Despite commanding a hefty price, Rolex watches more than make up for it in quality, materials, and craftsmanship. And while this makes them status symbols and collector items, it also makes them the most counterfeited watches. As you’d expect, the proliferation of fakes complicates the buying of an authentic Rolex, especially a used one. So, if you’re planning on buying one, here’s what to look out for.
Model and Serial Number
Rolex engraves both a model and a serial number on the side of all its watches. But while the first is at 12 o’clock, the second is at the opposite end, at 6 o’clock. And on a genuine item, they’re deep and clear-cut, not shallow, dotted, or blurry. Also, they match the documentation accompanying the watch as well as the results of a google search.
Hand Movement and Sound
Despite having mechanical movements, a Rolex never visibly or audibly ticks. Instead, its second hand silently sweeps across the dial at 8 indiscernible movements per second. Any ticking sound or jumping hand, therefore, points to a fake.
An authentic dial has few flaws and exhibits remarkable attention to detail. For instance, the letters on it are never smudged, uneven, or misspelled. The hour markers also bear the color and spacing. And since 2002, Rolex has added a tiny micro-etched logo next to the 6 o’clock hour marker. And being too small for the naked eye, it’s never included in fakes.
The dial also has a magnifying glass bubble centered above the date. Known as a cyclops, it magnifies the date by as much as 2.5 times, making the numbers more legible. In most counterfeits, however, this feature is either missing or not powerful enough. In more daring examples, a large date is printed on the dial to mimic the effect of a cyclops.
Before finding their way into the market, Rolex watches undergo a water test in which they’re submerged in water. And they are certified as fit only if they remain impermeable to water. Forgeries, on the other hand, fail to pass this ultimate test.
Being made from platinum, stainless steel, or 18K gold, the case has a solid, heavy feel to it. In contrast, even the most gorgeous replicas are, for the most part, made from cheap alloys and gold plating. As a result, they not only feel light but also look dull. And over time, they fade.
Rolex watches rarely have engravings on the case back. And the few models that do, namely the Milgauss, Sea Dweller, and Datejust, have only a few words or numbers. Also, with the exception of the 1030 model, the case back is never see-through as is popular with fakes.
Despite the many counterfeits available, a genuine Rolex still stands out, but only if you know what to look out for. Study the case, case back, and dial, remembering one thing. The truth is in the fine details, which counterfeits can never hope to match.
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