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10 Pro Tips for How to Spot a Fake Rolex and Avoid Getting Duped

Rolex is perhaps the most esteemed watch company in the world. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most counterfeited watch brands out there. For that reason, it is increasingly important that wristwatch enthusiasts learn how to spot a fake Rolex.

Rolex watches transcend material value for many, taking on personal meaning for their owners. Whether a milestone of success or a status symbol, owning one can become an emotional experience for many individuals.

However, with all the counterfeits currently in circulation, it is increasingly crucial for watch collectors to learn how to spot a fake Rolex.

But before we talk about that, let's discuss the origins of this iconic company.

The History of Rolex

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Rolex was founded by Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis in 1905. Then in 1908, Wilsdorf registered "Rolex" as a trademark.

Wilsdorf told the story of the naming of the company on Rolex's 50th anniversary in 1958.

"I tried combining the letters of the alphabet in every possible way. This gave some hundred names, but none of them felt quite right."

"One morning, while riding on the upper deck of a horse-drawn omnibus along Cheapside in the City of London, a genie whispered ‘Rolex’ in my ear.”

However, myths still surround the inspiration for the name despite Wilsdorf's explanation.

For example, some watch experts argue that the name is a play on the French phrase "Horlogerie exquisite," which means "exquisite watchmaking" in English. Others claim that Rolex is an abbreviated form of "rolling export."

Rolex was founded by Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis in 1905. Then in 1908, Wilsdorf registered "Rolex" as a trademark.

Wilsdorf told the story of the naming of the company on Rolex's 50th anniversary in 1958.

"I tried combining the letters of the alphabet in every possible way. This gave some hundred names, but none of them felt quite right."

"One morning, while riding on the upper deck of a horse-drawn omnibus along Cheapside in the City of London, a genie whispered ‘Rolex’ in my ear.”

However, myths still surround the inspiration for the name despite Wilsdorf's explanation.

For example, some watch experts argue that the name is a play on the French phrase "Horlogerie exquisite," which means "exquisite watchmaking" in English. Others claim that Rolex is an abbreviated form of "rolling export."

Early awards and innovations

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A true visionary, several milestones in the development of the wristwatch resulted from Rolex's continued pursuit of innovation and excellence.

For example, a Rolex watch was the first wristwatch awarded a Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne in 1910.

Then, in 1914 a Rolex became the first wristwatch awarded a class "A" precision certificate by the Kew Observatory in Great Britain.

In 1926, Rolex unveiled the world's first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch. Named the "Oyster," this Rolex featured a hermetically sealed case.

Over the decades Rolex helped develop and popularize self-winding watches in the early 1930s, although another company holds the patent.

In the 1940s, Rolex introduced the first watch with an automatic date-changing function. And in the 1950s Rolex released the first watch that was waterproof down to 100 meters (about 330 feet).

Rolex today

Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Rolex brand remains synonymous with luxury and uncompromising quality.

Rolex produces nearly a million wristwatches annually and holds the 78th position in Forbes' list of the "Worlds Most Valuable Brands."

For further reading on the history of iconic watches and the stories from the men who wore them, we recommend the 2017 book, "A Man and His Watch."

Purchasing a Rolex

So, you want to buy a Rolex. But which Rolex is right for you?

Beyond making sure you know how to spot a fake Rolex, there are three main points to consider when choosing a Rolex: price, style, and activities.

1. Price

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Silver

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Not everyone can afford a $90,000 watch. Amazon, a trusted online retailer, offers several Rolex watches with a consumer rating of 4.0 stars, or higher, out of 5.0 stars.

For example, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual and Submariner both start at less than $10,000. Meanwhile, if the price is no object, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is an outstanding luxury watch.

2. Style

Submariner rolex

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Style is another consideration when purchasing a Rolex. For example, the elegance of the Cellini collection is ideal for formal occasions. Likewise, if you prefer something a bit more casual, the quintessential Submariner collection might work best for you.

3. Activities

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Okay, your Cellini looks excellent with your suit and tie at work. However, what do you wear on vacation?

Many people assume that because a Rolex is expensive, it cannot be worn at the beach. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, Rolex invented the first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch in 1926.

The Rolex Explorer II and Yachtmaster II are great options for swimming and other sporting activities.

Rolex Price Ranges

Rolex watches are one of the world's most coveted luxury items on the planet. Prices for new Rolex watches start at less than $10,000. On the other hand, if money is no object, the Rolex Pearlmaster collection carries a price tag starting at around $90,000.

Additionally, the most expensive Rolex watches are vintage models that take on higher value based on their rarity and previous ownership.

For example, Steve McQueen’s 1967 Rolex Submariner sold for $234,000 at a 2009 auction. Likewise, Eric Clapton's Cosmograph Daytona sold for $1.4 million in 2015.

Significantly, Paul Newman's Daytona set the record for the highest ever auction price of a watch when it sold for nearly $17.8 million in 2017.

With Rolex watches fetching prices such as this, it is increasingly important to know how to spot a fake Rolex.

Where to Buy a Rolex

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Knowing where to buy a Rolex is one of the best defenses against purchasing a fake watch.

Authorized retailer or a Rolex boutique

Going to an authorized retailer or boutique store is the safest way to buy a Rolex. In short, authorized retailers receive their watches directly from Rolex and boutique stores are owned and operated directly by Rolex.

Above all, you are guaranteed to receive an authentic Rolex and warranty when using an authorized retailer or boutique.

