The generic watch market continues to grow and become more efficient, making counterfeit luxury timepieces more and more difficult to tell apart from their genuine counterparts.  Given the difference in value between replica Rolexes and the genuine article, any potential investor should know the tricks to tell the real from the fake.  Here’s a quick list of some of the ways to tell apart the genuine luxury watch and its cheaper knock-offs.

Weight.

If you’ve ever held a Rolex in your hand before, you’ll that they’re fairly heavy timepieces.  From the movement to the case, Rolex watches are built with very fine materials and end up being noticeably heavy as a result.  Counterfeit watches should feel significantly light and their cases a bit “flimsier” due to the lower quality of the metals involved in their making.

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Clear Caseback

While being able to see the inner workings of a Rolex might be really cool in theory, real Rolex watches do not have see-through casebacks—outside of a few rare models from the 1930’s.  Any watch purporting to be a Rolex while sporting one of these casebacks should not be trusted.

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Case engravings

Outside of the Sea Dweller models, Rolex doesn’t engrave the outside of their casebacks at all.  If the back of a supposed Rolex case features word, number, or logo engravings then it is most likely an imitation.

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Micro-etched Crystal

In 2002 Rolex began etching its “crown” logo onto all of its genuine crystals at the 6 o’clock position.  This tiny dotted insignia is so small and difficult to see at a glance, making it very difficult for counterfeiters to copy.

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Non-metal

It might seem silly to mention, but if there’s any part of the watch case/band that is not made from high-quality metal—if it contains plastic, rubber, or any other material—it is definitely a fake.

 Screw Down Crown

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Here are a few things that you can do to protect yourself:

Never buy a watch on the internet unless it has a money back guarantee.

Never buy a watch unless you can inspect the movement.

Never buy a watch on the street.

If the price is too good to be true, it probably is a fake.

Know the person or business that you are buying from.

When all else fails, compare your watch to the real thing. If you’re still not sure if your watch is a real Rolex, it can be helpful to compare the way your watch looks to the way it is supposed to look. The Rolex website contains a catalog of all the watches Rolex produces, with multiple pictures for each. Find the model of watch you have on the Rolex site, then compare the appearance of your watch to that of the available “reference” images. Pay special attention to the dial — is everything laid out where it should be? If your watch has an extra dial like a chronograph or a date dial, is it in the right place? Are all the inscriptions identical? Is the lettering the same?

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