How to Identify a Fake Watch

Three Parts:Spotting a Fake WatchIdentifying a Genuine Designer WatchBuying Genuine Watches

Designer watches are highly coveted status symbols. It’s no surprise that the market is flooded with convincing fakes. There are a few easy tricks to telling a fake watch from a real designer watch. Some helpful tricks include checking for typos, listening for ticking, and checking for the proper stamps. However, some high-quality fake watches are so well done, you may have to see a professional appraiser. Even if you examine these watches carefully, it may be hard to find some differences between a genuine model and a high-quality fake.

Part 1
Spotting a Fake Watch

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    Listen for ticking. This is one of the biggest indicators that a watch is a fake. A high quality designer watch is built with hundreds of small, perfectly crafted moving parts. Therefore, it won’t tick at all. To test this, hold the body of the watch against your ear and listen closely.[1]
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    Look for obvious mistakes. High quality designer watches are made using very strict quality standards. Therefore, any peeling paint, scratches, or misspelled words will indicate that the watch is an obvious fake. Additionally, if the clasp of the watch doesn’t close properly or the watch doesn’t keep time well, it’s a fake.
    • For example, some fake Michael Kors watches leave out the “S”.
    • Many low-quality Rolex fakes have badly centered crown stamps.[2]
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    Examine the quality of the lettering. Genuine designer watches are crafted by master watchmakers. These watchmakers use precise engraving instruments to create clear, legible lettering on the watch. If any of the lettering is muddled or hard to read, the watch is probably a fake.[3]
    • This rule applies for all of the lettering, including any serial numbers.
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    Feel the weight of the watch. A genuine designer watch is crafted with precious metals and has a lot of small moving parts. Therefore, it will feel slightly heavier than it looks. However, if the watch is fake, it will be surprisingly light.[4]
    • If possible, compare the weight between any watch you consider buying and a verified genuine model. They should be the same weight.

Part 2
Identifying a Genuine Designer Watch

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    Do your research. Comb through online auction result databases to learn information about the watch you want to purchase. On these databases, you can see photos of designer watches and the prices they sold for.[5] Similarly, do research on the manufacturer and become familiar with the brand trademarks, common bracelet details, and the clasp.[6] If you know what to look for, you’ll be harder to fool.
    • For example, with the exception of a rare model made in the 1930’s, Rolex watches don’t have glass backs. Instead, they have a metal backing.[7]
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    Look for all of the proper stamps. Designer watches will have stamps of authenticity in several spots around the watch. These stamp locations can vary from model to model. Do your research ahead of time so that you know what stamps to look for on your particular model. Next, make sure the lettering on the stamps is spelled correctly and is easy to read.
    • For example, most modern Rolex models have a crown stamp on the winding mechanism, one on the wristband, and one on the face of the watch.
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    Examine the face of the watch. Genuine designer watches use precious minerals such as sapphire to cover the face of the watch. Cheaper watches use mineral crystals instead. To see what kind of mineral your watch was made with, turn the watch on its side and examine the color filtering through the clear casing.
    • If the watch was made with sapphire, it will have a violet tint. This can indicate that the watch is genuine.
    • If the watch was made with mineral crystals, it will have a green tint. This is a sign that the watch is fake.
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    Examine the bracelet. Designer watches usually have one or two stamps on the clasp of the bracelet. If you’re familiar with the specifications of your watch model, you’ll be able to tell if these are missing. Similarly, if the clasp mechanism seems too simple or the bracelet links don’t move smoothly, the watch may be fake.[8]
    • The bracelets of designer watches usually feel heavy, look polished, and move smoothly.
    • Check for stamps inside the folding clasp mechanism.
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    Compare the serial numbers. The serial number on the bracelet of the watch and the case should match. Some designer watches also include the serial number on a sticker on the back of the watch.
    • Beware of watches that are sold without a case. They are more likely to be fake.

Part 3
Buying Genuine Watches

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    Purchase a new designer watch.[9] The best way to avoid fake watches is to buy exclusively from authorized dealers. This is the most expensive option, but it’s by far the safest. When you buy the watch new, it will come with all of the paperwork and serial numbers verifying its authenticity.
    • To find an authorized dealer of your favorite watch, do an online search or talk to the manufacturer.
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    Check the serial number with the manufacturer. If you’re buying the watch second hand or at an auction, check the serial number with the manufacturer before purchasing it. Designer watch manufacturers keep careful records on the different watches they make. Therefore, if the watch you’re buying is genuine, you will be able to find documentation on it.
    • To check the serial number, do an online search or call a customer service representative.
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    Visit an appraiser. If you’re worried that the deal you’re getting is too good to be true, take the watch to a professional appraiser before buying it. If the seller is being honest with you, they will have no problem letting you get the watch appraised. To find an appraiser in your area, do an online search or talk to a fine watch distributor.[10]
    • Ask the appraiser to determine whether or not the designer watch is real. If they say it’s real, have the appraiser walk you through their reasons for believing so.
    • Additionally, the appraiser may be able to tell you whether or not you’re getting a fair price.


  • If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. Fake watches have flooded the market and are getting harder and harder to spot.


  • Before spending more than five thousand dollars on a watch, take it to an expert to verify its authenticity. Otherwise, you may spend tens of thousands of dollars on a fake.

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Categories: Jewelry and Watches