The fake Rolex is an all too familiar story when you deal in luxury watches, particularly Rolex’s. In fact, if I had a dime for every time someone has come into our showroom with what appears to be an amazing Rolex with the box and papers and then as we start our inspection and it turned out to be a fake Rolex, I wouldn’t have to work anymore!
In fact, I just can’t say it enough times…you have to trust the person you are buying from. Not only that, but you have to know that the dealer who is selling you the watch knows what they are doing. Look at their reviews, and here’s the thing to remember, even with the most thorough inspection, the dealer can still make a mistake.
Somewhat True Story of the Fake Rolex
Ok, let me tell you a story, and names have been changed to protect the innocent. In a land not too far away, a man came to a diamond wholesaler who deals in luxury watches…specifically Rolex’s. He walked in with a primo and beautiful Rolex. This thing came with EVERYTHING. It had the watch, the box, the papers, the card. It was SWEET.
This dealer checked out the watch and saw that the serial numbers matched up, and that the etching of the crown was in the crystal (you’ll understand this better when you read further). The dealer was committed. He was counting out the money to give it to this guy…when he paused, and said, “Let me just take a closer look.”
And, good thing he did. He opened up the case back and it had an authentic Rolex movement, but the movement was from an older model than the one this guy was trying to sell him, and that’s when he realized it was a fake Rolex.
How Do You Spot a Fake Rolex?
The short answer is that the average Joe or Jean can’t. The fake Rolex watches that are on the market today are SO good, that they are 97% perfect. Not only that, but those that make the fakes will buy ORIGINAL Rolex parts and put them on the watches, like the glass, or the movement, which makes a fake even harder to distinguish.
What does that mean? You should only buy one from someone who knows what they are doing, and if you do buy one, be sure you have a receipt that has the serial number and all the info on it, and then take it to a dealer to get it checked out. If it’s real, great, if it’s not, you need to be sure you have some type of return on that watch.
Is it a no questions asked full return? Is it a limited time return? You see, fake or real, preowned or new, you will be spending a nice amount for that Rolex, and if it turns out to be a fake Rolex, you need to be able to get every penny back.
None of us are perfect, even as a buyer of Rolex’s daily, every dealer can make a mistake. This is why it’s imperative that you not only trust who you are buying from, but that as a dealer, you look at EVERYTHING on the Rolex to be sure it’s all authentic and not a fake Rolex. So, you are probably wondering how do you, as a buyer protect yourself? There really isn’t any way for you to protect yourself, unless you buy from a dealer, but here are some things that are interesting facts about Rolex’s.
Reference Numbers, Model Number, Style Number
These terms are all interchangeable, but the bottom line is that the reference number contains information about the watch. This includes its age, model, material, and bezel. The reference number can be anywhere from 4 to 6-digit numbers and sometimes include letters. The length of the numbers determines the age of the watch.
*Important to note – If the reference number is 5 or 6 digits, the last digit is the material of the watch.
|· 0 = stainless steel||· 5 = rose gold|
|· 1 = two-tone stainless steel & rose gold||· 6 = platinum|
|· 2 = two-tone stainless steel & platinum||· 7 = 14k yellow gold|
|· 3 = two-tone stainless steel & yellow gold||· 8 = 18k yellow gold|
|· 4 = two-tone stainless steel & white gold||· 9 = white gold|
*Important to note – If the reference number has a letter at the end, this is the bezel insert color.
LN (Lunette Noir) = Black bezel
LB (Lunette Bleu) = Blue bezel
LV (Lunette Verte) = Green bezel
BLNR (Bleu/Noir) = Blue and Black bezel
BLRO (Bleu/Rouge) = Blue and Red bezel
CHNR (Chocolat/Noir) = Brown and Black bezel
The dial on a Rolex is always crafted so that every single detail is meticulously placed and in perfect alignment. But, then again, so are some of the fake Rolex watches. So, look for any type of blemish in the paint on the markers. Look for bruising on the metal where the hands are screwed in. They should be in perfect alignment and not touching.
For those that have been told that a major indicator of authenticity is the movement of the watch, and the sweeping second hand. Think again. The fake Rolex has that too.
