How to Identify a Fake Rolex

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Great attention to detail is required to be able to distinguish between a good counterfeit Rolex and the real thing. Fake Rolexes run the gamut from cheap, light-weight knock-offs purchased on Canal Street in New York City to more sophisticated replicas equipped with mechanical movements that can run a person upwards of $500 US. 

How to Spot a Fake Rolex
How to Spot a Fake Rolex (photo: Rolex)
The most telling sign of a fake Rolex is the timekeeping, naturally. While some counterfeiters can present a replica with decent weight, lettering and even serial numbers, the timepieces will never pass Rolex's Superlative Chronometer Certification testing with a precision of -2/+2 seconds per day.

The date of a Rolex wristwatch changes exactly at midnight with a swift motion. If you wind the watch past 12 o'clock and notice that the date changes slowly or prematurely, you know it's not authentic. The date magnification should be 2.5 times its original size and the numbers should appear centered. Also, winding the crown of a Rolex clockwise will move the time forward, not backward. This detail is another telltale sign that a watch is a fake.

Aside from functionality, there are also design details that can give away a knock-off. Rolex does not manufacture watches with a clear case back, so that is one way of determining the real thing from a fake. If you have someone who works with Rolex watches to open the case, the movement will determine the authenticity. While serial numbers and design elements can be copied, a Rolex movement cannot be replicated even by competitors in the industry.

The finishing of each Rolex wristwatch configuration is consistent, so if you notice that a part of the case or bracelet is polished differently, it may indicate that the watch is not authentic. Some bracelets feature polished center links while others come in brushed steel. These are the details that may be more difficult to recognize if you have not studied the model configuration, but they are dead giveaways.

The best way to avoid ending up with a fake Rolex is to deal with a trusted Authorized Dealer and stay away from any deal that seems too good to be true. Demand paperwork to authenticate the watch and verify the serial number with Rolex independently. Rolex is very consistent with their watchmaking and their prices worldwide, so it pays to be scrupulous with who you do business with when it comes to these timepieces.

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