Category: News Published on Saturday, 29 August 2009 18:05 Written by CJ Chappelle Hits: 2279
Rolex Stainless Steel Explorer
Outside of writing for SK, I work for the largest retailer of luxury watches in the world. It is a shame when customers come in asking us to authenticate their watches or to have them serviced only to be told the watch is a replica (nice work for FAKE). There are several popular watches duplicated by counterfeiters, but by far, the most mocked is Rolex.
We all know about Rolex. The luxurious brand that brought the world the its first water and dust proof watch in 1926 has become the zenith of a made man's watch collection. It puts the ‘be’ in a bespoke suit, catches a gold digger’s eye at the bar, and inspires jealousy in the hearts of men less fortunate to obtain one. Rolexes are one of the most counterfeited luxury brands, after Louis V. So before you put your bid in on Ebay for the steeply discounted Explorer 1, you need to be educated on how to spot a fake.
Metal: This is one of the easiest ways to spot a fake, regardless of the brand and should be common sense. Rolex uses 914L stainless steel which means it is resistant to corrosion and rust. If someone is attempting to hawk you a stainless steel Submariner that has rust on the bracelet this a clear sign that it is fake. Another way to distinguish a replica is if the watch is the wrong type of metal period. A gentleman came into my store today to ask if the two Rolexes “his friend” gave to him as gifts were real. He pulled out what were suppose to be two 18k White Gold Day-Dates with Masterpiece bracelets…unfortunately these were horrid $5 knock-offs…THEY WEREN’T EVEN METAL. The bracelets were some aluminum coated plastic at best. Nothing about the watches came close to the real thing. I didn’t bother explaining to him why they were fake, instead I showed him the real thing--he figured it out for himself.
Dial types: This is where many perpetrators fall short. Depending on the level of skill by the counterfeiter, the dial can be a dead-give-away or slight indicator that a watch is a counterfeit. Rolex keeps track of the dial options available on each and every model they ever produced. For instance, the new Platinum Day-Date 2 has a ‘glacier’ colored dial which is ONLY available on that exact model and vice versa. The glacier dial is only available on a Platinum Day-Date 2…if someone approaches you with a Day-Date president in 18k white gold with a ‘glacier’ dial you have a fake!
Day-Date 2 Glacier dail
On lesser quality knock offs, the dial’s quality in comparison to the original is light years apart. The most obvious example is the use of imitation diamonds anywhere on the watch. *After thought* Why you buy a fake Rolex with c-z’s…doesn’t that defeat the point of buying a knock off at all?
Rolex diamond Dial Real or not?
When magnified, the Rolex logo is spotty and irregular on a replica dial.
Colors: This links back to the materials and dials. If a time piece has the wrong color dial or if the dial itself looks discolored due to poor craftsmanship in lieu of years of wear, it maybe an effigy on a real Rolex. Also, if the color of the metal, gold, platinum, or even stainless raises an eyebrow, further investigation may be needed.
There are several Rolexes that have colored parts such as the bezel, hands, and crystal. Do some research to find out which model has what…a green crystal Milgauss is acceptable, but a green crystal Explorer…not so much.
Screws and fixtures: This is an area the average joe often overlooks which is exactly why I put it on the list! Rolex uses SCREWS to connect their links, and SPRING BARS to connect the bracelet to the watch. That’s it! No other combination or use of these parts exists on a Rolex. That means screws inside the bezel…fake! Pins in the bracelet…Nope!
Stainless Rolex Explorer Bracelet
Weight: This is a combination of the materials used and the movement inside the watch (more on that later). It may be hard to detect if a stainless steel watch is ‘too light’ if you are not used to the weight of a Rolex, but gold is unmistakable because of its substantial weight difference. You will definitely know if someone is trying to pass off a gold plated mockery for a solid gold piece. Since this takes practice, I would suggest trying on different models to get an idea of the various weights. But I wouldn’t make any conclusions based on the weight alone.
The Movement: Rolex has patented movements ranging from 250 to almost 400 individual parts. Everything can look perfect outside, even a set of serial and model numbers, but if the movement is not a Rolex movement, then it’s just a shell of the watch it used to be. You will need a professional to open and check the movement. They will be looking for Rolex’s signature rotor and movement serial number. Most shops charge a nominal fee for this piece of mind.
Rolex Daytona chronogrpah (real) Fake...period
Serial Numbers: These by far are the one-hit-knock-out without opening the watch. The location of the numbers will vary depending on the watch’s age. Vintage pieces will have the numbers on the interior of the case. Newer models have the numbers engraved on the exterior of the case hidden behind the bracelet, and 2009 or later designs have the model number engraved on an inner ring along the perimeter of the dial at the 6 o' clock position. If no number is present in the allocated space then you my friend have a fake. Even after procuring them, feel free to call Rolex with the numbers in hand to inquire when the piece was manufactured for further fact-checking.
Certificate of Authenticity: The seal of approval right? Wrong! Even these treasured tokens of esteem can be duplicated. Comparing the numbers on the certificate to those on the physical watch will go a long way.
You can find hundreds of other ways to distinguish a real Rolex from a fake depending on the model in question. There are other tips about the crystal, the way the second hand moves, the hologram sticker, and the magnification of the ‘Cyclops’, but these do not automatically mean a Rolex is fake. Rolexes prior to the 1990’s had acrylic crystals--you have to research the model in question to know if it has the right type of crystal. In the 1970’s Rolex debuted the Oyster Quartz which used a battery meaning not every battery operated Rolex is fake. The hologram sticker could have been removed by the owner before selling it to you. Finally, some Submariners do not have a Cyclops on the crystal…so the absence of one does not denote a phony. Usually, researching what you want prior to buying it is the best way to go, or if you are buying from someone, have an authorized Rolex dealer authenticate the watch for you prior to your purchase. This will keep the crown on your wrist held high.
*Special Note: There are several companies that create “custom” Rolexes such as Bramford Watch Department whom use authentic Rolex watches to create one-of-a-kind pieces per their customer’s imagination. Rolex does not consider any watch “authentic” if it has been altered beyond its original factory specifications. If you send a modified watch to Rolex, they will strip it of the altered parts, replace them with authentic parts, and make you foot the bill. If you decline to have the watch returned to its original condition, Rolex will return it unrepaired or confiscate it as a counterfeit.
Explorer 1 reworked by Bramford x Fragment Designs