Wearing a Rolex is seen as a status symbol across the globe, however it is also one of the most counterfeited watch brands out there. We have previously mentioned here at Armour Winston that “if it ticks, it’s fake”, however we are regularly asked what else to look out for when spotting a fake Rolex. As well as simple procedures like checking the weight of your watch (fakes are generally lighter), always trust your instincts and use our 10 top tips…
1. Look at the face
The dial of a fake Rolex can often have uneven fonts, inconsistent spaces between the lettering, and even smudges. The bezel size can also be a giveaway to spotting a fake. As you can see in our picture comparison at the top of this post, the real Master’s bezel is wider and smaller, and you can see the date magnification issue.
2. The Second Hand
The cheapest fake Rolex’s out there are easy to spot because of their quartz dial movements. On a counterfeit the second hand will stutter along, whereas a real Rolex has a smooth second hand movement.
3. Clear Caseback
One of the easiest ways to spot a fake Rolex is by its clear caseback (or "skeleton" caseback) which allows you to see the watch's inner workings. Bonafide mass-produced Rolex watches do not have such a feature.
Rolex do not engrave their watches. On a genuine Rolex, the caseback will be smooth, whilst fakes might feature engraved logos and other designs. There are rare exceptions, including a pre-1990s ladies' models, which had "Original Rolex Design" (or similar variation) engraved on the back of the case, and a Sea-Dweller display that has "Rolex Oyster Original Gas Escape Valve" engraved around the outside.
Take a close look at the winder on the side. Usually, fake Rolex watches have rather basic winders to move the minute and hour hands. A real Rolex timepiece will have an extremely finely-crafted winder with engravings.
Rolex watches are built to be waterproof, while fake versions will not withstand a proper water test. With the exception of the Rolex Cellini series, all Rolex wristwatches are designed to handle water pressure to a minimum of 100 meters or 328 feet. Rolex achieves this through their solid Oyster case. If you have any doubt that your Rolex is real, we advise you not to just dunk it underwater as you may ruin it! Check the other tips we mention in this post, or take it to be inspected by a reputable professional.
7. Hologram Sticker
Real Rolex watches are shipped with a 3D hologram-encoded sticker on the caseback. This sticker features the watch's serial number in gold lettering. For post-2002 models, this sticker features a Rolex crown above the serial number, which is in black lettering not gold. A fake usually features a non-hologram sticker which repeats the Rolex pattern and does not change when viewed from other angles.
8. Cyclops Lens
Real Rolex watches with a current date display feature a Cyclops lens that magnifies the tiny aperture 2.5 times. Fake Rolex watches only magnify by 1.5 times, although some fakes offer a larger font on the date to give the illusion of higher magnification.
9. Case Reference Number
On real Rolex watches, the serial and case reference numbers are engraved in such a way that they feature very fine lines, which catch the light, similar to a diamond cut edge. Some fake Rolex watches feature a sandy "acid etched" appearance. On fake Rolexes, the numbers can appear too close together, and most counterfeiters tend to use the same numbers on their watches.
10. The Price
Lastly, always remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! If you are looking at a Rolex that is being sold for a considerable amount less that it should be, it is almost certain to be a fake Rolex. These timepieces are simply not inexpensive and are an investment.
An easy way to check to see if you are looking at the right price is to find a similar model on our website.