'Yo man, wanna buy a Rolex? Me got some Rolexes! Interested? Won't cost you a bomb ... just part wid a few green bucks and get one for you self!!'
Have you met a character similar to this shady guy, trying to sell you a Rolex for peanuts? The offer seems irresistible and on the face of it, the wrist watch looks absolutely authentic. Just imagine wearing a Rolex to an important meeting. What an impression would it create on the delegates! Or would you become a laughingstock among those who can identify fake Rolex watches? Hmm, it's common sense that authentic watches aren't sold by shady characters in the back alley, nor will they be found in stores on the street. You are talking about a watch here, a watch that commands respect. To avoid falling prey to such cheaters, you need to learn the differences between the fake and real ones.
How to Tell if a Rolex is Real or Fake
First and foremost, have a look at the salesman selling you a Rolex. This is a well-established brand that does not need a salesman in the back of the alley or tiny stores selling you a Rolex with a heavy discount. Rolex watches are pretty expensive and are never sold for just $50 or so. So, the seller should ideally be a well-established jeweler.
Triplock Crown Seal
When you look at a Rolex very carefully, you will spot a crown engraved near 6 o'clock on the crystal. This is especially true for models after 2002. However, the earlier models do not have the crown logo. It is so tiny that you have to strain your eyes to look at it. The fake will have a rather large crown that is easily visible on the watch. Also, the tiny circles over the crown are rather large than the ones on the original.
Plain Case Back
When you turn around an authentic Rolex, you will find the case back does not have a manufacturer logo, design, or the brand name engraved on it. The only time you will spot something engraved is on the Sea-Dweller that sports the words, 'Rolex Oyster Original Gas Escape Valve' and has two Rolex logos in black. So, genuine watches are free from any kind of engraving (exception: a few models for women may have an engraving on the case back).
Many Rolex watches bear a magnification panel over where the date gets displayed. In the fake ones, what appears as a magnification panel, may actually be just plain glass. On a genuine watch, the magnification is 2x, so the date really jumps out on you. In case of replicas, the magnification is lesser, making it difficult to read the date.
Transparent Case Back
Many fake watches have a transparent case back that allows you to see the inner mechanics of the watch. However, the original one does not have a transparent case back. Only a few models of 1930s and a few new Cellini Price models spot a transparent case back.
Nowadays, many authentic watches come with a new 3-dimensional hologram encoded sticker. This sticker is stuck on the case back and has a floating Rolex crown on it. The sticker also contains the case reference number of the watch in black print. When you see the hologram from all angles, the pattern tends to change. It is very easy spotting a fake one with the help of the hologram. The fakes usually have a solid green color hologram with the Rolex pattern in a repetitive manner. When you view it from different angles, it does not change the pattern.
The authentic watches have crystals on the current display models with Cyclops lens. This magnifies the date about 2.5 times. The only exception to this rule is the Sea-Dweller. The fake Rolex watches have only a 1.5 magnification and a few replica watches have a larger font date. This makes you think the font of the date is magnified.
The authentic models like Submariner, Sea-Dweller, and Daytona with triplock crown have an extra seal engraved. This seal is engraved on the threads of the winding crown's tube. You can identify fake Rolex watches by spotting the seal on the end of the winding crown. Instead of the threads, the counterfeiters engrave the extra seal on the winding crown, making it an easy way to identify a fake.
Case Reference between Lugs
When you look at the lugs carefully, you will be able to spot the case reference number on the side of the case. A genuine Rolex will have the case reference number engraved in very fine lines that reflect light. You can spot a fake one by the case reference number that is etched instead of being engraved on the lugs. They appear too closely spaced, and all fakes carry the same serial number.
The genuine Yacht-Master models have minute hands that are thicker than other genuine Rolex models. In a fake Yacht-Master model, the minute hand is of a standard size. When you observe it from the sides, it will be thinner than the original.
In a genuine Daytona model, there are mini-registers on the dial. They function like a 'stop watch', that is, provide elapsed hours and minutes. The seconds hand on the Daytona is a part of this stop watch function. In case of the fake watch, the registers as well as the seconds hand will rarely perform this function. They are used for 'day of week', 'date', and '24-hour time'. The operations on the fake models will rarely be functional. Also, the size and position of registrars on the fake will be incorrect. They will be much smaller and present on the inner side of the dial.
These watches are a favorite among the elite class and associated with wealth and luxury. No Rolex is ever sold as a gold-plated model. They are either 14-karat or 18-karat gold. If you get a gold and stainless steel mix Rolex, it is probably fake. Rolex watches are produced in U.S., Mexico, Venezuela, and Italy. If you get a 'Made in China' Rolex, then it is obviously a replica watch.
The Oysters are fabricated using gold, platinum, or steel and not chrome or chrome plate. A Oyster Perpetual watch will have a screw back case, not a pop-up one. Also, the day and date feature is exclusively made only for men's full-size watches. Keep these pointers in mind before you purchase a Rolex. If you are being sold an original one for less than $100, then probably it is stolen. Keep away, or you will have to face the wrong side of the law.