Hands down, Rolex is the world’s single largest luxury watch brand. No debate. End of story. Well, beginning of story actually.
With a remarkable design and colorful history, it’s not surprising that unscrupulous people frequently rip off this company’s iconic design and sell fake watches to unknowing customers. It’s almost a trope at this point: it’s tough to think about Canal street in Manhattan without immediately thinking of fake watches.
Since they’re quite literally everywhere and we’ve just about had it up to HERE, we asked a bunch of experts, collectors, and watch enthusiasts how to make sure you never wind up with a fake Rolex. Here’s what they came up with.
There’s a trench coat involved
It’s important to remember that the red flag-raising trench coat doesn’t always come in the form of an actual trench coat.
If you’re hunting for watches on eBay, check out the seller. If the seller’s selling history specializes in expensive Rolexes over cheap electronics and clothes, that’s a good sign.
If the Rolex in question is the first watch sold by your guy, raise a suspicious brow. eBay warns that if they claim they got the watch as a “present,” that is a big red flag. Same goes for people who ask for payment via wire transfer or Western Union—but everyone should know that at this point.
Evaluating the seller is a common sense check, and if your gut is telling you no, listen. If you don’t want to gamble, save yourself the grief—or the nagging question “is it real?—by using a reputable source like Bob’s Watches or Analog Shift.
The watchback is engraved or is clear
Examine the back of the watch—unless you have an incredibly rare model that was released in the 1930s, a Rolex will never have a glass back. Plus, Rolex never engraves anything on the caseback’s exterior. If you have special tools to open up the back, pop that sucker open and check it out: It will always say “Geneva, Switzerland,” followed by the metal type and the model number. Now, if it’s engraved with personalization by a jeweler, that’s another story.
The Rolex isn’t immaculate
Rolex will not put a watch into the world that is anything but perfect. If there are any imperfections, no matter the size, you can surmise that you don’t have a Rolex around your wrist. These guys have been perfecting the craft of watchmaking since 1905 and pride themselves on quality.
I’m all about playing devil’s advocate, but imperfections are way more likely to be the telltale sign of a knockoff rather than a mistake on Rolex’s part.