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Learn tips and tricks to help you make sure the watch you are buying is genuine with our how to recognise a fake series' first instalment.
5 Mins

How to recognise a fake: Watches

Luke Davies
Luke Davies

Owning a luxury timepiece is an attractive prospect to many people; however, it can be daunting if you don’t know what you are looking for. They often come with a hefty price tag, so you want to make sure what you are buying is legitimate.


Today we are going to be looking at some crucial tips to help you avoid spending your money on something that isn’t what it claims to be.


Firstly, it is essential to differentiate between the terms of fake and counterfeit. While both seem like they would be the same thing, they are quite different.


A fake watch is something usually sold for the very low price of a few hundred pounds and is designed to look like the watch aesthetically but doesn’t operate the way a luxury watch would. Try and imagine the smooth sweeping movement of a Rolex’s sweeping second hand from a wonderfully engineered automatic movement. The fake watch will most likely have a quartz, battery-powered movement) inside and that second hand will tick-tock along. The build quality is poor, but from a distance, this will look ok. This is a fake.


Counterfeit watches, however, are an entirely different species. These are watches made to look, feel and operate like the real deal. They can go for as much money as the real thing too!

Over the years they have become more sophisticated, and if you don’t know what to look for, you can be fooled easily.

You won’t be able to catch them out with a ticking second hand that is for sure!


Counterfeit watchmakers will match the weight of the watch, so it feels the same in your hand as the proper one would. They even make automatic movements so you get that sweeping second hand just like you would on a Rolex or Patek. The movements are so sophisticated they even dress them up with the same “furniture” you would see if you opened up a luxury watch. So, without close inspection, a Chinese ETA movement can be passed off as the real deal! It will have all the marking you would expect to see, and if you don’t look further, you could be fooled.


So how can you spot these sneaky counterfeits you ask?


Well, there a few steps you can take to work out whether what you are holding is what it should be.


Step 1 – Complications:


Complications are any function that exists in addition to telling time (displaying hours, minutes and seconds) on a timepiece. These watch complications enable special functions that are performed and displayed on the watch to enhance or simplify your life.


One of the first things you can do is test the complications function. If you have a chronograph, for example, examine the complication and see whether that runs smooth, if it is jumpy it could indicate that perhaps the date function of a movement has been repurposed to act as a chronograph. 



Step 2 – Materials: 


Luxury watches use the finest materials, and you are paying big money so you would expect nothing less.


Counterfeit models will skimp of the quality of material to save cost and increase profit. While it may seem the same, look at the quality of the steel, for example, if it looks poor you should get it checked by a professional. Have the back opened up and adequately inspected. 


The clasp is another indicator of a potential counterfeit; how does it close? Counterfeit clasps are often stamped instead of machined and will close differently to a properly made one from the watchmaker. A professional will be able to feel the difference clearly when it is in their hands.


The glass is almost always sapphire crystal and will be completely clear with no tint to it. If you see a tint in your glass, there is a chance your watch may not be authentic or has aftermarket parts. 



Step 4 – Serial numbers:


Each timepiece comes with a serial number and fortunately nowadays the internet is just the click of a button away. Type the serial number into the search engine and see what comes up. You can even search for “fake” or “aftermarket” versions of the watch you own, and if it is counterfeit, you will probably see the same model of watch bearing the same serial number. 

Counterfeit watchmakers surprisingly often use the same serial number on their fakes. 

You can also approach a trusted and professional watch outlet, and they will be able to search a database of watch serial numbers that will highlight any stolen or counterfeit watches on record. If they are still unsure they can inspect your watch and confirm its authenticity or if it is unfortunately not authentic, they will add it to the database. 


Now we know some things to look for, let’s talk about some of the most faked watch brands out there today.




Rolex is one of the most famous watch brands in the world and therefore is a big market for counterfeit watchmakers. 


Printing is essential to look out for with Rolex Counterfeit watches. If the spacing or font seems off that is a big sign, a poorly printed dial would never make it through quality control. 




Panerai is victim to a lot of counterfeit watches. Their record-keeping was poor in the early days of their watchmaking, so even they are not sure how many pieces were made or what serial numbers were used including the dial combinations that went along with them.


To summarise, buying a luxury watch can be daunting but follow these simple tips to give yourself the best start when you begin your shopping journey. If you are ever in doubt always seek out a professional registered outlet for that brand of watch and they will help you confirm your purchase. 


Here at William George, we have trusted vendors of luxury watches who have been selling with us for years. We protect your funds when purchasing until you have got what you have paid for, leaving you with the ability to shop with confidence. This makes buying your luxury timepiece less daunting and more exciting!


So what are you waiting for? Browse the luxury watches we have on offer and get excited!