hand

It’s a classic tip, but it still holds true. Authentic luxury watches with expensive mechanisms will have a second hand that sweeps and glides with precision – fakes will tick and jerk incessantly.

3. Check the weight

Fake watches are constructed from cheap materials like plastic; the real deal will be made from heavy metals like titanium. Authentic watches, therefore, tend to have more heft: it’s not a magic tell-all, but it’ll certainly help alert you to the possibility of a forgery.

4. Examine the labels

Cheap laser printing is a dead giveaway; look for signs of embossing, authentity seals and manufacturing certificates with holographic stickers – all those finishing touches you’d expect of a quality product.

Watches 2

5. Research First

If you know exactly what the watch you’re buying should look like, you’re far less likely to be taken for a ride. Keep the authentic timepiece in mind whilst shopping and you’ll instantly spot any ‘Bolex’ labels and vestigial chronometers.

6. Check Online

Most lavish watches are accompanied by checkable serial numbers online. This’ll alert you to a forgery or, perhaps just as likely, a stolen batch of timepieces. Take a look at the manufacturers website for details on where you can find the unique ID on the watch, and how you can check it against their database.

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.

4 Responses

  1. Ash

    This is an inaccurate piece of writing. Please don’t take the advice given here. I have the watch pictured (Rolex Deepsea) and trust me – I would find it difficult to spot some fakes. The fakes coming out of china these days are extremely good. They have pretty good mechanical automatic movements – the second hand will sweep almost as good if not the same as a watch costing thousands. They will be made of steel and feel pretty heavy. Titamium by the way, is one of the lightest metals there is. It is true that the real watches will have a serial number but so will the fakes. If you look up the fake serial number, chances are it will match the model of the watch.
    Some of the fakes are so good, even an authorized dealer couldn’t be sure if it is authentic or fake without taking the caseback off and looking at the movement.
    Buy the seller not the watch. If it is an authorized dealer, then it will be genuine. If it is on the internet and claiming to be new but costs a fraction of the price – walk away.
    If you want to learn more, visit some of the watch forums e.g. Watchuseek, Timezone, TheRolexForum etc.

    • Johnathan

      Hi Ash,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m a little surprised by your reaction, particularly considering your plea not to take the advice offered in the article contradicts your own final point (finding a reputable dealer was my first rule) :-/

      The point of these small Q&A Quickies is to simply answer the questions posed by readers; this particular gentleman (who wished to remain anonymous) was considering a luxury watch purchase and wanted a few tips regarding spotting counterfeit goods – it was by no means an attempt to create an “A-Z stealth-spotting manual” – A few helpful hints are, of course, no substitute and shouldn’t be considered as such.

  2. Ash

    Hi Johnathan,

    Point taken. Great website by the way and love your Tumblr!

  3. Robert

    Oh God! Those bipolar issues you have men! hahahaha

    Johnathan – Amazing site I really enjoy all readings.