You can find authorized retailers and boutique stores using a searchable tool on the official Rolex website.

The downside of authorized retailers and boutiques is price. Rolex sets the price for these locations, and costs cannot be negotiated for the most part.

Gray market dealers

Gray market dealers are jewelry and watch retailers who are not directly authorized to sell watches directly by Rolex. The main benefit of using gray market dealers is the ability to negotiate the price.

However, it is essential to know how to spot a fake Rolex when using gray market dealers. Equally important, you should research the dealer using the Better Business Bureau and consumer rating sites such as Angie's List.

Online

Generally speaking, purchasing Rolex watches online nets the most significant discount over Rolex's suggested retail price. On the other hand, it also comes with the highest risk.

For that reason, it is crucial to use well-known sites such as Amazon. Most noteworthy, Amazon prohibits the sale of fake items and stands behind all products with their A-to-Z guarantee.

How to Spot a Fake Rolex

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Years ago, learning how to spot a fake Rolex was much easier. However, it is much more complicated today.

Thankfully, numerous online resources offer useful information regarding fake Rolex watches.

1. Caseback

The caseback is the underside of the watch. Rolex does not engrave the exterior with a serial number, their logo, or words. Similarly, Rolex does not install clear casebacks on their watches except for two models produced in the 1930s.

For that reason, you can often know how to spot a fake Rolex by flipping it over and looking at the underside. If there is a transparent caseback, then you probably have a fake Rolex. Likewise, if the caseback has any engraving, etching, or stamping, it is likely an imitation.

2. Cyclops

The cyclops, or magnifying lens, is a signature feature of Rolex watches. Aptly named for the one-eyed giant of Greek mythology, the cyclops enhances and magnifies the date display on the front of the watch.

The cyclops is convex on genuine Rolex watches and magnifies the date 2.5 times. For that reason, a great way to know how to spot a fake Rolex is to observe a couple of details regarding this feature.

Firstly, if the lens is flat or magnification is missing, you have a fake Rolex on your hands. Additionally, if the magnification is less than 2.5 times, the watch is probably counterfeit.

3. Dial

The attention to detail, fine craftsmanship, and hundreds of hours of manual labor required to create the perfect Rolex result in a flawless dial.

For that reason, uneven lettering, inconsistent spacing, and smudged details on the dial indicate that you have a fake Rolex.

4. Micro-etched crystal

Rolex began micro-etching their crown logo at the six o'clock position on the protective crystal in 2002. Because it is so tiny, it is difficult to reproduce by counterfeiters.

Therefore, another excellent way to learn how to spot a fake Rolex is looking for this feature. For example, if the etching is large, smudged, or missing, the watch is likely fake.

5. Movement

Observing the movement of the second hand is another great way of learning how to spot a fake Rolex. The movement powering a Rolex involves precise watchmaking skills. The result is a smooth, flowing motion by the second hand.

Fake Rolexes lack this precision, resulting in skipping or jerking motion. Additionally, there should not be any associated ticking noise from a real Rolex.

6. Serial number

All Rolexes include an engraved serial number. Older models have the serial number located on the watch housing between the 6:00 lugs. Similarly, newer models have the serial number located in the inner bezel (or ring) at the 6:00 position.

Inspecting the serial number provides another great way to know how to spot a fake Rolex. Rolex uses a precision etching process when placing the serial number.

For that reason, serial numbers that appear rough or sandy-like on a watch indicate you have a fake Rolex. Additionally, imitation Rolex watches have the numbers cramped together, often with uneven spacing.

7. Stampings

Similarly, the face of a real Rolex watches contains precise, high-quality features known as "stampings." For instance, if the Rolex name does not appear on the face of the watch, it is likely fake. Likewise, if the famous crown logo is missing, the watch is probably an imitation.

8. Weight

Another great way to learn how to spot a fake Rolex is its weight. Rolex constructs their watches using the finest, high-quality metals and weigh significantly more than ordinary wristwatches.

A genuine Rolex watch should feel solid in the palm of your hand. Additionally, you can weigh a watch before purchase using a high-quality digital scale. The approximate weights of Rolex watches are readily available online.

9. Winding crown

Rolex spares no detail, to include the winding crown. Their signature five-pointed logo appears on every winding crown, and the grooves along the edge are finely crafted.

If either feature is missing or crisp, clean details are absent, then the watch is probably fake.

10. Price

Lastly, the price is one of the best indicators that you have a fake Rolex watch on your hands. If the price appears to be "too good to be true," it probably is a fake Rolex.

Even the cheapest Rolex watch you can find retails for thousands of dollars. Be wary of prices that are too low. There is no reason for an honest retailer to offer you a Rolex for a few hundred dollars.

Similarly, it is wise to avoid dealers who seem too eager to sell you a Rolex.

What We Learned Today

Grey rolex watch

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Wow! Who knew learning how to spot a fake Rolex could be so complicated?

Advanced counterfeiting techniques have become more sophisticated in recent years. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult to know how to spot a real Rolex from a fake one.

We wrote this article to provide some pro tips for how to spot a fake Rolex. However, the best way to avoid being duped is to limit your purchase to authorized Rolex retailers, boutiques, and websites such as Amazon that offer guarantees.

Now, we want to hear from you. Using the comments below, let us know any thoughts you might have regarding how to spot a fake Rolex.

Until then, happy shopping.

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