Rolex uses luminescent material on the dials of certain watches like the Submariner to increase legibility and illuminate features in low light settings – like, say, when deep diving. This is a distinguishable feature on Rolex watches, which is applied on each hour marker, as well as on the hour, minute, and seconds hands. A real Rolex will glow in the dark, guess what, the fake one’s do that too!!
The cyclops glass is always at 3 o’clock and magnifies the date number by 2.5x, it is always a bubble above the crystal, so if it is flat or is under the crystal, it is a fake Rolex.
The date feature will automatically jump to the next day at midnight. If you see an in-between date, it’s a fake.
Laser-Etched Coronet (LEC)
Rolex watches made in 2001 and later have a tiny laser-etched coronet or crown (LEC) on the glass at 6 o’clock. The LEC feature is hard to replicate because the crown etching is not etched or even engraved on the glass, but in the glass. But remember what I said about buying real parts and putting them on the counterfeit. That’s what happened above.
Rolex bezels come in several different styles, colors, and materials. They can be smooth, fluted, rotating, fixed, marked, or unmarked.
*Important to note – All fluted bezels on Rolex watches are made of 18k gold. The GMT Master has a two-tone bezel with a distinct line separated the colors through the numbers 6 and 18 on the bezel markers. Look at the size of the bezel, the font for the numbers, whether the numbers and markers are engraved, and if the triangle is luminescent.
On the inner ring of the bezel, the word Rolex is engraved on both sides and a tiny crown logo is at the 12 o’clock and the serial number is at 6 o’clock.
*Important to note – Rolex first started engraving in 2005, before that they were etched on.
There are many features on the watch case that will tell you if you have a fake Rolex.
- The Material should be of the best quality
- The Lugs should be thick and wide and the surface is always brushed metal.
- The serial number is engraved between the lugs when you remove the bracelet.
- The crown guards should be more rounded.
- On the winding crown, there are three small dots under the crown and the crown protrudes outwards.
*Important to note – If your Rolex has a small line under the crown, this means it is an older model with the Twinlock waterproof feature. If your watch has a Triplock winding crown, like the Submariner 116610, these ONLY have the three dots under the crown.
- Rolex never has a transparent caseback. They are full metal and fluted and screwed into the case and rarely have anything etched onto the back of the case.
*Important to note – The Milgauss, Deepsea, Vintage Sea Dweller, some gold lady Datejust’s, and military Submariners DO have patented markings on the caseback.
In our primer on everything you need to know we discuss the bracelets. Here is how you can tell the real Rolex bracelet from the fake Rolex bracelets.
- Links – A Rolex link is brushed metal all the way around and the size and width of the links are thick.
- Clasp – A Rolex clasp positions the crown so the bottom is part of the hidden flip-lock clasp. Also, Rolex does not have buttons on the side of the clasp to open it. On the inside of the clasp, Rolex has an engraving of an emblem with the word Rolex in the center with the crown above it, as well as Geneva and Swiss Made engraved to the right of the emblem.
*Important to note – The back side of the clasp has no engravings.
It’s All About Trusting Who You Buy a Rolex From
Despite all these tell-tale signs that I’ve given you to help you know if your Rolex is real or fake, none of that matters.
Counterfeiters today are getting better and better and harder to spot. They are taking authentic Rolex parts and putting them on fake watches to fool even the dealers who know what to look for. I can guarantee you that ever single dealer has been fooled at some point because of this.
*Important to note – If you have any doubts about the authenticity of your Rolex, please let us know and we can do a thorough inspection and tell you if you are sporting a real or fake Rolex.
*Even more important to note – The best way to ensure that you are indeed buying a real Rolex is to visit a dealer that you trust and is reputable, whether they are new or used. Do your homework, and if you don’t want to do your homework, choose Jonathan’s Watch Buyer.
We have a money back guarantee on the authenticity of all our Rolex watches, as well as mechanically of all our watches. You will leave our showroom with a receipt that has your serial number, reference number, and what came with your watch, as well as how much you paid, and if you are ever in doubt, you bring the watch and receipt back to us and we give you back what you paid, no questions asked. Come visit our showroom or give us a call today to see if we have the real Rolex you are looking for.